The featured picture is of a road in Syria – 700.000 homes have been destroyed in the civil war.
Listening to Baroness Warsi on the radio yesterday she was keen to say that you can’t go looking at the past and say we should have done this or we shouldn’t have done that. Now in the spirit of learning from our mistakes I have decided to take the maverick route of doing just that. The main point of contention was weather some sort of military intervention in Syria may have prevented or improved the current refugee crisis. While she was all too eager to point out that some of the migrants were ‘economic tourists’ she would not be drawn on foreign policy presumably due to the risk of ‘expressing an opinion’. It was a cowardly performance that served only to highlight the lack of urgency her and her party place on the misfortunes and desperations of minorities. Unfortunately the Baroness is not the only person to be straight-jacketed by the ‘to be or not to be’ of interventionism. Since the War in Iraq both the right and the left have taken the safe option of eschewing military intervention should it not prove popular with voters.
Through inaction The Green Party are no different. Paved in the ground work of their manifesto is a pact of non-interventionism. Armed forces are for defence and defence alone. There is a crisis of nuance in parliament. I include the Green Party here, Political leaders either seem reluctant to consider nuanced points of view or unable to communicate them to the public. The hamstringing of the Iraq War put paid to any consideration of supporting the rebels in Libya. While I wouldn’t go as far to say that military intervention in Syria would have stopped this crisis, the fact that the opposition to intervention were so religiously fervent means the option was never really on the table.
This is what confuses me, especially as a leftie liberal who is keen to help people less fortunate than myself. What if what a country or a group of persecuted people need is military intervention? It will always be contentious, always nuanced but to have a manifesto that says NO, seems more akin to the sheltered close-mindedness of the likes of UKIP than a progressive party that value ethics over popularity. Having been raised a Quaker, (although now an atheist) I was always bewildered at their war time conviction of “conscientious objectors” even in the face of persecution and totalitarian domination. War should never be a first resort but at the very least it should be on the table as a last resort.
A humanitarian crisis is upon us, perhaps borne out of misguided wars that New Labour conned the public in to allowing. But make no mistake, the mistakes of the past should be looked at with some critical thinking so that the policy of the future can remain nuanced enough to consider all the options, rather than the ever narrowing corridor of strict non-intervention.