Does Syria need more bombs?

I am no pacifist. If a terrorist is about to  fire on us or about to blow us up, I am all in favour of our uniformed services shooting him. If a foreign power is about to invade us I support us having formidable fire power by air and sea to prevent or deter  the invasion. I accept that  the knowledge that we will retaliate is important to deterrence, so we need to keep open the likelihood of  retaliation against violence. The nuclear deterrent of course rests on understanding that in extreme circumstances a UK PM would retaliate. It works for us every day it is not used.

I also believe that violence can beget violence. I believe that politics and diplomacy is a better way forward in most cases than fighting. If you choose to  fight a war you also need to plan ahead for the peace. You need not only to see how you can win the war militarily, but also see ahead to how victory can lead to a better political settlement afterwards. Why enter a war you cannot win, or force a peace which is no better or worse than what it replaces? If you are retaliating you need to know who is causing you the trouble in the first place, so that the retaliation goes to the right place. Only a war of national self defence should alter observance of  these simple rules.

Some seem to be arguing that we have to respond to the terrorist attacks on France. They argue these attacks were outrageous – I agree – and that therefore we must do something. I also agree we need to respond to the current terrorist threat, and could do more to improve our resilience and reaction to it.

They then move to saying the thing we have to do is to bomb ISIS in Syria. This is a curious response to the French attacks. The terrorists in Paris came from France and Belgium. Those keen to bomb presumably wish to do so both to kill potential future bombers, and to retaliate for Paris. Fortunately they do not recommend bombing the suburbs of Brussels and Paris from whence the bombers came –  I would regard that as inhumane and counterproductive as I assume they do. But why then do they want to bomb the suburbs of Raqqa, when the terrorists did not come from there in this recent case? Are lives there of different value to lives in Europe? How can bombing ISIS embedded in a community help without ground troops to deal with them house by house, flat by flat?

The UK authorities also need to answer the question what magic could UK bombs do that US and French bombs have not already done? Why has bombing ISIS for months on both sides of the Iraq/Syria border not killed enough of them yet? It does not seem to me that Syria is short of bombs and bombers. It is very short of decent political leadership and good government.It is also still well short of a reliable army on the ground that could regain control over all of Syria with a  view to creating better government for the whole country.

I have no problems with  killing known terrorist organisers in the Middle East who have been responsible for organising mass murders there and abroad. Co-operation with the governing powers where they have authority is important when doing this. I do have worries about more generalised bombing campaigns seeking to kill imperfectly understood groups of terrorists embedded in civilian communities in Syria without the permission of the Syrian authorities and without clear intelligence on the ground from having enough people there observing targets. I do not wish my country to be involved in seeking change in Syria by force without having sufficient control or knowledge of local conditions. I dislike ISIS as much as the next person, but I do not think ISIS is the only or uniquely unpleasant extremist organisation we face.  If we intervene we need to back forces on the ground strong enough to take over in  Syria.Then they with our assistance  need to be able to put in place a government for the whole of Syria or for constituent parts of Syria that could command the support of the people it is governing and could govern peacefully.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.


  1. JJE
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 5:57 am | Permalink

    Obviously when we start bombing in Syria we can expect Paris style attacks in the UK.

    Therefore I suggest as a pre-emptive measure we introduce a State of Emergency and detain all of the people in this country who we know have returned from the war zone.
    We can’t half fight this war.

    If not it will be hard to explain to the victims of a future attack and their relatives why we let people roam free who we knew to be a potential threat.

    • Anonymous
      Posted November 22, 2015 at 10:52 am | Permalink

      The PM’s got his own aeroplane.

      Phew ! Thank goodness he’s safe.

      • APL
        Posted November 23, 2015 at 9:50 am | Permalink

        Anon: “The PM’s got his own aeroplane. ”

        I am curious, what justification is there for this appropriation when we refused to replace the Crown’s royal yacht?

    • bigneil
      Posted November 22, 2015 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      Not only does our govt allow them back in ( and presumably straight back on benefits, they stop the ones who want to go. I, and presumably many others, cannot understand this. Let them go, then instantly cancel their passports – or will this be against THEIR Human Rights. ( Their human rights will ALWAYS come first in this country – ours are secondary ).
      I am waiting for some of them ( immigrants to the UK in the first place) to return disabled – and to then get a full set of benefits and a Mobility car and modified-for-the-disabled home. Don’t laugh, I can virtually guarantee it will happen in this country of politically correct insanity.

    • Horatio
      Posted November 22, 2015 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      I dont think we need to bomb anywhere to inspire these scumbags to attack us. As Dan Hodges and Andrew Neil have pointed out this week, Western foreign policy is not the reason why radical islamists are attacking us or why 7 major and additional numerous other attacks have been foiled this year.

      I do agree with the idea of preventative arrest. After the recent shootings French authorities raided over 120 different homes. They were able to justify this in the wake of attacks but multicultural sensabilities and fear of being labled rascist had prevented them from doing something sooner. We allow a fiftb column to flourish here we allow whole communities to ghettoize and recreate the conditions of their own failed states.

      What i dont understand is how, outside of the metropolitan, liberal, MSM bubble, most people think the same. But nothing is ever done.

    • Tom William
      Posted November 22, 2015 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      As we bomb ISIL in Iraq what difference will it make to their attitude to the UK?

      • John C.
        Posted November 23, 2015 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

        I couldn’t agree more. I just can’t understand what the great debate is all about. We are bombing ISIL now, but ludicrously just in a restricted area. It’s no big deal to join our allies in going for their main forces.
        I can’t understand this idea that if we leave them alone in Syria, they will be less inclined to commit terrorist acts in our land. I am sure that they are desperate to attack us now. Their mission is to kill as many of us as they can. Our policy should be to do what we can to stop them; whatever we need to do.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted November 23, 2015 at 8:14 am | Permalink

      My comment suggesting a more measured approach seems to have evaporated!

  2. bluedog
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    Estimates of the numbers of fighters with IS in Syria range from 12,000 to 30,000. Estimates of the numbers of IS fighters from EU nations are hard to pin down but Belgium is reportedly the most generous contributor with France and Britain next in line. Let’s assume that EU jihadis in total are around 5000 head, all of whom are now seasoned killers with high-level military skills. When these EU jihadis return home they will find a huge domestic support network that Pew Research Group helps to define through its questions about acceptance of and expectations of sharia amongst EU Muslims. The figures are invariably over 50%, indicating high Islamic practice. Bearing in mind that less than a dozen veteran IS fighters have just crippled Paris, we don’t need hundreds of bored returned jihadis looking for excitement in the UK.

    We read that the latest Strategic Defence Review will be particularly concerned with dealing with internal terrorist threats, and the IRA is not being mentioned. It’s another Í’ word. In short, the security agencies are concerned by a domestic source of extreme violence emerging from a specific demographic that cannot be named for culturally sensitive reasons. But we know who they are. Now if it is remotely possible that some of the British jihadis in Syria can return to the UK and cause mass casualities, we need to prevent that possibility. The way to do this is to kill them before they kill us. The place to do that is Syria rather than Horseguards Parade or the annual investiture of the Knights of the Garter. Better by far to blow up IS HQ in Raqqua rather than have IS blow up the Palace of Westminster.

    Eighteen months ago it was reasonable to vote against the bombing of Syria. The target was not obvious. Today the target has declared itself and its intentions – to bomb Washington and Rome next. Of course, IS mean that they wish to destroy the White House, The Capitol, St Peters and the Vatican, not the host cities. It is now surely in the British interest to provide all those jihadis who wish to die for IS with an opportunity to do so. The alternative is to see open warfare on the streets of British cities just as we have seen in Paris. We cannot afford the economic cost of London being in perpetual lock-down as Brussels now seems to be. It’s no way to run a global financial centre. The risks of not bombing Syria now seem markedly higher than the risks of doing so and getting it wrong.

    Dr JR, as JM Keynes observed, ‘When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, Sir?’

    The facts have changed.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted November 22, 2015 at 9:21 am | Permalink

      I agree but we also need to plan ahead for what happens next, and put much more effort into leaving a stable syria behind us than we did with previous places we bombed.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted November 22, 2015 at 9:36 am | Permalink

      @ Bluedog

      “The risks of not bombing Syria now seem markedly higher than the risks of doing so and getting it wrong.”

