ISIL Debate Open thread

House of Commons. Crown Copyright applies to this photo - recall debate in the House of Commons is about to begin. This is the motion that has been tabled

That this House condemns the barbaric acts of ISIL against the peoples of Iraq including the Sunni, Shia, Kurds, Christians and Yazidi and the humanitarian crisis this is causing; recognises the clear threat ISIL poses to the territorial integrity of Iraq and the request from the Government of Iraq for military support from the international community and the specific request to the UK Government for such support; further recognises the threat ISIL poses to wider international security and the UK directly through its sponsorship of terrorist attacks and its murder of a British hostage; acknowledges the broad coalition contributing to military support of the Government of Iraq including countries throughout the Middle East; further acknowledges the request of the Government of Iraq for international support to defend itself against the threat ISIL poses to Iraq and its citizens and the clear legal basis that this provides for action in Iraq; notes that this motion does not endorse UK air strikes in Syria as part of this campaign and any proposal to do so would be subject to a separate vote in Parliament; accordingly supports Her Majesty’s Government, working with allies, in supporting the Government of Iraq in protecting civilians and restoring its territorial integrity, including the use of UK air strikes to support Iraqi, including Kurdish, security forces’ efforts against ISIL in Iraq; notes that Her Majesty’s Government will not deploy UK troops in ground combat operations; and offers its wholehearted support to the men and women of Her Majesty’s armed forces.

On twitter


11am David Cameron takes many interventions, including Denis Skinner “How long will it last and when does mission creep begin” and from Caroline Lucas asking what is being done diplomatically to deal with ISIS and won’t military action work against this.

11.15am Ed Miliband rises “to support the government motion”.

11.40am Time for speeches from backbench MPs. 77 have put their names down.

12.15pm Lord Alderdice is the first Lib Dem to speak in either House, shortly followed by Ming Campbell in the Commons.

Where to watch it

BBC Parliament is showing the full debate in the Commons until 5.15pm, when the debate is expected to finish.

There is a parallel debate going on in the House of Lords, which will finish at 4.30pm.  BBC Parliament will be showing a repeat from 6.45pm this evening, but you can watch it live on Democracy Live.

On Twitter

Update: 4 pm Caron Lindsay- House of Lords

The House of Lords is not discussing the same motion as the Commons. Their debate is based around advising the Government on the wider situation. There have been two Liberal Democrat contributions to that debate so far.

John Alderdice talked about the depth and breadth of the problem we are facing. He made a point that has been weighing on my mind about our allies not sharing our values:

We must beware of thinking about the conflict in entirely Manichean terms of good and evil. Everyone on our side on this does not share our democratic values and our commitment to human rights. That fact in itself has contributed to the tragedy of the region. Let us add to our understanding from the excellent academic work being done at places such as the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence at King’s College London. I declare an interest as a patron and as director of the Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict at Harris Manchester College, Oxford.

We are in a very dangerous place. The whole of that region—and countries much more widely—are dissolving into chaos. This is not simply a war like in the past. It comes close to home because it affects many people here. It is inevitable that there will be those who will want to conduct atrocities in this country to prosecute the aims of ISIS and others. There is also the possibility—indeed, almost the inevitability—of a whole new generation of young people being drawn into the jihadist orbit, just like the Arab Afghans going to Afghanistan in the 1980s. This will preoccupy us for a long time.

Kishwer Falkner, who yesterday outlined her view on the overall situation with ISIL  made clear her scepticism about the need for airstrikes and called for a more considered response, starting with a regional conference:

The noble Baroness recognised in her speech that radicalisation is already here, but she felt that we need to take the battle to the Middle East. She mentioned beheadings and crucifixions, but she did not tell the House that these are acts which are the daily bread and butter of the Saudi judicial system. We are flying sorties with pilots we can make eye contact with whose judicial system crucifies and beheads on a regular basis. She talked about radicalisation. What are we doing to get the Saudis to tackle the perpetrators of hate against Shias, among others, in their Friday sermons week after week after week? I have raised this in the House more than once.

Why is the military element necessary? The noble Baroness put it to us that it is under way because it is happening; in other words, it is a fait accompli. We have a fait accompli and so we must engage. But US firepower is more than adequate to degrade ISIS. I do not think that it will destroy it—bombing from the air will not do so—but it is certainly adequate to degrade ISIS even without the Arab allies who are alongside and who have adequate weapons to do the job with the Americans.

The United States is currently engaged in six military wars. It is engaged in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq and now IS in Syria. The noble Baroness described what success will look like. She said that it would look like a stable Iraq and a stable Syria. The question I would ask is this: if she genuinely believes that that is achievable, when does she expect to see that happen? I am afraid that it is obvious that I do not think that engaging in air strikes is the answer for a stable Iraq and Syria. Does she expect to see it happen in a decade? Does she expect it in two decades, and after how many more are killed? We have seen 200,000 killed in Syria and we did not engage. When this is all over, will these countries be the same territorial states that we see today?

My preference would have been for us, as a P5 country, to have engaged in the Middle East in a regional conference that included all the P5 countries in order to bring about a sustainable end to the conflict in the Middle East. It would have involved a renewed effort in Israel-Palestine. It would have involved now, reluctantly, talking to Assad as part of the solution and certainly to keep Iran on form.

