The war against ISIL

The Defence Select Committee of the Commons is wrong to chide the UK government for doing too little to fight ISIL. They are right to warn against supporting Assad in Syria as part of any campaign against ISIL.

ISIL are a very nasty group of fanatics, but they are not unique in a troubled Middle East. They are one faction amongst several fighting for supremacy. They need the oxygen of publicity to help their recruitment. They use the western media to show their potential followers that they are able to stand up to the west, that they are the best at pushing ahead with extremist aims, and they can command the attention of the most powerful states and alliances. They use extreme exhibitions of bestial violence to draw attention and seek a response.

ISIL want to turn local wars into international wars. They want to turn a Sunni/Shia conflict into a wider conflict between Islam and the west.If our government defines them as unique amongst all the warring bands it flatters them and serves their purpose. They are trying to get Jordan to cut loose from what they define as the western side of the conflict. If we allow ourselves to be driven into committing our armed forces to intervention on the ground we give them a further cause to resist and a new argument to terrified local populations to accept their mastery.

It is not easy in the west to urge caution or to say there are limits to what we can and should do. The west wishes to believe in its own invincibility and right. Any sensible retrospection on our interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya should give us pause for thought. It is not always possible to make things better for people living in these countries, however good our intentions and however skilled our armed forces. Sometimes it is best to avoid doing harm.

It is said that the western air strikes to date have arrested the advances of ISIL, and have given the Kurdish forces the chance to fight back successfully in some places. That may prove to be an intelligent use of western power. However, it does not solve all the problems. It still requires substantial military effort by local forces on the ground, and above all will need great political skill in turning any victory there into a successful outcome.

Will the Kurds wish to live in some remodelled Iraq or will they want their own country? When will the Iraqi government be able to win over most of its Sunni population? When will there be some outcome to the long and bitter Syrian civil war?

Bombing more targets in Iraq, or sending in more special forces and military advisers, is not going to solve these huge problems. In the meantime it is important not to rise to ISIL’s provocation in ways which they can exploit.

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61 Comments

  1. Lifelogic
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    Indeed. But what a mess that Blair and the Labour government have helped to create.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      I see that there are moves to keep not paying the BBC licence tax as a criminal offence.

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/bbc/11391201/Michael-Grade-keep-criminalising-licence-fee-dodgers-until-2017.html

      I assume this is to protect the rights of the BBC to continue to drip the nation in Guardian think, lefty, PC, pro EU, ever bigger government, green crap, global warming exaggeration drivel.

      All paid for by licence fees extorted (from the victims of this propaganda) under the threat of imprisonment.

      • Bazman
        Posted February 6, 2015 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

        You mean the same as the other channels which have no licence fee?
        You do and why are you calling for a stifling of business by call for a points system for immigration?
        This will make employing foreigners doing menial jobs much more expensive by creating absurd bureaucracy which may not let them in for this work. How will we get quality degree educated middle class people working in discount supermarkets and the like and other jobs unfilled by the indigenous population?
        Employers will have to employ feckless locals who will only be turning up to prevent their benefits being stopped. That if they turn up.

    • mickc
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      And, of course, this Government with the Libyan intervention!

      Cameron was saved from his own folly with regard to Syria by Miliband actually taking the right decision. No, I can’t believe it either, but that is the truth of the matter!

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 6, 2015 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

        Cameron certainly does have rather a talent for being wrong on nearly every major issues. Why on earth can he not just do the PR & presentation and ask someone sensible (and with a record of being broadly right, such as JR) to set the direction of travel?

        Lower taxes, far less government, cheap non green energy, far less EU, far fewer regulations, a pro business and jobs agenda is what is needed and is politically popular too.

        Still the chances of a Tory majority seem to have risen from about 6% to about 13% – thanks mainly to Miliband’s talents one assumes.

        Why on earth did Cameron fire Owen Patterson & Michael Gove and then replace them with Liz Truss and Nicky Morgan for example?

        Nicky Morgan was on Question Time last night, she did not look very impressive – though perhaps better than the others on the panel. All five seems to be leaning to the left.

