I woke this morning with the same concern in my heart as that which enveloped me the night before.
The arguments in favour of extending British bombing into Syria seem logical, and I understand about the need to stop ISIL, about standing by our allies and that the new operations are limited in their scope. Many of the details of the justification are missing, flawed or misleading, however, and it seems that Parliament has approved a military colander – a vessel that is full of holes.
The Parliamentary case against war in Syria was not well made either, both in the facts put forward and in the quality of vision. It was not helped by the backdrop of anti-war demonstrations, intimidation of MPs and a Labour Party at war with itself. It is worrying that this Opposition party is unable to hold itself to account, let alone the Government at a time when it is crucially important to do so.
While preventing terrorism is a laudable aim, the UK, overnight, has walked into a nightmare: ISIL is just one strand of a web of great complexity, the extent of which has not yet been understood – or admitted. It involves Assad, who already is trying to control the new British involvement; religious factionalism including and outwith ISIS; an ongoing war of recrimination between Iran and Saudi Arabia about Syria; the motivation and sincerity of Turkey, with significant ramifications for the security of the EU; the commitment or otherwise of the US; relations between Russia and the West; the inevitability of mission creep; and, of course, money. Meanwhile, every second, people, animals, lands suffer.
Nightmares serve a purpose however. They serve as reminders of what needs to be remembered or done, they can bring up old fears and help to resolve conflict within us. They can be primitive in their origin, and yet help to clarify our present lives and see the truth. A recurring nightmare is an indication that there is something in our shadow side we still have not addressed. By going deeper into the nightmare that is Syria and the wider region, all of us who are involved – and there will be more – will have the opportunity to look at ourselves, as nations and individuals, and to see what really is important in the world. It is our task, then, to make sure it happens.
It is ironic that, two days ago, world leaders proclaimed as one that climate change and the well-being of the Planet were a top priority, before turning their attention back to conflict. The Paris talks continue, but seem forgotten in the excitement of war. Sometimes I reflect on the good that could be done with all the money we spend on aggression – which only delivers more aggression.
It helps to remember that nightmares are not real, and that we can change their nature if we wish. The nightmare that is Syria can become a cathartic dream, leaving us with a feeling of peace and optimism, and the dawning of a new day.
If you can, view the events in the Middle East as a necessary contribution to our changing world, to help us to a new reality where the need, or desire, for war is forgotten, and where our focus, at last, is on the our natural world, without which we are nothing. The situation in Syria is terrible and may get worse, but it can deliver, in time, something wonderful, like the phoenix that rises from the ashes of what has been destroyed. The old ways need to go, and our reluctance to let go makes the transition painful. Look at our leaders with the eyes of understanding: you will see much, and learn the truth.