We are rushing into action which will inevitably have broader consequences than we can see today. The Motion before the other House does not provide the considered space that we should have to consider whether we can do anything in the Middle East and, if so, what?

And you can always trust Lord Carlile to stick his oar in calling for beefed up counter-terrorism measures:

Finally, I turn very briefly to terrorism within the UK. It is self-evident that there is a real threat that a violent jihadist supporting ISIL, if he has safety and the means, will make as sophisticated an attack in the United Kingdom as he can muster and that, in the medium term at least, this threat will endure. The waging of an aerial war abroad will raise the potential for a terrorist reaction at home. I therefore urge the Government to listen to those of us who call for the public to be protected, in the short-term at least, by strengthened but proportionate counterterrorism measures. I also urge an increased focus on the Prevent strand of counterterrorism policy in terms of both funding and deployment. Partnership with Muslim communities to make Prevent more effective can make a substantial contribution to the safety of our citizens—including, of course, British Muslims.


The vote

Caron Lindsay updating at 6:10

524 for, 43 against.

I thought there would have been more against. We know that one vote against came from Liberal Democrat Julian Huppert.

Further update 6:45 pm

It looks like Julian was the only Lib Dem MP to vote against. Some may have abstained, so I will check on that.

Many who supported the motion seem to have done so with a degree of reluctance.

Adrian Sanders made a statemet on Facebook, part of which I am reproducing with his permission.

The question no one can answer in advance is whether more innocent people will die as a consequence of the UK joining in with the air strikes, or whether fewer will die if we leave the bombing up to others. People have expressed opinions both ways. One side argues that without effective forces on the ground air strikes will lead to more deaths; others that targeted air strikes will remove the ability of ISIL to terrorise local communities and so more lives will be saved.

My view is that if air strikes are to go ahead then they should be accompanied by mitigating actions to counter any negative consequences.

Before the debate I met the Deputy Prime Minister and asked him about humanitarian aid and support to neighbouring countries having to deal with people fleeing the areas of conflict. He said that humanitarian aid will be stepped up and later when the Prime Minister addressed the House it was confirmed that we are increasing our aid effort.

I also asked about the long-term plan that’s needed to tackle other causes of extremism, such as tackling poverty, inequality and poor governance of people throughout the Middle East. As the UN Secretary General said yesterday “Missiles may kill terrorists. But good governance kills terrorism.”

The response was positive but far less detailed than I had hoped, and centred on taking the military action in order to create space for political solutions to emerge.

On deciding which way to vote I would say I was less than 70 per cent convinced to back the motion and did so with very real reservations and concerns, but fewer than had I voted against or abstained.

* Joe Otten was the candidate for Sheffield Heeley in June 2017 and Doncaster North in December 2019 and is a councillor in Sheffield.

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  • Jayne Mansfield 26th Sep '14 - 11:44am

    People like Denis Skinner and Caroline Lucas are whistling in the wind.

    I am filled with foreboding as our government in it’s desire to show moral outrage, once more tags along with America’s decisions based on faith rather than a clear idea of what comes after the bombing. In my opinion we have got Tony Blair Mark 2.

    America has been bombing Isis for weeks now. Has that stopped Isis in it’s tracks? We are in danger of turning the whole of the whole worldwide Sunni population into our enemies. The Middle Eastern coalition that are currently supporting the air strikes are hardly democratic so I am doubtful how much support they get from their populations.

  • Interesting contribution from Hazel Blears on countering the ideology of the Daesh (although she did use that word and so far all references from all MPs have been IS,ISIS ,ISIL despite the request from majority UK Muslims ).

  • Richard Dean 26th Sep '14 - 12:32pm

    @Jayne Mansfield
    Is it really true that “America has been bombing Isis for weeks now” . My impression is that they started only this week, Monday. Previous actions in support of the Yazidis, for example, were nothing like as intense as this will hopefully be.

    Also, others in the region are also contributing to bombing missions

    though not without apparent controversy (though this is a bit confusing):

    and other controversial reactions

  • As recently as Sunday, Paddy Ashdown (see earlier thread in LDV) warned party leaders–
    “…..if they don’t realise that there is something very close to a national citizens revolt against Westminster – it may be that the Scottish revolt, near revolution, may go away but I rather doubt it listening to Mr Salmond earlier on and his, in my view, entirely justifiable anger.  Now join that dot with the other dot, Farage and UKIP running a campaign against Westminster and the Westminster elite and you’ve got to realise that this is a profoundly dangerous moment, a moment by the way that I’ve been warning was coming for ten years now as the gap between government and governed grew.  ”

    The debate in the Commons so far (12.30) has had speakers from all parties (with some brief interventions a few offering a different view) all supporting the motion and virtually all repeating the same themes supporting sending in the RAF bombers.

    Is this a true reflection of public opinion outside Westminster? Not according to the opinion polls.

  • John Tilley – it’s a surprisingly good reflection actually. A yougov a couple of days ago (N.B. I was one of the participants) found I think 45:21 in support of military action in Iraq, and a majority for keeping open the option of boots on the ground.

    Following the debate, it seems the motion is lowest common denominator and it’s the issues being raised that decide where we go next. Extend to Syria? Weapons supplies? Taking in refugees? UN necessity? How do we defeat the ideology not just the fighters? How do we secure stable Governments?