      • Hope
        Posted February 6, 2015 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

        So who did Cameron and Hague arm to fight Assad then? What about the human catastrophe caused in Libya by Cameron, what action has been taken against him? What has Cameronand May actually done to make us safe in the UK against the threats of Islamic extremists? How is the deporting of foreign criminals and those lost to Yeresa May’s system going? Why has she not been sacked? Clearly the EAW has not protected UK citizens one jot from EU convicted criminals who are allowed to enter our country freely!

        I would recommend everyone to read Allison Pearson’s article in the DT yesterday and compare against the inadequate gutless politicians actions. Today 30 people charged for sex offences in the north east of the UK and it is deliberately not naming the ethnicity of those committing the crime or acknowledging the (possible ed) racist nature of the(alleged ed) crimes- why?

        • Mondeo Man
          Posted February 6, 2015 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

          Hope – It is Ukip under threat violent assault in Rotherham and not the disgusting Labour council.

          Can you believe that ?

          We would not have heard the last of it from the BBC if it had been a Ukip run council but, as yet, they have not told us it is a Labour one.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted February 6, 2015 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

          It is interesting, meanwhile they film and transmit nearly every detail of the raid on Cliff Richard’s home with no justification at all it seems.

          • Mondeo Man
            Posted February 6, 2015 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

            Lifelogic – The Left will do anything to disarm the Right. In fact taking away ammunition from the Right used to be about hiding the true statistics for old ladies being mugged, now it’s about hiding child abuse.

            The Tories are completely impotent.

            As I keep saying. It is the Left who are always first to resort to violence and here we have it in Rotherham.

    • Mondeo Man
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

      Lifelogic – Isn’t it a topsy-turvy world whereby – in Rotherham – it is the Ukip office having to be protected by police and not the scandal beset Labour council’s ?

      The lasting legacy of the Blair government is that it is now ordinary people who are classified as social outcasts. We can’t have true conservatism because it is being gradually outlawed. I find that my own views – which I thought were moderate – are now ‘extremist’.

      This is why the Conservative Party must have a left wing MP and left wingers on the front benches.

      It’s the pretence that things are normal in Britain which is driving me mad. I feel like a kid in a pantomime audience shouting out ‘IT’S BEHIND YOU !’ and Buttons is wilfully ignoring me.

      • Max Dunbar
        Posted February 6, 2015 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

        Sympathise with your sentiments Mondeo. Some in the television media were saying that ‘local people’ in Rotherham, including ‘pregnant mums’, were demonstrating against UKIP. Using my Mark 1 eyeballs it appeared from the footage that these ‘local people’ consisted (in part? ed) of the same itinerant (protesters ed) that one always spots at these events. Familiar faces and not very many of them either.
        The media always portray these regulars as ordinary people as it fits the propaganda so neatly, however the suspension of disbelief must be wearing a bit thin with the public by now. I dare say that these ‘members of the public’ will be lodging complaints with the police in the run-up to the election. It’s a favourite tactic to waste the police’s time and piss off candidates and their activists.

        Reply I suspect there were local people at the protest – can you prove some of these people are itinerant protesters?

        • Mondeo Man
          Posted February 7, 2015 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

          There appeared to be a 5-year-old being breastfead by his ‘mother’ at this event.

          Bonkers. Totally bonkers.

          • Mondeo Man
            Posted February 7, 2015 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

            PS – Where are the protesters at the council offices ?

        • Max Dunbar
          Posted February 7, 2015 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

          Reply to reply: The term ‘local people’ would suggest that these demonstrators were ordinary members of the public which they patently were not. They carried banners displaying the names of well known Far-left organisations. These people are political activists who follow ‘controversial’ politicians like Farage around the country and attempt to picket his meetings, thereby discouraging local people who may otherwise wish to ask questions and listen to what Farage has to say. The intent of these activists is to deny access of local people to UKIP which is why they were gathered outside the venue in the first place.

          • Mondeo Man
            Posted February 7, 2015 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

            Max – To close down debate before it can start.

