Parliamentary sketch – With a heavy heart and many misgivings…
If politics is about facing up to hard choices then decisions about committing armed forces into conflict is amongst the hardest of all.
A year ago I defied Party Whips, spoke and voted against the Government’s proposed military intervention in Syria. By a small margin (7 votes) those who took my view succeeded; the Government was defeated. That then precipitated a rethink and then a backpedalling by the United States.
This week, however, we were being asked to join a coalition of countries to tackle a terrorist group which only a year ago we would have effectively been bombing in support of!
As someone who strongly opposed military action in Iraq in 2003 and military strikes on Syria last year, it was with a very heavy heart that I chose to support the UK joining the coalition in an effort to degrade the capacity and stem the onward march of a now massive and effective Jihadist force, promoting their deranged interpretation of Islam, committing wholesale genocide and – a determination to wipe out minority communities; with the use of murder and beheading as their stock in trade.
UK air forces wouldn’t just be joining a coalition with Iraq – which has invited the UK to assist in its battle against ISIS/ISIL – but also Lebanon, Jordan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, France, Germany, Canada and the United States.
Of course, we could leave it to others; hope that this evil Jihadist force will peter out. But we have a responsibility to respond. These are exceptional circumstances.
I have supported the use of our military capability to contribute to peacekeeping and nation building in unstable regions. But there will be no peace in this region if ISIS/ISIL were to triumph.
A judgement must be made about whether engaging in conflict merely provokes retaliation against the United Kingdom. That was one of the reasons (but not the only one) why I opposed military action in Iraq. It is also one of the reasons why I condemn Israel’s coldblooded pounding of Gaza.
But in the case of ISIS/ISIL, whatever may have driven people to join this band of deranged Jihadists already existed. No military action is likely to provoke the risk of a greater level of terrorism than already exists. Action is needed now to degrade their capability and to defeat them.
Of course there are risks – of mission creep, of finding an exit strategy, of broadening the conflict, etc., – but, on this occasion, I have judged that engaging some of our military capability in support of a coalition of partners against Isis is the right decision.
You can contact Andrew George by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. His constituency office can be contacted at Trewella, 18 Mennaye Road, Penzance, Cornwall, TR18 4NG. Telephone: 01736 360020.
Andrew George MP
Kernow a’n West ha Syllan
West Cornwall and the Scillies
Constituency of St Ives
Tel: 01736 360020
Fax: 01736 332866
30th September 2014