Should the west intervene in Iraq again?

 

It’s tough being the world’s superpower. If they intervene militarily in a country like Iraq they are condemned by  many for seeking  to impose their will on others, and making the position worse. If they try to stay out of a country like Syria – or Iraq the next time around – they are criticised for not intervening, not acting to protect the weak and advance liberal democratic values.

This week the “we should do something ” brigade have been out and about at their shrillest in the UK press. The latest argument as to why the UK as well as the US should now intervene militarily in Iraq is that we “messed it up” by a previous military campaign, and therefore “owe it” to Iraq and the rest of the world to have another go to try and put it right. This surely is the triumph of hope over experience if ever there was.

It is easy for armchair “Generals” and journalist warriors to wish others to do their fighting for them as they contemplate which of the pleasures of the English summer they will enjoy next. Instead they should be asking some tough questions on western strategy at the same time as reporting properly and objectively on the myriad factions, groups, armies and voices fighting over the futures of Syria, Iraq, the Kurd lands, Palestine and Israel.

The first question to ask is why did past western military interventions in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan fail to establish peace loving liberal democracies as hoped and as advertised by the more optimistic? What have we learned from those past interventions? Have we gained a little humility in understanding that successful flourishing democracies usually emerge from within, not from without. They normally take several generations where the majority wishes to learn, teach and improve their democratic impulses.

The second is to ask what can western military force achieve if used? If western force is now to be limited to bombing from planes or drones, who do we want to kill and what installations do we wish to destroy? If the aim is to kill certain groups of people whom we regard as evil, how can we be sure we will kill enough of them to win? What if western death raining down from the skies acts as a recruiting sergeant for more rebel troops and martyrs?  How can we be sure we will only kill the evil ones, and not end up killing all too many people who are not the main  trouble makers? Can we be sure that if we succeed in killing enough of the evil ones, the rest of the faction riven and split communities can rally round, fill the power vacuum in the areas we are bombing, and create stable government there?  Other evil men can take advantage of allied bombing, as well as the forces of good.

What do we wish to destroy? Destroying civilian buildings because they may be occupied by evil forces or used as weapons stores damages the local economy more, creates more displaced people and more resentments, and puts off the day when more people living there can see a better peaceful future with economic progress. The only purely ” good”  target is military equipment of the evil ones out in the open and away from civilian populations. All other targets are hedged with hazard and political risks.

The USA this time round says it is bombing to halt the advance of IS forces, on the grounds that they have evil intent towards people of other religions. They do so with the permission of the Iraq government. At the same time the USA recognises that the current Iraq government is not uniting its country. The USA we hear wants political change in Iraq. I wish the US well in trying to halt possible genocide. That is a noble aim, but one which may prove difficult to achieve from the skies above.

For our country, I am glad the UK is committed to giving humanitarian aid on a larger scale. We need to help seek a diplomatic solution. The attempted break up of Syria and Iraq is a violent political process, but it is ultimately a set of political problems. No single group seems to have the military power to win, establish a new civilian government and gain the respect of the diverse peoples of these countries. Too many people living in the region think violence is the answer to their troubles. Organised western violence on any realistic scale is unlikely to be able to impose a settlement of these underlying disputes. Nor will it help convert people from believing in violence to believing in the arts of  peace.

The last time some of the armchair Generals urged UK intervention was over Syria. Then they wanted amongst other things to arm the Syrian rebels. Many  of the weapons of those rebels we are told  have now been captured for use by IS forces. Today we are being asked to arm the Kurds. Do we now support an independent Kurdish state?

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86 Comments

  1. Alte Fritz
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 5:30 am | Permalink

    All fair comment unless one is one of the victims.

  2. Lifelogic
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 5:40 am | Permalink

    Unless you are quite certain you can make things considerably better then keep out. One can very rarely by certain of this in a dreadful mess such as this.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 11, 2014 at 6:50 am | Permalink

      Yet more attacks on IHT from the IHT ratter, Mr Morally Repugnant reported in the Telegraph. Needed so he can continue to waste it on green crap, subsidised energy, the EU, soft PIGIS loans, pointless wars, HS2, a hugely bloated largely incompetent state sector and other pointless nonsense. Part of his highly damaging “you owe exactly what we say you owe policy”. A random and arbitrary taxation policy that hugely damages 5& deters investment in the UK.

      What is the difference between Labour and these faux Tories?

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/11025017/Savers-could-pay-death-tax-while-they-are-still-living.html

      The “in three letters” Cameron priority, the N… H…. S….. has queues at 6 year highs too I see.

      • alan jutson,
        Posted August 11, 2014 at 7:42 am | Permalink

        Lifelogic

        The new proposed IHT consultation rule change (payment before death) means this tax would need to be completely rewritten, because as everyone knows, it is not the person who dies who pays, it is those who inherit after the death of the estate holder.

        How can they propose to tax an estate in advance, when they, let alone the owner, does not even know its true full value before they die.

        John this really is desperate stuff.

        Who knows when they are going to die, or do HMRC now have a special line to the almighty.

        First we have HMRC wanting extraction of money from accounts on the basis of guilty until proven innocent, now we have this proposal.

        We are getting further and further away from a real democracy at every turn it would seem.

        • Wonky Moral Compass
          Posted August 11, 2014 at 11:12 am | Permalink

          Actually, the deceased’s estate pays the inheritance tax not the beneficiaries. The taxman makes sure he gets his pound of flesh well before any intended recipients who aren’t charities get a look in.

          • alan jutson,
            Posted August 11, 2014 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

            WMC
            Indeed you are correct, it does come out of the deceased Estate, as it is normally calculated and agreed after/during probate, but before it is distributed.

            On occasions when perhaps a beneficiary lives in a property which forms the major part of the estate (elderly Son, Daughter, etc) then a loan has to be taken out by the benificary to pay HMRC before they inherit, as HMRC collect their share first.

            In neither case does the dead person pay, because they have long since been buried or cremated.

            Thus my point still stands, as no one knows in advance what exactly they will be worth until they die, by which time they will never know.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted August 12, 2014 at 11:58 am | Permalink

            It would be better if the beneficiaries paid, with each of us having a lifetime tax-free allowance for legacies received, any unused part of which could be uplifted in line with general inflation each year. That way the tax levied would usually be less, in some cases nothing, if several people benefited from the estate rather than just one. There could also be special provisions for higher tax-free allowances for beneficiaries who were disabled and needed a lot of care, or who had other exceptional needs.

      • Timaction
        Posted August 11, 2014 at 9:11 am | Permalink

        The congestion, overcrowding, building on the greenbelt, no school choices and the waiting lists at the International Health Service is a direct consequence of LibLabCon mass migration policy and free movement of 485 million EU citizens. Why shouldn’t the poor of Eastern Europe come here?
        Remind me which political leader wanted to go to war in Syria?