    I continue to believe our party are in the right place on this.

  • Nonconformistradical 26th Sep '14 - 12:51pm

    @Jayne Mansfield

    “America has been bombing Isis for weeks now. Has that stopped Isis in it’s tracks? ”

    It would appear to have held them up.

    What would you do? We are talking about an organisation whose behaviour falls into the Pol Pot category.

  • tpfkar 26th Sep ’14 – 12:39pm
    – it’s a surprisingly good reflection actually. A yougov a couple of days ago _ 45:21 in support of military action in Iraq, and a majority for keeping open the option of boots on the ground.

    Can you explain how almost 100% in Westminster is a good reflection of 45% of the public ?

    It is now 13.10 and George Galloway has spoken offering a counter view. I do not think it is an accurate reflection of public opinion to suggest that George Galloway speaks for all those members of the public who have doubts about sending in RAF bombers.

  • Well done Alastair Burt, Conservative MP, for listening to thebrequest of UK Muslims that we shold not use ny of he variations of he namevIslamic State. These Daesh should not be allowed yo be confusedcwith the 99% of the world’s Muslims.

  • Jayne Mansfield 26th Sep '14 - 1:44pm

    @ Richard Dean,@ nonconformistradical.
    I believe that President Obama authorised airstrikes against Isis in Iraq on the 8th August. Up to 10th September, it was reported that US central command had carried out 154 air strikes in Iraq.

    It is against this background that I ask whether airstrikes are effective. Isis are relatively small in number but they continue to make advances.

    @ nonconformistradical, I think that my position for defeating ISIS is most closely aligned with that of the Coalition against War.

  • Jayne Mansfield 26th Sep '14 - 1:47pm

    @ John Tilley,
    I shall henceforth use the term Daesh which I had not heard before. Damn those clever French – is this the start of a fightback against Franglais?

  • I’ve just been watching the video Mr Clegg kindly emailed to explain why our party is now supporting air strikes in Iraq – bombs that will inevitably kill and wound people, destroy their homes, and further turn many more across the world against the West.

    I think it’s a fair summary to say that the reasons he gives are: a) because it’s legal, b) because other countries want to do so as well, c) because our soldiers won’t be involved, and d) because there will be a parliamentary debate.

    Each of these is a negation of a potential objection to bombing. None of them provides any reason or justification for our supporting the action, nor any reason why bombing people this time will do any good when we have a catalogue of experience that suggests the opposite?

  • Richard Dean 26th Sep '14 - 2:08pm

    @Jayne Mansfield
    Thanks, yes you are correct. They used air power to re-take the Mosul Dam and to support Kurdish troops on the ground to liberate some towns, I had forgotten! I guess those actions demonstrated that air strikes in support of local ground forces can be successful and avoid civilian casualties, giving impetus for more action now.

  • Jayne Mansfield 26th Sep '14 - 2:43pm

    @ Richard Dean,
    Well that is one interpretation.

    The bombing did not stop the fall of Sichar and other areas,the brutal slaughter of Iraqi soldiers,It has done nothing to cause the Sunni tribal leaders to put up more resistance to the advance of Isis and yet it is these very leaders that the Baghdad government recognises is important in the fight against the Daesh. Credible reports say that they have been alienated further.

    We have had military intervention in the Middle east for more than 20 years now. What good has it achieved? What is happening today is what we who marched against Tony Blair’s war believed would happen. This is a battle for hearts and minds and dropping bombs will never succeed in that. If you disagree, please give me an example.

  • After some hours I have decided to stop watching The Commons debate. It is clear which way the vote will go.

    The House of Commons at its worst, where virtually everyone lines up to repeat the same things over and over again and there is almost no voice for those members of the public who have a different view.

  • @JohnTilley absolutely agree. The debate simply underlines how inadequate Parliament is as a forum for national debate. All of the noise and chatter when the Labour MP for Wigan raised some on-the-money development questions about how actually we make Iraqi society better spoke volumes….they’re not really interested in any sort of better outcome. All we are getting essentially is five hours of “just do something, anything….”

  • Richard Dean 26th Sep '14 - 3:03pm

    @Jayne Mansfield
    Right now this is a battle to liberate many ordinary people from the oppression by the Islamic State, and to prevent that threat from strengthening. Some hearts and minds will support this, some will be misled or mistaken in opposing it, and yes we will need to address those issues too. Evil flourishes when no-one stands against it. We should not prevent ourselves from fighting evil simply because some people do not recognize it as such.

  • p.s. although to be fair, some of the speeches are better than will be the vote. It is very clear there are some MPs who know the decision may well be the wrong one, but who put loyalty (or fear of swimming against the tide) ahead of their own convictions. Lots of “I support the motion, but…” contributions.

  • R Uduwerage-Perera 26th Sep '14 - 3:10pm

    Sadly it is the ‘Hawks’ and not the ‘Doves’ that rule the roost in the House today as MP’s whom nobody has ever heard from before on any matters but are desperate to appear ‘tough’ on TV in order to win over a future electorate.

    At best the bombing will be what is known as ‘precision bombing’, which as we are all aware from recent fighting in Gaza, kills more innocent civilians than it does the perceived/real perpetrators.

    I personally cannot condone any form of military action for bullets and bombs do not discriminate between the ‘Good’ or the ‘Bad’ and The West yet again ploughing in guns blazing will hardly assist in reducing the propaganda and evidence that engenders anti-Western sentiments.