      How on Earth do you come to this totally bizarre conclusion?

      • Timaction
        Posted November 22, 2015 at 11:13 am | Permalink

        Bombing Syria now will make no difference at all. It’s all about Cameron and his childish need to feel like a statesman. The man, was, is and will remain a fool. A PPE graduate who can’t even keep a promise to empty our bins once a week.
        He is the leader of political correctness and a totally empty vessel with zero credibility. Not in my name Mr Cameron!!

        • Lifelogic
          Posted November 22, 2015 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

          Nor in my name. Why has the supposedly bright and well educated Cameron (and much of the rest of the government) learned so little from Blair’s disaster, Afghanistan, Iraq and Cameron’s disaster in Libya.

          Or indeed from the disasters of the ERM or the EURO or indeed from the economic disasters caused by an over bloated and over regulating state sector and over taxation.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted November 22, 2015 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

        It seems that the SNP are coming round to Cameron’s desire to bomb too, I wonder what that change of position might cost the English?

      • bluedog
        Posted November 22, 2015 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps you could answer your question by rereading my post.

    • formula57
      Posted November 22, 2015 at 10:45 am | Permalink

      @ bluedog – And when (presuming complete success) all the ISIS people in Syria are dead, what new facts would you expect to confront then?

    • lojolondon
      Posted November 22, 2015 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

      Bluedog, do not get confused by saying ‘wanted to Atttack Syria’. 18 months ago our leadership wanted to attack Assad, supporting Al Qaeda and Daesh. Now, suddenly they want to attack Assad’s mortal enemy – Daesh. They announce this without a trace of shame or acknowledging that they have changed sides. What a damn mess.

      • bluedog
        Posted November 22, 2015 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

        It is not a mess of our making. Syria is not in turmoil as a result of recent Western intervention. The civil war in Syria does not reflect any particular Western agenda. It merely arouses our disgust that the minorities in Syria, including ancient Christian communities, are being massacred and expelled. If the facts change, the agility to respond accordingly is important. The principal changed fact is that large areas of Syria have fallen under the control of a regime that is even worse than that of Assad.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted November 23, 2015 at 8:19 am | Permalink

        “We’ve always been at war with Eastasia.”

        But to a large extent this is just laziness on the part of the mass media.

    • Anonymous
      Posted November 23, 2015 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      The real problem is terror on OUR streets. And who caused that ? The politicians who willfully ignored their people when they told them repeatedly that mass immigration would lead to catastrophe.

      Bombing Raqqa does nothing about that. In fact it will probably trigger the violence in Britain even sooner.

      • bluedog
        Posted November 23, 2015 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

        ”Bombing Raqqa does nothing about that. In fact it will probably trigger the violence in Britain even sooner.”

        No. Bombing Raqqa and eliminating IS from Raqqa, which must be the objective, removes a key base of IS. You will note that the Paris attackers had mainly acquired their skills with IS and were almost certainly financed by IS. Denying IS the opportunity to train and fund in relative security reduces the risk to Britain. Lying doggo in the face of threats such as that presented by IS is not an option.
        etc ed

  3. Cheshire Girl
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    I agree. I dont see the point of bombing Syria, when the US and Russia and France are already doing it. I dont think that our contribution would make much difference. If, God forbid, an attack happened in this country, it would probably come from people already here, who went out to train in Syria and then were allowed back in.
    Max Hastings made some very good points on Question Time this week, about questioning what we want to achieve and then planning for the outcome. I hope that Parliament wont be railroaded into going along with this plan against their bettter judgement, and that those opposed will speak out strongly.

    • Cliff. Wokingham.
      Posted November 22, 2015 at 11:34 am | Permalink

      I agree, there is no military point to us getting involved in bombing Syria.
      I suspect the real reason for wanting to get involved is to get a share of the contracts post war to rebuild what we have all destroyed with our bombs.

      The UN has suggested that, about Eighty Percent of the refugees coming to Europe are fit, young, adult males…..Am I the only person who thinks it is crazy to replace one lot of young males whom, by any definition, should be defending THEIR country in the way we have during many wars, with our young people?

      I too wonder just what our military goals would be in Syria and just how we would know if we’ve achieved them or not. What would our exit plan be?

      We seem to have learned no lessons from our past mistakes where we have got involved in the Middle East; All the conflicts we have got involved in were, in reality, civil wars between factions of Islam or tribal disputes.

      I am no pacifist either coming from a military family but, I cannot see why we should get involved in more foreign civil wars which will only achieve one kind of unity namely, the people of those countries and religions uniting to kill us.

    • Chris
      Posted November 22, 2015 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

      Agree with you wholeheartedly, CG.

      • Timaction
        Posted November 22, 2015 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

        I agree. What’s Cameron doing about the 400 he’s let back in because he hasn’t the bravery to cancel their passports to protect us, the English. What about action to stop extremism in Mosques? University’s? Schools? Removal of radical clerics? Protection of our borders? Removal of illegal immigrants who are a threat? Action to stop immigration from the 3rd world to prevent future extremes? He’s all talk. Remind me who has changed sides in two years. All military experts say boots on the ground will be the only final solution. A few extra bombs to show support is not a solution. We are led by utter fools. Not my fault as I’m one of 4 million unrepresented who voted for change and common,sense. Not more of the same.

  4. Dame Rita Webb
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    Dave will not have taken advice from people like the Syrian expert Prof. Joshua Landis. Instead you guarantee he will be listening to people like the neo-cons who just as desperate to get into Syria. Consider this from Prof Landis:

    “The West falsely believes that it can separate the regime from the state…In most Middle Eastern countries, the regimes, for better or worse, have transformed the states into reflections of themselves. They have cannibalized the state. They have crammed their loyalists into every nook and cranny of the national institutions. They had to in order to coup-proof their regimes. They justified it in the name of bringing stability. State institutions are not autonomous. Westerners believe that because their own state institutions are run by professional civil servants, Middle Eastern states are too. But they aren’t. Political appointees make up the entire edifice. They cannot simply be swapped out. Regime-change for an Arab country is not like administration change in a Western country. Destroying the regime means destroying the state. The price of regime-change is chaos. That is the situation in Syria today. It is the situation almost everywhere in the Middle East.”

    So after having read the above and seen what has gone wrong in Iraq and Libya why the hell would anyone consider regime change in Syria as well.

    • Mark B
      Posted November 22, 2015 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      They have crammed their loyalists into every nook and cranny of the national institutions. They had to in order to coup-proof their regimes. They justified it in the name of bringing stability.


      Political appointees make up the entire edifice.

      Sounds like a model for the EU.


      • Dame Rita Webb
        Posted November 22, 2015 at 11:36 am | Permalink

        In the UK its called Common Purpose

    • bluedog
      Posted November 22, 2015 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      With respect, an inaccurate analogy, Dame Rita. The regime is not the problem and never has been; at no point has the Assad regime threatened the United Kingdom or any other European power. At some point the Assad regime decided to attack other Syrians, opening the way for an armed opposition to emerge and allowing a bunch of opportunists called IS to fill the ensuing vacuum left by the warring parties in Syria. It follows that the solution to the crisis in Syria currently is to support the regime and remove IS from the equation. Currently being the operative word. Once every IS jihadi has been liquidated there is a slim chance that Syria can be re-constituted.

      • Dame Rita Webb
        Posted November 22, 2015 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

        Trouble is, as this “Wall St Journal” article confirms, Obama says still Assad has got to go. So despite having learned nothing from Iraq, if you want to get a rid of Assad and Assadism is you need to de Baath Syria too. Its noticeable that the Americans have painted themselves into a corner. Their lever on Assad is a group of “moderate” Salafi’s (mercenaries in reality) who do not seem to be any different from the Salafis who are impeding America’s eventual withdrawal from Afghanistan. The UK should stay out of this one. Cameron has deballed our armed forces anyway for them to be as effective as to what the Russsians are up to and we have not got the money anyway e.g. Osborne is straying yet again from his deficit elimination schedule. Any publiuc support for intervention would wither away immediately as soon as ISIS get their hands on one our pilots and release the usual atrocity video.