        • lifelogic
          Posted August 11, 2014 at 11:27 am | Permalink

          Also Cameron does not even want to try to negotiate over unrestricted EU immigration.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted August 11, 2014 at 9:21 am | Permalink

        Lifelogic–What jumps out from the article is the total abandonment of the previously accepted meaning of avoidance as against evasion. Is it or is it not still legal “so to arrange one’s affairs” to minimise tax?

        • lifelogic
          Posted August 11, 2014 at 11:33 am | Permalink

          Indeed and the arbitrary/uncertainty these fools create causes huge damage to investment and investment decisions and actually reduces jobs, growth and tax revenues too in the long term. Yet more growth in essentially parasitic jobs in tax advice, accounting and the legal professions though.

      • cliff. Wokingham.
        Posted August 11, 2014 at 10:42 am | Permalink

        Yes and at the same time, he sends a team of top NHS clinicians out to Gaza. It makes one wonder why he, through NICE, is rationing breast cancer drugs due to costs, why so many trusts are cash strapped and are short of front-line staff and why ambulances are queuing outside A and E departments, supposedly due to staff shortages, if the NHS is so overflowing with cash and staff we can provide NHS services to Gaza. Is our leader after a Blair type job or jobs when he is kicked out of office and thus, wants to be all things to all men, except in relation to his own people; you know the ones who elected him and his colleagues?
        What I find most offensive about the party now, is just how many so called Conservatives have just rolled over, sold their souls for power and allowed Mr Cameron to impose progressive Marxist policies onto his party and people……In my opinion, Mr Cameron should join his bosom pal Mr Clegg and join the FibDems: they are ideologically nearer to what Mr Cameron actually is and positively encourage looney ideas which will destroy our once great and proud nation.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted August 11, 2014 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

          I really see no significant differences between “180 degree wrong” on every issue Cameron and Clegg, Cable, Huhne, David Laws and Ed Davey types. They are all anti business, pro green crap lunacy, pro higher taxes, pro ever bigger government, pro ever more regulation/control and pro the anti democratic EU.

          The Libdems are at least less pro war than is Cameron, so perhaps better in one respect. What single policy does Cameron have that is remotely Conservative, pro personal responsibility, pro jobs, pro a smaller state & more efficient state sector or pro growth?

          I hear that they might start charging drunks and drug addicts for A&E visits though sound rather unlikely to work in practice.

          • Richard1
            Posted August 11, 2014 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

            Free schools, welfare reform, tax at 47% instead of 52% and renegotiation backed by a referendum on the EU. A start at least. Miliband with or without the libdems would be much worse.

          • bigneil
            Posted August 11, 2014 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

            It may surprise you but alcoholics can apparently get extra benefits – to buy alcohol – told to me by – an alcoholic on benefits -assured me it was true.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted August 12, 2014 at 10:10 am | Permalink

            @bigneil

            Surely not? But little of the madness from the state sector would surprise me. Will they get extra to pay for A&E bills too if they happen? I assume so.

  3. alan jutson,
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 5:58 am | Permalink

    Yes. Chaos all around.

    Once again we have a small number (relative to the population) of people using the name of a religion to impose their will on others using guns, threats and action of murder.

    We are told that the vast majority of muslims are completely against such people and their twisted beliefs, but those very same muslims and muslim states, do not seem to want to do much about the situation to help resolve it themselves.
    Indeed the silence coming from the religious leaders and their Country’s is deafening.

    Absolutely agree that it is very difficult to stand by and watch all this killing of innocent people going on, hence the humanitarian aid being given.
    But we get involved in the actual conflict at our peril.
    Just remember recent actions in Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan.
    Did we help or hinder.

    Sad to say it, but very often a dictatorship based on fear, often appears to cause less of a problem, than the chaos of tribal, religious, cultural, political conflict, and in fighting.

    Yes of course real Democracy is preferable, but it took us in the West centuries to evolve something close to it, so what chance of imposing it on others in just a few years.

    The United Nations should surely be involved here, but as previous decades have shown, many of its members seem to lack the will to try and resolve such problems.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 11, 2014 at 7:09 am | Permalink

      If you want essentially good people to do evil, irrational things then religion is perhaps the best method to achieve these goals.

      Yet we still indoctrinate young minds, in state schools and at tax payers’s expense here in the UK to create these cleavages in society.

      Nothing learned from the years of the Northern Ireland troubles it seems.

      • Richard1
        Posted August 11, 2014 at 7:45 am | Permalink

        The Dawkins view, and it has some validity. But let’s be honest it depends on religion. We do not see CofE churchgoers or eg Quakers doing and urging evil acts of mass violence. Some religions – let’s not risk prosecution by naming them here – seem to be much more prone to extremism, violence and perversion than others.

      • cliff. Wokingham.
        Posted August 11, 2014 at 10:49 am | Permalink

        With all due respect LL, it is not religion which causes wars, it is man. If all people actually followed the teachings of the main world’s religions, we would have peace and harmony in the world but sadly, man’s egos will not allow that to happen.

        One observation; since we, as a nation, have turned away from the moral teachings of the Christian faith and stopped the main church from having any real influence in our political thought and everyday values, so our society has declined. Now the “humanist” view is almost anything goes and knickers to everyone else.

        • Tom William
          Posted August 11, 2014 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

          But, cliff.Wokingham, the Christian faith was responsible for many bloody wars in the past (not unlike Shia v Sunni today) and it is only in the past 200 years that freedom of religion has been accepted by “the main church”.

          • Cliff. Wokingham.
            Posted August 11, 2014 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

            Tom,
            It was not the Christian faith which was responsible for the bloody wars, crusades etc, it was mankind who, under the name of that religious faith, disregarded the Christian teachings and sought to impose their own version of Christianity onto those peoples.
            I take your point though.

            The charge of I.S. is very similar to my own church’s crusades of centuries ago but again, militant Islam is a group’s interpretation of their faith which, in my opinion, goes against the Islamic teachings.

            Regarding freedom of religion; I agree but, again at the risk of sounding like a stuck record, this is mankind’s own interpretation of the word of God; Jesus did indeed say go out and spread the good news (of his sacrifice and his teachings) and make followers of the nations but, he said that people should be free to make up their own minds and decide if they wanted to follow his teachings or not, he did not say kill those that resisted the good news.

            Religion, be that the main faiths of the world, political ideology or the new false religion of man made climate change, can all be used to manipulate populations and to change the make up and values of that society. We are seeing extreme versions of it in the world today.

