Noble Lies: Mission Creep in Syria as British Democracy is Undermined

 syriaairstrikes

“They [the neocons] really have no use for liberalism and democracy, but they’re conquering the world in the name of liberalism and democracy.” Shadia Drury

Lying and deception as tools of war have been used for centuries.  Sun Tzu in his The Art of War elaborates its utility in the context of war.  The book makes the reading list for the US army.  However, where a government lies and deceives its own people who put them in power, this is sabotaging democracy.  The manipulation of opinion, deception and the promulgation of great lies is often used by totalitarian, fascist regimes to maintain their power and pursue their agendas against the will of the people.

Neoconservatism proudly uses these mechanisms as neocon statesmen view it as a virtue of the Machiavellian “political”.  The basis of this is the belief that the mandarin class of neoconservative politicians maintain an “a prior” knowledge of what is good for society, whilst the “vulgar masses” – that’s you and me – are incapable of comprehending the political decisions which need to be made in pursuit of interests that happen to be also defined by neoconservatives. Explaining this immoral stance, Drury explains that the root of this Straussian conviction of lying and deception is that, “people cannot be trusted” nor “persuaded” to accept what are nihilistic neoconservative policies:

“They are inclined to cling doggedly to their civil liberties, unmindful of the risks. They cannot be expected to understand the urgent need for the expansion of government surveillance and detention powers. Nor can the people be expected to appreciate the necessity of lavish spending on the military. Even less are they likely to comprehend the efficacy of pre-emptive strikes, arbitrary arrests, secret detentions, indefinite incarcerations, military tribunals, and summary executions. In short, a free people cannot be expected to endorse the activities of the Bush administration – at least no without a well-orchestrated campaign of deceit and duplicity intended to manufacture an ominous sense of foreboding.”[1]

The Cameron regime here in Britain is scarcely different.  If there is a difference, then it is perhaps that there is a greater level of sophistication in deploying deception and lies to pursue policy objectives.

Where Tony Blair lied through his Joker-like grin to get Britain into a war she had little to with, convincing young men and women to self-sacrifice not in defence of their own country, David Cameron and his neocon comrades are using mission creep to steady themselves – and Britain – into another perpetual war.

Secret Wars

Late last year, when setting out his vague plan and pleading with the House to go to war in Syria, David Cameron was insistent that there would be no UK “boots on the ground”.

Now, we have reports of UK soldiers being injured in combat.  Over the weekend, it was revealed that the British SAS troops were part of a mission with German and American soldiers. Additionally, the source in the report made clear that a “secret” war was being waged by Britain “off the radar”.  “Britain” it asserts, “is at war”:

“Politically no one has an appetite for open war against Isis so it’s done in secret.”

This raises serious questions of a constitutional nature. While the source seems to be dampening the news through the language of bravado (“heroic men”) and distraction semantics (political “appetite”), the reality is that there is nothing heroic or appetising about a government undermining the will of Parliament.  Whilst Cameron, Theresa May and Michael Gove wish to convince the British public that Muslims and Islam present a threat to democracy unless they comply with their vision of a gutted, zombified Islam; and whilst they hurry through civil-liberties eroding censorship strategies to prevent political Muslims “influencing” the government (“counter-entryism”), the neocon cartel which is in power and effecting change, is continuing its subversion of democracy.

And it is not the first time either.

Last year, Cameron did the same.  Despite the lack of consent from Parliament, in a true manifestation of neoconservatism which sees (liberal) principles set aside in the name of “pragmatism”, Cameron was fully cognizant of – and silent on – “dozens” of British pilots in US-led bombing missions in Syria. The bombing missions, it should be noted, were not limited to ISIS, but other factions which have explicitly stated their aim to topple the Syrian regime only.

Against the backdrop of “an ominous sense of foreboding” through constant references to “Islamist extremism”, the strategy for making war palatable is by taking advantage of the psychology of the public.  The tactic from the overt deceit of Blair has now clearly changed to an “easing in” or “toe-dipping” policy: subtly releasing information of politically unsanctioned military action to test public opinion and then increase it over time as public mood slowly adjusts to it. Neocons are full aware that a public which as demonstrated little discontent over the scandalous Chilcot inquiry and has no problem with another war, will, given time, not ponder much over losing more sons and daughters for an obscure cause.

The implications are dangerous.  In an age of austerity, this is not once but twice neoconservatives have allowed democracy to be shelved in pursuit of militarism.  The reciprocal nature born of neoconservatism between foreign and domestic policy means that the “threat” of a distant enemy is also being used to push the totalitarian Counter-Extremism Bill and the PREVENT policy.  This is at a time when a leading terrorism expert is saying “it is more likely to be struck by lightning than a terrorist bullet”. At the same time Michael Gove is using doublespeak to continue his assault on the Human Rights Act – a thorn in the closed society neoconservatives like Gove idealise, who has written of his disdain for the statute in his book Celsius 7/7 a decade ago.

The abuse of principles in pursuit of their destruction by neoconservatives continues unabated.

With this in mind, who and what indeed constitute the greatest threat to “our values”?


 

References:

[1] Drury, S.B. The Political Ideas of Leo Strauss, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2005, p.xxiv-xxv

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