A response to IS which doesn’t simply dig a deeper hole

A response to IS which doesn’t simply dig a deeper hole

I HAVE put off writing about the slaughter in Paris for two reasons. The first was a sincere wish to spare the world another of those “our hearts go out” or “we are all Parisians now” expressions of maudlin self-importance.
The other involved grave personal uncertainty about the appropriate response. And by that I mean military response. As I made clear in a previous post I’m no pacifist. I just like the fights carried out in my name to be justified and intelligent; to have more than a “shock and awe” entry strategy but an endgame which leaves the world a better place than when we intervened.
Or, to put it in President Obama’s sage words this week: “It’s best if we don’t shoot first and aim later.” OK, that’s a wee bit rich for a commander-in-chief whose forces recently bombed a Medecins Sans Frontieres hospital in Afghanistan, but you get the idea.
The Islamist-Fascists of IS have, I believe, clearly declared war on ordinary citizens of nations they deem to be Christian or Jewish or atheist or generally hedonist. Since the latter two categories  affect me, I have started to thinking.
Clearly there can be no Western “boots on the ground” as the presence of “Crusaders” would be welcomed by Islamists. But as the MSF hospital bombing shows precision targeting can be anything but.
So limited bombing and drone strikes may play a part but can do only so much against a shifting enemy using guerrilla tactics, and must be conducted as air support of the enemies of IS on the ground, particularly the Kurds. Can pressure be applied to Turkey to stop attacking our best allies on the ground in Syria and Northern Iraq? As for economic weaponry, I commend Ian Bell today.

UN Security Council membership won’t feed bairns or keep pensioners warm

UN Security Council membership won’t feed bairns or keep pensioners warm

IS JIM Murphy the last man standing in defending the 2003 invasion of Iraq , now that the joint architect of the Bush-Blair policy has begun to back-pedal furiously as Chilcott finally looms?
A recent New Statesman article by Murphy made clear that he is once again urging British military intervention in the region, offering the startling revelation that he now thinks he should have resigned as Shadow Defence Secretary in August 2013 when Labour voted against UK air strikes in Syria.
The nub of his article is the following passage: “I respect conscientious objectors and the Quaker traditions . . . but conscientious objection isn’t a legitimate posture for a P5 nation in the face of Isis ferocity.”
There is one irritating condescension there and one disturbing corollary.  The “I respect conshies” line assumes that those who are concerned about military action are principled but useless idiots. In fact I am no conshie but I objected to the Iraq war on strategic and tactical grounds — fake pretexts for going in and a dismal lack of agreed goals which might have given us an exit strategy which did not leave behind desolation and increased misery for those on the ground.
The same applies to Syria now. We need clear goals and action compliant with international law. Above all, we need a realistic endgame, particularly given Russian involvement in the arena.
But look again at the nub of Murphy’s argument, the bit concerning “a legitimate posture for a P5 nation.” He obviously puts immense store on Britain’s status as one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, regardless of what this may cost.
It’s what drives us to increasingly unaffordable Trident replacement and an absurd aircraft carrier programme, but coveted P5 membership won’t feed bairns or keep pensioners warm.