Any person who cares about their country wants to support the armed forces who are the ultimate protection against foes, current or future, but are our defence forces being used inappropriately on the territories of other countries. Is the cost, in terms of human lives and national resources a price worth paying and is there another approach to achieve better results?
Hundreds of our young men and women have perished in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and many times their number have been wounded. Their service and sacrifice has been extreme.
What are our leaders saying? Army chiefs tell us that in the case of Afghanistan we could be there for decades. Politicians on both sides of the Atlantic brand the two conflicts as a global war on terror and speak of its importance.
What was it that stirred so many nations to put troops in the field? Acts of violence against the populace of mainly Western peoples prompted the response. Take that simple idea – violence creates a similar response. It is a recruiting sergeant for nations and individuals to take up arms.
So how does putting troops onto foreign soil stack up with that? The policy recruits more terrorists to fight the ‘invaders’ and up the spiral it all goes.
What is the alternative?
Purely as a process of radical thinking and with no sympathy towards the various protest groups, there would seem to be two productive solutions, which could and should run in parallel.
Policy one: As the Taliban and Bin Laden’s followers both embrace highly selective interpretations of Islam, putting equal resource (in terms of cash and people) into explaining and educating young people in the true messages of the faith (the emphasis on consideration for other people and strong morality is pretty close to the axioms of Christianity and Judaism) would tend to more effectively isolate the extremists.
Policy two: Do a 180 degree shift from violence, leaving policy with not only being nice to local inhabitants and the ‘enemy’ but also turning the other cheek or lovingh your neighbour. Those are, after all, the key principles of supposedly Christian nations as opposed to the crusaders who started all the bad blood with Muslims way back.
Now it will take some serious thinking by a lot of much cleverer strategists, psychologists, philosophers and scholars to come up with the final implementations but it can be done with enough will – and any parent who has lost a son or daughter in the conflicts would certainly have the passion to see things change.
Enough for now, but this is a theme that will be developed now this blog has had its summer recess (got back a bit before the politicians).