One of the fundamental jobs of a journalist is to question. As Britain steers towards an interventionist strategy in Syria, I'm forced to ask why? Why does the government, the opposition, and a large portion of the media seem intent on entangling Britain in yet another Middle-East conflict.
The majority of the politicians we have these days are cast from the same mould. Privileged background, public school, PPS at Cambridge or PPE at Oxford. What they don't seem to study is history. Even recent history would appear to have escaped them. Engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan have been costly. Have our interventions brought much good for the people there? It would appear not. Both countries have descended back into the chaos of tit-for-tat killings. The only thing intervention by a western force appears to do is to unite the waring factions into a single and prolonged attack on the "hated imperialist invaders".
There is a hesitancy to pull the troops out, and I can understand why. We must be defiant and not let ourselves be bullied by terrorists. However, the question still remains about why we are drawn into such conflicts in the first place. Is it western arrogance that we must police the world? Or could it be the financial reward for some. If Iraq was about oil, and Afghanistan about 9/11, then Syria could well be about arms.
Everyday there are fresh reports arriving from Syria. Putting reporters into harms way seems to be what is deemed good "news-shaping" these days. We are fed a constant diet of the dead and the dying. A slaughter horror show as a country tears itself apart. Though there is little impartiality here. The embedded journalists appear solely with the rebel forces. As Star Wars is played out for real, Bassar Al-Assad has seemingly been cast as Darth Vader.
A red line was drawn by the west. They said only the use of chemical weapons would provoke action. It has not. The collective media seem intent on egging on such an intervention. Any sketchy report of the use of chemical weapons finds it's way into the hard facts of war reporting. Yet when a leading member of the UN Commission stated that evidence exists that chemical weapons have been used against civilians loyal to Al-Assad, the White House was quick to dismiss it. It didn't fit the chosen narrative.
The fact is that chemical weapons do exist in Syria, around 1000 tonnes, and some may well have fallen into rebel hands. We also know that terrorist groups are operating within Syria. So it's surprising that Britain seems so keen to start supplying rebel groups with arms. Have we not learnt anything from the fatal errors of the past. The backing of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan against the Soviets, and the backing of Saddam's Iraq in the conflict against Iran show that time and again we have backed one side only for it to later bite the hand that fed it. I predict a similar outcome if we are to became embroiled in Syria.
It is not the first time we've been prepared to turn a blind eye to atrocities committed by those we've armed. During the conflict in the former Yugoslavia war crimes committed against Serbs went largely unreported because we were backing the other side. The same news filtration appears to be taking place again with Syria.
Though what I suspect is really behind all this is good old economics. As America discovered in World War Two, war can be good business if you're supplying the weapons. Having criticised Russia, a long-time ally of Syria, for continuing to supply the regime with arms. Britain now wants to supply the opposition. They have a history in the region - nearly £4bn in the last four years in arms export licences to the Saudis has proved a nice little earner for the UK's arms manufacturers.
I'm not denying that the war in Syria is a hell on earth for it's citizens, or that there have been war crimes committed against them. Though I suspect our government's push for arms sales to Syrian opposition forces may have less to do with the atrocities and inequalities of a foreign war and more to do with financial concerns closer to home.Suggest a correction