2 December 2015

As MPs take a vote on military action in Syria today, I hope that our government does not let us down.
Tony Benn
War does not create peace. It never has and it never will.

I watched a video of the late Tony Benn which is doing the rounds on social media this morning. The politician, who I believe would have been the perfect person to turn around today’s Labour Party, spoke ahead of a vote on the war in Iraq in 1998. His words ring just as true today as we discuss bombing ISIS in Syria.

He said: “I was in London in the Blitz in 1940, living in Millbank Tower, where I was born.

“Every night I went down to the shelter in Thames House, every morning I saw Docklands burning. Five hundred people were killed in Westminster one night by a landmine. It was terrifying.

“Aren’t Iraqis terrified? Don’t Arab and Iraqi women weep when their children die? Doesn’t bombing strengthen their determination?

“What fools we are to live in a generation in which war is a computer game for our children and an interesting little channel or news item.”

He quoted the United Nations charter – “We the people of the United Nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war which twice in our lifetime has caused untold suffering to mankind” – describing how it would be the greatest betrayal of all to go against this. Will the MPs of today once again vote to ignore this pledge?

Afterwards, following the confirmation of action in Iraq, Tony Benn said: “It is a war crime that has been committed in Iraq, because there is no moral difference between a stealth bomber and a suicide bomber. Both kill innocent people for political reasons.”

Telegraph cartoon for Syria

Today’s cartoon in the @Telegraph

This is the situation that we find our country in today. Do we continue down the path of war? Arguably, events caused by countries including ourselves in Iraq have led to the situation we are in today. I wonder when we as a country and a world power will realise that military action isn’t the answer to these problems. I am no expert and cannot tell you what is the answer, but history tells us that bombs and bullets are not.

As Mr Benn said back in 1998, every Member of Parliament who votes for this military action is consciously accepting responsibility for the deaths of innocent people if the war begins.

What do you think?

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