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Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Dear Mr Cameron, War is about winning; not about joining in

Dear Mr Cameron

War is about winning; not about joining in.

France, Jordan, Russia and the USA are firing missiles into Syrian territory but joining in their game doesn’t automatically make you a Big Boy. Especially if you have no clear idea why you are joining in. And you don’t. Nor do your War Minister, Mr Fallon, and your Military Chief, General Sir Nicholas Houghton, have a strategy for defeating ISIS. They are waiting for others to tell them how it’s done, aren’t they? All they know about is firing missiles from a safe distance.

The most important thing about firing missiles into other people’s countries is that, usually, more than half of them will kill the usual suspects – women, children, the elderly – and less than half will kill enemy forces. Especially when the enemy doesn’t live in barracks and conveniently stay there 24/7 with the flag flying.

The truth is, if ISIS has been pushed back and weakened it is due to operations by ground forces who know the ground - notably Kurdish fighters since, unlike the Iraqi army, they don’t run away at the sound of gun fire. They have benefitted from US aerial support, that is true.

If that combination of forces is working well, you don’t need to fix it. Stay out of their way: on past form (Basra, Helmand) the Americans (cursing) will have to divert forces to help you out when you screw up.  

And it’s simply not true that there are other unadopted ground forces who are waiting for your aerial support to engage against ISIS, is it? Your claim of 70 000 rebels just waiting for the word from us is out of the same book ( and the same "Intelligence" services ) as Tony Blair's 45 Minutes from Mass Destruction warning.

The biggest risk you run (along with your allies) is that you simply scatter ISIS and force the men in black to go back to where they came from – Russia, France, Belgium, the United Kingdom... They will be quite happy to resume killing people there, differently dressed and using different weapons. 

They will leave behind an Iraq and a Syria already weakened by their destructive regime, and that will be a source of fresh grief to those long-suffering territories to which we have never really been any help since we carved them up between ourselves and France back in 1917. And they will bring with them fresh recruits from among those who have lost their families to our missiles.

You don't have to take Mr Blair, bewitching Parliament with his silver tongue and his untruths, as your role model. Instead of looking back to his glory days, try to think how a more peaceful Middle East might develop over, say, a ten year period and ask yourself whether we, with our dismal history, really have anything to contribute to that. 

1 comment:

  1. It makes you nostalgic for the days of Harold Wilson, who refused to commit Britain to the Vietnam war despite US pressure to do so.