A Federal Senator believes that bombing Syria and Iraq is not the solution to defeating Islamic State, in the wake of Saturday’s (AEDT) Paris terrorist attacks.
Independent Senator Nick Xenophon told ABC’s Q&A program that the failing of the Iraq war, which began in 2003, led to Islamic State’s rise to prominence.
He warned a similar show of aggression would not be successful, despite a Liberal and Labor minister saying military force was needed.
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“ISIS did not exist before March 2003, before the American invasion of Iraq,” Mr Xenophon said.
“As bad as Saddam Hussein was, and he was, he was a brutal dictator, the US in a botched muddle-headed strategy made a mess of things and it spawned sectarian violence.
“We have to avoid the mistakes of the past, we must deal with the existential threat that ISIS is to the West, but we must acknowledge that we cannot bomb our way out of this.”
Mr Xenophon said the evil of Hussein was replaced by the “greater evil” of IS.
The militaristic approach to IS in Iraq and Syria is something the world – including Australia – is reconsidering since the attacks in Paris.
On Saturday (AEDT), a coordinated terrorism assault killed 129 civilians in Paris and left more than 300 wounded.
Terrorists set off a series of suicide bombs and gunfire assaults across the city, including at the Stade de France and Bataclan music hall.
Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said we must not let IS achieve their goal of damaging a free and democratic way of life.
“We achieve it by continuing in our current way of life, and we achieve it by militarily defeating ISIS in Syria and Iraq, that is a necessary foundation for being able to go on with our way of life,” Mr Pyne said on the program.
“We achieve it, too, by not allowing ISIS to do what they want to do.”
Shadow Minister for Education and Early Childhood, Kate Ellis, agreed with Mr Pyne’s assertion.
“I agree with everything Christopher just said on this issue,” Ms Ellis said.
“This is a time when of course we need to make sure we have safeguards and security provisions in place.”
Both Ms Ellis and Mr Pyne did acknowledge that military action alone could not defeat IS.
“We aren’t going to behave like cowboys in the Middle East,” Mr Pyne said.
‘France will resist, and we shall never retreat from our values’
The French Ambassador to Australia, Christophe Lecourtier, joined the panel to discuss the issue from his home country’s perspective.
“France will resist that [the violence of IS], and we shall never retreat one millimetre from our values,” Mr Lecourtier said.
“[The attack] has happened because it’s a war.
“There are some people who do not accept our way of life, that do think that death is far more important than life and the kind of life we enjoy.
“Because we disagree with them, because we’ve tried to resist what they are doing to us, now they are killing our citizens, they are killing my friends, they are killing my parents, my relatives in the cities of my country.”
Andrew MacLeod, a former senior UN advisor and someone who negotiated with the Taliban, said the issue must not play out as an Islam-versus-everyone-else argument.
He stressed it must be a fight against the small but violent section of radicals.
“We have organisations in this country, like Reclaim Australia who are really falling into the trap of Islamic State, who are trying to create the us Westerners against them, all of Islam,” Mr MacLeod said.
“If we fall into that trap, we are saying we want to fight with 1.6 billion people, whereas if we define the us, as all moderates of all religions, against radicals of all religions, a much smaller number to fight, a much smaller number to fight.
“We need to make sure as a country, the us as moderates of all religions against them, the radicals of all religions.”
He said the “big mistake” in Iraq was not military intervention, but rather that the economic plan after the war was extremely poor.
He said in Syria, there would need to be a better commitment and plan to rebuilding the society after a war – if that were to occur.
Mr Pyne agreed: “We have been quite determined to replace appalling regimes, from Saddam Hussein to Moamar Gaddafi, I don’t think we’ve planned the post-period well.”
He said any future decisions should learn from these examples in the past.
Watch some of the debate’s highlights below:
— ABC Q&A (@QandA) November 16, 2015
— ABC Q&A (@QandA) November 16, 2015