Air strikes – what next?

Devastatingly, UK MPs voted in support of carrying out air strikes in Iraq. This is a terrible result for the civilians in the area and for the country. We hardly need to mention Tony Blair’s mistakes to see that it was a bad idea in 2003 and it’s a terrible idea now. The result was 524 to 43. One of the people who voted against was an aide to the shadow defence secretary. They were sacked as a direct result.

There is still plenty that can be done to stop the situation escalating.

Via your MP
You can find out how your MP voted here. Write to your MP (find them here) either thanking them for voting against, or telling them that you object to military action; that you are opposed to the use of ground troops or military action in Syria; and that not taking military action is not the same as doing nothing.  Britain has been part of humanitarian aid efforts but now is counteracting that with strikes which could easily result in civilian casualties.

The Quakers wrote an excellent open letter to David Cameron. You could use this for inspiration, or take a look at Stop the War’s article on what can be done instead. Also check out their news interview. Very measured but firm responses.

Make it clear that something needs to be done about the situation, but that military force is never the solution.  There are some more examples of why it’s such bad news, in case your MP is one of those who seems to have a penchant for war.  Pax Christi International have said they fear the air strikes will “serve as little more than a recruiting tool for the extremist group”.

With your faith community
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said today in the House of Lords that, “in the here and now, there is justification for the use of armed force”.  Given an opportunity to witness to the gospel of the prince of peace, the head of the CofE came down on the side of violence and militarism.

The Quakers have already sent a clear message that Justin’s view is not the view of many Christians.  We need to carry on making this clear.
Talk to your elders. Hang a banner outside showing opposition to the air strikes. Talk to the children about nonviolence in Sunday School.
We need to show our support to local Muslim communities, who will no doubt become more and more marginalised. Extend the hand of interfaith friendship and let them know you realise that the atrocities being committed by extremists do not reflect Islam.

Here’s a prayer you might like to use in a vigil, a service, or in private prayer:

Christ, grant us your peace.
Help us find ways and means
Which bring safety and hope,
Not exacerbation of suffering.

Bear with us as we make mistakes,
Are slow to act and quick to wage war.
Help us to see people, not problems
And to seek justice, not victory.

Teach us to mend broken structures of power,
To hold leaders to account, to take our place in decision-making and
to stand up to violence and its preparation.

Amen

Publicity: marches and media
If you can, join Pax Christi’s vigil for Peace on 2nd October.  Stop the war have another March in London on 4th October at Temple Place at 1pm.

Speak to the media: there are conversations going on on the radio about it and we need to make sure the anti-war side is represented and has a loud voice.

Try calling LBC (London’s Biggest Conversation on 97.3 FM, telephone number 0345 60 60 973) & BBC Radio 5 Live (AM: 693 kHz, 909 kHz, telephone number 0500 909693.) For a list of local BBC stations, including in London – http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/stations

If you see more useful information, or related events, let us know and we’ll put them up.