This morning VFP UK member Duncan Parker wrote to his MP to ask her to think about the consequences of voting for military action in Iraq. His letter and her response are below.
VFP encourages all members and supporters to write to their MP on this issue. If they are going to vote yes we have a right to know why.
Thursday 25 September 2014 10:50hrs
Dear Alison Seabeck MP
I am writing to you to express my concerns about the likely military action in Iraq (and potentially Syria) by the United Kingdom against the Islamic State.
In general terms, military action is an irrational and immoral response to political disputes. Irrational because the consequences can never be predicted and, as recent history has taught us, almost never turn out the way that was intended. It is also immoral because the consequences for non-combatants are horrific and both life changing and lifelong and these usually outweigh the benefits of the original military action. I note that as I write five civilians are reported to have been killed overnight by just one set of US airstrikes.
As a former serviceman who served in the Iraq war in 2003 I have seen war, and specifically war in Iraq, more closely than most Members of Parliament. I recall with sadness events where non-combatants were severely injured or killed by British munitions and remember at the time going through a thought process of rationalising these incidents as unfortunate but the type of things that happen in war. I find this particularly disturbing to recall now as one incident involved the violent death of five toddlers and another the loss of both arms of a young father with three very young children who clearly he would never be able to hold again.
I write this to ask that you think clearly about the consequences of voting for military action and do not put the very real likely outcome of civilian deaths and severe injuries to the back of your mind as, if you vote for this action, you will bear a degree of personal responsibility for any such incidents that occur.
From my own experience in Iraq, I also understand that the situation there is extremely complex and impossible to understand if only viewed from a standard Western paradigm. Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary General, yesterday rightly pointed out that while bombs kill terrorists, good governance kills terrorism. In Iraq, the Islamic State is receiving support from large elements of the local population who feel disenfranchised from the government of Iraq and also appears to have received, at a minimum tacit, support from some local nations. Military action is likely to provide a short term solution of killing IS combatants but a longer term result of creating a generation of martyrs and new Muslim combatants from all over the world with a desire to combat the West wherever they can in the world, as well as destroying any remaining infrastructure in parts of Iraq or Syria. It is clear that the current policies of the West regarding military action towards this part of the world which has been ongoing for well over a decade are not working.
The answer to this situation is more likely to be found in a political response and international development aid and support for the local populations to find a local solution to what is a regional dispute. My feeling is that short-sightedness, a lack of willingness to look at other options and the political hegemony of Western society is yet again sleepwalking us into another long period of avoidable and likely unsuccessful military action and instability.
I ask you please to carefully consider what I have written and to think outside the constraints of the standard US-led response and to realise that there are alternatives which will not have the same severe consequences for the world. I would also ask that with an issue of such consequence that you please show moral courage, conscience and independent thought and do not tow the party political line. Please on this occasion vote against military action.
Thank you for my considering my views.
Duncan Parker, Member of Veterans For Peace UK
Thursday 25 September 2014 11:07:32hrs
Subject: RE: Vote on military action in Iraq
The points you make are valid ones and this cannot be purely a military solution. Ed Miliband was actually very clear that this is about diplomatic, political and humanitarian effort as well. We do need, in my view, to act now to prevent the expansion of ISIL on the ground because the pressure of refugees fleeing ahead of their advance is placing unbelievable pressures on neighbouring countries which in turn leads to problems for those governments which are not the most stable. Targeted attacks on the terror groups and their sources of funding and arms are in my view legitimate. The world has as you point out waded into conflict without thinking things through but we have equally stood by in the past, or left it too late and appeasement can be disastrous.
This isn’t a decision which anyone takes lightly.
Appreciate you writing