Thursday, October 22, 2015

A Drive-By Booting

Okay, so this post is a bit of a drive-by, but it's probably worth noting what does and doesn't feature in Jim Murphy's impassioned plea for throbbing British military stiffness and a pounding for ISIS.

It does contain:

- Much back-patting for the author's selfless refusal of lucrative book offers; 

- A frank admission that the 2013 Syria bombing proposals were largely cosmetic, followed by anguished sobs of regret over voting against them;

- A flat declaration that the 2003 Iraq invasion and occupation are so far in the past as to be irrelevant to decisions that we might make today;

- Nudge-nudges about how the author takes the situation much more seriously than other MPs do; 

- Gratuitous scare-quotes around the word "anti-war" in relation to other MPs;

- Open admissions that "military action alone won't work"; 

- Bizarre chin-stroking about Britain's "period of unresolved purpose" between 1956 and 1968, a time in which British soldiers were engaged in Cyprus, Kenya, Borneo and Yemen, amongst other countries*,

- An assertion that "conscientious objection" is unacceptable, and 

- A bit of rah-rah about how the decision to bomb Syria will test our national greatness, or something.

It's quite a sight, to see a once-prominent politician sobbing in regret because he didn't resign over a proposed bombing campaign that even he recognises was mainly a cosmetic gesture, while simultaneously dicking off the catastrophically destructive war that he actually did vote for.

Nonetheless, let's note what doesn't appear in Jim's article:

- A single, solitary claim that fighting ISIS will help anyone, in either Syria or Iraq. 

I'm unsure how to take this, really.  Is it absent-mindedness, or an over-enthusiastic sub-editor, or just rampant vainglory?

Whatever's going on, I think it's worth noting that for Murphy, the question To Bomb, Or Not To Bomb really is all about us, and that the countries we're proposing to bombard don't even rate a moment's consideration.

*Cheers to assorted readers for pointing out some of the sillier arguments in Murphy's piece.  You know who you are.

5 comments:

Luke said...

"Whatever's going on, I think it's worth noting that for Murphy, the question To Bomb, Or Not To Bomb really is all about us, and that the countries we're proposing to bombard don't even rate a moment's consideration."

I have not really made up my mind about how much the UK government should be concerned about citizens of other countries. A bit, yes, as much as UK citizens, probably not. Not very altruistic I'll accept.

But I'm not entirely clear how UK citizens benefit from bombing (or who we are meant to bomb). FWIW, my take on ME politics/bombing is coloured by many of my local shopkeepers being Kurdish, and their relatives being bombed by everyone.

Anonymous said...

What a bizarre article by Jim Murphy, full of non sequiturs and logical twists and turns. If I understand the introduction correctly, he has managed to get a regular berth at the Staggers, which suggests another turn of the spiral of decline of that magazine.

Guano

gastro george said...

"... huge uncertainty about what Britain means abroad ..."

I imagine, amongst those who get to experience it, that there is actually huge certainty about what Britain means abroad.

Anonymous said...

Could Murphy's reference to a supposed British post-1956 "period of unresolved purpose" mean that Murphy thinks that Britain should have sent troops to Vietnam? Whether or not this is the case, the article is about a British equivalent of the so-called "Vietnam Syndrome", an apparent irrational aversion to being involved in foreign wars.

Guano

gregorach said...

"I think it's worth noting that for Murphy, the question To Bomb, Or Not To Bomb really is all about us."

Yet another data point for my hypothesis that somewhere over 95% of foreign policy is entirely about domestic politics...