  2. Richard1
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    One thing that comes out strongly from our various interventions over the last 14-15 years is that our expensive and highly praised foreign office and intelligence service dont have the faintest clue who is who, who are the good guys, or less bad guys, and who the really bad guys in these regions. We need to reaffirm the principle that the UKs armed forces will be used if and only if there is a direct threat to the UK and its citizens or to our allies. Let’s keep powerful forces, including nuclear weapons, long range bombing capability , special forces etc, but let’s forget about trying to remake the world in our own image.

    • Joseph
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

      Well said!

      For some reason we’ve been on the ‘offensive’ in areas where we do not belong. If these Middle Eastern factions want a regime change then let them. We manage to steer well clear of places like North Korea for obvious reasons so, why engage with the Islamists?

      • Richard1
        Posted February 6, 2015 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

        Indeed, if its human rights we are concerned about we should be at war with North Korea and Zimbabwe and possibly even China.

  3. oldtimer
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    I agree with your comments. The current policy of encouraging a coalition of states on the ground to supply the ground forces is the right one. It will take a very long time to defeat ISIL with no short cuts – least of all any likely to be supplied by UK armed intervention beyond advice, supplies and selective air strikes.

  4. Cheshire Girl
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    I agree, but our politicians don’t seem to be able to keep out of these conflicts and let these countries sort it out themselves. They should remember that the UK can’t police the whole world, and we shouldn’t attempt to do so, or always follow the US, especially in the light of cuts to our Armed Forces.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      Indeed the UK is hardly capable of defending even their existing territories should push came to shove.

      Any aircraft for the air carriers yet?

  5. Mark B
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    I fear that our kind host is a lone voice in the wilderness on this issue, much like he is regarding the English getting fair, just and equal treatment from Unionist MP’s.

    The PM has absolute power of a King, and not just any old King, but a Bourbon one. And like said Monarch’s, he remembers everything, and has learnt nothing, Libya already being mentioned.

    ISIL do indeed wish to widen the conflict. They, in my opinion, wish to open up new fronts, those in the West itself. We have already seen in France, that those trained by such people, carry sophisticated weaponry and have received good training in their use, to devastating effect. An unarmed Police ‘Force’ and populace cannot protect itself, and a media and political class ready to cover for such people and the reasons behind their atrocities only further helps ISIL and others in driving a wedge between us. (words about Northern Ireland left out ed)
    The barbaric, and bestial ways of these savages only reflects the desire of the people in that part of the world. They are not alone in cutting peoples heads off. Neither are they alone in murdering people because they are homosexual. So there is something more than just this. Yes, they really are depraved, but little more than those elsewhere and, may I say, a little nearer to home.

    • Hope
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      And it was reported yesterday how ISIL flags are flying in Bosnia!

    • Mitchel
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

      A King?…more like a RuritanianDuke!….and he’s been branded a “diplomatic irrelevance” this morning.

  6. DaveM
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    “ISIL are a very nasty group of warriors” – Mr R, please don’t use the word “warriors” to describe this bunch of murdering cowards!! In my world, the word “warrior” is the ultimate accolade, and one which is only awarded to truly brave, honourable men and women.

    I do believe you are generally correct in your comments – at this time, though, what we MUST do is sort out our own country and show ruthlessness in the defence of our homeland. Not by force, but by demonstrating (with 100% political support and leadership) that the UK will tolerate absolutely no attacks (physical, cyber, or rhetorical) on its citizens or infrastructure. That means giving the security services whatever resources and powers they need within the context of the 21st century in order to prevent any kind of activity happening here, and curtailing the activities of hyper-liberal HR lawyers who seek to subvert authority at every opportunity.

    • mickc
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 10:17 am | Permalink

      But they are warriors, because they are fighters, and certainly by their own lights, no doubt honourable. Further, regrettably, I have seen no evidence that they suffer from cowardice in battle or they would not present such a problem.

      But the problem is not the UKs, it is the Middle Easts problem, and only ours if we choose to meddle in it, as the United States so chooses for their own reasons, and benefits. Those reasons and benefits are not ours.

      I certainly do not wish to see our rights and liberties destroyed for the sake of the Middle East, or the profit of the United States.