            I feel we need ordinary members of each faith to put pressure on the fanatics and radicals to follow their faith more peacefully as intended by the church/faith’s forefathers.

            etc ed

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted August 11, 2014 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

            Actually what we need is for those with no religious faith to insist that people who still want to believe in one load of superstitious nonsense or another are free to do so, but whatever their personal religious beliefs may be they must nonetheless obey the secular law, the law which applies to all and which is necessary not just to keep the adherents of different religions from each others’ throats but to prevent a more general descent in chaos.

          • Cliff. Wokingham.
            Posted August 12, 2014 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

            Denis Cooper,

            In general terms, I believe a truly secular society is the answer however, in recent years, the state has taken to imposing duties on people through the statute book, which ensure some other person’s rights, whilst forcing others, to go against their moral beliefs in order to fulfill those right.

            For example, although I am a Catholic, I would not object to the law saying that I may not wear a symbol of my faith in public however, as a retired nurse, I would object to being forced to take part in abortions, if I were still in practice. This would be for both moral and faith based reasons.

            We have seen Bed and Breakfast owners prosecuted because their morality would not allow unmarried couples to share a bed in their establishment, whether they were a heterosexual or homosexual couple. They were then taken to court because a homosexual couple wanted their “rights” to trump the beliefs of that bed and breakfasts owner’s moral beliefs. This is where your proposal could get into problems. We are seeing it now in the USA with Obama Care and how the state is forcing Catholic businesses to provide abortion and contraception services within their mandatory medical insurance provision.

            We saw Mr Blair’s government force the closure of some of the best adoption agencies in the country, because the state insisted that Catholic agencies had to give children to homosexual couples; I wonder how people would react if they too were forced, in the future, to do things which they found morally repugnant, because that appears to be the route we’re taking does it not?

            A secular society is a good thing, but there needs to be a complete review of our legal system and our statutory laws to ensure that one person’s rights do not force a duty onto another citizen, which morally they could not do in good conscience.

            I see that even this and the previous government rode roughshod over our MP’s right to a conscience when they whipped votes which had always been free votes in the past, because of the morality questions of the proposals which were up for debate.

            Regarding suspicious nonsense etc: I have always considered it better to live my life believing there is a God, risking that after my death, I may find there is not and I suggest, that is far better than living life believing there is not a God, only to find out after death that there is a God…..Food for thought?

        • Matt
          Posted August 12, 2014 at 9:51 am | Permalink

          People take justification from their religious texts for their violent actions. It provides a moral framework for evil by mixing evil ideas in with obviously good ones.
          Don’t steal, be faithful to your husband/wife, help those in need; oh and by the way, go slaughter those people over there who refuse to pray to your god(s). Like we didn’t know the first 3 were righteous before the god(s) told us.

          Some branches of some religions are now peaceful, and some are not. This has changed before and will again. Some religious texts have been reformed along with the changing ideas of the religious leadership over the centuries and some have not. This makes those reformed texts harder to use to justify evil, though some people still manage it.

          The fact remains that if the religious texts were not there it would be hard to find moral authority for the evil currently perpetrated on behalf of one god or another.
          Not impossible though. A strong enough atheist ideology can achieve the same effect, although this is rarer and harder to arrange.

          Let’s not forget that religion uses threats and/or promises that can’t be tested (or lies as they’re also known) to bully its followers into obeying the texts which is flat out wrong in of itself.

          Some religious texts are far more vulnerable to use for the justification of evil than others. If the religious text is considered the final and unalterable word of a god then said text is clearly resistant to a reformation process. A faith that precludes a clear leadership structure prevents anybody from having the authority to perform such a reformation anyway. Also some religions start off violent in the early part of the text and then that early text is later overruled by more peaceful ideas. Others start off more peaceful and put the really nasty stuff toward the end.

          I’m not naive enough to blame all the worlds problems on its gods, but I find religious apologists who refuse to place any responsibility on the gods for the worlds evils not to be credible. Eliminating the gods would not fix the world, but it would be a huge step in the right direction.

          Apart from anything else, religion is all based on lies. I can’t bring myself to support lies even if they’re well intentioned and serve(d) some practical societal purpose. The god(s) aren’t going to magically protect you and those you love from harm, or provide you with justice, or allow you to survive death. This is the only world we have and if we want it to be better, we have to make it better ourselves.

        • margaret brandreth-j
          Posted August 21, 2014 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

          Cliff I am in full agreement with your views, however it is unlikely you can change people and ask themto look at the central issues of faith, which is love for one another, without putting this essential into a historical context.
          Mans inner morality is exemplified by christ . Full stop.

  4. Walter
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    Mr. Wood it is British government fault what is happening in the Mideast study your goverment history on colonization, before making any comment of today’s problems. Old saying “what goes around comes around” etc ed

  5. Mark B
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    I’m with, Sarah Palin on this one – “Let Allah decide.”

  6. Richard1
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    ‘We’ are in no way responsible for the IS’s crimes, those crimes are the responsibility of those who commit them. Ministers and other commentators such as Lord Dannat have to accept that with the UK having cut our military capability (which i’m sure wasnt Lord Dannats choice) to the extent we have we have no more capability nor obligation to intervene than numerous other countries of similar size and limited power. There is no debate in eg Switzerland or Singapore or Canada as to whether they should send forces so why is there in the UK?

    No more wars unless the UK or our allies are under direct threat and unless we are very sure who the enemy is and what military action is intended to achieve. The precedents of the Blair-Labour wars are terrible.

  7. MIke Stallard
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    “successful flourishing democracies usually emerge from within, not from without.”

    The Sunni are, I imagine, full of determination. Many of them, apparently, come from Grozny where they have met Russian Christians all too often. The English lot come from a land which is Godless and very proud of it, where they are often spurned on account of the colour of their skin (I have often seen this as a teacher in Bradford) and where their “community” is banished to the ghetto. Islam is rapidly becoming, under a constant stream of unfavorable propaganda, especially from the clever old BBC, the new Judaism, the new Catholicism. (I am a Catholic).
    Muslims, in many midland towns, have stepped into the role of the Anglican Church, which once provided spiritual sustenance for the masses.
    In a perfect world, no doubt, Iraq would be split into three different sections – Kurds, Sunni and Shi’a. But then how would we drive our cars or eat or heat our houses?

    What a mess! Now – who can we blame?

  8. APL
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    JR: “Should the west intervene in Iraq again?”

    We should – not least because this *is* our mess. But the question for the UK is, do we have the capability?

    We have an aircraft carrier that is only now going through trials – but will have no air capability – insufficient force protection to put it in a ‘hot’ region like the Gulf without the cooperation of allies.

    And probably, Iran would love an opportunity to snatch more Ipods from our guys and thumb their noses at us, once again. But a much bigger prize would be the one and only aircraft carrier the British own.