        • bluedog
          Posted November 24, 2015 at 11:02 am | Permalink

          Thanks for the link, DRW, sadly it won’t let me read it as I’m not a subscriber. There was an article by Robert Kagan from the WSJ doing the rounds over the weekend, very anti-British too. Must be a State Dept. plant as the French featured as new best friends again. If you look at maps of the deployments of IS they are badly over-stretched, and a competent military force could slice them up into isolated groups that could not be reinforced. A fairly small multinational force could take them apart, and then get out, leaving Assad or the rebels in charge depending on the zone. Agreed we have no interest in Syria, but we have a very serious interest in the destruction of IS as a political and military force.

    • oldtimer
      Posted November 22, 2015 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      Your quotation of Prof Landis makes some very persuasive points about the nature of Middle East governments and regimes. I agree with you that they are unlikely to figure very large in UK government thinking.

      The political context of military action is everything. I suspect that Mr Cameron`s main objective is not to look weak in the eyes of other national leaders. The practical reality of any UK military involvement in Syria will be very small; the political reality is that it would enable him to say the UK is “standing shoulder to shoulder” with France, USA and (if he chooses to do so) with Russia. The wider political context is whether there actually is the will, on the part of those with boots on the ground, to ensure the destruction of ISIL. ISIL is a convenient bogey organisation for the Assad regime – the longer ISIL exists, the longer the Assad regime exists. Then there are the complexities of the Iranian and Saudi conflicting interests. Quite how that is to be resolved in Syria is entirely unclear. More bombing of ISIL in Syria is likely to speed up the return ISIL foot soldiers to cause mayhem in the countries whence they came. For the UK, the real battle is and will be fought on the streets of the UK. So for me, the decision on whether to authorise RAF bombing of ISIL in Syria is more about gesture politics than waging an effective war.

    • Horatio
      Posted November 22, 2015 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, one of the biggest mistakes recent Western leaders have made is that you cant export western democracy to non pluralistic countries. By removing the strongmen, who for years had been paid by us to take jihadis off their streets, we created instability and the power vacuum that has fermented trouble across the region. Just look at what the Muslim brotherhood almost did to Egypt!

      Wet liberals for example, who disdain the Saud monarchy and would like to see it replaced by democracy forget that theyare a better of two evils. The wahabist interpretation of Islam propounded by isis is exactly that followed by the vast majority of Saudi Arabians. Heaven help us if the monarchy falls.

      Let the Russians deal with syria. They have launched over 1000 sorties against isis positions this last week in retaliation for the plane bombing. At least, under Assad, Syria was the second safest place to practice religion other than Islam in the ME.

  5. stred
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    The main threat to the UK and others is the existence on the ground of am area controlled by a so called ‘state’. This encourages religious extremists, the feeble minded and the insane to to believe they can somehow impose their will. If many of these people have travelled to be in this place, it gives an advantage in that they could be largely contained. and more of them could be prevented from coming home permanently by military means.

    The US, France, UK and others have backed a plan to overthrow non democratic secular regimes, with certain Arab countries hatching the plan. It was as stupid a plot as Guy Fawke’s. The UK has a few old bombers and new aircraft carriers with aircraft ordered which are not going to work very well. Our contribution would be better if special troops were put in to help the Kurds. The Russsians have been invited to bomb, by the legitimate government and can do a much more effective job. Unfortunately, the ground army cleaning out the Headjobbers will also contain Iranians ans other Terrorist groups. However the current Russian plan, now backedby the US is to have elections, and we should be doing everything possible to help make it work. The many Syrians may be able to go home and rebuild their ancient secular country after the latest neoclown disaster.

  6. Jansen
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Only way forward is a political solution which means aggressive round the table discussion between USA/Russia allied and working TOGETHER on the one side and facing the two power blocks in the Region on the other namely KSA and Iran. It is an Islamic faith divide (Sunni/Shia) that has brought Daesh into being because WE interfered in Iraq and left it in a HOPELESS MESS with a majoritive Shia powerhouse who forced Sunnis out of Government and positions of decision making and retired, very capable, (Sunni) Senior Officers and Generals replacing them with Shia which created an imbalance and which left those displaced with no alternative but to join a new Caliphate Army.
    USA/Russia/KSA/Iran and everyone else needs to BACK OFF! because you just exacerbate the problem.

  7. stred
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Could I add that during the last war, many innocent German and Italian born citizens were interned, ie rounded up and kept under arrest until the war was won. Now we have known, at the very least, highly suspected traitors arriving back and they are left on the loose, with 20 or so agents each having to watch them, which of course they can’t. I just don’t understand why they can’t be put in some old army camp on Salsbury Plain and given army food and PE for as long as it takes to give them psychological help. Oh- forgot- the human rights racket. OK stand by to be machine gunned while having a good time in London.

  8. Bernard from Bucks
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    “I accept that the knowledge that we will retaliate is important to deterrence, so we need to keep open the likelihood of retaliation against violence. ”
    Perhaps it is time to reconsider our right to keep and bear arms?

    • Bernard from Bucks
      Posted November 22, 2015 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

      The British Government’s advice to “run, hide, tell” in the event of a terrorist attack has been comprehensively lambasted by security sources who said it might as well be “run, hide, die.”
      They say the American advice to “run, hide, fight”.

      • APL
        Posted November 23, 2015 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

        Well, Americans have a fighting chance, when confronted by a terrorist with a gun. Having the right to own their own self defence an’ all.

  9. Iain Gill
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    Higher priority is more heavily armed and better trained response teams in UK cities, in larger numbers, able to be deployed flexibly by helicopter etc.

    Also the obvious areas like where our own home grown bombers came from need radical action.

    And we need significant immigration policy changes.

    Put some none nuclear cruise missiles on our ships too.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted November 23, 2015 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

      I should say the reason we should have non nuclear cruise missiles is I don’t see the need to risk pilots for much routine bombing.

  10. Douglas Carter
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    I fully agree, and there are other aspects worth highlighting too.

    In both France and Belgium, it’s now publically conceded what had been known by the public already but was considered as vulgar to concede – that known areas had become hotbeds of radicalism, as it would also seem in some instances in the UK. It’s fairly plain that bombing Syria won’t do a single thing to flush out that extremism, and whilst the Belgian and French authorities seem to have finally bitten that bullet, all I’ve seen this week in the UK are the standard feeble, childish and complacent murmurings and mumblings about building bridges with communities.

    In personal experience in the Round Table, I’ve observed cases in houses more or less in earshot of the current Shadow Chancellor’s constituency office where the womenfolk in a household of a specific Religious denomination had been resident in the UK since 1982 and had been actively forbidden by their men from learning to read or write in the English language. If they communicated so verbally, it was ‘discouraged’. It would appear inevitable the Government will win a vote to commence offensive action in Syria; I would suggest they also have a similar mandate – although I would call it ‘obligation – to contest similar extremism within the borders of the UK. I am under no illusions in any respect that the countering of internal UK extremism will carry on apace with the most ineffectual proposals that can be cooked up, in the face of the traditional institutional terror of being labelled as ‘racist’. That’s not good enough.

    It’s worth reminding that when we join a conflict with ‘Allies’, their own record of sustaining the policy isn’t unchequered. Hollande removed French forces from Afghanistan with barely a month of notice and with no advance discussion with other Nations with deployed forces internally. For diplomacy, let’s just forget the shenanigans of Mitterand in late 1990 and early 1991 over Iraq\Kuwait. The USA were forced to withdraw from Somalia in 1993 after only a few hours of contrary headlines and unfortunate images of casualties. I know my own Government will doggedly persist with such campaigns. I’m justly less certain of our ‘allies’ who frequently prove nothing of the sort when the going gets tough, and I don’t want to see UK Forces left holding the abandoned Fort once again.

    Will the Treasury fund the operation properly? On historical observation, I suggest not – and there are plenty of recent historical precedents to recall on that.

    Finally, something I would suggest as a red-line for MPs voting on the matter in the HoC, as per recent conflicts, I would say it is likely that local Syrians will be employed by the MoD to provide translation, communication and local intelligence services. I would wish to know well in advance that such people were to be given rock-solid guarantees of their future protection from retaliation or retribution, including – but not limited to – the resettlement of them and their families to safety, and full funding for it?