    Some of the actions of ISIL have been and continue to be an abomination, no matter what ones culture or belief is, but responding with violence on such a level I believe will be counterproductive for us all and will impact negatively upon our streets. It is the ‘hearts and minds’ that we need to win over, and this is not going to happen if we kill, as we will innocent people.

    Ruwan Uduwerage-Perera

  • Eddie Sammon 26th Sep '14 - 3:35pm

    Interesting debate so far. Iraq is going to be voted for, and I think rightly, but I’m still not sold on Syria. Someone will have to tell me why we can’t just let Assad, Russia and Iran take the fight to IS (Da’ish) in Syria. They do not want our help, nor really need it.


  • Glenn Andrews 26th Sep '14 - 3:50pm

    At work so not following this intently; but is it true that someone has tried to assert that military action in Syria would be legal?

  • Jayne Mansfield 26th Sep '14 - 4:06pm

    @ Eddie Sammon,
    I think everyone on here is sincere in their wish to end the barbarism of the Daesh.

    Just to lighten the mood , ( I am profoundly depressed by the thought of the sort of world my grandchildren will inherit as a consequence of the decisions currently being made), may I suggest that you check the following on the internet by typing in:- ‘ In case you are still confused by what is going on in the Middle East’.

  • I think it’s an open secret that today’s vote is just a Trojan Horse. It will start legally, but it will ‘drift’, into Syria and another attempted eradication of Assad. It’s a barely concealed ‘second shot’ at the vote they couldn’t get through Parliament last year.
    But as Parliament vote tonight to *legally* respond to a request for help from a sovereign Iraq, are Parliament equally ready to deal with a *legal* request for help from a sovereign Syria to Russia, when some of our bombs ‘accidently stray’ into Damascus?
    Have we truly thought through the consequences of US and UK planes being brought down with Russian supplied ground to air technology launched from Syrian territory, who would be legitimately defending themselves?

  • Jayne Mansfield
    Da’esh is the Arabic name for the Sunni insurgents.
    It is the Arabs who will have to sort out this conflict eventually, certainly not the British!
    The map of the Middle East may have to be redrawn to reflect the ethnic and religious differences.

  • Eddie Sammon 26th Sep '14 - 4:42pm

    Manfarang, we are leaving it to arabs and they have asked for our help.

    Jayne, thanks, I will type it in and get back to you. 🙂 I just feel the need to provide rapid rebuttal to some points.

  • Eddie Sammon
    Arab governments have asked for help.There is a big difference between the governments and what is called Arab Street.

  • Richard Dean 26th Sep '14 - 4:48pm

    All actions have some negative consequences, but these should not necessarily prevent actions that have much greater and more certain positive benefits.

    With this in mind, I wonder if the potential “impact on our streets” is really more important than the actual “impact on their streets” for the people who are presently suffering at the hands of the Islamic State?

  • Nonconformistradical 26th Sep '14 - 5:15pm

    @ R Uduwerage-Perera

    “Some of the actions of ISIL have been and continue to be an abomination, no matter what ones culture or belief is, but responding with violence on such a level I believe will be counterproductive for us all and will impact negatively upon our streets.”

    So what level of butchery by ISIL would you tolerate to avoid ‘negative impact on our streets’?

    ” It is the ‘hearts and minds’ that we need to win over”

    Yeah – right – As I said earlier in this debate – We are talking about an organisation whose behaviour falls into the Pol Pot category. How much butchery of innocents by ISIL are you going to tolerate while ISIL doesn’t talk to anyone who doesn’t agree with them?

  • Jayne Mansfield 26th Sep '14 - 5:33pm

    @ Manfarang,
    Thank you. I believe that the French started using the word to insult ISIS because of its negative connotations . It also allowed the French Government to refer to the group without using the ward Islamic or State. Presumably this is why Hazel Blears used it.

    The more I read, the more I tend to agree with what you say in your post. My reading confirms that which I have intuitively believed to be the case.

    Watching the sadistic treatment and slaughter of human beings by sadists, is a powerful way of trying to force our hand to intervene though.

  • Eddie Sammon
    One group which has asked for help and has also provided its own “boots on the ground” this summer is the Kurds.
    As any Kurd will tell you, they are not Arabs.
    Since 1990 they have made the best of the USA’s two wars (now three) in Iraq and of course the bombing of Iraq by US and UK airforces thoughout the 1990s. The Kurds have all this time been inching towards an independent state, and rightly so.
    They have not always been highly regarded by the UK. In the 1920s the British Colonial Secretary one Winston Churchill (remember him?) sent in the RAF to bomb the Kurds. Handley Page biplanes from an RAF base at Habbaniya just outside Baghdad, we’re sent to bomb men, women and children. This goes down as the first systematic “peacetime” bombing of civilians in history. It is even worse than that — Churchill was keen to use poison gas bombs on the Kurds, but was fortunately held back by his civil servants. Saddam Hussein when using poison gas on the Kurds a few decades later might have been using Churchill as a role model.

    More recently various Kurd organisations were branded as “terrorists” by the USA in support of NATO member Turkey. Until very recently Turkish governents pretended the Kurds were a not a separate ethnic group, banned the Kurdish language and imprisoned anyone who campaigned for The Kurdish cause.

