Cameron Called Out for ‘Cynically’ Exploiting Refugee Plight to Escalate War

by Sarah Lazare –

Celebrities and politicians release open letter blasting UK prime minister for pressing to extend military action—not aid


Celebrities and members of Parliament released an open letter Saturday demanding that UK Prime Minister David Cameron stop exploiting the refugee crisis to drive the country into more disastrous war.

“Already we have seen the killing of civilians and the exacerbation of a refugee crisis which is largely the product of wars in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan,” reads the missive, whose signatories include actor Mark Rylance and musicians Brian Eno, John Williams, and Charlotte Church.

“Cameron is cynically using the refugee crisis to urge more war,” the letter continues. “He should not be allowed to.”

Earlier this month, Cameron responded to the humanitarian crisis of mass displacement with a call for a “hard military force” to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al Assad and combat ISIS in Syria. The prime minister is working to gain parliamentary support for a potential vote on escalated military action.

The push comes despite the fact that Cameron lost a parliamentary vote in August 2013 for approval to launch air strikes at the Assad regime. Moreover, the effort follows rising concerns over the country’s recent drone assassination of its own citizens, secret participation of its pilots in air strikes within Syria, and bombing of targets within Iraq.

Meanwhile, critics charge that Cameron has turned his back on the growing humanitarian crisis of displacement, agreeing to admit just 20,000 people fleeing Syria over the next five years and refusing to take part in a European Union plan stipulating mandatory quotas for accepting asylum seekers.

Cameron is not alone in his campaign to extend war—not aid. From Australia to France, elected leaders are using the refugee crisis to push military escalation—towards Assad and ISIS—while neglecting a robust humanitarian response. Meanwhile, as the Obama administration’s policies of regime change and armed intervention in Syria flounder, hawkish voices in the U.S. are calling for even more aggressive military action.

But Saturday’s letter, organized by the British Stop the War Coalition, warns against such false solutions.

“The US and its allies have dropped 20,000 bombs on Iraq and Syria in the past year, with little effect,” the letter states. “We fear that this latest extension of war will only worsen the threat of terrorism, as have the previous wars involving the British government.”


Reprinted with permission from Think Progress, a branch of The Center for American Progress