    It’s shaming for the UK that such people have recently been treated quite shoddily for their personal sacrifices, and the MoD should be compelled through Parliament to significantly up their game on the treatment of these people. I give no mandate to my own MP to provide for the forgetting of such individuals – I expect very considerably better done in my name in the future.

  11. Richard1
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    An argument is now being put forward by those who supported Mr Cameron’s proposal to bomb Syria 2 years ago that, had we done so, we wouldn’t now face the problems we do with ISIL as Syria would have been stabilised. Do you follow or accept this logic?

    • ksb
      Posted November 22, 2015 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

      I’m not sure this is true, as I understand it the formation of ISIS was largely due to the internment of 1000s of ‘insurgents’ in the same camp during the 2003 Iraq conflict and the subsequent ditching of the of the ‘Sons of Iraq’ by the newly formed Iraqi government in 2013 (they were previously paid by the US).

      I’d suggest that bombing Assad would have potentially made things worse today, as it would be much easier for IS to conquer the whole of Syria.

      • John C.
        Posted November 23, 2015 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

        Surely the point is that we had no business considering bombing Assad; he was not attacking us, and it was none of our business.
        However, ISIL IS our business. They have declared war on the West and we should do everything we can, at home as well as away, to defeat our enemy.

  12. Denis Cooper
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    I was watching the Sky press review and some woman, allegedly a historian, said that MPs voted against this proposal two years ago.

    Well, that is only true if you think that it makes no difference who or what is being targeted in Syria, “bombing Syria” is just “bombing Syria” whether the aim is to help overthrow the officially recognised government, or to help clean out a terrorist nest claiming to be a new state, now just occupying parts of the territories of several of the officially recognised states in the region but aiming to expand to conquer the whole world and impose its brand of the Islamic religion on everyone in it.

    I wouldn’t have voted to try to overthrow the Assad regime in Syria whether by aerial bombardment or any other means, not because I see it is as anything other than a vile regime but because of what would follow once it had been removed, which on past experience would be far worse for the Syrians as well as more dangerous for us.

    On the other hand I would be more willing to vote for our armed forces to selectively attack Islamic State and any allies in Syria, just as they are already doing in Iraq.

    I would want to know what kind of action was being proposed and what limits there would be, and I would expect to be asked again if it was proposed to significantly extend those limits, but I would not say that what is already being done against Islamic State in Iraq should not also be done against Islamic State in Syria.

    • John C.
      Posted November 23, 2015 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

      Absolutely logical and correct.

  13. Iain Gill
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    And our rubbish health system, bottom quartile in the oecd, which cannot even cope with a few weeks of mild winter, needs radical change to be able to cope properly with disaster, and I don’t mean wasting more money on it.

    • BobE
      Posted November 22, 2015 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      Its a known tactic that that which you wish to privatise you first cause to fail.

      • Iain Gill
        Posted November 22, 2015 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

        It’s been a failure my entire life

        • Dame Rita Webb
          Posted November 22, 2015 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

          Be careful what you wish for! Do your research on which companies are now operating in the NHS, in a patient facing capacity, and you might get a feeling of out of the frying pan and into the fire. You have been warned. I cannot say more as JR is very protective of them even if you do not name them.

          • Iain Gill
            Posted November 23, 2015 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

            I don’t care. I have been to a lot of countries and seen their healthcare first hand, including some emerging nations and I have never ever seen anywhere as bad as this countries supposedly great NHS. The NHS is a disgrace from top to bottom and I wish to see it replaced with the systems I have seen work so much better elsewhere. Envy of the world my bum.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted November 22, 2015 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

      Indeed there are constant delays in (and rationing of) even very urgent operations (ones that are needed quickly to minimise risk of mortality), endless other rationing and planned operations very often cancelled usually due to very poor organisation and general incompetence.

      Huge delays too in getting diagnostic scans and even the interpretation of these scans after they have been done – often for months on end.

      • Dame Rita Webb
        Posted November 22, 2015 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

        LL can you actually provide any documentary proof of” Huge delays too in getting diagnostic scans and even the interpretation of these scans after they have been done – often for months on end.”? Is this something from the Kings Fund or more likely the “Daily Mail” website? Labour, to their credit, managed to get a rid of the months/years long waits for common procedures. As you have been out of the UK for seven years now, please can you tell us whose health service you are using, just so we can put the NHS in comparison?

  14. Gary
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    the question that needs to be asked is how can isil be selling oil to Europe without anyone putting a stop to it ?. And why after 2 years of supposedly bombing it by the powerful western air power, isil just kept getting stronger ? it has taken the Russians to truly disrupt them in just a few months.

    something about this entire affair stinks. like every foreign excursion we get involved in.

    • Horatio
      Posted November 22, 2015 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, one of the biggest mistakes recent Western leaders have made is that you cant export western democracy to non pluralistic countries. By removing the strongmen, who for years had been paid by us to take jihadis off their streets, we created instability and the power vacuum that has fermented trouble across the region. Just look at what the Muslim brotherhood almost did to Egypt!

      Wet liberals for example, who disdain the Saud monarchy and would like to see it replaced by democracy forget that theyare a better of two evils. The wahabist interpretation of Islam propounded by isis is exactly that followed by the vast majority of Saudi Arabians. Heaven help us if the monarchy falls.

      Let the Russians deal with syria. They have launched over 1000 sorties against isis positions this last week in retaliation for the plane bombing. At least, under Assad, Syria was the second safest place to practice religion other than Islam in the ME.

    • Mark B
      Posted November 22, 2015 at 1:49 pm | Permalink


      This is about getting rid of President Assad. ie Regime Change – remember that ?

      Trouble is, once the regime changes, all hell breaks loose.

      ISIS / ISIL are the puppets of other governments in the region. Now that Russia is bombing both them and others and, Assad’s forces are gaining ground, there are complaints from the West and the other Arab nations.

    • Dame Rita Webb
      Posted November 22, 2015 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

      Bent commodities traders JR has deleted a comment naming a long deceased one who made a load of money dealing with the enemy. Bill Clinton says giving him a pardon was the biggest regret of his presidency, so you probably know who I mean.

  15. Lifelogic
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    You make exactly the right points:-

    “Fortunately they do not recommend bombing the suburbs of Brussels and Paris from whence the bombers came” indeed by their warped logic why on Earth not?

    The response should be to carry on with life (just as we would after an earth quake or plane accident and try to get better intelligence and border controls to route out and capture or take out these mad, religion driven, terrorists as best we can. It is not very easy to deter suicide bombers after all.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted November 22, 2015 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      I hear that the Archbishop of Canterbury has admitted having doubts about the existence of God. Which god did he have doubts about his/her existence, or was it all of them? What on earth convinced him to go back to believing in one or other and which one is it this time? Will he therefore now continue to indoctrinate another generation? He needs to question his magic money tree, loony left economics too?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted November 22, 2015 at 9:31 am | Permalink

      I see that John McDonnell is touring the TV studio’s trying to “re-frame the economic debate”. He seems a pleasant enough chap, but is clearly totally deluded about how business, economies and the real world actually work. So the choice is the tax, borrow, over regulate and waste, IHT ratter socialist Osborne with his huge (deferred tax) deficit, and this pleasant but totally deluded lefty dope.

      • Richard1
        Posted November 22, 2015 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

        I do not think someone who has defended terrorism by the IRA, Hamas etc can be described as pleasant enough, though both McDonell and Corbyn are on a PR campaign to come over as normal and quietly spoken, wearing ties etc. They have spent decades on the hard left, utterly opposed to free market capitalism, and either defending or at least using weasel words regarding anti-western terrorism. We are far better off with the likes of Mr Osborne, albeit with his convoluted Brownite tax policies.