    The Russians and the Iranians and the Syrian governments over the decades have also been less than friendy to Kurdish demands for their own homeland.

    But today it would seem everyone loves the Kurds because they stood up to the cut throats of the Daesh.

    Oh and did I mention that oil in large quantities has been discovered in Kurdish territory in the last ten years ?
    I guess that might be another reason,why the US have developed a liking for them.

    All of a sudden The Kurds are the good guys. Everyone likes them except perhaps the Iraq government in Baghdad. That is the same government that MPs in the Commons kept saying had invited us in to bomb the Daesh, which conveniently makes everything “legal”.

    Since 2003, though, Kurdish leaders have opened their oil fields to Western companies, to explore, drill, and produce. It turns out that the Kurds are sitting on as many as fifty-five billion barrels of oil—a quarter of Iraq’s total reserves. Twenty-nine companies, among them ExxonMobil and Chevron, are working in Kurdistan; the region currently maintains a relatively modest production of about two hundred thousand barrels a day.

    For years, Iraqi officials accused the Kurds of preparing to unilaterally export oil, which they regarded as a prelude to independence. The dispute came to a head last October, when the Kurds, without Baghdad’s approval, opened a pipeline to pump Kurdish oil through Turkey and on to the Mediterranean. In February, Maliki stopped all payments to the Kurdish regional government, depriving it of the overwhelming majority of its revenue. The Kurds countered by signing a fifty-year agreement to sell oil to Turkey. Earlier this year, I spoke to the Iraqi oil minister, Hussein Shahristani, who insisted that the entire Kurdish oil project was illegal. “These companies have no right to work on Iraqi soil, in violation of Iraqi laws, without the agreement of the Iraqi government,” he said.

  • @John Tilley @Jayne Mansfield

    Da’esh may be considered pejorative by some, but it’s actually an acronym which, in its Arabic original form, means exactly the same thing as ISIL. So it still contains the word “Islamic”.

    I don’t see what would be gained by not calling them “Islamic State” when that clearly is what they are called (this month at least – no doubt they’ll come up with another name change soon). We didn’t ban the word “Nazi” so as not to offend socialists. Much better, perhaps, to refer to them as “the so-called Islamic State”, which the BBC seems to have adopted.

  • @Jayne Mansfield
    “This is a battle for hearts and minds”

    I very much hope that particular battle has already been won. Is there a single civilised human being in the world who does not have contempt for the so-called Islamic State?

    The whole world has rejected them, but still they kill and terrorise. So what next? Slap ourselves on the back and congratulate ourselves on being morally superior as we watch the killing continue?

  • I don’t see any war mongering or tub-thumping from LibDem MPs who voted for action, just a belief that it was perhaps the only way to deal with a so-called state that has buried women and children alive.

    This isn’t hawkish aggression, to act can humanitarian. War should always come with a heavy heart, but I see no chance of diplomacy with this kind of evil and no chance of peace if nothing is done. Action will, of course, lead to further problems and the loss of innocent lives – but so will leaving Daesh to fester.

    As a Liberal and an internationalist, I have to believe that people should be free from having to conform to this most peverse society that values nothing apart from brutallity towards those with it disagrees. In this case, that must mean action – there is no other option.

    I continue to respect others who disagree and argue for a different course of action, I wish there was once – but I just don’t see one.

  • Stuart

    I think the logic of the French Govrnment answers your point —

    Why we no longer refer to the Daesh terrorists as “Islamic State”
    Since early September 2014, the French government has been arguing for the term “Islamic State” to be replaced by the word “Daesh” when referring to the terrorist group operating in Syria and Iraq. As Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius explained in the National Assembly on 10 September,
    “The terrorist group we’re talking about isn’t a state; it would like to be, but it’s not, and to call it a state is to do it a favour. Likewise, I recommend not using the expression “Islamic State”, because it leads to confusion between “Islam”, “Islamism” and “Muslim”. We’re talking about what the Arabs call “Daesh” and what I, for my part, would call the cut-throats of Daesh.”
    At the International Conference on Peace and Security in Paris on 15 September, M. Fabius added:
    “The Daesh movement (…) is neither a state nor representative of Islam [but] an extremely dangerous movement which everyone there [in Syria and Iraq] believes must be driven back and eliminated.”
    In an effort to prevent the barbaric acts committed in Syria and Iraq from being conflated with Islam or statehood, we will no longer refer to “Islamic State” in our translated statements, but “Daesh (ISIL)” instead.

  • @John |Tilley
    But people are not daft. People know that Islamic State are called just that. It isn’t Western governments or media who are propagating this, it’s IS themselves.

    The IRA weren’t really an army but we still called them the IRA. In my view it’s better to let these people call themselves what they like, but point out forcefully their inherent absurdity. Instead of writing letters to the media, people should take on IS at their own game and bombard them with tweets telling them to stop appropriating Islam. In this way we can start isolating them, and that’s the only way we’ll ever beat them.

  • Jayne Mansfield 26th Sep '14 - 6:59pm

    @ Stuart,
    In answer to your second paragraph, the American bombing has already led to an increase of 6,000 fighters for de’arsh or whatever, this at a time when the civilised world is coming together to express its horror and condemnation, particularly Muslims who are saying Not in My Name. After 9/11 there was similar horror and a desire to eradicate an ideology that allowed such cruelty. The invasion of Iraq led to much of this sympathy being lost by all of those who were prepared to stand shoulder to shoulder to fight the underlying cause that led to the vile act. We never learn.