    By the way, there a score of Admirals in Whitehall, with no fleet to command. What is the point of them?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 11, 2014 at 8:20 am | Permalink

      Certainly agree on the Admirals with no fleet, nor even aircraft for their hugely expensive aircraft carrier. What indeed is the point of them all.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 11, 2014 at 8:27 am | Permalink

      It is indeed a mess of Bliar’s and the Bushes creation but that is no reason for further intervention unless we can be fairly certain that such intervention will work and make things better.

      We certainly can not be.

      Will we ever get the real “gist” for Blair and Bush’s discussions? I doubt it as we cannot even know which counsellor’s have convictions for not paying their council taxes.

    • Stephen Berry
      Posted August 11, 2014 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      APL writes on the West intervening in Iraq, “We should – not least because this *is* our mess. But the question for the UK is, do we have the capability?”

      The Daily Mail, which has generally been in favour of a non-interventionist UK foreign policy, also echoes APL’s sentiment in a recent editorial.

      We should be careful where we are going here. Recently, some Kenyan veterans of their independence war claimed damages from the present British government for mistreatment. Certain West Indian groups want to claim damages against the British government for the wrongs inflicted by slavery. If we open this Pandora’s box, there is literally no end to the number of claims that can be made against the British, and indeed, other governments around the world. Then we have the usual trick of politicians creating a problem, lawyers exploiting it for their financial benefit and the taxpayer stumping up the bill.

      I did not support the creation of this Iraq mess in any way, shape or form. In fact, I opposed it. Let those people who created this mess be held responsible for it. Let them also pay for it. After all, many of these people are politicians and reputed to have deep pockets.

      A final word on what should be a moral foreign policy. It does not consist of rushing hither and thither in the world intervening to help this or that group. That is the route the UK has chosen of late and it always ends in tears. Rather, a moral foreign policy should first do no ill. In other words, British foreign policy should not make things worse for people around the world and the safest way of achieving this is to stop meddling in affairs which do not concern us. I also believe that ‘first do no ill’ is good rule for the running our own lives.

      • APL
        Posted August 11, 2014 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

        Stephen Berry: “Let those people who created this mess be held responsible for it.”

        Agreed.

        Let’s establish a new British Army battalion. To be comprised of the adult offspring ( it will be a gender neutral battalion ) of our Civil servants (MOD, DHSS, etc), Members of Parliament, local authority panjandrums so on and so forth.

        We could arm them with .303 Lee Enfields and transport them around Iraq in canvas covered Land-Rovers.

        What could possibly go wrong?

        • Stephen Berry
          Posted August 11, 2014 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

          APL: Yes, this is a suggestion not without merit.

          But we need to have a Land-Rover for the lawyers too. And it should be clearly marked as such.

    • APL
      Posted August 11, 2014 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

      Six months ago, David Cameron was gagging to get involved on the side of ISIS to help overthrow Assad, to the extent he and his International political elite were concocting lies about first use of nerve agents by Assad forces – how they could possibly know which side used the nerve agent is anyone’s guess. But I’m sure we’d had the Blair fifteen minute warning, or was it 45 minutes.

      Yet today, we can’t assist the very people our erstwhile allies in Syria are trying to exterminate in Iraq.

      God knows what is going on in Libya!

  9. Alan Wheatley
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    As to the rights and wrongs of military intervention, surely we should look to the UN Security Council. If we believe there should be intervention, as a permanent member we are well placed to make an initiative. If a proposed intervention is rejected then international pressure can be brought on those who reject the proposal to justify their position and, ALSO, to proposed what they think should be done. If a nation is prepared to be on the Security Council it has to stand up and be counted fulfilling the responsibility that comes with membership.

    As to military means, the larger, more concentrated and better equipped with heavy weapons a force becomes the easier it is to diminish that capability. Where those who we recognise as the legitimate owners of the land are trying to defend that land from invasion, it is much easier to engage the right military targets.

    It is easier to help the recognised government of a recognised state. Where there is no recognised state, and likely no recognised government either, perhaps it is time for the UN to revisit the concept of the Mandate as a means of providing a period of stability from which can emerge democracy.

    • Mark
      Posted August 11, 2014 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

      I read of the UK’s approach to the Security Council:

      Britain hopes a diplomatic initiative it introduced in the U.N. Security Council on Friday will contain Islamic extremists in Iraq and Syria by curtailing their fundraising. The plan is to quash their illicit oil and gold exports, prevent ransom kidnappings, and hobble recruitment to stymie the establishment of an Islamic caliphate straddling the two Middle Eastern countries.

      The resolution, which was drafted with input from Washington and Paris, demands that the Islamic State, al-Nusra Front, and other al Qaeda affiliates “cease all atrocities and terrorist activities,” and urges states to “cooperate in efforts to find and bring to justice the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of terrorist acts.

      It does not, however, propose using force.

      Reminds you of a chocolate teapot.

  10. Bazman
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    It will be a different story about staying out the conflict when the conflict is being brought to us and in many ways we are seeing this in Europe with the rise of Islamic extremism. The writer, comedian and atheist internet personality Pat Condell tells the story well with many on all sides determined to silence him.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted August 11, 2014 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      I agree Baz, and I have watched most of Pat Condell’s YouTube videos, but in my experience, it’s the hard left more than anyone who wants to silence him.

      But it matters not if it’s the hard left, or the hard right. Everyone has a right to be heard and we can then make up our own minds whether or not we agree with them. We had a situation in Nazi Germany before World War Two where they burnt Jewish books, and that much proclaimed series, The World at War, quoted a German poet as saying, ‘where they burn books, there eventually, they burn people’.

      It seems to me there’s a very biased media at work in the UK right now, that only seems to give one side of world events. It poisons the minds of the impressionable multitudes in a very dangerous way. It conditions them to accept a perpetual state of war and excuses intervention as just and moral humanitarian crusades. It seldom seems to make people contemplate the catastrophe that could come about if events take on a momentum of their own. A situation whereby an unintended exponential increase in hostilities becomes uncontrollable by those who initiated it in the first place.

      I’m afraid successive governments of all colours have much to answer for. It is they who have so mismanaged foreign and domestic policies to allow this mess to happen.

      Tad

  11. Gary
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    There is a pattern here. “Rebels” cause mayhem and we are implored to intervene. Who pays these rebels and why is oil or a pipeline always involved?

    • APL
      Posted August 11, 2014 at 7:40 am | Permalink

      Gary: “Who pays these rebels and why is oil or a pipeline always involved?”

      Question one. Answer: Saudi Arabia.
      Question two. Answer: Saudi Arabia.

  12. APL
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    JR: “The first question to ask is why did past western military interventions in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan fail to establish peace loving liberal democracies as hoped and as advertised by the more optimistic?”

