Ever since the beheadings of innocent journalists and aid workers by the so-called Islamic State militants in 2014, the debate as to how the West should eradicate the threat posed by ISIS has been hotly contested. Now, with the recent massacre in Paris and the announcement that seven terror plots have been foiled by the UK security services within the last year, the need to defeat ISIS is at an all-time high.
MPs are sharply divided over the approach the UK should take in dealing with the ongoing threat; however, the division is not necessarily party political. Jeremy Corbyn, the far left leader of the Labour Party, is strongly opposed to any form of military intervention in Syria. Whereas, David Cameron, the centre-right leader of the Conservatives and Prime Minister, is strongly in favour of supporting France and the US in their air strikes on IS heartlands in Syria. There is a small percentage of Conservative MPs who do not wish to bomb Syria and there are some Labour MPs who believe air strikes are the best way of defeating ISIS.
The conflict of ideas in the House of Commons is mirrored by the public, but the question on everyone’s lips is: ‘Will air strikes work to defeat ISIS?’
This article will put forward the three main opinions, in an attempt to address the ongoing debate and spark a response from our school population.
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The government motion is:
“The longer Isil is allowed to grow in Syria, the greater the threat it will pose. It is wrong for the United Kingdom to subcontract its security to other countries, and to expect the aircrews of other nations to carry the burdens and the risks of striking Isil in Syria to stop terrorism here in Britain.”
We want to know what you think about the air strikes in Syria.
The view in favour of air strikes
The view in favour of air strikes is supported by the claim that the UK must assist its allies in neutralising the threat to the British people from ISIS.
The Prime Minister, in a report to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, stated that “the threats to our interests and to our people are such that we cannot afford to stand aside and not to act. Throughout Britain’s history, we have been called on time and again to make the hardest of decisions in defence of our citizens and our country. Today one of the greatest threats we face to our security is the threat from Isil [Isis].”
This view is shared by many who believe that you cannot negotiate with extremists and that the only way to eradicate terrorism is to act militarily.
Simon Danzuk, a Labour MP, has publicly spoken out in opposition to his leader by expressing a view in support of air strikes. Mr Danzuk, in an interview with Sky News, explained that “there are some real arguments about taking action, nobody wants to take military action unnecessarily, but it’s quite clear from all the intelligence that is being given that there is a real threat to national security.”
Mr Danzuk also went on to claim that the shadow cabinet is divided over whether to vote in favour of air strikes or not; this suggests that the vote in the House of Commons today will be incredibly divisive.
A final view in favour of air strikes comes from our local Conservative MP, Mark Prisk. Mr Prisk released an official statement which explains that he is “minded to support the Government’s strategy. However, any vote will depend on the details of the motion put before the house”.
In summary, the Conservative Party, namely David Cameron and our MP Mark Prisk, are largely united in their view in favour of air strikes in Syria. In addition, the Labour Party is somewhat divided over its views on this topic but many take the view that air strikes are the only way to combat ISIS’ poisonous ideology.
The view against air strikes
The view against air strikes in Syria is based on the notion that negotiation is a safer and more rational option and stems from a fear that ISIS may attack the UK in retaliation.
Jeremy Corbyn has been outspoken in his view that air strikes are a bad idea and that a peaceful approach is necessary to combat ISIS. Mr Corbyn, in an interview with the BBC, asked his MPs to ‘bear in mind what the public think and what the implications are for this country’. By this, it is meant that the possibility of a terrorist attack on UK soil is likely increase if air strikes are conducted in Syria.
Mr Corbyn went on to explain that air strikes, in his opinion, were ‘not a sensible or rational way forward’, adding it ‘takes us yet again into another conflict’.
This view is shared by Conservative MP, John Baron, who, as a former soldier, believes that we should learn from the ‘mistakes’ of the Iraq War and oppose military action.
Mr Baron, writing for the Mail Online, explained that ‘air strikes will simply reinforce the West’s failure in the region generally at a time when there are already too many aircraft chasing too few targets’.
This opinion highlights a sense of unease among some government backbenches and creates the impression that despite the Conservative Party appearing seemingly cohesive over its view on air strikes, there is some internal disagreement as to whether bombing ISIS in Syria is a sensible idea.
The Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, also opposes air strikes in Syria as she believes that “ISIS attempts to present itself as the true guardian of Islam under attack from the 'crusader West'. This message, though utterly pernicious and wrong, is being reinforced by Western bombings, with every indication that the attacks are an incredibly effective recruiting sergeant for ISIS.”
To summarise, the view in opposition to air strikes proposes that bombing will only alienate Muslim communities, enable ISIS to recruit more extremists and lead to an increased chance of a terrorist attack occurring here in the UK.
The undecided view
The government has scheduled a one day debate on whether or not we should bomb Syria to combat ISIS; however, many believe that there has been insufficient time allocated to debating such an important decision.
Labour MP, Diana Johnson, today announced that she has ‘yet to make up her mind over bombing in Syria’.
This is the case for a number of MPs who have explained that they will wait to hear the cases put today to decide which way to vote.
The Party Positions