Saturday, 27 September 2014

War against IS: where will it end?

Like many people I feel torn about military action in an attempt to defeat IS. How will that work? where will it end?

I'm not a full-blown pacifist though my natural inclination is towards pacifism and peace-making. I prefer words to fights. I do not accept the so-called Christian concept of a 'just war'. I do think that occasionally as a last resort war can be justified as a lesser evil when faced with a greater evil. Some brutal people and ideologies cannot be reasoned with and only understand violence. So I am reluctantly in support of the decision the UK government took yesterday with overwhelming Parliamentary support. The UK is now giving limited air-strike (bombing) support to the mission in which the US is already engaged in Iraq in an attempt to halt IS control of parts of that suffering land. Perhaps it will help, but peace-loving civilians will inevitably die in the process.

Where will it end? Does violence ever actually end violence or just serve to breed more violence?

This morning I have been reading thoughtful comments by others on this topic. Here's a taster of a few that I would recommend reading in full.

In 'Iraq, 38 degrees and everyday militarism' Symon Hill writes about how hard it is to oppose war. Militarism is so deeply ingrained in our culture and mind-set.
"One sign of the impact of militarism is the number of progressively minded people who express a belief in peace but support war once it is proposed. This is rather like being teetotal until you're offered a drink."

In The Menace of War 'digitalnun' reflected yesterday on the changing nature of war and wonders if we are on the brink of a 3rd World War. She points out the impossible choice between acting or not acting against IS, Either way people will die.
"However ambivalent we may feel about the use of violence, however torn, we have to face up to the fact that we are not dealing with people who are open to reason. Many innocent people have already died terrible deaths at their hands. Let us pray that IS may be stopped from inflicting even more death and destruction. At the same time, let us also pray for the courage and determination to bear the consequences of what promises to be a long and bloody conflict, not only ‘over there’ but also over here."

Justin Welby speaking in the UK House of Lords debate yesterday about air strikes in Iraq pointed out the danger in that debate of speaking only of Iraq, Syria, ISIL and armed force. Beyond taking military action now he said that
"...it is also necessary, over time, that any response to ISIL and to this global danger be undertaken on an ideological and religious basis that sets out a more compelling vision, a greater challenge and a more remarkable hope than that offered by ISIL. We must face the fact that for some young Muslims the attractions of jihadism outweigh the materialism of a consumer society."
The full transcript of his speech is here.

Gillan Scott in a post yesterday expressed support for military action against IS at the request of the Iraqi government. He also highlights the need for UK MPs to consider outcomes as well as the immediate impact.
"No matter what military hardware you may possess, weapons cannot defeat ideologies. Evil cannot be defeated by airstrikes and bombs; it can only be overcome by good."

The Quakers sent an open letter to David Cameron calling for military restraint. It includes these words:
"We remind those who make these decisions in Britain that it is often easier to start a war than to end it, and that additional violence itself fuels a bloody and destructive cycle. The bitterness and hatred created lasts for generations. Such violence threatens us all. 
We stress that diplomatic channels must be used at all times, but especially when considering violence and war, particularly through the good offices of the United Nations. 
Britain is a wonderful living example of the potential of multi-faith peace-making. We have many British citizens of Iraqi and Syrian origin who are in active dialogue with their families and friends in the region. It is those people who tell us how such criminality is created – by desperate people who feel they have lost everything to violence inflicted on them by the West, and that violence is their revenge. Desperation has a human face and humanity is what we share."

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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