    Because the West never bothers to look at the realities ‘on the ground’, trying instead to impose the ‘one size fits all’ concept of democracy for, in this case Iraq.

    Iraq is a fractured artificial ethnic and geographic entity. Even now, the Kurds are part Iraq, part Syrian, part Turkish.

    If we are to impose a westernised system it would have to be a more federal structure, with each ethnic grouping having self determination over its own affairs and geographical sphere of influence.

    Then the Iraqi national government could be selected from representatives of these groups.

    Top down but convenient for Western powers, type ‘democracy’ can never work in these tribal environments.

  13. Iain Moore
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    I was vehemently opposed to Cameron’s desire to bomb Syria for there wasn’t a good side or bad side to support or fight against. The Al Assad Bathist regime I felt gave the Syria stability, and if we had helped remove it the result would have been an even worse Iraq.

    But I am appalled at Cameron’s failure to mobilise ( what remains of our military capability) and have it support the Yazidis, Chritians, and Kurds. Would Cameron be still sunning himself on a beech in Portugal if 500 Muslim women and children we being genocidally killed by Christians? I could understand the logic of not wanting to involve ourselves in ISIS’s incursion into Iraq while there was a grey area over whether the local population of Sunnis supported them, but we have shammed ourselves by not reacting when the ISIS incursion went beyond Sunnis areas and started attacking other ethnic groups and religious communities.

  14. Margaret
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    Emerging democracies indeed do come from within, however to get to that state of equilibrium where people vote and reason and bow to the sensible majority , the irrational majority exert their force and in the case of ISIS, continue to advance, causing destruction as they go.
    Should we let them go forward like armies wanting to take land which others elsewhere have done in the last few centruries and if so what will life be like for people living under the tyranny of barbarians? Would that be a democracy?
    Tony Blair under the supposition that there were weapons of mass destruction saw the problem , yet we know what happened when he attempted to stop the sway of tyranny.
    There is another tyranny and that is the unbearable one of omission. ‘Why won’t anybody help me; are they oblivious to the suffering I am going through; they know I am right and the murderers are wrong , yet they take the side of the cruel by letting them walk and slaughter all over this land; are they observers who actually get enjoyment by watching without helping?’
    That is the emotional side , but if the emotional response was not there, there would be no sense of right or wrong.

  15. Anonymous
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    “The first question to ask is why did past western military interventions in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan fail to establish peace loving liberal democracies as hoped and as advertised by the more optimistic?”

    The Saatchi and Saatchi method of selecting people of the wrong caliber for politics. Those with PPE and Law degrees who say

    “We know best.”

    Tony Blair/ Alastair Campbell et al have a lot to answer for.

    Blairism dfn : The reconciliation of hippy, peace-nick, socialist greenism with elitism, aggressive military intervensionism and PERSONAL WEALTH CREATION

    No wonder – having had such schizophrenic people in charge – we are in a mess.

    Our next military move ? Invest in our home defences. We have – at the behest of the Blairists – imported all of the World’s conflicts.

    • Anonymous
      Posted August 11, 2014 at 8:26 am | Permalink

      David Cameron is a Blairist.

      • Anonymous
        Posted August 11, 2014 at 8:31 am | Permalink

        PPS Armchair generals are far more harmless than the sofa cabinet operated by Nu Labour.

        Few politicians have experience of war (few politician’s children go to war either)

        So why do you think that politicians are any more qualified for war than armchair generals ?

  16. Atlas
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Hmm, ‘between a rock and a hard place’ comes to mind. My minor contribution is that to intervene when you do not have the wherewithall to see it through is counter-productive to all concerned.

  17. Bryan
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    No!

    It is about time the Arab States sorted this out for themselves as we only make things worse.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted August 11, 2014 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

      Bryan–How can it get worse than women and children, so it is said, being buried alive?

  18. The PrangWizard
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    The West’s intervention in Kuwait was in my view justified, but what happened in Iraq and Afghanistan subsequently and raises such passion should not deter us from facing up to the threat from ISIS and the self-proclaimed Islamic State. We should face down accusations that our past mistakes preclude us from action. What we have seen in recent weeks is different. The fact that a state has been proclaimed should be understood; this is not merely a war between sects which we should steer clear of; it has the hallmarks of a the beginnings of a major expansionst war.

    In the 1930’s there were those who said we should not get involved or oppose Hitler’s ambitions. It was asserted he would go no further than putting right the injustices imposed on Germany after 1918, and he had many sympathisers; the fact that he had made anti-Semitic statements and had begun to persecute Jews and others was excused by some. Similar voices are being raised today to defend ISIS.

    The Islamic State is expanding it’s borders, the fact that it has got so far so quickly indicates that it is well organised and led and much planning has been done. It may of course stall in the short term but it is the nature of fanatical ambition that it cannot be satisfied with small gains. I discussed this with a couple of friends, the subject initially being the murder and persecution of Christians and Yazidis; one of them said that ‘only a minority’ were perpetrating the crimes. This view is to excuse mass murder because not many are committing it.

    The West must act. We know that Islamism is a world-wide movement; its aim is to convert the entire world to Islam, by force if necessary. And here may I draw attention to the fact that the Jihadi flag is flying over parts of London with impunity. This may seem fanciful and many will say it cannot possibly succeed but there is a long way for it to go yet if nothing is done now. ‘A minority’ using terror can quickly and fairly easily and at low cost subdue a majority. There may never be a recovery.

    It is not beyond the bounds of possibilty that ISIS could make a move on and in Turkey at some point, and then south-east Europe. Who can say that such expansion is not a part of a long term plan? It has been tried before and it was not stopped until it got half-way through France. We should consider this seriously because here in Europe we do not have the military strength to oppose a fanatical enemy in the streets. Complacency could cost us dear.

    The West should continue to intervene now; the UK’s armed forces are diminished, the US can and is doing something and we should be thankful, not least because it diminishes the suffering of the cruelly oppressed. They should have our support and assistance where we can give it. I would also like to see the French taking part, they at least have an aircraft carrier so they could use that to join with the US in attacking ISIS.

    This potentially is a war of civilisations. If ISIS stop what they are doing and fade away to nothing of their own accord I will happy to admit being wrong.

  19. Ian Murray
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    So should we sit on our hands now and wring them later once the Yazidis and Christians have been massacred, just as we did when Moslems were massacred at Srebrenica? I believe there are times when if you have the means to protect the innocent you should exercise them. This is one of them.

  20. oldtimer
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    You raise good questions, to which the UK government has failed to provide any good answers beyond providing humanitarian aid.