      • Bazman
        Posted November 22, 2015 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

        Cameron sending letters to his local council complaining about cut to services was laughable and so are your views.
        It will be interesting to see how the likes of yourself will respond to these massive cuts when they start to effect everyday life and the functioning of businesses that depend on a correctly functioning state. Bin collections every month, potholes and no street lights, crumbling parks will be enough for many. Parents seeing a constant run of supply teachers, paid for doctors appointments, long waiting times to see a consultant, and how do you square off pumping money from the state into the security services which is part of the public sector you habitually denounce as wasteful?
        I think what will really show the likes of you is a massive cut in housing benefits coupled with cuts in the police and the courts leading to an storm of rent arrears and squatting, because lets face it what will happen to the tenants in the unlikely event of eviction? Not prison as they have also been cut to the bone. They will just leave voluntarily? No? They should help landlords evict tenants and do nothing else?
        The you will see and be on the road to Domestos about the importance of the state…

        • Dame Rita Webb
          Posted November 22, 2015 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

          Never a day goes by when LL mentions IHT. I do not know why he is bothered? He has been out of the UK for seven years. I presume he has bought a burial plot in Switzerland or wherever he lives now. So he is well on the way to being a non dom. He then sticks his BTLs in an offshore company of which he owns the shares and the problems solved.

          • Bob
            Posted November 23, 2015 at 9:36 am | Permalink

            @Dame Rita

            ” he is well on the way to being a non dom.”

            How does one become a Non Dom?

        • Richard1
          Posted November 22, 2015 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

          Have you read JR’s post below on public spending? It shows spending during this parliament will RISE by c.£50bn. How can this be described as ‘massive cuts’?

          • Bazman
            Posted November 23, 2015 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

            Massive cuts costing 50 billion?

  16. LondonBob
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Reading a few military experts on the region they expect the Syrian Army to have finished the war by next summer. The bigger issue is northern Iraq where we are already involved. There is no British interest in Syria, except for a stable government that does not act as an incubator of terrorism, as has been the case with the Assads. Time to ask again whether certain countries in the region are our allies.

    By all accounts the French bombing was counterproductive, the Russians work with local actors so have better intel, they have hit the targets worth hitting.

    Terrorism is more an immigration and borders issue.

  17. CdBrux
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    I would also like to see much more on how we constrict the terrorists funding (oil sales and the like) and arms supplies.
    I wonder if too much light in this regard may annoy some ‘friends’?

    • BobE
      Posted November 22, 2015 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      I agree, why is no mention of IS funding is ever made? They all seem to drive new Toyotas. Could we embargo car companies from supplying them.

    • Horatio
      Posted November 22, 2015 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

      It might also be useful to stop the ferry service we are providing for migrants in the med. ISIS are the principle beneficiary of people smuggling and we are helping them guarantee safe passage.

  18. M Davis
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    I totally agree with your wisdom, JR. If only …

  19. Mark B
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    ” . . . . we must do something

    Those words really do worry me. This need to be seen to be doing something always leads to bad decisions. How about we did nothing for once. Can’t be any worse than before ?

    ”The UK authorities also need to answer the question what magic could UK bombs do that US and French bombs have not already done?”

    And what about Russian bombs, they seem to be doing the trick ? Let them do it I say.

    As for those that would describe certain people as the enemy from within. And by that I mean all those that stand against freedom, democracy, peace and the rule of English Common Law, mark them down as such. They are not our friends and should be shown to all. Name, shame and shun !

  20. Mark
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Syrians (and those in Iraq) need peace. That cannot be achieved by leaving the various factions of ethnicity and religion/sect to fight it out among themselves, with some of them also promoting violence elsewhere, while money and arms are poured in by assorted backers from within the Middle East. Whilst it is true that Cameron originally proposed foolishly entering the wars there by supplying arms and tactical air support to ISIS and al Qaeda affiliates such as al Nusra, hopefully our intelligence about the various groups there has improved since then. It is not an acceptable excuse to pretend that we lack intelligence – the intelligence that is lacking is in being prepared to call out the supporters of violent factions that also happen to target the West and Russia.

    We learned from Iraq and Afghanistan that a short term military victory can be won, but the real problem is in planning for and resourcing the subsequent occupation to ensure a peace. Part of the problem was that the real aims of the peace were unknown, or failed to offer a modus vivendi to populations caught up by their fighters as being on the “wrong side”. Machiavelli offered some very sound advice on this – be ruthless until opposition is suppressed, and then be magnanimous.

    Do nothing, and this cancer will spread. We need an alliance that includes affected Western powers and Russia at the least to work out and establish a peace – but it will take war to get there.

  21. Edward.
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    There is no clear objective, Syria is not and was never our problem. We broke Iraq and the reasons for bombing Daesh in northern Iraq can be vaguely justified. Though, there is still no case to be prosecuted, UK materiel is to say the least puny and what can we do without US air cover and Jordanian/Turkish consent…………… by bringing further misery on a region and on a people who’ve had enough bombs and killing to last a hundred lifetimes.

    Russia and France, with the Americans and Kurds, can solve the evil of Daesh.

    What Britain needs to focus on, the creation of some sort of framework for a conference, to design a future Syria and with Bashar al Assad at its table and all other interested parties inclusive of Saudi Arabia and Iran.

  22. sm
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    I never understood why the UK intervened in Afghanistan, nor in Iraq – naivety? stupidity?

    Where there are terrorist organisations, the West should be constructing rings of steel around the offending areas – don’t let anyone out, don’t let anyone in, whether by land, sea or air. America and the West cannot be the world’s policemen, but we can be on guard and on full alert, and demonstrate that we will take action the moment the boundaries are exceeded.

    We can no more instal recognisably democratic governments in the Middle East than we could in Africa when the colonisers left. Let’s face it, we can’t even instal democracy in Brussels!

    • matthu
      Posted November 22, 2015 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      We can no more instal recognisably democratic governments in the Middle East than we could in Africa when the colonisers left. Let’s face it, we can’t even instal democracy in Brussels!


    • BobE
      Posted November 22, 2015 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

      Sm, I think the problem is they have all the oil

      • Timaction
        Posted November 22, 2015 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

        Absolutely nailed it. Why aren’t we acting against North Korea? Saudi Arabia? Zimbawe? Lots of other nasty states? Hidden agendas and support for USA foreign policy at all costs?

    • Richard1
      Posted November 22, 2015 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

      It was quite right to intervene in Afghanistan, the regime in power had aided and abetted a terrorist organisation in carrying out a massive act of urder against the US, a major ally of the U.K. Of course it was right to intervene to depose the Taliban and (attempt to) deny Sanctury to al Qaeda. In Iraq we intervened because the Prime Minister at the time stated and apparently believed that that regime possessed weapons of mass destruction which were likely to be a direct threat to the UK. He turned out to be wrong of course, invalidating the justification for intervention. Had he been right, that would also have been a just war. As it is it was not so and its prosecution meant the focus was removed from adghanistan which remains a problem.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted November 23, 2015 at 8:33 am | Permalink

        My view was and still is that the invasion of Afghanistan was fully justified and that war was winnable. I could never really understand why otherwise sensible people supported diverting effort to the invasion of Iraq. However I do recall reading at the time that the conquest of Iraq would be the prelude to an even-more-insane attack on Iran.

  23. Chris S
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    We helped the Americans in an attempt to democratise Afghanistan, an impossible task if ever there was one, and then to dispose of Saddam. It was largely the UK and France who facilitated the end of Gaddafi. Now we are trying to do the same sort of thing in Syria.

    These have all ended in disaster and living conditions for the people are now considerably worse than before. We should by now have learned that we cannot apply Western values to the Middle East, or anywhere else, for that matter.

    We might not have liked those Middle Eastern dictators but they did keep their countries relatively together and their populations relatively safe. Women certainly had better lives and Christians were free from persecution. The current European immigration crisis has largely been facilitated by the absence of a functioning Libyan State. In the Middle East it is always a matter of deciding between the lesser of two evils.

    None of this unfortunate history should stop us trying to do something about IS which is so obviously the most evil and brutal regime we have ever seen. We should be operating in conjunction with our principal military allies, the US and France along with Russia. To restrict our Air Force to a now-artificial border is plainly ridiculous and is a legacy of the ludicrous Milliband leadership of The Labour Party.

    However, IS cannot be defeated from the air alone and I doubt that it will be possible to find ground forces that can do the job without the active involvement of US/UK/French troops. If this is the case, such is the threat from IS, that’s what we will have to do.

    Assuming success, what is going to replace IS in the territory it will be forced to vacate ?

    Who is going to oversee, govern and fund the rebuilding of these areas ?

    There will be some very dangerous IS prisoners. What are we going to do with them ? Create another Guantanamo Bay ?

