enismirdal: (erestor swan 2 (my own picture!))
[personal profile] enismirdal
So this week, the MPs are supposed to vote on whether the UK will start bombing Syria.

Everyone seems to have an opinion on this. Everyone seems to know what the right thing to do is. Except me. I don't know what the right thing to do is. I want to have an opinion, but I feel like I just don't understand enough.

My general feeling is that wars are bad, bombing places is horrible and anything that results in civilian casualties is bad. But I'm also aware that the country is already full of civilian casualties, and horrible, horrible things are happening. There are various groups all fighting, ranging from the horrifically bad and utterly despicable through the only moderately bad, through bad-but-at-least-not-radicalised, to apparently moderate but nonetheless committing war crimes anyway. I don't know whether starting to drop bombs on the worst will help the situation or make it worse. My gut feeling is the latter, to be honest.

I also understand that it's not logical to drop bombs on one side of a border that a lot of people are barely respecting any more, but not on the other. That's like - if you'll excuse the rather dehumanising analogy - treating half your field with lambda-cyhalothrin but not the other half.

I understand that some people elsewhere will be furious with the UK for going in and bombing, because they feel it's not the UK's place. I understand that some people elsewhere will be furious with the UK for not going in and bombing, because they feel the UK are a cause of the situation and are thus responsible for the solution.

I am so glad not to be an MP at the moment, because this is a vote where the choices people make will have awful consequences for some people, regardless of what happens, and those MPs will have to be accountable for that forever.

The only thing I do know is that in my job, if I want to spend a load of money on a project I think is important, I have to write an extensive justification of what the current situation is, what I want to do to change it, and what I intend for the outputs to be. I have to explain how I will achieve those outputs, how I will monitor whether I am achieving them, and what I want to spend money on, line item by line item - and I will not be permitted to go over-budget, but will be expected to deliver on what I promised - and how long it will take. I have to say what activities I and my colleagues will carry out, where, and when. I'm increasingly being asked to provide details of long-term impact, in a variety of dimensions, and how I will realise that. With development type projects I'm also being asked, increasingly, for an exit strategy: what will I do when the project is over and the money stops, and what will happen to the outputs of the project and the people involved after that? I have to do that if I want to spend a few tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds on a research/international development project that, even if I messed up almightily, is pretty unlikely to cause anyone to become dead.

I would damned well hope that if a leader of a country wants to spend billions on something that will make people dead and has the power to ruin or save the lives of millions more, he or she is expected to provide all of the above information and will be held accountable if there are deviations. In particular, I hope that "outputs", "impact" and "exit strategy" are especially clearly laid out.

I am not an MP. But I hope that the people voting this week are provided with a comprehensive proposal along the lines of the above, and are both given time to read it properly and actually do so, before they have to decide which people are going to die and how.

(Comments welcome, but please be polite.)

Date: 1 Dec 2015 21:31 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilanin.livejournal.com
I wrote you an enormous comment. It was too long to fit in the box.

It's here instead: http://ilanin.livejournal.com/135106.html

Date: 1 Dec 2015 21:37 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] illusive-shelle.livejournal.com

I too have a lot of confusion about Syria 

I don't underztand why the current bombing is failing but us bomving as well will succeed.

I don't understsnd how such scattetrd resistance will be conquered by bombs.  It  seems like trying to elininate a swarm of bees with a slingshot:difficult to aim with an evershifting enemy and deeply inefficient.

I don't understand the benefits of being involved. I see huge costs which could be better spent elsewhere.

Date: 1 Dec 2015 23:12 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] keiliss.livejournal.com
Those poor people, being bombed by all and sundry. You have to wonder what will be left of Syria when everyone's done and ISIL have moved on to a new haven. I have a sense Britain will join in because Russia is becoming such a presence.... It's never just about the issues, is it?

I don't think there is a 'right' answer, Eni, but I do know that like governments all over, there will be no strict accounting. And probably not much of an exit strategy either.

Date: 2 Dec 2015 20:16 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] enismirdal.livejournal.com
Yeah, the whole region seems to be a tragic mess now and getting worse by the day. And the disruption will leak into surrounding countries...how Lebanon is still functioning at all is beyond me. :(

Date: 2 Dec 2015 07:35 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sildil.livejournal.com
Excellent analogy, particularly concerning a clear future plan and so on. Matthew Paris' article on Saturday's Times was very good as well, here; http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/columnists/article4626165.ece saying a very similar thing.

Date: 2 Dec 2015 20:17 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] enismirdal.livejournal.com
Looks interesting but alas, behind the Sunday Times paywall. :(

Date: 2 Dec 2015 20:43 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sildil.livejournal.com
Oh what a nuisance! We read it in the Times on Saturday and I did have limited access to the online one, but I must have used up my trial access :(

Date: 10 Dec 2015 22:19 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cobalt-skye.livejournal.com
Thoughtful, thank you


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