    The solution will only be found within the region and on the ground, starting with the Iraqi government, currently without a PM. This morning the last PM, Mr Maliki has said he is to take legal action against the President of Iraq because he has not appointed him for a third term. Mr Maliki is, it seems, part of the problem because he runs a Shia dominated government, excluding effective participation by the Sunni and Kurdish communities. That has helped fuel Sunni discontent and support for ISIS. Quite how UK military intervention will help resolve this problem has not been explained. Indeed the US held back from air strikes against ISIS, requested by Maliki, for this very reason.

    The idea that military force should be imposed to promote or install the Western model of democracy in the Middle East or central Asia is as arrogant as it is has been demonstrated to be ineffective. ISIS, or the new Caliphate as it now describes itself, is a ruthless threat to the political status quo in the Middle East. The principal interest in stopping it rests with the countries within the region. The UK effort should be diplomatic in order to mobilise their shared interest in survival. That has nothing whatever to do with promoting democratic values but with protecting our and other international interests in removing or curtailing one threat among many to political stability in an unstable Middle East.

  21. Roy Grainger
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    As the USA seems reluctant to intervene then I don’t see why UK should. Let the EU decide what to do (nothing), they’ve got a foreign policy remit haven’t they ?

  22. Roy Grainger
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    It is interesting how many on the left in UK are advocating a neo-colonial (and even neo-con) solution to the current Mid-East wars (but not to Ukraine) which involves the UK intervening militarily and imposing a new government more to our liking. This is based on the incorrect assumption by them that the UK has still got all the power and apparatus and prestige of a colonial power. It is an interesting flaw in their thinking. What are the real world superpowers – USA, China, Russia – doing about the Middle-East ? Nothing.

  23. Posted August 11, 2014 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    It is arrogant to wish other nations to be like us.

    Outside interference upsets the delicate web of power structures built up over decades or even centuries (sadly often through slaughter). Eventually a pecking order is established and peace is achieved

    Every time we clumsily interfere we upset this balance and the jostling for position, with accompanying slaughter, begins again.

    For hundreds of years we have been interfering. Let us stop now.

    • Kenneth R Moore
      Posted August 11, 2014 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      Wise words indeed.

    • Posted August 12, 2014 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

      If I see an old lady being mugged – I’ll interfere – with no questions asked.

      People on this blog bang on about being English – but when the time comes to prove it they advocate hiding under the bed until it’s all over.

      We should be there (as I’m sure the SAS already is) not only because it is right – but also to display our values to the rest of the world.

  24. Bill
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Does anyone know whether (a) ISIS and Hamas are directly connected (b) whether, if ISIS were successful, a large tract of land stretching from Iran, though Syria and down to Gaza would confederate (c) if ISIS, Hamas and Iran have adopted the same type of Islam (d) what happens to the Muslim and other minorities in the area?

    We know there was a war between Iran and Iraq under Saddam Hussein when Sunni and Shiite Islam fought each other in the 1980s. Are we seeing a re-run of this but with more volatility and diffusion?

    • Mark
      Posted August 11, 2014 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      Iraqi Shiite troops fought Iranian Shiite troops eyeball to eyeball in the trenches, and likewise Iraqi and Iranian Kurds, during their war. Nationality and fear of being shot for desertion on both sides trumped religion and ethnicity. Saddam was tasked to keep Iran in check, with support from the Gulf Arabs, the USSR, France, and assorted others (including at times US satellite intelligence on Iranian positions). Meanwhile, balance was ensured by allowing Iran to be supported by China, South Africa, and even the US and Israel supplying spare parts for Phantom jets under the Contras deal. At least until the Soviets could no longer afford to bankroll Saddam’s armaments purchases – when the superpowers connived at letting the war peter out, while the USSR started to break apart and Saddam conceived his next move to invade Kuwait.

      • Bill
        Posted August 11, 2014 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

        Thanks. I suppose that nationality will trump religion where the nation state is strong but, if it weakens, religion becomes the key identity marker? If this is so, we are seeing a shifting of allegiances, and presumably some of the soldiers are mercenary anyway…

  25. Simon Stephenson
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    This is a good column, Mr Redwood.

    All I would add is that we seem, over the last 25 years or so, to have arrived at a position where authority has deemed the entire general public to be incapable of dealing with complicated reality, and so the simplistic narrative that is, perhaps, necessary to prevent the stupid from mis-reacting, has become the whole of what is passed out for the public’s consumption. This doesn’t just apply to our foreign entanglements, it applies to the whole of public policy, and the communication of its details to the wider public.

    We’re not dependent children needing to be protected from the harsh realities of grown-up life, and neither are we half-witted lumps of amoeba who can be pushed in any desired direction by the power of advertising, marketing and propaganda.

    So why shouldn’t we expect a little more respect for our personal sovereignty, eh?

    • acorn
      Posted August 11, 2014 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

      Nice one Simon. Unfortunately, “… general public to be incapable of dealing with a complicated reality”, er, has become a reality. Not just with what we are allowed to know (and are conditioned to accept by the media) in our “foreign entanglements”, but also in our economic entanglements.

      The former, well read persons can make educated guesses at the outcomes of various western foreign policy plays. They mostly involve securing friendly oil supplies for the US of A; they are fairly easy to work out. Not so with our nations economics, the government knows even less about this “complicated reality”, but a “simplistic narrative” of Austerity has worked like a pagan religion on the “half-witted lumps of amoeba who [actually] can be pushed in any desired direction by the power of advertising, marketing and propaganda”.

      PS. Now, the Kurds have been battling a group of militants from ISIS who are using powerful American weapons they took from the battlefield, left by the Iraqi Army. “They are literally outgunned by an ISIS that is fighting with hundreds of millions of dollars of U.S. military equipment seized from the Iraqi Army who abandoned it,” Mr. Khedery [US Military Advisor] said. (NYT).

      • Simon Stephenson
        Posted August 12, 2014 at 9:20 am | Permalink

        Thank you, acorn.

        I’m not so much concerned that the mass of the general public is fed sanitised tosh, what I really consider to be sinister is that authority sees the correctness in giving out only sanitised tosh. And that this is justified either from the perspective (a) that there is no one in the general population who would benefit from receiving the reality, or (b) that it is detrimental to national interest for the reality to be given out to anyone, or, more worryingly (c) that it is not in the interests of the present powerholders for accurate information to be given to people who could use it to hold the powerholders to account.

  26. Barry Sheridan
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    Humanitarian aid is not much use if the IS nutcases get near these people, they require the means to defend themselves. As the best hope of doing that lies with the Kurds then we need to get arms as well as other aid into their hands. This is achievable.

    It is also worth reminding that US forces finally left Iraq because the government of that country refused to offer American forces protection from the Iraqi legal system.

