french syria

After the war Lt Col. T.E Lawrence (2nd right) accompanied the Arab delegation to the Paris Peace Conference, acting initially as Prince Feisal’s (centre) adjutant, he lobbied leaders to uphold the promises made to the Arabs.  However, his fame in Britain courtesy of American journalist Lowell Thomas meant he was regarded by British officials as the enemy within and was effectively barred from the conference. The repercussions were swift. Within the year, the Middle East was aflame, enraged at seeing their Ottoman masters replaced by European ones. The notion of a unified Arab nation gone forever.
Tasked to clean up the debacle was the new British Colonial Secretary, Winston Churchill, who invited Lawrence to act as political advisor in his Middle East Dept. Following the Cairo Conference in 1921, Faisal, deposed by the French in Syria, would be placed on a new throne in British-controlled Iraq and out of the British buffer state of Transjordan, the nation of Jordan would be created, with Faisal’s brother Abdullah at its head.

Lawrence resigned from his post, changed his name and petitioned to re-enlist in the British military as a private. He joined the Royal Air Force under the name of John Hume Ross. When his identity was discovered, he joined the Royal Tank Corps under the name of Thomas Edward Shaw and then returned to the Air Force to serve in England and India for ten years. He left the service in 1935 and moved to Moreton, Dorset where he bought a modest refuge, a little cottage named Clouds Hill, a broken and lonely man. “I imagine leaves must feel like this after they have fallen from their tree and until they die” Lawrence wrote in a letter to a friend. He was known only to his neighbours as Pvt. T.E. Shaw, a reclusive serviceman rarely seen except when riding his Brough motorcycles through the countryside.

In the last 12 years of his life, Lawrence owned seven motorcycles manufactured by George Brough.  Handbuilt in Nottingham, they were the fastest in Britain at the time.  On 13 May 1935, just two weeks after leaving service, Lawrence tried to avoid two boys on bicycles on the road near his Dorset home, lost control of his motorcycle and slammed into the ground.  He died at Bovington Camp Hospital without regaining consciousness a few days later.  

IS BOMBING THE RIGHT ANSWER?

As many of you have heard, a few hours ago, France began bombing Syria, targeting ISIS after the terror attacks in Paris on Friday. But is this what should be done, or is this a knee jerk reaction which will have dire consequences down the road?

First and foremost, my concern lies with the innocent people of Syria. Of the 20 sites targeted today, we know one was an ISIS training ground, one was an ammunition facility, and one was a command/control platform for the group, but what were the others and are future strikes limited to verified ISIS sites, or could France begin bombing civilian homes or hospitals like the United States does across the Middle East? How many children will then be deemed ‘collateral damage’ by the government and brushed off as a ‘cost of war?’

Second, what is the limit? How many bombs is too many bombs? How many fatalities are acceptable? The attack in Paris was horrific, and the death toll currently stands at 132, but will France learn from the post 9/11 actions of the United States, which resulted in the fall of Iraqi forces, the destabilization of the entire region, the creation of ISIS, and deaths of 1.5 million people?

Third, who is benefiting from this escalation in violence? Will French weapons companies and politicians pocket billions in profits as bombs explode? Will this create a thirst for war by those whose pockets become deeper every time someone is killed?

Fourth, is there a diplomatic solution? One with limited violence by cutting off ISIS and squeezing them financially, territoriality, and removing supplies from them? One of removing their online influence and also pushing them to collapse in on themselves like the North did to the South during the American Civil War.

Fifth, are the French realistic in their knowledge of the past and present, or are they blinded by the patriotic anger sparked by those dark hours? After 9/11, Americans blindly backed the efforts of the U.S. government, we bought into the propaganda and refused to believe that we could do wrong, but in recent years, the full scope of our wrongdoings under the Bush Administration has come to light. We were also told we were attacked because of our 'freedom,’ when in all reality, it had more to do with our warring beliefs than our political ideologies. France is now being told the same, they were attacked because of freedom and liberty, but maybe France is being targeted for other reasons, like their activities in the Middle East, their limiting of freedom of speech when it comes to Palestine, or the increase in Islamophobic attacks in recent years. I want to make clear that I do not support or justify the attacks on Paris this Friday, but am simply reminding everyone of the truth.

Lastly, by dropping bombs on a foreign country, already decimated by years of civil war and invasion, is bombing them only the continuation of the circle of violence? Sure, in the short run, killing all of the militants seems to work, but just like Al Qaeda, the extremists will come back by using this retaliation as propaganda to fuel a new generation of fighters, a practice all sides are guilty of using. So when a Syrian boy sees a French jet dropping bombs on his neighbourhood, do you think he will grow up to see France as a friend or foe? Take the United States for example, do you think a young Palestinian boy is more likely to join Hamas when all he sees are American bombs and bullets dropped on his people by Israel? Maybe he would grow up without that anger if the United States tried to help Palestine. The same applies to Iraq and Iran, the United States is fueling the fire with our aggression, we are giving the next generation reason to see us an enemies rather than friends, and they are doing the same. This creates a never ending circle of death and destruction. France must understand this and think long and hard about how they want to act.

Now, I am not French, so I can’t say what the right answer is, but I want to pose these points so people across the world will understand it isn’t as simple as it seems. I fear this reaction is simply going to make matters worse. Bombing for peace is something that does not work. In the words of President Jimmy Carter; “War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other’s children.”

Terrorism and terrorists should be treated the same wherever they are

Just a few weeks ago the French Foreign minister was proudly announcing that France has sent more weapons to arm “moderate rebels” as they called them which are mostly French Jihadists who went into Syria through Turkey together with other terrorists. 

Seeing the attack of Charlie Hebdo in Paris today just reminded me of the terrorists  in Syria  that the French government has been arming for 4 years now! Civilians who died on the hands of those terrorists in Paris today are just as valuable as those who died in Syria on the hands of the same ideology, the same hatred and who are trained by the same source. 

So unfortunately that this very sad event had to happen in France so that you (Mr. Hollande and your government) can understand  how much the Syrian people despised you for continuing to arm those terrorists in our country.

My the souls of those 12 innocent Martyrs rest in Peace