Le Gentleman Britannique that smug and complacent bounder
Are the air strikes against Syria justified?
In the frame of reference within which we habitually operate yes. Within the frame of reference within which we ought to be operating no. Clearly Russsia is telling lies and Putin is an aggressive danger to the world. The lessons learnt in the thirties that unless you stop aggressive dictators very early on you store up much bigger problems for yourself later have been well learnt, and from that point of view the air strikes make good sense. But in saying that we show ourselves to be stranded in the past. Stopping Putin is a big problem but saving the world from destroying itself is a much bigger one, and that includes Russia. The climate scientists are now unanimous. We face a future too terrible to be contemplated if we don’t rein in global warming but we aren’t doing it. Despite the agreement in Paris, 2017 was the worst year yet for carbon emissions and according to Carbon Tracker no major industrial country is on track to keep the promises it made. According to the FAO soil loss is so bad they estimate the world only has sixty years of farming left. According to the Soil Association the world is losing two soccer pitches of topsoil very minute. If we are to solve these problems we have to put everything but everything else aside. But we aren’t doing that either. Our souls are asleep. If we are to solve these problems that are common to all humanity we have to emphasize our common humanity. Bombing Syria in the name of humanity won’t do that. What we do have to do is to awaken to a new age in which we ae living that is totally but totally different to any that has gone before. Now we really do have to love one another or die. Unfortunately, the worst placed country in the world to do that is the UK. We created the modern world far more than anyone else did and we see the British Empire as on the whole a good thing. But lots of other people don’t. They see the atrocities and our reduction of Africa and many other parts of the world to market gardens to serve ourselves, with the result that the great African Empires of Benin and Mossi didn’t go onto become rich modern states but the poor countries of Africa. Our moral credit in much of the world is not that good but we don’t realise it. If it weren’t so tragic it would be hilarious. The recent Australian ball tampering scandal just wasn’t cricket was it? What a lesson in high morality we are still giving to the world. Le gentleman Britannique, that complacent and smug bounder. We have to wake up to the reality. Above all else we have to show the world we have really turned a page. We taught self-interest to the world, but we could now take a lead in teaching it the opposite. Common humanity not post-imperial national interest (“getting the best deal for Britain” – how I hate the rhetoric of Brexit) should be our watchword. We have to show that we have turned our back on our past, that we are new people in a new age in which we must love one another or die. Physically we are living in the twenty first century. But mentally we are still living in the nineteenth. Sending gunboats to Syria is the worst thing we can do. It is playing Putin’s game. He flourishes because he is able to present himself as the saviour of Russia under unfair attack from the wicked west. And so many Orthodox Christians respond to that. Ah dear Vladimir! A strong man who is showing the world Russia is no push over no? We have to persuade ordinary Russians that it is not Christian or humane or anything but vile to support a regime that supports a regime that uses chemical warfare against its own children. We are not living in the nineteenth century. But unfortunately we are. We just haven’t woken up to our own time. We are still solving problems by sending gunboats. If we did start living in our own time and grasping its problems how inspiring would that be. If we set the example perhaps even Russians might begin to think that saving our children, their children and all humanity’s children, from the horrendous future fate our present apathy is wishing upon them is better than supporting a regime that supports a regime that anticipates the horror that is coming by using chemical weapons against its children now. We do live in the age of the internet that knows no national boundaries after all.