    These are just three of the questions that need to be answered before we facilitate or take part in a ground campaign to destroy IS

  24. Kenneth
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    I agree entirely with this post. We do not need foreign adventures.

    The best thing any country can do is protect its citizens by defending its borders and not allowing anyone in without proper controls.

    If every European nation had done this the problem would have been contained.

    Hanging on to failed ideology that produced Schengen is killing people.

    • Bazman
      Posted November 22, 2015 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

      No. People are killing people. Next you will be telling us guns are and then you will be claiming roads produce cars instead of factories. Which will then lead to the banning of anything like beer and fags which will then lead to the banning of sugar. There is no end to this except in Siberia which is where all potential terrorist should be but you are sending us too.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted November 23, 2015 at 8:39 am | Permalink

        Yes, like me you probably remember how terrible it was before Schengen, like trying to survive in a gulag. I bet Solzhenitsyn had a real shock when he was expelled to the west and found that it was just as bad as Siberia.

  25. Alan Wheatley
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    A very fair and balanced assessment. Especially bearing in mind that the political and military situation across many countries with many types of combatants is far, far more complicated than can be covered in a single blog post.

    It seems to me that one of the problems we have these days, at least in the UK, is that (most) current politicians have no experience of military matters. And it seems they are not interested or able to take advice from their military experts. And the military know that it is their role to implement government policy.

    “Policy” is an interesting word in this context. Politicians have only “policy”, where as the military have “strategy” and “tactics”. Political policy seems much closer to tactics, which is why policy actions often end up with unexpected consequences.

    Political leadership does not have a good track record on military matters; perhaps the last correct political call was the response to the invasion of the Falklands. That is why leaders have difficulty in getting enough followers. Many would be ready, willing and able to follow, given a credible direction, but unwilling to support yet another flawed policy. Political leaders seem incapable of arguing their case, probably because they do not have a good case to argue, or in any event do not understand what a good case is.

  26. formula57
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Whilst Syria <i""… is very short of decent political leadership and good government" it is not alone. May your efforts to inform and guide the debate in this country be successful.

  27. Anonymous
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    ISIS are a threat to our civilisation because they are here – in our country. Not because they are in Syria.

    So what is the point in bombing them in Syria ? Or anywhere else ?

    “To prevent terror on our streets” a terror which is coming whatever we do.

    We need more, better armed police. We need more soldiers HERE. We need to break up these sub-cultures within our own culture and – above all this – we need a proper crackdown on uncontrolled immigration.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted November 22, 2015 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      What you are recommending is entirely passive, and while necessary it would not deprive the IS terrorists of their safe base from which they can operate.

      • Anonymous
        Posted November 23, 2015 at 12:45 am | Permalink

        Denis – The terrorists don’t need a safe base. In fact they don’t need to have been anywhere near Syria.

        The simpler and more independent their tactics the more effective they will be.

        • Anonymous
          Posted November 23, 2015 at 12:47 am | Permalink

          Denis – Fighting wars abroad is relatively easy for PMs to do. Especially if other people are doing the fighting for them.

          The really difficult and gutsy thing to tackle would be uncontrolled immigration and the EU’s reach.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted November 23, 2015 at 8:12 am | Permalink

          Evidently they disagree with your strategic assessment.

    • bigneil
      Posted November 22, 2015 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      When we see photos of illegal immigrants ( no papers or ID – no knowledge of who/what they are) sat down at a hotel table with a waitress bringing them their food and drink we can only see that our govt has totally lost the plot. some even get chauffeured round in stretch limos as another reward for smuggling themselves here. These people are rewarded for committing the crime of illegal entry – and then let loose to walk the streets in freedom, watching loads of people going to work, to pay taxes, so the illegals can live in comfort, doing nothing.
      They claim asylum – -in what has become the worlds biggest asylum. Madness, by our own govt.

      • Anonymous
        Posted November 23, 2015 at 9:17 am | Permalink

        Big Neil – Served by a Latvian waitress on minimum wage topped up by tax credits in a hotel kept warm with subsidised diesel generated windmills.

        Sheer madness, as you say.

  28. Paul Cohen
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    It seems to me that with all the available resources open to us we nevertheless still opt for a knee jerk reaction.

    When a single country which is part of like minded group (the EU) can unilaterally open its borders and invite many hundred of thousands in without any pre – conditions, it blows any attempts to provide security out of the water.

    We ought print more of the wartime “Keep calm and carry on” type posters

  29. Bob
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    I agree Mr Redwood, we have threats much closer to home in places like Molenbeek and Tower Hamlets, and in any case the Russians are taking care of business in Syria. The western powers should be sorting out their own self inflicted fifth comlumn problems and protecting the misguided people who voted them into office.

  30. mickc
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    The UK has no national interests in the Middle East. We should not become involved, by bombimg Assad, ISIS, or anyone else.

    Cameron looks like a total clown to advocate first bombing Assad to help ISIS (for that is what would have happened), and now ISIS to help….who? (well, we don’t know…)…

  31. English Pensioner
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    “If you choose to fight a war you also need to plan ahead for the peace.”
    This is exactly what we failed to do in Iraq, in Afghanistan and in Libya. I would suggest that the situation in those countries is now worse than before our intervention and that they have become fertile grounds for ISIS recruitment as well as helping to provide the hoards of refugees that are now flooding Europe.

    Today the Mail suggests that ISIS has assets estimated at $2 trillion. If this is true, we need to be trying to block these assets and obstructing their supply lines. We should find ways of attacking the remaining infrastructure and in particular their communications. How can they keep posting videos on the internet? How can they use their mobile phones? Where does their food and fuel come from? I’m not against bombing ISIS, but as you say, there is little that we can do that Russia and France haven’t done already.

    We need to carefully vet all refugees coming into this country. We need laws to allow us to deport at once any that don’t meet our standards. We need effective border controls – how can two individuals who have been banned from leaving the country be arrested on the continent? We should review our laws on Treason. At one time any British citizen who consorted with the enemy would have been guilty of treason and faced the death penalty; how can British citizens who travel to Syria not be guilty of treason and at least face a life sentence.? If migrants can hide in the back of lorries and get into this country, how many guns and other weapons are being smuggled into the country? Security at home is more important in many ways than bombing Syria and whilst cyber security is important we need far greater emphasis on physical security.

    Posted November 22, 2015 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    France colonised certain countries in various forms, conspired with other countries to govern them, accept goods, services emanating from such invasions and occupations. France then invited , housed and gave jobs to the more affluent citizens of those countries within France. They opened their borders for many others who had similarly experienced their and others occupation. It is a matter of French concern who they vote for in elections.

    As with Syria, what goes on in France in its own governance is their own business. One would not welcome Syrians or French sitting around pleasantly on a Sunday afternoon stroking their beards and speaking in arrogant terms deciding whether they intend to bomb parts of our country and make our grandmothers have heart attacks from the mere sound of those bombings.
    Therefore “We” should not bomb France. They have historically a malicious, brutally murderous Establishment and a bizarre and suicidal immigration policy. But France belongs to the French.
    One of our citizens was murdered in Paris by some of their citizens using kalashnikovs and bombs. It appears those murderers have been killed. We must make representations to the French government that in future our citizens when holidaying in France will not be slaughtered due to their domestic and foreign policies again by their born and bred French people. Also urge them to construct a civilisation within their borders. We may help them in the form of advise and online video lessons for their children if they so request.

  33. majorfrustration
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    There appear to be two issues here – dealing with the enemy abroad and dealing with the enemy within. You can expect the political class to deal with the easiest and more grandstanding issue – like bombing – leaving the more difficult issue such as dealing with home grown terrorist and failed multiculturalism with a veneer of action usually hiding behind a mantra of “we are ready to make difficult decisions” followed by the over used expression ” we have made it clear” Lets deal with the terrorist in the country first.

  34. Mark
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    We need peace in the West and in Russia too. That requires a different approach, as there is no conventional army or navy at our borders. It means excluding those who would do us harm, by exiling those with citizenship where need be, and by erring on the side of caution (as we did in the Cold War) over those we allow into the country. It means reducing the size of the pool in which the intelligence services have to fish to identify dangerous individuals.