    I think that any sense of moral superiority is coming from those who are prepared to turn a blind eye to the death of civilians who are already dying as a result of American bombing. I haven’t heard any moral outrage about the loss of lives of those innocents. I haven’t seen any graphic pictures of their remains in the press.

    I feel no sense of moral superiority, just a profound sense of sadness that we are entering into what I believe will be an ineffective war that in the long term will inflict more misery on innocents than any gang of barbarians, much of that misery inflicted by ‘ civilised’ people or with the consent of ‘civilised’ people.

    The vote has been taken, my view is a minority view and I hope upon hope that I am proved wrong.

  • @Eduardo Goncalves
    “IS/ISIL/ISIS is very much our creation…without our previous calamitous military incursions, it would never have been born let alone been in a position to ‘out-flank’ Al-Qaeda”

    This argument, often made, really is preposterous. There have been “calamitous military incursions” from both sides going back well over a thousand years; there was plenty of terrorism going on before our more recent adventures; and many of the people who have been killed by IS, Al-Qaeda and others came from countries which had nothing to do with any military calamities.

    I don’t deny for one moment that the West has done many unwise things that have probably made the situation much worse than it would have been otherwise. But constantly trying to blame the West for every barbaric act that is committed against it is morally vacuous, and rather overlooks the fact that until the West stepped in to halt IS’ advance, many of the IS fighters were actually Westerners who had travelled to the middle east to kill the people who lived there.

  • Eddie Sammon 26th Sep '14 - 7:05pm

    Jayne, lol, the “clear as mud” letter? I have seen things like that before, which used to be as confused as my brain was about the situation, but now I think I have a bit better of an understanding! This is another good one:

    Hi John, I must admit, I support the Kurds, but I’ve been skeptical about letting them redraw the map of the region, which is what would happen if they were to win largely on their own, so we need to get involved too.

    Now the vote is over I want to say we need extra security for the country and arguably MPs too. I believe in balance and proportion and sometimes the proportion aspect means putting your foot down and I think we need to put our feet down against ISIS. I am not very comfortable with the “reluctant” voting aspect, we need to show leadership and inspire confidence, not trepidation and holding back. That way leads to losses.

    To those that voted against or abstained: I will say I still respect them personally, but a bit of political respect goes until they can convince me they were right. When the country is in danger there needs to be a good reason not to fall in line.

    I maintain that the best reason to abstain, vote against or feel reluctant is civilian casualties. There has been too much talk about IS possibly hitting us back, rather than about the civilians in the region.

    Best wishes

  • We got involved that way before now as then I do not see direct threat to us, we went in and directly and indirectly caused the death over over a million people, men women children. So now we going to kill more and still not solve the problem. our Political class once again spending millions abroad and giving 2 finger to the people of this country.

  • Without taking sides in the policy debate, which is interesting but at this point irrelevant, I’d like to point out that the argument “the West created IS, therefore IS is our fault, therefore we should do nothing” possesses a central logical flaw. The premises are probably flawed too, but let’s grant them. Let’s suppose, for the sake of argument, that “the West” was not only indirectly responsible for the rise of IS, but let’s imagine that Western countries organised, supplied, and armed them, and even directly appointed all their leaders. One can’t get much more responsible than that.
    In that case, why, having set up all this machinery and seeing it go berserk, would it then be morally incumbent upon the West to do nothing about it? Wouldn’t one conclude the reverse: that having created a monster, it would be the responsibility of the West to bring it under control or destroy it? In Mary Shelley’s novel, Victor Frankenstein felt a moral responsibility for the acts of his monster, and, as such, he dedicated himself to hunting it down.

    Yet I see this argument raised again and again, despite the fact that it should lead to exactly the opposite conclusion of what those who raise it want. I think this is because, although the argument is stated as above, the people who use it are actually thinking a different argument. That argument would go something like this:
    • IS/Al-Qa’eda/The Taliban (and any number of similar groups going back years) is bad.
    • The West created/created the conditions for/is responsible for these terror groups.
    • That which creates a thing is responsible for whatever it does, and further responsible for creating it in the first place; whereas that which is created bears no responsibility of its own.
    • Therefore the West is not only just as evil as IS etc., but is worse: the ne plus ultra of evil.
    • And if one has to choose between the monster and its creator, one must go with the monster, because it is not responsible.
    • Therefore, one cannot support the West against any evil which it might be remotely responsible for, because by doing so one is supporting ultimate evil.
    Of course, not many thinking in this way are going to spell it out like this in public; for one thing, it’s a string of emotional associations rather than a logical argument; for another arguing that one’s own country represents an evil so great that it must always be on the wrong side, no matter how awful its opponents, is something that would only be taken well in some rather narrow circles. So they have to construct an argument that retains the same emotional core, even if its logic points in exactly the opposite direction. But in doing so, they fail to address a more pertinent question that might arise from the core argument, namely:
    Is the West necessarily a force for good? Or is it necessarily a force for evil? Or is it sometimes one, sometimes the other, depending on circumstances and individuals? Or is there even really a ‘West,’ or is it just a tendentious abstraction which allows one to skip straight to a theory about ‘East vs. West,’ and avoid discussing concrete facts?

