On declining to support action in Iraq


House of CommonsISIL is a brutal tyranny founded on a narrow and perverted interpretation of Islam together with unyielding violent religious intolerance. Muslims in Wycombe have with one voice condemned ISIL. Resisting ISIL with lethal force is a just and essential cause.

We have been asked to set aside the mistakes of the past. Sectarianism, intolerance and entrenched interest appear to have prevented the emergence of open liberal democracies across the Middle East and North Africa. Those factors are apparently still in place.

Sectarianism is rife and allegiances are volatile. Until Spring, Saudi Arabia supported ISIL – now they have sent a token force. Qatari Mirages dropped no bombs. It seems clear that an effective ground force is essential and that it is not likely to be provided by countries in the region. Action in Syria will be necessary, on the ground and from the air. The motion is clear that the UK will not act in Syria  without further votes or deploy our troops in ground operations but I cannot imagine either will last.

As I have typed, Dr Julian Lewis has declared his reluctant support saying there are no good outcomes. I agree and I think Dr Lewis captures the lack of enthusiasm in the Commons. My wife and I both served in the Royal Air Force: our shared experience leads me to demand a much higher bar for the use of our treasured servicemen and women than has been presented. I voted for the conflict in Libya reluctantly: look at it today. I see no reason to be more optimistic about the use of British firepower now.

In short, I am certain ISIL should be resisted with lethal force but I do not believe the diplomatic, political or military preconditions are in place for a helpful, limited, military contribution from the UK. ISIL should be resisted by the region’s people until the discovery and widespread entrenchment of religious tolerance there brings such wars and indeed theocracy itself to an end.

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