      There was a time, long ago, when the Prevention of Terrorism Act had to be renewed annually by Parliament. I think the Blair government made it permanent. That was the beginning of our loss of rights.

      • DaveM
        Posted February 6, 2015 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

        I don’t want to have a prolonged argument over a word, and of course you’re entitled to your opinion and right to reply. However.

        They’re fanatics with guns. They murder civilians and rape women and girls. They murder their captives and kill and torture for the sake of it.

        I won’t deny they’re ruthless and that their leaders have used their numbers and some shock tactics to make gains to their advantage. But they’re not warriors.

        I wouldn’t even call them fighters. The Peshmerga are woefully under-equipped and outnumbered and they have held IS and driven them back – they ARE fighters.

        I have fought against this kind of insurgent many times and I assure you they are not warriors or fighters. If they were, they wouldn’t come crawling back here grovelling and saying they’re sorry and expecting sympathy. But we show them sympathy because we do have some honour and morality in our fibre.

    • forthurst
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

      “That means giving the security services whatever resources and powers they need…”

      …apart, obviously, from instituting border controls which unfortunately might have the untoward effect of reducing our GDP (but not GNP per capita) and, far more importantly, the onward dash to create of a fully Balkanised state to replace our England, by throttling back on the influx of (large numbers of migrants ed)

    • stred
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

      JR has found a better word. However they have declared ‘war’ on the West and the French declared war on IS after the murders in Paris. During a state of war, any person suspected of sympathy with the enemy is interned, many of whom in WW2 were firmly on our side but just happened to be German.

      Why then are the security forces so unwilling to intern potential IS members, that they are aware of but are unable to watch all the time, as in London last year and Paris recently? Often these head bangers have made verbal threats before going on to commit atrocities.

      Also, given that IS seems to being bottled up by the Kurds, why are we not arming them more, as the Germans have. Kurds are unlikely to switch sides or lose the weapons and deserve more support.

      Last point. During the cold war, the US and Russia developed and made a large number of low blast tactical neutron warheads for cruise missiles. These are apparently much more effective in dry desert areas. As ISIL have upset just about everyone in the world, including hardline Islamic preachers, would it not be possible to take these weapons out of storage and eradicate the problem, so that the displaced victims can go home to their towns, without razing them to the ground.

      Reply ISIL fanatics live alongside the communities they terrorise so more powerful weapons would kill too many people

      • stred
        Posted February 7, 2015 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

        The Jordanians seem to have decided that the captives and slaves of ISIS are going to be tortured and murdered anyway, so a big bomb will not make their lives any worse, but will wipe out the torturers. We decided to do the same thing where the Nazis held prisoners who would be tortured before being killed, but may have talked. We even killed French naval allies when there was a possibility of their fleet going to the other side and destroyed Caen because it contained enemy forces. Horrible decisions and never forgiven sometimes.

  7. Bert Young
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    The Middle East is in turmoil – has been for centuries . Tribal warfare is as rampant now as it ever was and outside intervention on many previous occasions proved futile . We must not get drawn into a conflict there any more than we should be tempted to do in the Ukraine . Adopting any sort of threatening stance because it is believed to be politically astute is a mistake . It irks me to see the USA , Germany and France making a joint presence in Kiev as if to say to Russia ” we are big and great together and you must do as we say “. Russia’s leadership will not give way to political whimsy .

    • Bazman
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

      Lets see how whimsical Putin is when the workforce do not get paid like in the 1990’s. This is pretty much caused the break up of the USSR.

  8. a-tracy
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    I get confused, we British get condemned for not doing our share, and doing too much! Then I read Merkel and Hollande appoint themselves to visit with Putin today – who put them in charge of the EU defence/peace keeping talks did we get a vote on that I missed?

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      If Merkel wants to fulfil that role she should get the German army up to strength and re-militaried and deploy them overseas to help out in these assorted conflicts UK and others get involved in. Likewise Japan. The fact they still cite WW-II as a reason for not doing their share is absurd.

    • Mark B
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

      At a guess, I think that has more to do with Greece than Ukraine. The Russian Foreign Minister was the first to congratulate Syriza on their election victory.

