It must be evident, even to the most ardent peace proponent, that we cannot simply ‘let things run’ where the Islamic State is concerned – or maybe not, maybe the peaceniks really can’t see what is happening.
The Islamic State has made considerable gains and become significantly stronger by taking territory and, in so doing, added to its financial and military capabilities by taking control of banks and their liquid assets and armed forces installations and the hardware and munitions left when the Iraqi military were captured and massacred. Each day they make gains, either territorial, financial or in terms of public relations.
In the Sunday Telegraph on the weekend, the Prime Minister David Cameron responded to the flurry of news concerning the Islamic State by saying that Britain must contain or defeat Islamic State terrorism, to prevent it arriving in the U.K. You can take this as a tacit admission that doing little or nothing about virulent Islamic mayhem is becoming an implausible strategy, regardless of how the electorate might feel. It was a speech setting out his options to take more action in the Middle East.
“If we do not act to stem the onslaught of this exceptionally dangerous terrorist movement, it will only grow stronger until it can target us on the streets of Britain. We need a firm security response, whether that is military action to go after the terrorists, international cooperation on intelligence and counter-terrorism or uncompromising action against terrorists at home.”
He emphasised the need for the UK to prioritise and enhance measures to combat Islamic extremism through diplomacy with nations in the Middle and, in the wider sense, make representations and forge agreements at an international level through NATO and also the United Nations.
Cameron is quite clear about his potential strategies: “We should avoid sending armies to fight or occupy [but] true security will only be achieved if we use all our resources — aid, diplomacy, our military prowess — to help bring about a more stable world”, but is his strategy clear to the ordinary person on the street? He insisted the government’s position on Iraq is transparent, but then said that the UK would not put “boots on the ground”.
This strategy is unclear as a vital, tactical component is being omitted. Tying your hands in terms of troops on the ground could defeat the ends of the mission. Remember, ‘boots on the ground’ is an umbrella term for “ground troops who are on active service in a military operation” i.e. no military personnel in a primary or secondary roll in Iraq. The alternative, air strikes, could lead to too much collateral damage and weaken the use such of intervention in the event.
This afternoon the Prime Minister made a statement regarding the government’s position, in which he said “I want to be absolutely clear to you and to families watching at home. Britain is not going to get involved in another war in Iraq. We are not going to be putting boots on the ground. We are not going to be sending in the British Army. So we are helping the Kurds, we are working with the Iraqi government to make sure it is more representative of the whole country.”
Cameron’s reaction must be terrifying the Islamic State. It’s a wonder they can sleep at night. As more and more jihadists flood into Iraq through Syria to join them and more strategic assets are plundered, the Islamic State goes from strength to strength.
The time for action is now, maybe not a mass invasion, but special forces such as the marines and the SAS. Linked with air support their effort could be vital, The government’s position, ruling out a ground intervention, is like fighting with one hand tied behind the back. My question to Cameron is this: When the Islamic State is threatening us, whose boots will be on the ground to help us, the Kurds?