So it’s war. From the moment a TV camera picked up the glint in Chuka Umunna’s eye, a little spittle in the corner of his mouth, it was plain which way the vote was going to go. Britain is now engaged in air strikes in Syria, and I do mean now given the frantic scrabble to hurl rockets at brown people miles away began mere minutes after our elected representatives completed what they doubtless believe is their crucial role in ending the world.
Of course, if it’s war today it was war yesterday. Britain has been dropping bombs on Iraq for months, and now they’re doing the same in Syria, on the other side of a border that is singularly meaningless from 30,000 feet. At any rate, the people being targeted don’t recognise the border on land let alone above their heads. It makes you wonder what everyone’s banging on about.
And yet banging on they are. In the lead-up to yesterday’s marathon debate in Parliament, our esteemed Prime Minister adopted his usual noble tone when he declared Jeremy Corbyn, and anyone accepting his viewpoint that bombing Syria is meaningless without a coherent plan on the ground, a ‘terrorist sympathiser’. You don’t agree that this specific methodology is sound in this particular case, so you’re as good as putting together a suicide bomber’s final packed lunch yourself. It’s faultless logic, so much so that I’d no idea how much I loved ISIS until he said it. God I ♥ ISIS, I really do.
I love the image of a man dressed for a long desert campaign popping up unexpectedly in a shopping centre and shouting ‘Admiral Ackbar’ in a final attempt to influence casting decisions in The Force Awakens, before pulling at what’s definitely not a parachute and sending tens of people to the great Primark in the sky. I love that religious fury is once again at the top of the news agenda, because without religion all we’re left with is science, and that won’t do. I especially love that in Paris many of the dead were engaged in the heinous act of watching a band play live, something I do nearly every week and as recently as last night. A small part of me wonders if they weren’t asking for it watching the Eagles of Death Metal but that’s probably the part of me that thinks “Well, he has a point” when David Cameron opens his curiously round mouth.
Cameron’s comment successfully caused Parliamentarians to waste vital debating time attempting to get the most unapologetic man in Europe to say sorry, as the House of Commons once again scoured its Big Book of the Playground for how to behave. There was joking and laughing at various stages, during a debate about remote-controlled death. When the result of the vote was read out there was clapping and cheering, after a debate about remote-controlled death. This was a happy day for Parliament as Britain once again showed the world she won’t be pushed around.
There was even applause, rare in the chamber, for a speech by one of the greyest men in politics, Hilary Benn. Finally emerging from the shadow of his disgracefully left-wing father, Hilary made an impassioned plea for something to be done, because ISIS – or ‘Daesh’ as we much now call it, or ‘ISIL Daesh’ as Hilary obsessively calls it to much bafflement – are evil. Thanks Hil, we hadn’t picked up on that. He explained that they kill innocent people, they kill other Muslims, they’re all-round pretty bad eggs. So we should bomb them. Top stuff, one of the best speeches in living memory we’re told today.
A cynic may at this point highlight that nobody disputes that ISIS are a shower of irredeemable cunts who should be ended with clinical force. The minor point of dissent, however, is whether showering towns and cities containing both terrorists and non-terrorists with heavyweight ordnance is the most efficient way of going about that. Considering ISIS reportedly spend half their time in network of deep caves it’s rather like treating brain cancer by repeatedly punching the patient in the face.
On Parliament’s glorious day, when democracy was reinvigorated and our principles were held aloft in the face of extremism, the picky among us could have noted the regular business of politics as undercurrent. Benn’s speech was serviceable, though it intentionally obfuscated the issue and was no better than many others of the day. That Benn is in direct odds with Corbyn, sitting po-faced beside him, surely couldn’t have contributed to the elevation of this speech from adequate to Churchillian. I find it hard to believe that Tory MPs would raise the roof for Benn in a bid to exacerbate divisions among the opposition, not today of all days. It’s inconceivable that Labour MPs would laud a speech that may accelerate the departure of a leader they view as alien simply for trying to be less despicable than Tony Blair. Given the topic, surely Members of Parliament couldn’t be so callous. Pass the diazepam.
In any case Britain’s contribution to this is nominal at best. John McCain: “We will have some token aircraft over there from the British and they’ll drop a few bombs, and we’ll say thank you very much.” Admittedly McCain is a man who once took advice from ‘Joe the Plumber’, but he probably knows what he’s talking about more than Hilary fucking Benn. Britain’s pathetic attempt to inhale the heady vapours of world power, long after having become as vital as Betamax, is encapsulated beautifully by the number of planes sent on the bomb overnight: six. Perhaps if Richard the First had had as many as six horses to call on during the Crusades we wouldn’t be in this mess today.
I’m not a pacifist, though it tends to take me longer to reach for the Winchester than most. I was fully against Blair’s Iraq beano, but with Gaddafi apparently about to obliterate Benghazi I drew the conclusion that something, anything, had to be done in Libya. I’ve been right and wrong, for the little it’s worth.
But any simpleton can see that a token bombing effort, bringing us inevitably closer to direct conflict with Russia while China looks on impassively, waiting for pieces to pick up, is a farcical move without some sort of plan to sift through the rubble looking for snipers. When there’s nothing left to bomb, what next? With terrorists having scattered to the four corners, will we feel safer? Perhaps the notion is that these nasty fuckers will simply stand and stare upwards, open-mouthed, as our wonderfully accurate precision-guided munitions slot down their throats and pop with barely a sound, causing little or no damage to the unfortunate Shia Muslim at that moment being tortured nearby.
If there was even the slightest chance this tactic could devastate Syria as it has devastated Iraq then surely it would have swayed a few more of the MPs currently chuckling at the naivety of people like me. I guess we really can rely on the thousands of Syrians in the opposition, allegedly as keen to smash ISIS as much as we are. That they’re currently wearing their own set of FAB-500 M62s as delivered by Russia’s own winged heroes doesn’t matter, because we’ve already decided Turkey will be the lamb on Putin’s altar as the end of days approaches and we can surely rely on the inscrutable Vladimir to look the other way as we do exactly the opposite of what he wants us to.
For now let’s just concentrate on ensuring Britain is seen to be doing something while really doing very little, so we can try to look powerful while the world sniggers, and we can make sure no-one so blatantly un-British as Jeremy Corbyn is allowed to express his views in public ever again.
It’s all a huge shame really, because I really do love ISIS.