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By M. Babajide-Alabi
Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment.
The more experiments you make the better,
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The above quote may probably have been the propelling factor behind David Cameron actions in recent times. The United Kingdom Prime Minister has made a bold move to confront the evil terrorist group, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIL) in their territory. He has shown that he is not timid and squeamish but resolute to pursue a battle against terrorism, with the support of his citizens.
On Wednesday December 2nd, Mr Cameron was granted his wish for Britain to get involved in the “demolition” of ISIS by dropping bombs on their locations. The Commons voted overwhelmingly in support of the move. The decision was not arrived at easily as it took over 10 hours deliberations by the Members of Parliament before the cores were read out, to the relief of the PM and, probably, the annoyance of the opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn.
On this day at the Commons it was a tale of joy and sadness, victory and defeat for the two leaders. The smile on the face of the Prime Minister David Cameron at the end of the vote was priceless. The relief he had cannot be expressed in words as a total of 397 votes came in support and 233 against. Cameron had acted and spoken as desperate, but he assured everybody that the vote means a lot to him, his party and also the British people. To him it was a step towards destroying the foundation of terrorism that has made the world unsafe.
While Cameron could not hide his grin, Corbyn on the other hand, could not afford one. He had just lost in what was his first test as an opposition leader. Besides this, the subject is something that is very close to the heart of the Labour leader, considering his past as a “No More War activist”. However, he could not complain much though as he definitely would be happy inside that all had ended. His party could not agree on what path to follow collectively.
To both leaders, the weeks preceding the votes in parliament were not the easiest of times. For Mr Cameron, the terrorist attack in France on the night of November 13th brought reality far closer than he could have envisaged initially. The attack jolted him to action that Britain had to make a move on the notorious ISIS or his country could be the next target. His brief immediately therefore was how to convince his MPs and the opposition that the time is “nigh” for Britain to lead an assault on ISIS.
To Corbyn, these “war songs” composed by Cameron are not the best of sounds in his ears at that time. He was quick to bring out his anti-war credentials, “flashing it menacingly” in front of the Conservatives while trying to canvass an alternative option to defeating terrorism. The Labour leader accused the Prime Minister of rushing to battle.
Corbyn’s dilemma is not made easy by the fact that his shadow cabinet could not agree with him on why Britain should not engage in the “war”. It was no doubt Corbyn’s first major test as the Labour leader. He would have thought that it would be an easy choice of decision which could be passed on to the Labour MPs on what the line of voting would be. It was the opposite, as leading members of his shadow cabinet voiced their support for the bill. In the parliament, Corbyn was left red faced when big names in his cabinet stood up in support of the Prime Minister’s initiative.
The Prime Minister’s argument for an air strike on Syria may have sounded “cliché ” to Corbyn and his anti-war friends who were on the streets of London on Wednesday night to protest the passage of the bill, but in reality, there is need for a drastic action to cut the wings of the group that seems to hold the “balls” of the world in its dirty, evil palms. This reality was probably why unfortunately, the demonstrations outside the parliament had no effect on the outcome of the voting.
One can understand the Prime Minister’s adamant “stand” on bombing this group. To him, taking these terrorists out in their bases is a surety for a safer United Kingdom. The government has never hidden its fear of another terrorists attack in the country. This is understandable when one counts the death toll and level of destruction of the 7/7 attack of 2005. The British public has been told repeatedly in the past that many terrorists attacks had been “nipped in the bud” due to the vigilance of the security agencies.
Another big worry on the plate of the Cameron led government is the influence of the IS on young British citizens. It is a common knowledge that many of them had been “hoodwinked” by the IS propaganda. These youngsters, no doubt, are in a state of disillusionment, and will do anything to get on budget airlines to Turkey and walk their ways to Syria to fight. Many, including families, have been reported to have eluded security watch to fight the “holy war” in Syria.
The fear in the UK is that these “runaways” may one day return to carry out large scale terrorism acts in the country. Apart from this, the destruction of IS seems to be the beginning of wisdom on how to stop its propaganda that is radicalising some of these Moslem youths.
Little wonder why the there was no major opposition to the bill from some Labour Party. The collective will to prosecute the strike and get IS out of the way had “deadened” the reasoning of some of the MPs to consider that it might be another war in futility just like the Iraq war.
While the argument of safer Britain without IS seen to go down well with majority of the public, some analysts have cautioned that the move may make UK a veritable target for ISIL. They cited the France attacks as examples of backlash resulting from policy formulations and interventions against ISIL. Additionally, they are questioning the successes of past interventions, in the Arab world. Many have cited Iraq and Libya as examples of Britain’s “unnecessary and wasteful” “sojourns” in the region.
Right now Mr Cameron is riding the wave, but in a few months or years down the line, will he be hailed as an hero for liberating the world or end up as Tony Blair – the unofficially U’K’s most hated man. His sin was that he led the country to a war spearheaded by the US leader George Bush. Blair is the longest serving Labour Prime Minister, but unfortunately, to some analysts, he do not deserve more than a page in history book.
However, that was 2003. This is 2015.
The questions that are begging for answers are – why is Cameron so desperate for war now? Is he a good student of history? Or is he on a self destruct mission in Syria?
It will take minimum of two years for us to find the answers.
Published in Sunday Vanguard of December 6, 2015. CLICK HERE