  35. Bert Young
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    ISIL has emerged in Syria because it saw the possibility of their own country developing out of an already fragile rulership . Had there not been the reaction to Assad and the subsequent weakness of control leading to a revolution , the turmoil that now exists probably would not have happened . Outside influence might bring about some respite – and perhaps encourage those migrants to return , however , it will not be long before the two tribal extremes of the Muslim faith will be at each others throats again .

    The question raised today is all about outside force attempting to solve an issue that has existed for over a thousand years . I agree that it may assuage tempers that rightfully exist and I also agree that some sort of peace could be restored ; what I do not agree with is believing that outside intervention will produce a lasting solution . A lasting solution can only come from within .

    The world has to co-exist with all the various extremes of belief . It would be ideal if all these differences of beliefs existed in separate countries – which we all know is now impossible . What has to happen now is the development everywhere of national tolerance to a point of co-existence . It probably won’t happen – certainly not in my life-time . What I do want to see implemented is a form of hand shaking and the punishment of extremists . An example has to be set preferably without the bombs being dropped to bring it about .

  36. Maureen Turner
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Couldn’t agree more Anonymous and all said in a nutshell.

    Only one thing to add. Ensure not only the EU’s external borders are secure but all 28 EU’s internal ones as well. Example – the Paris massacre appears to have been hatched in Belgium. Schengen has been a disaster for Western Europe and only the deluded EU could have dreamt it up.

  37. Bob
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 12:51 pm | Permalink


    “I found Anna Soubry to be extremely annoying.”

    Careful, you might get one of her “paddington bear” hard stares.

  38. Martyn G
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Australia and the UK are both islands. Australia very successfully controls its borders, extending to rigid inspection of all incoming traffic at ports and airports to exclude importation of banned stuff – right down to plants and seeds. They employ a huge number of trained people to do all that, obviously on the basis that if controls are to be put in place, then they must be properly resourced.
    The UK does none of that, our border control and customs have many good people working therein but they are hamstrung by inadequate resourcing and, above all, the human rights and politically correct empires which, working at taxpayer expense, work to ensure that those caught at the border are allowed to stay.
    Bombing Syria will achieve little other than making us even more enemies. What we do need to do is spend however much is needed to properly control our borders. Oh, I forgot, under EU rules we are not allowed to do that and our Blairite PM is an enthusiastic follower of EU rules. It seems to me that the UN decision after Paris might well have been the call for the start of WW III. Really scary!

    Reply The UK has a land frontier with the Republic of Ireland.

  39. Dennis
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    “The nuclear deterrent of course rests on understanding that in extreme circumstances a UK PM would retaliate. It works for us every day it is not used.”

    Not against those and perhaps others like ISIS who don’t mind dying – good access to paradise. Paradise is not anathema to Christians either.

    The latest move of the Colombians in their 50 year old fight with the FARQ is to offer complete immunity of prosecution and a role in government – rings a bell closer to home methinks – any proposers for this in the ISIS case?

  40. Denis Cooper
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Off-topic, JR, is it true that we have had to ask the French and the Canadians to help us find a Russian submarine off the coast of Scotland?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted November 23, 2015 at 8:11 am | Permalink

      I’m not expecting us to be at war with Russia any time soon. Not that kind of war, at any rate.

  41. A. McIntosh
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    So Dave, as has been mentioned here before, it seems your cunning plan is to let them come here then step up the bombing of their homeland wherein, most likely, still abide friends and relatives they left behind some time ago. Dave, you think that’ll help towards them doing that all important integrating with the indigenous population thingy or make them a tad cross once they’re settled in here?

  42. DiscoveredJoys
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    I believe that politics and diplomacy is a better way forward in most cases than fighting.

    True, but when the ‘other side’ is not amenable to political initiatives or diplomacy then you have to do something else.

    Now you can make a good argument that bombing is not doing enough, and it is delusional to think that ‘more bombing’ will suddenly be effective. I do hope that it is only window dressing and that the real initiatives are diplomacy and politics with our allies to build an effective response.

  43. Stephen Berry
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    This is a closely reasoned and well argued piece by John. The short answer of course, is that Syria does not need more bombs, it needs peace and stability. But how to bring this about?

    At the moment in countries across the Middle East, there seems to be two major power groups, the Islamists and the strong men. So far, the Western governments have overthrown the strong men and destabilised various countries perversely strengthening the Islamists who are anti-West. If the UK feels itself unable to stay out of Syria then it’s time to change tack and back Assad. If ISIL is such a mortal threat, why not back the ground forces who are fighting them most vigorously? This is what Churchill was willing to do in 1941.

    But one feels we are not going to get that. The British government is going to support the ‘democratic forces’ in Syria. This would be the equivalent of backing the Alliance Party in Northern Ireland in any struggle for power there – and likely to be just as successful.

  44. lojolondon
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Unfortunately we are stuck with certain individuals who’s only contributions to modern life in Britain is loyalty to the dear leader, and to increase representation of allegedly ‘disadvantaged’ people.

  45. Ian wragg
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    IS could be neutralised in a matter of days using British French and American special forces. A concerted attack could be planned and supported with drones.
    It’s just a pity that would be Rambo in No.10 has been allowed to decimate our military with the aid of Clegg and Gideon.
    The world is a very dangerous place and we are ill prepared. A bit like the power industry.

  46. Ian wragg
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Bye the way. I watched as the temperature dropped from 7 degrees down to 1 degree, the contribution made by windmills dropped from 11% down to 1.45%.
    Remind us all again how when high pressure settles over this green and pleasant land and the wind vanishes for days on end. Just how are the stationery windmills going to power my computer.
    A few weeks ago we were rejoicing 400,000 new jobs this year and yesterday we are told that tax receipts are down and benefits up.
    This would indicate to a thicko like me that the 300,000 foreigners are NOT making a positive contribution.
    Seeing as Gideons whole growth strategy is by doubling the population, I think we are in real trouble.

  47. Lifelogic
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    I always find Anna Soubry extremely annoying she usually totally misses the point being addressed.

    I remember her saying of Nigel Farage ‘I always think he looks like somebody has put their finger up his bottom and he really rather likes it’. She is very good at lowering the level of any discussion down to the moronic.

  48. Lifelogic
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    A Cameron “A list” candidate I understand!

  49. agricola
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    I am at present visiting the UK and have the benefit of complete newspapers rather than the shortened versions on the internet.

    I have just read what must be the ultimate government insanity in the green energy business. For years now we have been closing perfectly effective power stations and failing to replace them with more modern versions of the same, preferring windmills and solar energy.

    Government has now awoken from it’s intellectual backwater, realising that the windmills cannot produce power when there is no wind or too much of it, and solar panels do not produce much when the sun doesn’t shine. Do I hear everyone cheering at their level of perception, no I do not. Governments answer to this creek they have paddled up is to offer vast sums of taxpayers money to the owners of these intermittent energy producing companies to install standby diesel engine generators at in excess of £80,000 for every windmill or 2 Mw solar array they own. The generators capacity equates with a 2Mw windmill. I wonder if they have any idea of the level of noxious substances and particulate that comes from a working diesel engine.

    It does not end there. Government offer way over the odds prices for any electricity that these generators produce, should the need arise.

    Meanwhile government is reducing the payback to solar domestic rooftop electrical generation to zero in the new year. They have already destroyed the industry that insulated peoples homes and replaced their inefficient gas boilers with modern ones. What level of insanity is required for senior level employment in the Department of Energy and Climate Change. I have just checked incidentally, it is not the 1St. of April.

  50. Margaret
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Well oh well. This is the first time in days that I have been able to get internet connection . Have we got enough cables to carry all this internet stuff?
    It is funny how more often than not our principles/ ideals come as a paradox and there are always instances where the rule does not apply ,or rather should not apply. It highlights how all people and events are peculiar in their individuality. It is difficult to answer a charge of inconsistency when one knows that the circumstances are ever so slightly changed, so the sum of the moves add up to something slightly different , the consequences become minimally morphed and ultimately an overall response to a situation changes.
    One asks what is a pacifist ; someone who desires peace and will do all they can do to prevent war, or someone who will dig their heels in , deny aggression has a place thereby allowing counter aggressors to do their worst.

