So within an hour of the Commons vote British jets were launched to drop bombs on an oil field in Syria….
Amid all the whooping and cheering after the result last night, it’s clear wiser counsel was ignored. Indeed, many questions remain unanswered.
What for example will be achieved by Britain flying these missions? Will British bombers make any significant difference? How long will the bombing last? What evidence is there that such action will make us safer? More specifically, what is the end game? Will it need ground troops. If so, where will they come from? How long would a ground campaign last? What about the likely impact on, and reaction from, the current regime in Syria and those groups fighting against it?
Also, how do we find the targets? How exactly do we tell the fighters from the civilians? What number of civilian deaths will our government consider acceptable?
And what about the alternatives? Can we not stop the flow of money and weapons? Can we cut their supply routes? What about blocking their oil trade (rather than bombing it)? What about countering their social media campaign? What about sanctions, what about diplomacy?
It seems to me that one of the motivators for bombing is that “we’ve been asked to help” but is that in itself sufficient grounds for bombing?
Frankly I am amazed that supposedly intelligent men and women could commit to military action without any clear strategy. Surely they should have learned the lessons from our involvement in Iraq? Above all though, how can those MPs who voted for bombs ever be certain, in the absence of any reliable evidence, that the human cost will be worthwhile. Its time for some answers.