I’m not sure I can cope with hearing one more person say that they oppose action against Isis because there needs to be a “diplomatic solution”.
Of course, some people have valid points to back up this statement. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, speaking to Andrew Marr on Sunday, eloquently put forward his belief that a diplomatic solution to the Syrian civil war needed to be found before military action against Isis could be considered.
During the interview on BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Corbyn said bombing would lead to civilian casualties and risks making the situation “worse, not better”. He also pointed out the futility of bombing Isis without an international effort to cut off their funding, oil trading and weapons supply.
As such my dispute is not with Corbo. Instead I’m talking about another swathe of people, the kind featured on vox pops protesting who hold views that can only be called vacuous.
Now before you label me a hawkish, right-wing, Western warmonger: I am a pacifist, and I abhor war.
I firmly believe, for example, that the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima was wholly unnecessary, a view even Robert J. Oppenheimer, the so-called “father of the atomic bomb”, took up after World War Two.
I’m also a virtue hipster insomuch as agreeing that the West seems to arbitrarily pick and choose who to help.
After all, what about the genocide in Darfur? What about when the Bashar al-Assad was proven, by the UN, to be using chemical weapons against civilians? And why did we target the Iraqi tyrant Saddam Hussein, but refuse to challenge other dictators?
It’s fair to say then that I’m critical of military interventions, though I do stop short of ruling them out entirely. After all, I’m unable to conceive of a solution to the Holocaust without military action.
However suggesting that there can be a diplomatic solution with Isis is like suggesting you can talk a bear out of mauling you, or a great white shark out of eating you.
Isis have made it very clear, repeatedly, that their interests lay in intimidation, fear and the destruction of innocent lives around the world. Their rhetoric has been that of violence and war, and a rejection of diplomacy.
Japan, a declared pacifist nation, has already seen this. In February, Japanese journalist Kenji Goto was brutally murdered in a video released by Isis, with the murderer threatening that Isis would “cause carnage wherever your [Japanese] people are found.”
No one could guarantee the safety of diplomats, let alone hope to find meaningful solutions. And what could such “solutions” possibly look like? Agreeing that Isis could keep some of the land it has taken by force? What kind of precedent would that set?
Even UN and EU aid worker Michael Semple, who worked in Afghanistan for 18 years and was one of only a few involved in talks with senior Taliban members, told the BBC that talks held with ISIS risked “legitimis[ing] the parties involved”.
So I say to the virtue hipsters, by all means go to the demonstrations of the Stop the War Coalition. But do yourself a favour: don’t talk of a “diplomatic solution with Isis.” Because an opinion you think sounds left wing, altruistic and cool actually makes you sound like a fucking moron.
Image Credit – The Hipster, December 2009 by Christopher Michel