Responding to ISIL

Following the Paris Atrocities there is a strong body of opinion that ‘The West’ should respond with a pulverising bombing campaign to wipe out these evil murdering forces.  This reaction is led by President Holande and the British Prime Minister is keen to support him.

One’s first reaction is to affirm such action.  Let’s bomb them out of existence.

Then I heard a gentleman from the Middle East who is working to eliminate radical extremists in Britain say ” It will make my job much harder, potential Jihadists will say – there you go again killing my brothers and sisters without discrimination.  Call it collateral damage if you like, but you Westerners are still killing us Arabs in the thousands.  Yes we agree Paris was an atrocity, yes we abhor terrorism, but neither do we condone the slaughter of tens of thousands of innocent civilians who in most cases are coerced by, or are the prisoners of Isis. They are not animals they are human beings just like you and me.”

The second issue is that the enemy (Isis) is within the West already plotting more dastardly events.  Will bombing in Iraq and Syria do anything other than strengthen their fanatical resolve?

Stopping Isis we all agree is imperative. All those of us who believe in the democratic ideal understand how evil the force of extremism can be and how virulent are the forces of Isis, Daish or what ever we choose to call them.

By common consent ‘the West’ has brought havoc to Iraq and to the Middle East in general, are we about to do it again?

To liberate the Middle East from the scurge of Isis is a valid aim as supported by the UN.  The key issue is to do it with the consent  and support of those who live there.  Those who live within the theatre of chaos in Iraq and Syria.

It seems inescapable that bombing will not eliminate the forces of Isis though it may well weaken their leading core, but it will not kill the idea of hate that drives the cause. Bombing however accurate is bound to cause collateral casualties thus feeding the fuel of hate.

The argument therefore  that the bombing campaign can only be part of a broader strategy rings true.  That strategy must in the last resort mean boots on the ground.  Whose boots?  Ideally the forces of the sovereign states themselves but clearly Iraq is less than well equipped and Syria is a basket case. Even these few words oversimplify the issues.

However all in all it would seem that a strategy which aims much more accurately at eliminating Isis is preferable to simply bombing and all the collateral damage that it implies.  Perhaps the West would do well to put aside its differences with Russia and create a force that trains and supplies the boots on the ground as long as they are indigenous troops that will hunt down and rid the world of this evil empire.

In the meantime the defence against those Jihadists embedded in our societies has to be to mobilise the majority of Muslims to combat the spread of extremism.  That in  turn will be made easier if the targeting on the ground of Isis is seen to be accurate and precise.







Soulless Hate

No one could be as eloquent  as the Frenchman whose wife was one of those one hundred and thirty people whose lives were tragically cut short in Paris last weekend.

Antoine Leiris illustrated all that’s good, loving and noble in the human   condition. All right minded people including me and my family want to embrace him and to share his tears and his love.

What then are we to make of the “other side”.  The Jihadists who murder and maim and give their lives up in a cause which seems to have HATE as its driving force.  Where we ask does all this hate come from, and what could possibly be the driving force.

It is all well and good to condemn these acts of terror and mayhem, but should we do more to understand this enemy we all universally abhor. In an earlier blog I ventured that the interference in Iraq could signal another hundred years war between “The West” and those forces of extremism in he Middle East.  “God is Great” is the cry we often hear as these young jihadists give up their lives for what ever reason.

“Whatever reason?”  that must be part of the solution, not agreeing with it, just understanding what it is. We all have to understand the depth of hatred that is borne towards us in the West.  One way or another the West has caused or acted in a way that has resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths in the Middle East region from Afghanistan to the African Continent.

From the Crusades through the Palestinian/Israeli debacle, to the espousal and then debunking of tribal leaders willy nilly.  Think of Ghadaffi, Sadam Hussein,  Assad and the house of Saud.  All at one time or another  were our allies or our friends and then when oil supplies or other strategic requirements were threatened  they became our enemies.

Some existing friends and allies routinely chop off heads in public and deny absolutely the rights of at least half their people  yet they remain our allies.

Is it any wonder then that we are loathed and despised for reigning absolute anarchy and terror in Iraq and  Afghanistan to mention but two theatres of mayhem. There are many more, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Egypt, Palestine, the list goes on and on.

So let’s get this straight, we, the West, have blood on our hands, from the crusades to the twenty first century.

Let us confess it.  Let us ask for forgiveness and let us earn the moral right to change the world.  We condemn Isis of course we do.  But are we reaching out to those in need, those whose modern dilemma was sown in our imperial past?

One in five Muslims in Britain it is reported has sympathy for Isis, yet the nearer we get to Syria the extent for support from Muslims for Isis declines.

Why is this?  Can it be that  European Muslims are themselves the subject of suspicion and rejection in the UK and mainland Europe? Is it because those who live in Europe experience first hand the smugness of those who still see themselves as superior?

There is a confluence of ethical and political issues here that call for a generosity of spirit to find a way ahead.  Yes we have all transgressed, we have all experienced what it is to dislike, even to despise.  But institutional hatred is a rare and destructive thing, Isis seems to embody it.

The world needs to enjoin in eliminating the Isis philosophy of hate. Are bombs and war the answer?  Is elimination of a group of human beings ever justified? These are questions that need to  embrace, we should not be afraid to express our view.  More importantly we should never stop listening to diverse points of view.









Organising the political agenda

I was interested in an article in the Times today which touched on the dilemmas of the leading UK political parties. The gist is that political parties should change their organisation if they change their goals. I.E the conservatives move left to centre they need a known genuine softer operator at the Treasury alongside Osborne. Likewise if Corbyn is going to make any progress at all he has to gain the support of the parliamentary party or risk anarchy.
When I worked I often tried to match organisations with goals. If you want to score goals you have to have a strike force and you have to make sure they get the ball. elementary I hear you say.
However successful organisations e.g. election winners often sow the seeds of their own self destruction by failing to change and repeating yesterdays’ solutions to today’s problems.
Progressive change is essential, Cameron is stuttering and failing in his bid to be the party for all, whilst Corbyn is floating on a mirage of innocently naive rhetoric.
The point is that the UK electorate want steady management with sensitive and reasonable compassion. Neither party seems to understand this.