RAFairman's Blog

An RAF Airman's Blog

What kind of future do we want for ourselves…?

We are at the fork in the road that leads to our future. If we go down one fork, then the future is dark, cloudy and dangerous. It’s a future where dodgy regimes all over the world can get their chemistry sets out, and knock up some poison gas and use it however they want, on whomsoever they want. The other fork is one where despite the fact that bad people will do bad things – there are certain lines that are never allowed to be crossed.

‘If you tolerate this, then your children will be next…’

We are facing a future where it is either OK to use chemical weapons – or it’s not. And every rational, decent and normal person in the world really knows the answer to that dilemma. It’s not ok to use chemical weapons. Ever. It’s not ok to kill people – your own people or other countries people – but on a scale of ‘not right’ then gas is about as evil as you can get. At all stages we should have been working for a way for the civil war in Syria to have been stopped. It is not ok for people to die, by any means. But our inaction to stop something in the past is no reason for not doing it now or in the future.

We all put up with things, until they reach a point where we can’t do it anymore. From our neighbour’s noisy party music, through to our husband’s visits to the pub…eventually we get to a point where we cannot accept that anymore and we do something about it.

We are at that point in Syria. Yes, we should not have allowed thee government to shell residential districts, but it happened and we – the right thinking people of the world – did. But the gassing of people is a point where we have to stand up and say ‘enough’. You will do this no more. You will not do this. And we will make sure that the precedent is set that nobody else ever thinks they will get away with it either.

We might have to put up with a world were people kill each other and blow each other up, but we will not put up with a world where it is ok to gas people to death. To paraphrase Orwell, all killing is wrong, but some killing is more wrong than other killing. 

We simply do not want a world were the use of Gas weapons is ok.


‘The boy who cried wolf…’

The problem is, that we are faced with a public who’s perception is cynically built on previous events. But we have to remember something else. A story. A fairy story. Remember the boy who cried wolf? He said there were wolves coming to attack the sheep when there weren’t. They said there were chemical weapons in Iraq, when there weren’t. They walked into dodgy and dangerous wars overseas by crying ‘Danger! Warning! Bad things!’ even when there weren’t any. They made the worse things worse than they were to justify what they wanted to happen. They made the facts fit the cause and the justification to fit the end result.

But now we find ourselves in a situation were the boy is right. The bloody wolves are circling. They are there. Mouths snarling, teeth wet from drool and slavering at the thought of doing what the hell they want out any response to it. And now when the governments who shouted so loudly in the past are shouting again, some people respond in the same way they did in the past. ‘They are wrong to do this…they are warmongers…they don’t want peace…they make money out of war…’ Ad nauseum. But farmers, your sheep are about the be eaten. The regimes who don’t care about what is right and what is good are going to get their way. If we do nothing, they will be allowed to do what they want, and they will do it all the more because we do nothing this time. Future regimes will look at our inactivity and say – ‘They won’t do anything because they will be faced with criticism at home’. We have seen the lack of appetite in the US administration for getting involved in ‘another foreign war’.


‘For evil to flourish…’

And here is the rub. As the proverb says, ‘For evil to flourish, all it needs is for good men to do nothing.’

If we do nothing, then evil will flourish. More people will suffer. More people will be killed. More children will be gassed. 

So now is the time to stand up. And we should stand up and do it because it is the right thing to do. The perpetrators of gassing of innocents should be identified, targeted and wiped out. Yes, more killing, more destruction. But sadly, the only thing the people who do such acts actually understand is just that. They won’t stop by us ignoring them. They will get more brazen. More courageous to do more bad things. And if we allow things like the gassing of civilians to go unpunished then we embolden the bad people.

And so the argument goes round, because if we tolerate this, then our children will be next.

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6 thoughts on “What kind of future do we want for ourselves…?

  1. I think the arab countries should deal with this one, I mean Saudi Arabia just purchased over a 100 jets so now they can use them. Yep, this ones on you lads, we’re broke.

  2. I’m a raf wife and my opinion on war sways. Sometimes I’m like oh let them get on with it, our forces are already underpaid, under-equipped, over-stretched so why should our forces potentially put their lives on the line to fight a war that has nothing to do with us. And I can’t help thinking do we only ever get involved when there’s something in it for us i.e. Oil otherwise why have we not intervened with Mugabe? Then sometimes I think more like what you’re saying. Firstly you can’t just leave these poor people to suffer and nor can we think that this won’t ever effect us if we choose to plead ignorance. Admittedly I don’t have an informed or educated opinion on this subject as I tend to plead ignorance as it only makes me worry about the possibility of my husband getting deployed. But this is a very thought provoking article that has put another pending war into perspective and feeling pleading ignorance is not the answer- there’s only so much ignoring you can do, but it won’t go away until you deal with it, the longer it’s left, the bigger issue it will become. Thank you for helping me see that.

