Social work not soldiers

Sep 9, 2013 by

So the Russians thought to subtly insult us by referring to the UK at the G20 summit as ‘just an insignificant little island’. The hope, was to further embarrass people and accentuate the rift between Britain and America. 

As it happens, I actually like the idea of us being looked at in that light. What’s wrong with being a country such as our Scandinavian neighbours who don’t pretend to be the worlds policeman or the conscience of the planet when troubles erupt on the other side of the globe. I know that Britain needs to have a view and to land whatever weight it can behind efforts to stop the killing but, having participated in policing duties in Bosnia, Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan I think we’ve done a fair amount on the front line.

It’s difficult to imagine for some people that being a world power doesn’t always have to be reinforced by military might. Also, given the shambles in some of the other countries we have intervened it, its not just a moral dilemma any more, but a hard headed practical decision. I heard a woman on the radio phoning into the programme with quite a comfortable analogy. It was that, if you see two men fighting in the street for whatever the reason you don’t sort it out by rushing over and stabbing one man, but you try and talk them out of it for as long as it takes.

Maybe the international community should learn some social work skills as all that social workers do, whatever the scenario, involves conflict resolution.



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  1. Tony Domaille

    I can easily see why people may be tired of Britain being the world’s police, but history tells us that if this Country had not stepped forward with others to stop tyranny and aggression, we may well now be a German speaking nation. Had this Country taken the same stance as many other nations, the Bosnian atrocities would have continued whilst the world stood by and prayed that talking would end ethnic cleansing. Saddam Hussein would till be in power, giving UN inspectors the permanent run around, Libya would still be a major sponsor of terrorism and Afghanistan would be the planet’s biggest terrorist training centre, financed primarily by the drugs trade.(Though I fear the latter may still be the case again in just a few years.)

    When the UK decides to intervene, it does so to protect its own interests but also in defence of those who cannot protect themselves. Meanwhile, the many other nations that stand back benefit from those interventions whilst declaring they occupy the high moral ground.

    The world is a big place. But however small or large a space we occupy, we will always need a ‘policeman.’ The comfortable analogy of talking two fighting men out of their conflict assumes one of the parties is no more an aggressor than the other and that neither party is armed with weapons of mass destruction. The Syrian regime is prepared to kill its own people with weapons banned across the globe, has created a humanitarian disaster with regard to refugees, actively sponsored widespread killing in the Lebanon and has long been a threat to whatever temporary or fragile peace we might have seen from time to time in the middle east.

    The World could employ social working skills to talk to Assad until Hell freezes over and there will be no change in his regime’s position or any epiphany of reason. The simple message of stop or else is the only message that will get through. That message has to be delivered by the world’s ‘police’ but, just as in any society, few have a stomach for that job.

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