    • BobE
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

      I replied but it got censored I think.

  9. Alan Wheatley
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    It seems to me that if Jordan is going all out to repulse ISIL, then the UK should support Jordan to the fullest extent, given the long standing friendly relations between out two countries.

    • Mark B
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      No. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and others should go all out to help Jordan. Not our region, not our problem.

  10. formula57
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Your words, all of which I support, do amount to a strong repudiation of the Blair notion that British forces should be used “anywhere they can do some good”.

    It is regrettable that lessons from past interventions and guidance for the future that should have been available years ago awaits still the publication of the Chilcot Report.

  11. alan jutson
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    The only good thing to come out of the defence cuts, is that our Politicians are now unable to sustain getting involved in so many conflicts around the World.

    I still think we need strong Armed forces, I think Defence cuts were the wrong way to go, as we are now far too few in number should a real threat to out homeland ever happen.
    Could be penny wise Pound foolish in the long term.

    • Bob
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 10:45 am | Permalink

      It must be intensely frustrating for our host to have so many of his commenters promoting ukip policy here, especially since he seems to concur (which can’t be said about many of his own party’s policies).

      Reply I am tolerant of all legal parties. UKIP have often copied my ideas so I do not intend to change my views just because UKIP now agrees with some of them

      • Bob
        Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

        @Mr Redwood
        UKIP agree with you, but how do we get your party to agree?

  12. Kenneth
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    The pattern is familiar: a group of very young impressionable fantasists, many with emotional and mental problems lead by unseen elders. etc ed

    Convening summit meetings and councils of war over such a band of sad people gives them respect they do not deserve.

    Rather than interfering overseas, I believe we are better employed enforcing security on our borders and stopping immigration from troubled parts of the world.

  13. Bill
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    If I have any hopes for the region they lie in moderate Islam of the kind that tolerates the presence of Christian congregations, even though there is an asymmetry here – those countries with a Christian heritage do more than tolerate Islam.

    It follows we should give diplomatic and other probably non-military support to Jordan and other similar countries.

  14. Max Dunbar
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    A study of the Koran and the chronological history of the founder of Islam is well worth taking the time to study. Combine this with the ancient history of the Levant, North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean and one can begin to see the causes and direction of the events that have shaped this region of the world and which now impinge on us in our home country. Let’s hope that we don’t end up with ISO (Islamic State of the Occident).

    • Mitchel
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      Re-igniting the Cold War is hardly helpful for Western European efforts to resist Islamism,given that Russia doesn’t pussyfoot when dealing with Islamist insurgency.I note that Chechen Islamists are now fighting with the Ukrainian government forces ( other Chechens have been fighting for the separatists),their leader being killed in the re-newed fighting a few days ago.

      I hope that when they visit President Putin today Merkel and Hollande come with genuinely new proposals that are in Europe’s interests and not just a re-hash of the US position.

    • Bob
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      @Max Dunbar
      According to David Cameron and the BBC it’s got nothing to do with Islam.

      • DaveM
        Posted February 6, 2015 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

        Quite Bob, quite. Is anyone else bored with hearing that?

        It’s nothing to do with Hinduism or Christianity is it? We have lunatics and extremists in our society too but they don’t do horrendous things because they’d be ostracized, and they are taught from a young age that gratuitous extremism and murder is wrong.

  15. oldtimer
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    OT: I read that the President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants is pushing the case for greater visibility of Whole of Government Accounts (WGA), including a balance sheet. I see that the Treasury has published WGAs for the past three years including a handy 4 page summary in pdf format. This is very revealing. When you write on UK national finances again, perhaps you will analyse and comment on what the WGA tells us about the financial mess we are in. It is telling just how detached some politicians are from the financial realities that face the state.

  16. Atlas
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    John, you are right to be concerned about ISIL. However, I worry about the Bear coming from the East from the places where “the grey steely skies go on for ever”. We cannot seem to handle one of these, let alone the pair together; and Cameron’s further defence cuts appear like the early 1930s follies.

