Going to war against ISIS



Emile Roemer, leader of the radical left Socialist Party of the Netherlands, opposes the Dutch government’s military support for yet another war in the Middle East.

3 Oct 2014 Our country is going into combat. It’s war. We are going to be sending F16s to intervene in the civil war in Iraq and (indirectly) in Syria. The SP does not support this escalation of violence, and with good reason. .

Firstly, almost none of the western world’s violent interventions in the Middle East and the Far East have led to the desired result. In every case we have caused more damage, more deaths, more traumatised people, and more refugees than we have solved problems and served the cause of progress. You cannot bomb people into modernity.

The conflict in the Middle East is, as so often, not divisible into warring parties of which one represents the good and the other the bad. By turning our military on ISIS we are in point of fact serving as Syrian President Assad’s air force. The former enemy is all of a sudden our friend.

Like everyone I look at ISIS’s practices with disgust. Let us not forget, however, that ISIS is the product of the chaos created in part by the US and the UK in Iraq. We must draw the lessons from this. If we don’t deal with the breeding grounds of ISIS’s unprincipled fanaticism, warfare will achieve absolutely nothing.

Reason should always win over gut reaction. If we do not take account of the reality of the situation, ideals can easily be transformed into their opposite.

Finally, we are not powerless. We must put a stop to ISIS’s oil exports; prevent ISIS from having access to supplies of new weaponry; trace their financiers and deal with them; support the thousands of refugees, helping to provide them with decent accommodation and aid within the region; and track down ISIS’s leaders, arrest them and arraign them before the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

This would be more useful to humanity than will a further military escalation of the conflict. Putting a bomb under a powder keg is not only unwise, it’s inhuman. This sort of massive attack will cause many innocent civilian deaths. With this fresh intervention we are once again jumping through a hole into the darkness: there’s no strategy and no goal. ‘We have to do something’ is no justification; it’s a scream in the night, one that does nothing to help either ourselves or the people there.

We need to keep our hearts warm and our heads cool.

Emile Roemer is a Member of the Dutch Parliament and leader of the Socialist Party of the Netherlands

Photograph by  Nathan Rupert on Flickr