On Friday 26 September, David Cameron will ask MPs to vote in favour of joining the US bombing campaign in Iraq and take the UK into yet another Middle East war.
Ten reasons why MPs should vote no
1) The West’s last operation in Iraq ended just three years ago. For those with a short memory it didn’t go well. More than half a million people died, millions fled the country and Iraq’s infrastructure was devastated. The operation generated deep resentment against the West.
2) The current chaos in Iraq – including the rise of the reactionary Isis – is largely the result of the eight years of that occupation. On top of the trauma of the assault, sectarian division was built into the operation. Elections were organised along communal lines and the authorities used sectarianism to undermine resistance. By 2006, Baghdad had been turned from an integrated, modern city into a patchwork of ruined communal ghetoes.The open discrimination of the Western-backed Maliki government detonated a Sunni insurgency last year that helped fuel the rise of Isis in Iraq.
3) Bombing always kills and terrorises civilians. Recent coalition bombing raids on Raqqa in Syria have brought death and panic to its residents. One civilian there told western reporters ‘I would not wish them on my worst enemy’.
4) All three of Britain’s major military interventions in the last thirteen years have been disasters. In 2001 we were told an invasion of Afghanistan would rout the Taliban. Thirteen years and tens of thousands of deaths later the Taliban have grown in strength and the country is broken. The bombing of Libya in 2011 was justified as essential to stop a massacre by Gaddafi. After it began an estimated 30,000 were killed in a terrifying cycle of violence. The country is now a failed state with no real government.
5) The coalition that has been put together for the bombing of Syria – apparently in an effort to give the attacks legitimacy – comprises some of the most ruthless and benighted regimes in the region. Human Rights Watch reports that nineteen people were beheaded in Saudi Aarbia in August. Qatar and UAE have notorious human rights’ records that include the use of forced labour. All three have funded violent Jihadi groups in the region.
6) Bombing raids will increase hatred of the west. One of the wider results of the ‘War on Terror’ has been to spread Al- Quaida and other terrorist groups across whole regions of the world. In 2001 there were relatively small numbers of such militants, centred mainly on Pakistan. Now there are groups across the middle east, central Asia and Africa.
7) The timing is cynical. David Cameron has recalled parliament to debate an attack on Iraq just two days before the start of the last Tory Conference before the general election. This at a time when he is engaged in pushing a right wing, nationalist agenda for party political purposes.
8) Mission creep is almost inevitable. There are already more than a thousand US military active in Iraq and senior US military figures are arguing they should now be openly involved in fighting. In Britain a growing number of voices fromTony Blair to Lieutenant General Sir Graeme Lamb are recommending British boots on the ground.
9) The attack will cost money much needed for other things. One Tomahawk cruise missile costs £850,000, enough to pay the annual salary of 28 NHS nurses. The US has already fired about 50 of these missiles at Isis targets in Syria. It is estimated Britain spent between £500 million and one billion pounds bombing Libya in 2011. This was roughly the same as the savings made by ending the education maintenance allowance (EMA); or three times the amount saved by scrapping the disability living allowance.
10) The vote will have a global impact. On Friday, MPs have a chance to make a real difference on matters of peace and war. The US wants Britain on board to prove it is not isolated. When MPs blocked Cameron’s last push for airstrikes, on Syria a year ago, they stopped Obama launching attacks too. A no vote could help reverse the drift towards another full scale western war in the middle east.