Tag Archives: 2015 paris terrorist attacks

The case for Syrian air-strikes: not overwhelming, but strong enough

In the early hours of 21 August 2013, rockets began to land in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta. The civilian population of Syria had now become used to this, since Bashar al-Assad had decided over 2 years earlier that in response to a peaceful uprising against his totalitarian rule he would prosecute the most brutal military campaign by a ruler against his people that this century has seen. But this attack was different: the rockets were filled with sarin, a highly toxic nerve agent.

When the images of the hundreds of people killed and thousands injured began to circulate, there was international outrage of a level not so far seen in the Syrian Civil War. Momentum gathered for a military response. Obama’s red line had been crossed. Enough was enough.

Only it wasn’t. Obama dithered. Miliband played politics. Assad survived to kill another day.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 69 Comments

Paris – no knee-jerk responses, but no cop-outs either

The worst terrorist attack in western Europe for a decade has left us all feeling numb. Our thoughts go out to the bereaved and injured. But inevitably our minds look to the consequences. What we must avoid is any knee-jerk responses. Two such responses we must avoid are: first, a rush by governments to remove yet more of our hard-won freedoms; and second, a rush to close our borders to refugees coming from the Middle East.

Our freedoms of speech, expression and religion, and our rights to privacy and to live our lives as we want were hard won over many centuries and we must defend the honour of those who fought and sometimes died to secure them for us. When it comes to refugees from the Middle East, the first thing we should remember is that this type of horrific slaughter is exactly what the refugees are fleeing from. The terror we saw in Paris should make us more acutely understanding of why the refugees are fleeing, because attacks like this have been going on in Syria and Iraq now for a decade.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 39 Comments

We must hold back on military action against ISIS

Even in a world in which we see tragedy every day on the news, one where twenty four hour coverage of the many battles currently raging in different corners of the globe makes it easy to become numb to humanitarian disaster, the Paris attacks last week were shocking. Amongst the heartening displays of solidarity and defiance, people are angry, and rightly so. Those who committed the attacks displayed such a level of callous cruelty that it is completely understandable that many across Europe want revenge against patrons of the twisted ideology that leads people to carry out such horrific acts.

Now, however, is not the time to act on this anger. Emotions are running far too high for sensible decisions about foreign policy to be made. It is not heartless or unpatriotic to point this out, and of course we all want to see an end to ISIS, but the growing pressure on the British government to join the bombing campaign in Syria must be resisted. For now, anyway.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 28 Comments

Solidarity with Paris

French flag

For the second time in ten months, we have been shocked by events in Paris.

People doing what we are all lucky enough to be able to do on a Friday night – head out for a meal, to a football match, to a gig – meet death and violence.

I just felt heartbroken watching events unfold last night, thinking of all those people, of the emergency services coming to their aid, of President Hollande, whose shocked face spoke for us all, for those waiting for news of their loved ones.

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 54 Comments
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