  27. Excalibur
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    A creditable summary of the dilemma, JR. However, it falls short of delivering the action, the physical humanitarian help that the Christians marooned on that barren mountain need. They should be escorted to a place of safety. Surely that is not beyond the abilities of a small military force, with air support. It is risky and could end badly but it is incumbent on us to do what ever we can to try relieve their plight. I am not advocating staying, fighting, or any other activity except the rescue of these thousands of distressed souls. If we stand by and fail to act we will incur the censure of history.

    Reply I am told the terrain and the disposition of enemy forces makes that very hazardous. The US/UK are trying to get agreement with those on the ground to a humanitarian corridor.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted August 12, 2014 at 1:09 am | Permalink

      Comment on Reply–I think it was Miss Marple who said that, We are not put on this world never to take risks–and what exactly is the Army (paratroops?) for if they cannot support these poor people at their time of desperate need? I suspect there are plenty who would volunteer to go in an instant. Apart from all else there is a difference between defence and attack. The ghastly purely political and pusillanimous response that the Foreign Secretary just came out with was cringe making. And as regards a corridor, did I not read or hear that the mountain is surrounded? They should be escorted out. The question is to where, not this ‘no boots’ twaddle.

  28. John E
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    It seems we do support an independent Kurdish region – although nominally part of Iraq. Devo max perhaps? But seriously they appear capable of forming a sensible government with the capability and will to protect their territory – hence the attraction of supporting them. And they have control over a significant part of the oil.

    On a presumably related note, what is going on at the Foreign Office – another ministerial resignation announced today I see?

    Reply Mr Simmonds wishes to leave Parliament and get a better paid job after May 2015 as I understand it. He says he agrees with the government’s foreign policy and is pro Mr Hammond, so nothing is going on that need worry us.

  29. Posted August 11, 2014 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    An excellent blog this morning – I commend the balanced view you made . Outside intervention is and would be a mistake in the Middle East , as you have pointed out , democracy and the means of rule can only come from within . Efforts of diplomacy and humanitarian assistance will have a beneficial effect on any troubled society and ought to be orchestrated through the United Nations – not by any one country wanting to make a point . It is horrible to read and learn of the atrocities through the media and doing nothing to stop them is equally unacceptable , however , whatever is done in the short term must not lose sight of the long term consequences . Only an orchestrated approach by the United Nations is going to be effective .

  30. John B
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    The sentiment of your general question, Mr Redwood, was answered by Adam Smith long ago when he described the Man of System.

    We have in the West, a breed of rulers and hangers-on in the influencing classes, people with the arrogance and conceit to imagine they exclusively have enough knowledge and ability to process it and keep it up to date, so they can decide how everyone and society should be, their morals, politics, freedom, needs and means, how economies should be planned and controlled.

    Not content with imposing it at home, they crave to extend their power onto the World Stage.

    So they want to control our leisure, our diet, our thought, our individual wealth, our liberty from their central command. In other words Socialism, but having learned from the mistakes of Communism not by direct central ownership but by co-opting banking, finance and business, and creating a model citizen and determining their subordination to the State… we used to know this as National Socialism and Fascism and fought a war against it, but these days it is called Social Democracy and Social Justice.

    In summary: Western so-called leaders are in essence no different to the fanatics wishing to impose their ways on society, and whereas the ISIS zealots use bloody means, our lords and masters use the forces of the State to coerce all to comply, and will use violence too if need be.

    Adam Smith: “The man of system, on the contrary, is apt to be very wise in his own conceit; and is often so enamoured with the supposed beauty of his own ideal plan of government, that he cannot suffer the smallest deviation from any part of it. He goes on to establish it completely and in all its parts, without any regard either to the great interests, or to the strong prejudices which may oppose it. He seems to imagine that he can arrange the different members of a great society with as much ease as the hand arranges the different pieces upon a chess-board. He does not consider that the pieces upon the chess-board have no other principle of motion besides that which the hand impresses upon them; but that, in the great chess-board of human society, every single piece has a principle of motion of its own, altogether different from that which the legislature might chuse to impress upon it. If those two principles coincide and act in the same direction, the game of human society will go on easily and harmoniously, and is very likely to be happy and successful. If they are opposite or different, the game will go on miserably, and the society must be at all times in the highest degree of disorder.”

    • Bill
      Posted August 11, 2014 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

      ‘Western so-called leaders are in essence no different to the fanatics wishing to impose their ways on society, and whereas the ISIS zealots use bloody means, our lords and masters use the forces of the State to coerce all to comply, and will use violence too if need be’

      I think this a misleading comparison. I don’t think western leaders are ‘the same’ as ISIS zealots because western leaders do have some respect for the rule of law and for individual freedom. You might as well say that Hitler was the same as Churchill because they both led their countries during war. Or that doctors and homeopaths are the same because they both try to heal people. Or that airplane pilots are the same as birds because they both fly. What you have offered is a kind of reductionist fallacy.

      • Simon Stephenson
        Posted August 11, 2014 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

        I expect the ISIS leaders will have an equivalent “respect for the rule of law ” when they’ve had a chance to set up laws that suit their desires. And I don’t think either ISIS or the western leaders have a great deal of respect for “individual freedom”.

        For better or worse, we’ve established a system of power through democratic preference which is far more attractive to the smart egoists than it is to the smart public-spirited. As a result we’ve ended up with people like Salmond, Cameron, Blair, Brown and Boris Johnson as our leaders, who are far more interested in what happens to Salmond, Cameron, Blair, Brown and Boris Johnson, respectively, than they are in the wellbeing of the people they were elected to represent.

  31. Mark
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    This is not a job for just the “West”. Just as when Saddam was ousted from Kuwait, it is important to assemble a broad international coalition to convey the message that such violent extremism will not be tolerated anywhere – for if we do not, it will be on our doorsteps. Achieving such a coalition requires a substantial reappraisal of international relationships. How might we bring Russia to the table, and also perhaps move towards a sensible settlement in the Ukraine? Can we secure the use of the Saudi airforce, and support from Iran, thus showing that Muslims also regard this as intolerable?

    Moreover, we should stop letting those resident in the UK depart to join in the fighting. It is not enough for our intelligence services to monitor them and try to pick them up on return. We need to be far more proactive in tacking cells of radicalisation at home.

  32. Iain Gill
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    The UK should stay out of it, and withdraw our special forces, and get the RAF away too
    We are a small country in massive debt with big internal problems, we need to be realistic
    And get Blair sacked from his “Middle East Peace Envoy” job, a role he has obviously failed in

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 11, 2014 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

      Peace Envoy! Perhaps the most inappropriate appointment ever?

      A war voted for in the house by 421 in favour and only 263, against. What a predictable disaster, if ever there was one.

