Don’t bomb Syria

It’s looking increasingly likely that British jets will soon be flying bombing sorties over Syria, a mission so senseless that even its proponents have largely avoided trying to make any coherent argument for it. We are invited to stand in solidarity with our French cousins, in the hope that our natural horror at the recent events in Paris will stop us asking awkward questions about why a strategy that so obviously failed in Iraq and Libya should be expected to work this time around.

It’s ironic that the almost unlimited access to information enjoyed by the digitally privileged of the developed world, which one might expect to arm citizens with the knowledge needed to stop this nonsense, appears rather to be paralyzing our critical faculties. The flood of text and images on various social media that invariably follows tragedies like Paris may feel intensely meaningful on a personal level, but, lacking wider context, it cannot guide a rational response. Instead it just seems to make us vulnerable to the fear-mongering of demagogues, of varying degrees of subtlety.

Perhaps I’m too pessimistic – there is plenty of opposition to this course of action, both online and in the real world, and our leaders’ drive towards a wider war may not yet be unstoppable, if we keep up the protests, and try to think about what is happening rather than just succumbing to a desire for instant reaction.