What is it about world politics that it always plays out as a soap opera? Are the stakes and implications so immense when a situation like Syria arises that – in order to get our heads round it – we have to distil it down to individual personalities and relationships like they’re playing out in an episode of Hollyoaks? Picture it: the US is the posturing, crotch-grabbing local big-boy – owner of what he thinks is the only club in town. GB is his shell-shocked ex who has finally risen up and found herself a bit of backbone after years of being his girlfriend of convenience. France of course is the sexy exchange student who has always played hard to get but has now decided to drop her drawers for reasons best known to herself. Now Big Boy is experiencing a bit of bother from the Muslim boys round his club. He’s going to get everyone’s support right?
Well, as in all soap operas we know that things are never that simple. And whether in fiction or in real life we knew there is no black or white. There is no one evil despot that can be cleanly and clinically taken out. Military action, taking the initiative, taking a stand – call it what you will – is always bloody, destructive and indiscriminate and after it’s over leaves a deeper and irreparable fracture. The US should know that.
But there I go again – thinking of countries as people – confusing the will of entire groups of people with the popularity-motivated actions of individual politicians. A helluva lot of people – most likely the majority – in GB, US and probably France don’t want to make a bad situation worse. We’ve seen what’s happened in Iraq and elsewhere – we’re not stupid. We know there’s no quick fix – even if Big Boy can muster together a dodgy bunch of hangers-on and crack a few heads with baseball bats we know it’s all going to end in tears and run for at least ten seasons.
Most recent polls show that the majority of French people do not support taking military action. Dieu merci! We knew it all along. Good to know that the French aren’t represented by ridiculous characters like Bernard-Henri Levy who managed to set on edge the teeth of almost everyone here yesterday with his ubiquity in the British media. Well, I suppose we needed a bit of light relief but it would have been funnier if someone had actually said ‘Piss off and do something with that hair – you big nonce!’ or ‘Philosopher? Get a job!’