  33. forthurst
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    “The first question to ask is why did past western military interventions in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan fail to establish peace loving liberal democracies…”

    …or to put another way, “Was it ever possible to create a peaceful modern democratic state fit for the twenty-first century by means of aerial bombardment? Is the pre-existence of infrastructure, essential to this benign process or can it be achieved even in a country like Afghanistan, where little infrastructure is available for beneficial destruction?”

    Another question to ask is why those countries selected for democratisation have one or more of the following characteristics:

    – significant natural resources particularly of hydrocarbons
    – a desire to trade their natural resources in currency other than the US dollar
    – geographic significance to the transit of hydrocarbons by pipeline
    – a perceived threat to the hegemony of Israel in the ME or its desired expansion
    – a perceived threat to the US as world hegemon

    There is clear evidence that the US was training ISIS (good guys) in Jordan in 2012; at this time ISIS was fighting Assad (bad guy) in Syria as ‘al Qaida'; but they had been fighting also in Iraq and have now declared their very own state, so the question is whether they are now the bad guys, or still only bad guys when operating in Iraq, or as I wrote on this blog a year ago “If an American serviceman were to meet Al Qaida standing on the border between Syria and Iraq, would he he friend or foe?”, or is the killing of Christians and the destruction of their churches not really such a bad thing as was the case in Syria, unless it provokes international outrage, in which case a pretence of ‘doing something about it’ is called for. Is there even in the ‘West’, a uniform opinion on this issue? Was the ‘West’ taken by surprise when ISIS transformed itself from freedom fighters to the declarers of their own state, or was this always the agenda and ISIS, having serendipitously acquired American weaponry and dollars and oil wells in abundance as well as pipeline is now presenting itself to the world fully formed.

    The problems in the ME have allowed the MSM to focus away from Ukraine where (deaths ed) and destruction of civilian infrastructure in the East is taking place on a similar scale to that which has drawn a sharp focus on Gaza and where the official conspiracy theory as to the downing of MH17 is begining to fall apart; refocus on Ukraine will only take place should Putin rise to the bait to stop the (deaths ed); in which case the US may feel able ride to the rescue of the Kyiv Junta and seize the pipelines so that they control both the price and quantity of hydrocarbons arriving in Europe and the price which Russia receives; to this end, the conduits of the Southern Stream would continue to be discouraged from restarting construction.

  34. Denis Cooper
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    I see that Boris Johnson has taken another break from his mayoral duties to write an article for the Telegraph today, urging that we should help the Kurds:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iraq/11024873/It-would-be-an-utter-tragedy-if-we-did-not-defend-the-Kurds.html

    “It would be an utter tragedy if we did not defend the Kurds”

    Of course when he writes “we” that doesn’t mean that he personally would risk life and limb in that cause; earlier generations of Etonians did accept that the obligation to put their own lives on the line for King and country came with their innate right to rule the country, but that is now seen as old-fashioned nonsense and so he would prefer other people to go and actually do the fighting and get themselves killed and maimed while he gave his advice and general directions from a position of safety; in particular the Scots can be seen as dispensable – few of them will now vote Tory – so they could do it.

    Interestingly, although Boris Johnson must have numerous Turkish relations, second cousins and all, and although Turkey is a Muslim country with a large and reasonably competent army whose personnel could not be condemned as Christian crusaders, and although Turkey is adjacent to Iraq and in particular Kurdistan, he doesn’t suggest that the Turks should cross the border, sort out these Islamic fanatics and defend the Kurds; oh no, he wants to send our troops (preferably dispensable Scottish troops) a couple of thousand miles to put their lives at risk trying to do that with little prospect of success let alone a shred of gratitude if they did succeed.

    Now why should that be? Nothing to do with the Kurds claiming that swathes of his ancestral homeland should in fact be part of Kurdistan? Or that ISIS has reportedly been recruiting fighters in Turkey, and that this and the supply of arms to ISIS has allegedly been tolerated by the Turkish government?

    I’m getting a bit sick of “British” politicians whose real loyalties seem to lie elsewhere, whether it’s a Tory who wants to give the entire population of Turkey the legal right to come and live here or somebody in the Labour party who having been celebrated as the first Muslim MP actually places so little value on his British citizenship that he is willing to renounce it so he can take up a public position in Pakistan.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted August 11, 2014 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

      When we sent marines to protect the Kurds the last time they spent half their time protecting them from the Turkish army… Our marine NCO’s developed a real hatred for the Turkish army… our politicians should listen to those senior NCO’s before writing articles in the Telegraph

      We are far too small a country with far too much debt and far too many other problems to get involved

  35. formula57
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    The chief immediate and near-term threat to the UK is not as you outline from unwise intervention but from accommodating the hundreds of thousands and eventually millions maybe who will adopt the modern approach of populations affected by the ravages of war by opting to come and live here. So instead of worrying about the well-being of our military personnel etc., let us look to devoting more resources to support infrastructure like the NHS to give those people a real welcome and refuge.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted August 12, 2014 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      My irony detector has been activated by this post, I hope correctly.

      • Posted August 12, 2014 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

        Not necessarily, but one in, one out would be a good principle. There must be families who flee in fear of their lives but could easily return 5 years later. They have become economic migrants. The UK could and should cope with refugees by granting temporary resident’s permits of a few years duration.

        If anyone starts spouting about Human Rights and International Law, I shall scream. The time is coming when recovery of sovereignty is underwritten by the gun.

  36. julian
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    “We need to help seek a diplomatic solution” – that is unlikely with Islamic fundamentalists because they live in world too far from democracy.

    In the Cold War era we had a separation between states with communist totalitarian regimes and the democratic West. Now we are headed to a separation between Islamic totalitarian states and the Rest.

  37. Iain Gill
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

    Yet again the RAF doing things just to justify their squadrons existence… Tornados to Iraq but not in a combat role? Are we expected to be this naïve? If surveillance is the mission there are much easier ways of doing it that throwing Tornados at the problem.
    Looks obvious the country is being steered towards creeping into combat, and rather like the famous John Reid words when we first went into Afghanistan that we would leave without shots being fired here we have open BS saying that the Tornados are for surveillance only.
    Rather like getting immigration down to tens of thousands there must be a lot of ministers growing extremely long noses.
    And people wonder why the electorate have given up on the political class.

  38. sm
    Posted August 12, 2014 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    If its genocide then we should refer this immediately to the UN and insist the local countries act to resolve the situation. If only to evacuate the displaced to safer areas.

    Organized mass murder requires a response. But it seems to me the question is why is all this happening? Who benefits?

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood has been the Member of Parliament for Wokingham since 1987. First attending Kent College, Canterbury, he graduated from Magdalen College, and has a DPhil from All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.
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