THE BLOG

More Than One Direction

24/03/2016 12:01 GMT | Updated 23/03/2017 09:12 GMT

It's probably no surprise to you that I am not running for the office of President of the United States or seeking for your vote in a referendum. I've not got an employer who'll tell me to be careful and I expect my political friends have already discounted me as a Tory. Which mean I can say whatever I want right now, and I am going to do that with reference to Brussels.

Being the second news day of the Brussels attack we can predict a lot of the coverage. There will be the apologists claiming "this isn't Islam", there will be the racists (insert Trump) and opportunists (insert Cruz) and there will be religious folk arguing the toss over whether this is spiritual warfare. It'll repeat the cycle we have seen over and over again. The UK will tear itself apart trying to work out whether we are angry at Islamic fundamentalists, or standing with Muslims and we'll be tripping over ourselves to try keep everyone happy and to sound firm. But nothing will change.

This isn't the first attack and each and every time we react in the same way. It's a tool that groups like Daesh use to their advantage, they know what will happen in the wake of this.

The response of 'The West' is likely to be the usual. The PM and Presidential candidates are going to talk about 'Justice' and 'defeating ISIS' and those who are not willing to put themselves on the front line are going to suggest total war.

So what's my point? Well how about we try something a little different this time.

This attack, the lives lost, are not another reason to debate Brexit or border control. Let's stay clear of cheap and nasty comments about refugees harbouring Daesh. First up let's admit that if people hate us and want to kill us then they will find a way. They may come from Syria and Libya, or even Leeds and London, but they will continue, regardless of 'in' or 'out', Schengen or not.

A report by the Daily Mail (sorry) shows the extent of the RAF mission in Syria against ISIS. £36 million spent, and 150 positions struck. Great, so what's the result? Well over the past few months the territory of Daesh has shrunk by 14%, brilliant, we are winning. Yet they repeatedly strike us in our cities. We recently came out of massive campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, during which they struck us in our cities. When the UK had soldiers deployed in Ireland the IRA struck us in our cities. We used big military against ideologies and guerilla warfare as if we had learnt nothing from Vietnam. Isn't it about time we realise that the Fox News approach of "bomb them, bomb them and bomb them again" isn't going to work?

I think it's time we try a different tactic. People will hate me for this, they'll say I am apologising for Western foreign policy and being an apologist for the terrorists, but they'd be wrong. I think it's time we show the Middle East a different face, we show them what a cultured and democratic society stands for and can deliver.

It pains me to say that Obama in Cuba is proof that a new face works. After years of embargoes and 'tough politics' Cuba and the US got no closer. Then Obama showed a friendlier hand and the island opened up. Americans could trade there and small enterprise is growing. With that will come a growing middle class and democracy, without bombs.

We need to be honest and say we do ourselves no favours in the Middle East. The UK drew a lot of the disputed borders and created a lot of tension. Our history in the area is poor and all we ever seem to do is bomb the place. Then we sit here surprised that people hate us.

I get that Daesh are an evil death cult, sure But if other Middle Eastern communities were as strong as the Kurdish militia then Daesh would have been crushed. If we hadn't left a power vacuum in Iraq then there would be a better response from there.

So it's about time we show the Middle East a new hand. Let's keep the planes targeting Daesh, but let's do some better work too. How about we show the refugees that Europe and 'The West' cares, by giving better targeted aid and providing shelter, rather than racist column inches and false accusations of 'migrant gang sex attacks in Germany'. Let's get some support to rebuilding infrastructure in Palestine and Iraq. Let's see us give money to rebuild destroyed Mosques in Syria for the local communities to pray in. Maybe let's use different language around our conversations and not jump to vile rhetoric and tear ourselves apart in working out if these are Muslims or not and work WITH the Muslim community to empower and mobilise them.

Britain has a history that we can be proud of, if we look at the right parts. We are a caring and brave little island and can continue to be. And our little brother across the Atlantic can be nice sometimes too.

Last week the US used two old Vietnam era propeller planes in Syria to fight Daesh and concluded they needed a cheap and slow aircraft. The era of high speed expensive jet's costing billions is closing. It's a change in tactic. So let's continue that. Let's end the era of responding to terror with terror and fire with fire. A bomb in Brussels shouldn't equal more in Mosul. Been there, done that, didn't even get a t-shirt.

Let's stand tall, proud and defiant and united and say that we won't be dragged into a coward's war that these terrorists want. Let's show that we can get on with our lives and love our neighbour. Let's rebuild the Middle East and "turn the other cheek".

Then, maybe, we'll be safer. And if we are not, then we can at least say we have tried more than one way of defeating an evil ideology. Because whatever we've done so far sure isn't working very well.

*this blog was originally posted on DigitalGruel.com