I'm pleased that my MP, Mike Wood (Batley and Spen) was one of the 43 who voted against the further bombing if Iraq, and note that four others represent constituencies within a ten mile radius of my home, viz:
George Mudie (Leeds East)
Linda Riorden (Halifax)
Barry Sherman (Huddersfield)
George Galloway (Bradford West).
That's nearly an eighth of the total. Perhaps some clever geographer can demonstrate that, per head of population, or per hectare, there's a higher degree of sanity in our patch than anywhere else in the UK.
Whatever the right thing to do in the Middle East, and I'll quote a few suggestions later, there can be little doubt that further bombing will do more harm than good. There will be the inevitable killing of innocents (euphemistically described as "collateral damage"), and many Muslims will doubtless interpret the intervention as an attack by the decadent Christian West on Holy Islam, thus providing a recruiting sergeant for further Jihadis. Rather than safeguarding our own country the bombing will thus increase the possibility of danger.
As I believe George Galloway pointed out, if further bombing is necessary, then Saudi Arabia has plenty of planes, mostly sold to them by us in order to subsidise our armaments industry. Someone in the parliamentary debate, possibly Galloway again, also pointed out that cutting public expenditure (cruise missiles cost $1.2 million each) doesn't seem to be such a priority when the cause is demonstrating our virility to our American mentors as it is when inflicting further hardship and humiliation on the poor.
So what are the positive alternatives? I am no foreign policy specialist, but Oliver Miles, a former ambassador, is, and these are taken from a recent article:
- Insist on respect for international law;
- Hold the door open for negotiation;
- Use diplomacy to mobilise support in the region;
- Use our "hard earned" American good will to persuade them to recognise Palestine.
Not macho enough for the red-tops, perhaps, but constructive and will at least do no harm.