  17. English Pensioner
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Most of ISIS propaganda is through the medium of the internet. All that our governments have done about that so far is to appeal to Google and the rest to help by stopping these posts.
    The governments should be actively using the same medium for their own anti-ISIS propaganda, showing the gruesome bits in a matter that might discourage potential recruits, showing the lives that females live under ISIS rule and anything else which might discourage potential recruits. It should be directed, not only to Muslims living in this country but to all Muslim countries and designed to show the evil nature of ISIS.
    If ISIS can take advantage of the internet, surely the western countries can do far more, it’s our technology that they’re using and we are missing out. We need our own team of propaganda experts with knowledge of the Arab culture, they’ll cost a lot less than bombing raids and could do more good. However you look at it, surely it’s worth a try.

  18. The Prangwizard
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    Has this piece been rewritten since it first appeared? I think so, but by how much? I recall being appalled by the use of the word ‘warriors’ to describe the murdering terrorists, indicative I thought of desperation to sound ‘moderate’. A weakness, a fear and et somehow an expression of admiration for the killers.

    Reply I changed the word following good advice from a contributor. I agree!

  19. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    In July last year, nurses of Indian origin, were stranded first in Tikrit and later transported to Mosul where they were held by ISIL according to the Telegraph (Calcutta ) not in a jail but either in a hospital or hotel.
    The Indian government successfully got their release and they were transported first by bus then by plane. On reaching India I recall reading a report/interview in the newspaper though I cannot find it now, in which the nurses were repeatedly asked if the terrorists had treated them badly. They repeated that they were not, and in fact were treated politely. And, remarkably, the nurses wished to return there in the future to work in their chosen profession.

    The Defence Select Committee of the Commons may care to investigate with the Indian authorities the whys, hows and wherefores of this matter which,was reported very differently in UK newspapers.

    It is a sobering thought, that in-fighting and disagreement within and between UK political parties is prevalent; that in-fighting and disagreements took place in former Republican organizations at the height of the Troubles and yet ISIL, despite the geography of the areas which are under its control, despite what can only be a very fragmented entity due to leader after leader at local levels losing their “seats”, due to death, manages a have a tungsten-steel-like internal organization and a watertight political manifesto.

    It is silly for the UK government when making grand definitive speeches about ISIL to completely ignore the experience of our citizens who know about local politics…how it works..and have fought in the armed forces…and know how it works. It is even more silly to bang out absolutist propaganda about various groups however wicked when slightly contrary information can be gleaned if not from a friendly English foreign press but by millions of persons of Middle-Eastern and Asiatic origins living right here in Blighty.

    Reply We do know from their own videos that ISIL have committed atrocities.

  20. bigneil
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    “committing our armed forces ” – -do we actually have any left? They were sent into Iraq and Afghanistan to be killed or maimed. The ones who came back with severe disabilities were then discarded and left to be told by Atos they had to work. Meanwhile, people of the country they were fighting could get here, claim asylum and be given a free life – partly funded by the taxes of the very people being forced to work while being severely disabled. With the government having an idea of how many have gone from here to fight for ISIL, they must know some of what is intended here by the returnees, but, what will happen? The govt wants to seem tough, so will threaten and promise all things. What will ACTUALLY happen? – nothing – they will return, get a taxpayer funded lawyer who, with EU backing, will get them all their benefits for the time they have been out there fighting. When they kick off here, no doubt someone will then stand at the obligatory lectern with hands in a sympathetic gesture and repeat those immortal words – – “Lessons have been learned”.
    With the burning of the pilot we see that NOTHING is out of bounds to them, yet how many are here?
    The govts of BOTH parties have welcomed these people in, handed them a free life, and told them they don’t have to work or even learn the language. People complained, only to be labelled “racist” by the govt. The public have known for years what is happening and what the eventual outcome is intended SHAME on the 2 main parties.

  21. forthurst
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    “They are right to warn against supporting Assad in Syria as part of any campaign against ISIL.”

