Shortly after Parliament gave approval for bombing in Syria the government has to strengthen its military support to the Afghan government to help in its fight against the Taliban. The UK is also considering what military action it might need to take with its allies in Libya.
The fact that there are conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Libya should remind us how difficult western military intervention us, and should alert us to the limits of what we can achieve with few ground forces and an understandable reluctance to commit them in any numbers to any of the present war zones in this troubled part of the world.
The government needs to ask itself why has military intervention in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan failed to create stable peace loving governments in any of those countries?
Why did democracy backfire in Egypt?
What is the prognosis for creating a peaceful government in Syria now we are part of the bombing forces?
It would be helpful if the government would make a statement giving us a more accurate picture of the various extremist, terrorist violent groups in these countries, instead of seeking to claim there is just one extreme enemy, Daesh. It appears in recent days the government has returned to finding the Taliban unacceptable, and presumably the various Al Qaeda affiliates are also still in the extremist lists. They also need to explain what the connections between Daesh in Syria and Daesh in Libya might be and examine how pushing Daesh out of parts of Syria might affect Libya.
We are also due an update on what military and diplomatic action the regional powers are going to undertake. Saudi, Iran and others are crucial to finding a peaceful settlement. They are also well armed, understand more of the languages and culture of the war zones, and should be able to assist or lead.
What is increasingly clear is that modest targetted bombing in a wide range of locations is not about to make much difference to these complex and violent disputes. The West lacks a vision and a plan for the four Middle Eastern countries currently in turmoil. Can we try and do better in 2016, or be more realistic about our abilities to bring democracy and peace to this region?