I oppose air strikes in Syria, not effective military intervention

Tornado GR4
Photo: SAC Scott Ferguson/MOD [OGL], via Wikimedia Commons

On Wednesday, the UK parliament voted to conduct air strikes against ISIL in Syria, which I believe was a mistake. There seems to be an assumption by those in favour of bombing that those of us opposed to it are opposed to any form of military action. That’s not the case. I’m in favour of effective military action against ISIL.

I oppose the bombing because military action should be taken in order to achieve a clearly defined aim. A strategy should be worked out to achieve that aim. Appropriate tactics should be used in support of the strategy. Bombing is a tactic, but I don’t see a viable strategy or a clear aim. I see “we must do something. This is something, so we must do this“.

I can’t think of a single time that bombing alone has worked. The blitz made the British people more determined to fight, not less. Recently I’ve read accounts of German soldiers on D-Day. Almost all of them mentioned the bombing of German cities, and how they’d lost someone, or knew someone who had. They saw the British and Americans as murderers, and it increased their willingness to fight. American bombing of North Vietnam didn’t persuade them to stop supporting the Viet Minh.

On the other hand, the British army has conducted several successful counter-insurgency campaigns, such as those in Borneo and Malaya. All of them emphasised the importance of support from the local population. None of them involved bombing as a major tactic.

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