Syria

We’re at war. Again. Sort of. I’m not really sure why our latest campaign in Syria is being called a war. Obviously there is a war happening on the ground. We’re not participating in that. We’re just dropping bombs on distance targets from a safe distance.  But anyhow. I have a few thoughts.

  • Why are we bombing Syria? Well, there’s a very simple answer to this. Its what we do. It’s what we’ve done for hundreds of years. It’s what we’ll continue to do until someone gives us a sound thrashing and puts a stop to it. Even then, it’ll probably only be a temporary stop. It’s in the national psyche. It’s tradition, pride, vanity. If there is a bit of a kerfuffle going on someone in the world, we feel obliged to throw our hat in the ring. Especially if the French are involved. You think this is a ridiculous explanation? The world is, more often than not, ridiculous. Besides, I have evidence. A map of the world. Everything in red is a nation invaded or occupied by the UK at some stage. I know what you’re thinking. How the hell did Luxembourg get away with it??

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  • I voted Labour at the last election. I’ll be voting for someone else at the next election, unless Corbyn is replaced. I like him. His analysis of a problem is often spot on. He is principled. He is eloquent. He says what needs to be said. But his solutions, when he actually has one, are usually ideological, impractical and devoid of consideration for all other connected factors. The chap is an activist. He is not a leader. He demonstrated that last week. He is 100% against bombing in Syria. Yet, rather than force Labour MPs to vote against military action, he gave his colleagues a free vote. Why? Because his colleagues were going to ignore him anyway and he didn’t want to look weak. He’s not in control of the party and even if he were, his continued leadership is almost certain to see another Tory win in 2020. Who might replace him? Some would now say that Hilary Benn is a candidate. Picture yourself in the year 2020 at a UK/US convention. PM Hilary and Pres Hillary. Cartoonists are going to have a field day.

  • The argument in the UK as to whether we should bomb Syria seems to be devoid of substance on both sides. The Right believe they can bomb ISIS into oblivion. The Left want a political solution. A political solution? Who are they kidding? A political solution with who? Russia? Assad? Turkey? The Kurds? That’s like sitting at at table with a bowl of dog shit and declaring that you are going to make a cake. Ain’t nobody gonna be swallowing that, I’m afraid. As far as I see it, there are two types of war. Total war, which is the one we most want to avoid. The other type involves running around trying to put out fires, but doing little to actually stop the firestarter. Which is also unpleasant, but probably better than sitting back and watching the fires spread and burn some more. But when all is said and done, there is no answer to this (or many other) of the world’s problems. Such is life.

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  • No one seems to be asking the most important question. It’s a simple one. Can our bombs kill radicalized terrorists more quickly than the bombs radicalize new terrorists? There’s got to be someone doing the maths…

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  • I’ve also noticed that those people I speak to who are most in favour of bombing Syria are also the least likely to approve of us taking in refugees. There has to be a formula out there to calculate the bombs to refugee ratio. Factor in tonnage of bombs dropped, the period of time over which they are dropped and the density of the receiving population per square mile. Plus a few other  contributory factors. We can then present the maths to fans of the bomb and explain the concept of cause and effect in numerical form. Getting them to understand the concept of ‘responsibility’ is another matter altogether…

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  • Putin is nuts. He may sometimes make a valid point. But I suspect that’s by chance rather than design. The Turks are also nuts. They are doing more to prolong and aggravate the Syrian conflict than other nation. They have definitely occupied the moral low ground. I read somewhere recently that Turkey and Russia have waged war against each other more times throughout history than any other pair of countries. Although producing such a stat is a very dubious art. But anyway.  They’re not buddies at the best of times. That should be everyone’s biggest concern, perhaps.

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  • I’ve long needed a post relevant for my warplane photos.

PS. We’re still bombing Iraq, dontcha know?

 

18 Comments

  • When all is said and done including bombing Syria to kingdom com The place will be a wasteland and nothing will be resolved. Nobody wins! Foreign governments have no business there. Iraq and Syria, well let me rephrase that. The Sunnis and Shiites have been fight this conflict for centuries and it will continue on and on and on.

