Thursday, 26 November 2015

Syrian civilians: Must we destroy them to save them?

I listened very carefully to the Prime Minister‘s statement in Parliament on why he believes Britain should start bombing ISIS in Syria.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn asked him: “What impact does he believe an intensified air campaign will have on civilian casualties—civilian casualties—in the ISIS-held territory and the wider Syrian refugee crisis, which is so enormous and so appalling?”

Mr Cameron answered: “On the important question of civilian casualties, I believe that the truth of the matter is that British capabilities provide one of the best ways to reduce civilian casualties. In a year and three months of the action we have taken in Iraq, there have been no reports of civilian casualties. We believe that we have some of the most accurate weapons known to man.”
Incredulously, he then added: “I think extending our activities into Syria is likely to reduce civilian casualties rather than increase them.”

This analysis recalls a very famous comment on the impact of bombing in the Vietnam war. The subsequently famous Associated Press correspondent Peter Arnett, who later reported for CNN,  in reporting  the US attack Bến Tre city on 7 February 1968 wroite:

'It became necessary to destroy the town to save it', a United States major said today. He was talking about the decision by allied commanders to bomb and shell the town regardless of civilian casualties, to rout the Vietcong.”


I fear the same fate awaits Syrian civilians currently existing in ISIS strongholds

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