  3. Alex, I couldn’t agree more. Any act of this nature *must* be acted upon, if it is does result in more death – hopefully of just the perpetrators and no more innocents.

    Last week I was celebrating my son’s GCSE success; his academic future pretty much assured, pondering the amazingly bright future he has before him.

    But at the same time, I couldn’t help but feel so incredibly sad for the children who’s lives have been snuffed out before they’d even begun. Even if their aspirations were so much lower than most, a dream is a dream, no matter how small.

    The poor parents and siblings who won’t be able to watch their families grow, learn, and live life, and the children who’ve lost their parents… how utterly desparate they must feel now and how little they deserved what happened.

    The UN – and the rest of the rightminded world – MUST stand up against acts of this nature, bring the perpetrators to account.. and to theirdeath, where death is appropriate.

  4. In reply to servantsister: I kinda do and kinda don’t get your response to Alex’s post.

    As the daughter of a ex-serviceman who has served in a number of wars and conflicts, I can assure you that I was always afraid of losing him in service or not being looked after by the Government. And I guess my Mum probably also worried about the low pay, lack of supplies etc. on top of everything else. When I was a teenager I used to think “What’s the point? He’s going to get blown up and nothing will have changed. Please, Dad, get a normal job.”

    But surely if our dads, uncles, brothers, nephews, sisters, aunts, neices, cousins, etc join the Armed Forces, they know exactly what they’re getting themselves into, not to mention ultimately offering their lives for the greater good.

    I hear what you say about there being something in it for us, but to what extent? Glamour? Medals? I don’t think so. Well, perhaps for the politicians.

    The question of “what’s in it for us?”surely must be the knowledge that we (they) are doing what we (they) can to make our entire world a safer, more secure one in which to live and survive well into the future.

    Our world is very small yet incredibly diverse; it’s one heck of a precious gem amongst the cosmos and it’s my opinion that we all have the responsibility of taking care of it and its inhabitants. Whether that is casting a vote or wielding a gun, every positive action makes a massive difference in the end.

    And that includes “being there” for those who are serving. Despite your worries or indecisiveness about yet another war, you are doing an amazing job just by standing by your husband’s beliefs and commitments.

    God bless x

  5. I couldn’t agree with you more; you’ve explained the whole concept really well and put the argument across effectively in a way that people can relate to. I’ve actually linked you in one of my articles displaying the for/against argument with regards to military intervention in Syria. I hope this is ok, I was trying to write an impartial account so haven’t gone into a lot of detail on the page but you’re article is something that sums up our ethical obligation to intervene.

    -> http://simple-current-affairs.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/syria-is-military-intervention-answer.html

  6. I couldn’t agree more that something must be done, Alex. We’ve stood by for far too long. Of course, that’s not unusual – we’ve stood by while 5 million have been killed in the civil war in the Congo. In fact it’s hardly reported. 5 million. http://goo.gl/78fdmw

    But as you say, past inaction isn’t an excuse for future inaction. The problem is that it’s very unclear what that action should be. Secretary of State Kerry said yesterday that the USA was planning ‘unbelievably small, limited bombing’. What a bizarre statement.

    So far as I know none of the advocates of military strikes have described in any detail how attacks on Syria might go. I tried to capture two possible alternatives in the charts I mentioned to you on Twitter http://www.flickr.com/photos/57469989@N05/9710477574/sizes/h/ I’m sure there are other possible outcomes but it seems to me that it’s in the interests of the rebels to draw the USA into a full scale intervention in Syria and they’ll do everything they can – including, possibly, faking CW attacks by the Assad regime – to achieve that goal. Their rationale would be similar to that of those who advocate bombing – a few innocents must die for the greater good.

    So, I agree something must be done the question is – what? My suggestion:

    get the United Nations to use all possible pressure to get both sides in the civil war to agree to a cease fire;
    assemble a large scale force, with contributions from as many countries as possible, to enforce the cease fire on the ground;
    assemble a huge humanitarian aid programme, aimed at rebuilding Syria and enabling the millions of refugees to return home.

    I’d also advocate some covert action to neutralise the Assad regime. I don’t think assassinating him would do any good but bribing him might. Pay him a large amount of money to leave the country. This would obviously have to be top secret. Might sound a bit nutty but no more than Kerry’s ‘unbelievably small’ bombing and probably a lot cheaper in the long term.

    I have no idea whether any of this would work but it at least would stop the killing, for a while, and might provide the basis for rebuilding this benighted country.

    Incidentally, another option might be to aim to get Assad and his senior military staff in front of the International Criminal Court at the Hague and focus action on that but can’t imagine that and a ceasefire being compatible.

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