On Wednesday, the parliament in the United Kingdom voted to go to war against ISIS. Not long after the vote, British forces began bombing Syria, launching air strikes from a base in Cyprus.
The vote was contentious and split the Labour Party leadership. The most dramatic split was between Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who voted against the motion for war, and the Labour Party’s designated shadow foreign minister, Hillary Benn, who voted for the motion for war. The vote total was 397 to 223, with 66 Labour Party members of parliament voting for war and 153 voting against.
A public opinion poll that came out Wednesday before the vote showed that less than half of UK voters favored going to war against ISIS. The UK’s involvement in the Iraq War was similarly unpopular with the UK public, which also made little difference to most of the political class.
While UK forces are unlikely to make any real difference on the battlefield, a former Middle East colonial power using military force in the region will surely further swell ISIS’ ranks and grant the terrorist group greater credibility with conservative Muslims. ISIS’ main fight is with other Muslims and the US and Israel, but France and the UK make splendid scenery for ISIS’ apocalyptic vision of a show down between Islam and Christendom.
Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama, who campaigned on the Iraq War being a historic blunder, has now sent more US troops into Iraq. President Obama had promised the American people that there would be “no boots on the ground” in Iraq and is trying to lie his way out of breaking his promise:
Obama has said his strategy to fight the militant group in Iraq and Syria does not include U.S. ground combat troops, but this week, the Pentagon announced it would send a new force of special operations troops.
“When I said no boots on the ground, I think the American people understood generally that we’re not going to do an Iraq-style invasion of Iraq or Syria with battalions that are moving across the desert,” he said in an interview with CBS that aired on Thursday.
Actually, no. “No boots on the ground” never had an explicit or implicit battalion-level qualifier added to it. Americans understand the phrase “no boots on the ground” as a reference to sending in ground troops – you know, people that wear boots.
So while Western powers posture about values like “democracy” and “accountable government,” keep in mind the amazing level of dishonesty and hypocrisy going on as we sink deeper into the quagmire.