Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Fighting fire with fire rarely works

The gulf between recognising that there is a problem and finding the ‘solution’, can often be immense, and it’s unrealistic to believe that every problem even has a solution.  In the world of politics, though, politicians feel a requirement upon them to claim that there is a solution, that they know what it is, and that they must express such claims with as much sincerity as they can muster.
It’s in that light that I attempt to interpret what Cameron said yesterday about the danger which ISIS represents, and the ‘solutions’ which he proposed.
He talked about the need to ‘enforce’ British values.  I’m far from convinced that I know what these ‘British values’ are, let alone what makes them uniquely British.  But insofar as I have any concept of what those values might be, I’m pretty sure that ‘enforcing’ a set of beliefs and values on others isn’t amongst them.  Indeed, I would have thought that that was more the speciality of ISIS and similar groups.
He also justified his desire to bomb targets in Syria on the basis that ISIS don’t respect borders.  But most borders are where they are – in often arbitrary places – as a result of past wars and/or settlements of past disputes.  ISIS, in that sense are ‘merely’ tearing up past settlements and creating a new state by use of force.  That’s exactly what other military campaigns have done over the centuries – and the UK traditionally has a lengthy, and not exactly honourable, record of doing just that.
Cameron continually talks about ‘the true meaning of Islam’, claiming that those who don’t share a more mainstream interpretation are somehow not true to the religion.  This one simply doesn’t seem to stand up to any scrutiny.  Within any religion, there are always different interpretations of the ‘true’ meaning, and the adherents of each will always believe that their interpretation is the only really ‘true’ one.  And the problem with this sort of ‘truth’ is that it cannot be determined by majority vote.  For those who hold a particular viewpoint, their ‘truth’ is absolute.
The ‘truth’ which drives ISIS and similar groups seems to me to be simply this – “we know what god’s laws are, it is god’s will that we all obey those laws, and we are imposing god’s will”.  It’s so far away from modern Christian interpretations (although not so far away from those of the relatively recent past), let alone the secular viewpoint of an increasing number of us, as to be almost incomprehensible in a western context, but for those who hold that view it’s so obvious as to need no further explanation.
And that brings me to my biggest issue with what Cameron is saying and doing.  However strange and alien some ideas may seem, bombs and bullets cannot change them, let alone kill them.  They can kill some of the people who hold those ideas, certainly.  But they are unlikely to kill them all, even if that were to be the aim.  There is a real danger that they actually have the opposite effect, and simply encourage more people to hold those ideas.  And one of the few certainties is that they will kill many innocents along the way.
I fully accept what Cameron and others are saying, in that armed groups of fundamentalists ranging across the world using extreme and often barbaric violence to impose their world view is a danger which needs to be countered somehow.  And I won’t pretend for a moment that I know with any certainty how to counter that threat.  But I just don’t believe that more bombing and destruction carried out in the name of all of us, simply because our leaders don’t know what else to do, is much of an answer to anything.


Anonymous said...

It does strike me as somewhat bizzare that someone who is not an adherent of a particular faith should seek to lecture others on its 'true' meaning.

John Dixon said...

Perhaps the ability to explain to others what they really believe even if they don't know it themselves is another of those 'British Values' that he keeps banging on about?

Gav said...

Also rather worrying that Cameron has (afaik) said nothing about targeting those who are funding ISIS.

Spirit of BME said...

Little “Spliff” Cameron`s words when he mentions British values are indeed confusing, they are more English than British, but all this is code for the failure of the multiracial society. I have travelled in truly multiracial countries and they are all forced to have a different legal code and courts to deal with the protection of different cultural customs. This announcement clearly sends the signal that that is off the table and we are trying to force this growing diversity into one value set – it does not work.
“Reaching out” a regular chat by the left has led to failure, such as the unnecessary law on FGM, we have a law on that it’s called GBH. The law on forced marriage, we already have a law on that called kidnapped and rape, but while trying to accommodate all these cultural sensitivities the laws have just raised the evidence bar higher and failure of prosecutions ensues.
Add to this the failure of HMG to act on other laws in order to maintain “social cohesiveness” then this only emboldens those that wish to be segregated, an example that is now happening is that young Muslims are taking on more than one wife and only marring in the mosques thus by passing English Law thus forcing local authorities to turn a blind eye in dealing with these families.