  • Eddie Sammon 26th Sep '14 - 9:04pm

    I tell you one thing: never again go through this charade of advertising to our enemy when we are going to attack. They are now mixed up with civilian populations and the last thing we want is a Gaza mess. We should go back to taking executive actions. Maybe we have, but it looks like a bit of a political operation, rather than a military one.

  • Richard Dean 26th Sep '14 - 10:16pm

    R Uduwerage-Perera and others have flagged an important issue. Now that Parliament had made the right decision, our actions need to include presentations and other efforts to keep vulnerable communities here in the UK informed and on side. This won’t happen by itself, it needs organizing and involvement and openness and interaction and a budget.

    I hope the various Ministers and spokespeople will avoid giving the impression that our major concern is to satisfy the Americans. Some have already made this mistake, which is inconsistent with the HoC motion. The motion makes it clear that our involvement is to assist Iraq and its people.

  • Jonathan Brown 26th Sep '14 - 10:38pm

    I’m glad parliament has voted for the UK to support military action against ISIS/Daesh in Iraq. I have previously – and very recently – written here on LDV and elsewhere expressing support for extending that to Syria as well.

    In light of events today in Syria I now withdraw that support. Not because I think there are no circumstances in which it would be justified or useful, but for two reasons.

    1) By widening the range of targets from just ISIS to include other Syrian opposition groups too, we (or the US) appears already to have alienated much of Syrian Sunni opinion. The fact that we (or the US) may find groups like Jabhat an-Nusra and others unpalatable is not the point: they are seen by much mainstream Syrian opinion as being part of the revolution – fighting against ISIS as well as the primary enemy; the Assad regime.

    2) Airstrikes alone will not achieve our aims, and the range of targets today indicates that we (and the US) are _still_ failing to think about them part of a broader strategy which must include supporting the genuine Syrian opposition to the regime. Unless we do that, ISIS will not be defeated and there is no chance of bringing about a negotiated end to the war; it’s as simple as that.

    I recommend two recent articles for further information:

    1) – is full of ‘Marxist anti-imperialism’ but much of the underlying analysis of what is happening, and the links, are very informative.

    2) – on why (and how) success against ISIS must include much fuller support for the Syrian opposition.

    I stand by the speech I made to conference in Glasgow last year: had we acted more forcefully and more intelligently 2 years ago, an incredible amount of carnage could have been avoided. The options before us today range from ‘awful’ to ‘unspeakably bad’ as we have steadily missed opportunities to do the right and intelligent thing.

  • Eddie Sammon 26th Sep '14 - 10:55pm

    Good post by Jonathan Brown. What annoys me the most is the dishonesty that still goes on with the Syria debate. IS have enough enemies in Syria to ensure they will be defeated and they do not want our help, unlike in Iraq.

    It seems that people want to use the excuse of attacking Syria to “accidently or coincidently” drop a few bombs on Assad.

    I still need selling on the idea of taking out Assad. I fear if we try this the west will be seen in similar light to the Soviet Union – using perceptions of your own moral righteousness to undertake violent imperial acts.

    I am open to changing my mind, but these are the issues that need to be dealt with.

  • Eddie Sammon 27th Sep '14 - 12:00am

    Terry, let me explain to you how ISIS are a direct threat to the UK.

    1. Their ultra extreme ideology has no boundaries.
    2. They have already targeted us in killing David Haines for helping others such as the Kurds defend themselves from their reign of terror.

    We either decide we are not going to help anyone stand up to IS, or we go after them. They have already declared war on us. Killing David Haines was basically a Pearl Harbour moment for us to directly enter the war.

  • Richard Dean 27th Sep '14 - 1:10am

    I do not think that the murder of one British citizen represents a credible threat to 60 million or so British people. IS provides a threat of increasing global terrorism, and a threat to our commerce with the Middle East if they were to spread in the way they plan. But those threats aren’t addressed by bombing, they can be addressed in other ways including by simple containment.

    In my view our intervention should not be based on debatable estimates about threats. There is clear evidence of atrocities that have been committed and are continuing to be committed by the Islamic State on the local populations. There are clear statements of their intention to do the same in ever increasing parts of the region and world. Our aim should be to stop those atrocities. That aim can be and is supported by many people of many faiths, including even those Muslims who don’t like the West for other reasons.

    Bombing in support of local ground troops can help stop the atrocities by de-moralising, wounding, and killing IS soldiers and equipment, by disrupting their communications and so their cohesion, and by forcing them to vacate conquered territories. Bombing civilians and potential allies obviously won’t. Those ground troops are vital both militarily and to achieve a stable situation that is safe and acceptable to local populations after IS are removed.

    Let’s hope the Americans, and indeed our own people, understand these simple facts.

  • Those against

    Labour rebels Diane Abbott (Hackney North & Stoke Newington), Graham Allen (Nottingham North), Dame Anne Begg (Aberdeen South), Ronnie Campbell (Blyth Valley), Martin Caton (Gower), Katy Clark (Ayrshire North & Arran), Ian Davidson (Glasgow South West), Paul Flynn (Newport West), Stephen Hepburn (Jarrow), Kate Hoey (Vauxhall), Kelvin Hopkins (Luton North), Sian James (Swansea East), Mark Lazarowicz (Edinburgh North & Leith), John McDonnell (Hayes & Harlington), Iain McKenzie (Inverclyde), Austin Mitchell (Great Grimsby), Grahame Morris (Easington), George Mudie (Leeds East), Linda Riordan (Halifax), Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield), Dennis Skinner (Bolsover), Graham Stringer (Blackley & Broughton) and Mike Wood (Batley & Spen).

