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.