  51. waramess
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    There can be no other reasonable conclusion if we are to take note of the strategic errors committed in the endeavour to impose regime change, because that is what it is all about.

    Forget for one moment the horrors that Saddam, and the other tyrants, visited on their people and consider for one moment how, like Tito, they were able to contain the violent opposition they faced, for decades.

    I do no more than repeat the observations of many others in saying that we will be fighting a losing battle if we try to fight opponents on two fronts whilst trying to support an unknown and untested “friend”.

    Russia has made some very good points about the strategy of the Western powers and their inability to be specific about who and, exactly what they are supporting.

    If we are to take this criticism seriously, which we probably will not, then we should seriously and robustly reconsider our stance towards Assad because our hostility towards him is a weak link in a reconstituted peace plan if ever peace comes and his agenda will be a lot easier to see.

    How to win the war against the ISIS people is pretty easy, how to implement it is the tough part.

    We can beat ISIS in the same way we (or rather George Bush Jnr) beat the IRA; we take away their finances. Not an easy task but then we do not pay politicians and their advisors big money to fulfil easy tasks. George put a stop to the IRA pub collections across USA and our present crop of politicians should be tasked to find a way to the very heart of ISIS treasury.

    As Farage said, we should stop treating Saudi as allies; they are not, nor are they friends and they must be dealt with in much the same inscrutable fashion as they deal with us. This should be the same for all the other rich kids in that Middle East block who are providing funding for our enemies.

    They can see easily the reason for our desire for their friendship and they use it against us in spades. We must let them have a similar desire for our friendship and the knowledge that our imperatives will not always necessarily be the same as theirs should they step out of line.

    Politicians should not be allowed to become involved in employment issues other than Civil Service employment. Notwithstanding the politicians desire for front page exposure where large armament sales and employment are at stake employment issues are for the private sector to address and best free from political ruminations and an endless appetite for government subsidies.

    In a nutshell, stop fighting Assad and find ways to shut down ISIS funding and we will not even need to consider the prospect of boots on the ground.

    A terrible prospect, but so are the casualties of war.

  52. MikeP
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    We ended up negotiating with Sinn Finn and with the Taliban. So, however unpleasant or unacceptable, when did Cameron last talk to Assad, directly or via Putin? There has to be an invitation from Syria for the international community to go in and destroy ISIL to make it equivalent to our campaign in Iraq. For me the “self defence” line doesn’t wash while we have no UN-acknowledged threat to our people here in the UK, so I’d prefer to see a strategy that includes discussions with Assad about the end game of managing the (relative) peace after the bombing and ground troops have done their worst.

  53. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    So you want a peaceful solution in Syria. I have a few questions for you:

    – Is the existing Syria/Iraq border to be maintained?
    – If so, what will the Sunni Muslims settle for?
    – Who will represent the Sunni Muslims in negotiations? ISIL is beyond the pale and the other Sunnis are militarily very weak. It seems to me that Turkey must act as an ‘honest broker’ on behalf of Sunni Muslims.
    – Do you accept that Russia, as a key supporter of both the Assad government in Syria and the Shia government of Iraq, has to be involved?
    – If ‘boots on the ground’ are needed, whose will they be? You do accept, I hope, that Kurdish advances must be limited, otherwise Turkey will intervene on the side of the Sunnis, even if it is ISIL.

    It’s all going to be quite difficult and take time.

  54. Iain Gill
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    We should also introduce passport checks on ferry’s from Ireland, as we all know people get into southern Ireland we would not have let in then cross the land border and come to the mainland on ferry’s.

    • agricola
      Posted November 22, 2015 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

      Spot on Iain. I flew into Birmingham from a very enjoyable few days in Dublin on Thursday evening last. Arabic is a language that can be heard quite frequently in Dublin. As you say no checks. I walked through Birmingham Airport with no checks of passport or anything else. During the week of the Paris slaughter I was amazed that we could be so relaxed and inviting of disaster. What do the Home Office consider to be it’s prime function.

  55. Old Albion
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    Censored for blaming the guilty……………………………………………………

  56. yosarion
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    Fine go in and sort them out Dave, however we will expect the same actions when these people disperse like they have before from other parts of the World where the same actions have not succeeded and take over Northern English City’s, oh if only we had been allowed such freedoms thirty years ago, there would be a few less politicians around today.

  57. PaulDirac
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    Before starting to bomb anyone we should ask two basic questions:
    1. Should the UK involve itself in “aggressive” wars, i.e not defensive and not part of an existing treaty (say NATO).
    2. Should we consider the IS a threat to the UK?

    The first question is easy for me, we had too many of those aggressive wars and the results of each and every one was a disaster.
    But even without this sad history the central guide for using our people serving in the armed forces must be that we should not expose them to war without a ‘clear and present danger’ to the UK.

    The second question is more complex, IS is a danger to all those who do not agree to be subjects to their Caliphate, the UK is definitely in their AK47 gun sights. The danger is not existential as such, but our way of life is in danger.

    On balance I would vote for fight IS anywhere, they are fighting us, should we wait for other forces to defend us? Should we wait for the inevitable repeat of “Paris” in the UK?
    JR’s argument is another variant of the “wait until they hit us first”.

    Will our 6 Tornado’s make a difference? probably not much, will the air war win this war?
    No, so why do it?
    The air war does work, it is a huge cost for IS, it weakens them daily, and punishes any large troop movements, without the air war, they would have probably taken the whole of Iraq and made it impossible to contain them without “boots on the ground”.

  58. Original Richard
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    Does Mr. Cameron intend to bomb ISIS or Mr. Assad to effect regime change with ISIS help ?

    Does Mr. Cameron intend to do anything to stop the invasion of the EU by ISIS terrorists pretending to be refugees ?

    Does Mr. Cameron intend to protect us against terrorism by putting “boots on the ground” in the UK and by preventing the return to the UK of British born ISIS fighters ?

  59. Original Richard
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    “Why has bombing ISIS for months on both sides of the Iraq/Syria border not killed enough of them yet?”

    Because the US are more interested in removing Mr. Assad than destroying ISIS whom they see as helping them in this quest.

    This is why the US in the past never attacked ISIS oil convoys or stopped supplying them with arms via countries such as KSA.

  60. David Edwards
    Posted November 22, 2015 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

    Is it the case that IS is desperate to have statehood, which requires at the very least a territory (which they now seem to have). And they have declared war on various countries and France has now officially declaring war on IS, which you do normally only if you recognise something as a state. So not being an expert on these things aren’t we obliged to join in (notwithstanding art. 5 of NATO) but anyway to defeat any such state that may exist and defeat it.

  61. DennisA
    Posted November 23, 2015 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    “The terrorists in Paris came from France and Belgium. Those keen to bomb presumably wish to do so both to kill potential future bombers, and to retaliate for Paris. Fortunately they do not recommend bombing the suburbs of Brussels and Paris from whence the bombers came”

    The same thought had occurred to me, although it might also solve the EU membership question as well, (tongue firmly in cheek!).

  62. Robert K
    Posted November 23, 2015 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Does Syria need more bombs?

  63. ian
    Posted November 23, 2015 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    If only the usa and Saudis and the rest would stop supplying arm to them.

  64. forthurst
    Posted November 23, 2015 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    My PC died and I wasn’t confident in being able to get it working over the weekend so I walked to the newsagent thinking to buy a newspaper so as to keep abreast of events; having looked at the headlines of nothing but warmongering propaganda, I walked back home and rebuilt my PC.

  65. ian
    Posted November 24, 2015 at 12:03 am | Permalink

    At the end the day the truth about isil will come out into the public domain as it is now slowly, who paid them who train them who arm them and it not going to be looking good for western secret services and governments and as for all the arms spending after Paris to save some companies and bring in new laws against the people, good timing just before the spending review, to say that isil gave the order is wrong they are just prawns
    in a bigger game brother.

  66. Mercia
    Posted November 24, 2015 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    The next agenda is a unified European Union Intelligence Service. You wait and see.

  • 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.

  • John’s Books

  • Email Alerts

    You can sign up to receive John's blog posts by e-mail by entering your e-mail address in the box below.

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

    The e-mail service is powered by Google's FeedBurner service. Your information is not shared.

  • Map of Visitors

    Locations of visitors to this page