    Since when has Assad been an enemy of this country? What potential threat does he pose to us? As an Englishman, I have no positive regard for neocons and their apologists; Assad was presiding over a secular state that, in particular, nurtured its historic Christian communities, many of which have now been destroyed. This of course cuts no ice with people like CMD whose Christianity is skin deep, like the rest of his beliefs, nor does it cut any ice with those neocons whose hostility to Assad is as deep as that towards Christianity, much like it was in the Bolshevik Empire and the Republicans in the Spanish civil war where destroying Christian churches and killing priests was de rigeur.

  22. Iain Gill
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    Flatten their bases with conventional cruise missiles.

    Get Prince Charles co-piloting some bombing missions over the land they occupy, if the King of Jordan can go I see no reason Charles cannot go.

    And so on.

  23. Bazman
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    The western governments cannot be subservient to Saudi Arabia a known funder of ISIS and claim the high ground against them at the same time. FOX News showed the burning of the pilot and the propaganda video 22 minutes long rightly or wrongly.
    The Israelis will not have any qualms about doing what they think necessary after this and if Jordan chooses the wrong side.

  24. Anglo Norman
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    Western support, at many levels, political, financial, media, has created great instability in the region and made the prospect of jihad terrorism a reality around the world. Just what has the West gained from this? David Cameron had his gushing moment in the sun in Libya but now that country, like the rest of the Arab Spring states, is in turmoil. When will Western politicians, financiers and media commentators come to understand that Western Liberal Democracy is simply too advanced a philosophy for some parts of the world? A devout Muslim cannot subscribe to freedoms that contradict his entire world view. etc ed

  25. Margaret Brandreth-J
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    I was in favour of the Iraq war and although there are many regrets , I am still not 100% certain that it was the wrong thing to do.I think we do need to hover and muscle a little to demonstrate that if they dare to involve themselves or threaten to take over in any way in the west, then they will not succeed. As you rightly say there is a potential threat to the west and we through immigration are already seen as a soft touch.

    Then there is the other side of the argument which you think fuels their cause.Of course they love the publicity , they revel in their savagery and displays of cruelty. They do not value life and get perverse pleasure out of violence, but would they be any different if we imagined a scenario where this savagery wasn’t communicated to the west and we would simply just not know.

    The same argument could be used for the reporting and the televising of atrocities; this gives ISIL a stage to kill and put two fingers up to the west. We try John to use our powers of reason with the mistaken belief that things may be seen as in our own eyes. The Easts’ collective mindset went off on a tangent centuries ago . Westerners are different.

  26. petermartin2001
    Posted February 8, 2015 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    “In the meantime it is important not to rise to ISIL’s provocation in ways which they can exploit.”

    Reluctantly, I’d have to agree. BUT, the public need some re-assurance that everything possible will be done to track down the war criminals of ISIS who indulge in acts of sadistic torture and inhumanity, as we’ve all recently seen, and bring them to justice in the Hague.

    POWs, journalists, humanitarian workers, and all civilians must be treated with respect in any conflict. When they aren’t we can’t just stand aside and do nothing.

  27. Dan H.
    Posted February 9, 2015 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Where ISIL are concerned, one point needs to be made over and over again until it finally registers with the general public: vile though these insurgents are, they have no air power whatsoever. Ever since the days of World War 2, a lack of any ability to command the skies above one’s position has meant certain defeat for any army trying to attack anything.

    Nowadays the situation is even worse for any prospective insurgent group, because we now have drone aircraft capable of flying themselves to the extent that they can be launched, told to proceed to an area then loiter in that zone until needed, or until fuel runs low and they must return to base. All of this can be done using an unmanned aircraft, and the ISIL insurgents can do next to nothing about it. The drone avionics are little more complicated than a $30 Raspberry Pi CPU plus sensors etc, and the engine is similarly cheap.

    Should we so desire, we could systematically attack all vehicle movement around ISIL positions and then simply let allied local forces move in and mop up the remaining ISIL fighters. These local forces do not even have to be particularly adept, as long as they can be trained to read a GPS and to communicate back their positions to Allied drone command, so as not to get shot at. ISIL doesn’t even appear to be particularly effective as a ground force; it took them well over a year to advance around twenty kilometres to the Turkish border (admittedly that an overtly hostile force was permitted to linger so close to the border without active discouragement is worrying), whereupon air attacks completely stalled their movement.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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