  • Oh sure, a state can go to war. As long as it remembers that once in a war, your populace is a legitimate target of the other side. You bomb them, they bomb you. And if your side doesn’t have airplanes, you improvise. And have no ethical grounds on which to complain.

    • The current problems arise when the ‘other side’ doesn’t come from the other side. But for sure, in principle, if you go to war, expect casualties. And don’t expect them to always come when are where you expect them…

  • The whole world has gone completely insane. I realize that Turkey is officially an ally, but I strongly believe they were wrong to shoot down that Russian bomber. The surviving pilot said he didn’t hear any warning. And traveling at the kind of speeds they were traveling, the incursion into Turkish airspace couldn’t have been more than twenty seconds. And it’s not like they were making a beeline toward Ankara. They just accidentally flew over a bit of “Turkish peninsula” sticking into Syria. It seems to have been an honest mistake, and absolutely NO threat to Turkey.

    And if Erdogan had simply apologized, the world would be a safer place. But nooooo…. these dickheads have to escalate and escalate and escalate. I personally don’t want to see WWIII just because a couple of egomaniacs can’t act rationally about what should have been a minor incident (airspace violation, but with NO shots fired).

    And your observations about the people being most willing to bomb also being the least willing to take refugees is spot-on. We have some very similar folks here.

    Meanwhile, in the USA, we get tied up into knots about the idea that some lone-wolf terrorist guns down a a bit more than a dozen people in San Bernardino, but seem to be perfectly OK with 30,000 Americans dying each year due to non-terrorist related gun violence. And it’s doubtful if Obama can even persuade Congress to keep people on the no-fly list from buying guns.

    I’m all for people owning hunting rifles, and maybe a non-repeating pistol. But there is ZERO reason for any civilian to have military-grade guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition. Absolutely zero.

    But my opinion on the matter is worth what you paid to read it.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where the world is in DESPERATE need of cooler heads.

    • In reply to Kim. The Russians have been dusting up against NATO borders for as long as Putin has been in power. It is a basic tactic to see and gauge response time. The Turks shot that plane down and did it long after talking to the NATO command and control about what to do with the Russians should they do a little skating on thin ice. NATO has the Turk’s back. Putin threw a high close one at Turkey and Turkey charged the mound knowing that it had 600 million Westerners at its back. Putin could care less that he lost a plane and a man, he ran those men and their equipment by NATO to see what reaction he might get and now he knows. The Turks put that plane down after talking to NATO and Putin knows that; it is a dog and pony show . Putin has proved time and again that he likes skating on thin ice, he fell through this time. The water was only two foot deep and he only got one foot wet but he has to complain that the ice was not marked with a thin ice sign when any fool who skates can see the ice is too thin for skating. The west is real tired of Putin and his adolescent behavior. Just the way I see it Kim.

      • Norm: Thanks for the reply. I can see your point of view, which is a good counter to mine. I think we (and NATO) have unfortunately encouraged Russia via our response to the Crimea invasion and in Syria. It’s obviously a very difficult situation. However, I think everyone needs to avoid escalating it. WWIII is in no one’s interest. Regards, KG

        • Kim, I think the difference is in the relationship. Crimea and Syria could be considered the kids down the block, we know them but they are still the kids down the block. Turkey on the other hand is your brother. Right or wrong you have to have his back. The Turks fought alongside many of my friends in Korea against the Chinese, they have been our brother for a very long time.

          In all adolescent behavior, adults are patient of said behavior up to a point. The west has been endulgent of Putin’s behavior, maybe even encouraged his acting out. Shooting down one of his planes was little more than a sharp look in the scope of things.

          Russia has no chance against the west, Putin knows this, there will be no war between Russia and Nato. Shooting down that Russian plane clears the air for all concerned. That our proxy did the deed is better than our drilling a Russian jet flirting with our airspace. It is a shame a man had to die in the process of getting Putin’s attention.

