Wednesday, 2 December 2015
Advent in Syria
Last night one of the choirs I'm in led an Advent Carol Service.
The first reading included Isaiah 2:4
. . . and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
A later reading was a poem by John Morgan entitled "The Seven days of an Advent Calendar." I can't find it on Google but the conclusion was on the lines of "how many Advents do we need to get the message?"
I would have liked to have the whole House of Commons packed into the church to listen.
We have had Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. Just how many do we need to learn the lesson that military interference in matters we don't understand and can't control makes matters worse, not least by adding to the concept of "Crusader West" and fuelling antagonism towards us?
Proponents of air strikes claim "we cannot sit back and do nothing."
But the alternative is not to do nothing.
Energetic international diplomatic action to stop the supply of money, oil and arms to Isis, to encourage Muslim countries, especially those in the area, to "take ownership" of the problem, and a humane welcome to refugees are all positive steps that will do good. With or without air-strikes, we must redouble the efforts of the police and security services to discover and neutralise potential terrorist cells, though we must hope with rather more sensitivity than that depicted on last night's BBC 1 version of John Lancaster's "Capital." And, in the long run, before we really are all dead, I'd like to see this counter-productive notion of a "war on terror" replaced by international police action to catch criminals
Our Foreign Office claims to be full of "Arabists" with a special feeling for and understanding of the Middle East area, based on long experience. Well, let's give them a chance to show what they can do..
There is every sign that David Cameron is losing confidence in his own argument. Why else should he rush the debate and attempt to smear opponents with the disgraceful description : " a bunch of terrorist sympathisers."?
I am deeply distressed that the Liberal Democrat MPs have announced they will be supporting the air-strikes. This , if carried out, will be the first big mistake of Tim Farron's leadership.
It hasn't happened yet. I hope and pray for a change of heart, and that Cameron's intemperate language and inadequate arguments will persuade enough Labour MPs to follow their leader and so avoid this Tory folly.