Military Action Always The First Resort

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Politicians focusing upon violence as a solution with regards to intervention in the Middle East… will they ever learn?

This week once again saw Britain on the poise of military intervention within the Middle East after the shocking events that took place in Syria. Although after this week’s vote Britain will not be using direct military action, why does it remain the dominant intervention tool in today’s international politics? Have British politicians not learnt from direct military intervention in Iraq and the costs it has and will continue to cause?

David Cameron, on the 29th of August, conducted a speech to the House of Commons detailing the absolute need for a British military intervention within Syria, I quote: ‘there is a clear legal basis for military action.’ By comparing the speeches of Tony Blair in 2003 and David Cameron in 2013 we can highlight stark comparisons, showing that violence, or direct military action, remains the ideal for international intervention. Should this not have changed?

Since 2003 and the beginning of the Iraq war, as explained by the Iraq Body count website, by 2004, 10,000 civilians had died. This was only a year into the conflict. Since the US and UK military intervention in Iraq, ten years have passed; the fighting is continuing, there seems no sign of it coming to an end and the civilians of Iraq continue to suffer. David Cameron, promoting the idea of direct military intervention within his speech on Thursday, said: ‘It is within Britain’s national interests… A stable Middle East is Britain’s national interest.’ So how would promoting violence within another Middle Eastern country promote stability? Does it not promote the continuation of violence and instability? Is the Iraq war not a clear example of direct military action failing whilst promoting an irreversible barrier between the west and the Middle East? And yet, still, David Cameron promotes similar ideals to Tony Blair: to apply violence as a means to promote there not a lesson to be learnt with regards to the direct military action used in the Iraq war?

Direct military intervention would most likely follow the same pattern as the Iraq war. Have politicians no alternatives for interventions? Should intervention not promote the ending of violence and promote peace, rather than continue the hostility and fighting that is ending so many lives? The idea of diplomacy and peace talks are always left to the last resort, and it is arguably this that should be challenged on an international scale. What has happened in Syria is beyond belief for many, and the international society cannot ignore the suffering of the Syrian people, however it also cannot prolong or create anymore suffering through the use of violence.

Western politicians pride themselves upon diplomacy and the ideals of diplomacy, but yet still use direct military action as a solution to the trouble in the Middle East. To quote David Cameron’s speech: ‘Using diplomacy to end this war with a political solution.’ Direct military action is not promoting diplomacy, diplomacy is not through a barrel of a gun, and it is this lesson that should have been learnt 10 years ago. It’s time to change international intervention strategies, moving away from direct military action as a means to promote peace and stability.

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