          My Father-in-law talks of Turkish soldiers coming back to the fire base after a night of recon with a string of human ears as trophies. Putin knows about the Turks, there will be no war.

          • Norm: Good points, all. However, if your brother does something stupid, he still deserves your love and support, but perhaps a reprimand or advice that the deed was indeed stupid is still in order. Though we’ll never know the truth, I don’t believe the Russian incursion into Turkish airspace was a deliberate provocation. And I do also believe that the facts (extremely short time in Turkish airspace, direction of jets, nature of border, failure of Russian pilots to perceive warning) suggest it was indeed an accident. Had it appeared more to be a deliberate provocation, I’d be 100% supportive of the Turks. But given my belief that it was an over-hasty reaction to an unintentional incursion, I’m sticking with my view. And this incident does not make it any easier for Russia and the West to cooperate against a common enemy, ISIS. But I appreciate your reasoned response, and the good points you raise. Saludos!

        • Crimea is a difficult one. What the Russians did is outrageous. But after our own global adventures over the last ten/fifteen years, I feel we are really in no place to criticize. But when all is said and done, that Crimea has been part of the Ukraine and not Russia for the last 50 years or so is a bit of an oddity in itself.

          Putin is in Syria purely out of self interest. He has precious few allies and bases and he doesn’t want to lose the ones he has. I’m sure that we. the west, would be happy to sit it out. If it hadn’t gone and spilled over into Iraq…

          • Iraq is the wildcard right now. Apparently the Iraqis are requesting Russian assistance in dealing with ISIS and asking the USA to leave. This is not good for Western interests in an area that is still vital to the industrialized world.

          • With the exception of the Saudis and Kuwaitis, much of the Middle East has looked towards Russia since WW2. That’s the rather natural consequence of the West being so friendly towards Israel. There’s also all that colonial baggage. So I can’t say I would be totally surprised that they look that way again.

    • The trouble is, both Russia and Turkey are utterly in the wrong. Russian jets keep violating Turkish airspace and have done the same in Scandinavia. They are deliberately provoking European countries with their aircraft flying up to or even over foreign airspace. They’ve been doing it to the UK for a few years – RAF jets intercept them before they have the opportunity to cross over, so there is less chance of a major incident here. But having a jet shot down frankly serves the Russians right. Having said that, the complete lack of restraint and common sense of the Turks is equally stupid. That the Russian pilot claims he heard no warning surprises me not one jot. Maybe I’m cynical, but I suspect he said what he was told to say.

      • As I note in my reply to Norm, there’s plenty of doubt about what actually happened, who heard what, how long the jets were over Turkish territory, etc. But yes, I think all sides behaved poorly. Russia clearly needs to bend over backward to not violate Turkish airspace, and Turkey needs a more clear violation (not a matter of seconds) to be justified in shooting down such a plane. There were other, better methods of getting them out of Turkish airspace. Saludos.

  • I voted for Obama, he said he would get us out of the Arab wars. Would I vote for him again? Well yeah, I saw the Morman;s address to the American VFW, it scared me enough that I missed my afternoon nap. Yiks it was! So we hold our nose and pull the lever, mark the box or however you do it in jolly old but we vote. The right is mad about war and the left only a little less so . So I go with the less so.

    Where do we start with the middle east? Erasing some of the last centuries little black lines that separated natural nations into cocked up hash. That would be a start but how does one get the players to let their Kurds go? Iraq is by its nature three countries. Damm those map makers and there lies the problem.

    The people in those misdrawn countries blame the map makers because in the end, we are the ones keeping those little black lines from being erased.

    And you know my internet friend of at least a decade’s duration…we are very good at making bombs

    • I think we Brits are guiltier than most when it comes to all those map making issues. Err…guiltier than everyone else put together? Times ten? But we can’t undo history and I suspect that attempting to redraw maps to put things back like they were would only make matters worse.

      Ten years? My, it must be. If not more. But yes, we do make some rather good bombs. Listening to David Cameron going on about our fancy Brimstone missile, one almost came to believe that the current campaign is actually an advert….

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