    Rushanara Ali (Bethnal Green and Bow) voted in both divisions, marking a “registered abstention”

    Conservative rebels Richard Bacon (Norfolk South), John Baron (Basildon & Billericay), Gordon Henderson (Sittingbourne & Sheppey), Adam Holloway (Gravesham), Nigel Mills (Amber Valley), Mark Reckless (Rochester & Strood)

    Liberal Democrat rebel Julian Huppert (Cambridge)

    SNP Stewart Hosie (Dundee East), Angus MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar), Angus Robertson (Moray), Mike Weir (Angus) and Eilidh Whiteford (Banff & Buchan)

    SDLP Mark Durkan (Foyle), Dr Alasdair McDonnell (Belfast South) and Margaret Ritchie (Down South)

    Plaid Cymru Jonathan Edwards (Carmarthen East & Dinefwr) and Hywel Williams (Arfon)

    Respect George Galloway (Bradford West)

    Green Caroline Lucas (Brighton Pavilion)


    Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) from Labour and the SNP’s Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire)

  • On the plus side, the Liberal Democrats have helped the arms industry have a bumper Q4 this year – and created good shareholder value for arms industry investors. Well done!

    Clegg can say it’s legal, necessary and legitimate etc etc etc but all it’s going to do is make a messy situation worse. This situation requires a better response than “I don’t like that you are killing people, so we are going to kill you!”.

  • Jayne Mansfield 27th Sep '14 - 9:25am

    I commend Dr Huppert.

    I am appalled by the outcome of yesterday’s vote . When, I opposed the Iraq war, it wasn’t the legal status that most concerned me , it was whether in my own mind, I believed that it was right or wrong. Even if had been deemed legal, I would have opposed it, and as far as Libya is concerned , few seem to want to discuss the consequences of foreign bombing.

    As yet another humanitarian crisis worsens , as, according to the International Red Cross, we know it already has following the US bombing, we must now accept our own role in whatever unfolds.

    The Green Party is the only party left for someone like myself to vote for. Best wishes to all those fighting for beliefs that I have shared, but Caroline Lucas and Natalie Bennett are the only political leaders that I feel that I can trust. I just can’t stomach supporting the Liberal Democrat Party any more.

  • @Terry
    “I do not see direct threat to us”

    You mean apart from the fact that at least 500 of the Islamic State fighters are British, and several of them have openly stated on Twitter and in video interviews that the only reason they would ever come back to the UK would be to carry on the fight here? They have also been putting out messages to would-be British Jihadis who don’t quite have the guts to go to Syria and Iraq to take the battle to British streets instead.

    Of course these people are a serious threat to us. Whether British bombing raids will make them more or less of a threat is of course open to question.

  • Jayne Mansfield
    You will not be the only one. It was evident from May’s elections that many of our former supporters had already crossed over to ote Green or Labour. Only the ‘politically blind by choice’ refuse to see this.

    I do not kow if you are a party member – but if you are can I ask you to stay a member to help disposed of Clegg and co as soon as the opportunity arises. I would say the same to any member who shares your views.

    What we witnessed in The Commons yeaterday was the reverse of democracy.   Those in the Westminster Bubble scratched each other’s backs, repeated the same platitudes, and said how sorry they were to be embarking on the third Iraq war in 25 years.  Or maybe it is like the Hundred Years War it has never really stopped.

    Shameful.   Some principled Labour MPs,  a few Tories, the Nats, the Green, Julian Huppert and George Galloway are the only ones to speak for the rest of us, or make any attempts to hold the executive to account.  

    Parliament is supposed to be there to keep an eye on over-mighty government, not give it a free pass to waste billions on another foreign adventure with consequent maiming and death of innocent civilians,women and children who will be re-branded “collateral damage”.

  • Jayne Mansfield, my response to your last comment has been scooped up by the software. Hopefully it will appear here soon. It is only a short comment and I am not at all sure what I could have said to trigger the automatic thought police.

  • A Social Liberal 27th Sep '14 - 11:15am

    It does tickle me that so many of those who were against the invasion of Iraq are now so vigorously in favour of bombing ISIL. Can anyone explain to me the difference of Saddam killing Kurds or the self proclaimed IS murdering them. The difference between the Baath party committing genocide and the terrorists emulating the Iraqi government? If we had turned a blind eye to Saddam, surely we should offer the same consideration to al-Baghdadi?

    I re-iterate. The Iraqi army is in no state to combat the IS terrorists, even with the aid of other countries aircraft and bombs. They do not have the weapons, the training, the discipline or the morale to provide the wherewithal to destroy the terrorists. The west does not have the moral courage to do the right thing and so the our government should do the Little Englander thing we do so well and leave the Iraqis to be slaughtered.

  • Richard Dean 27th Sep '14 - 11:28am

    I’m not a historian, but perhaps “I don’t like you killing people, so I’ll kill you” has a better historical success rate than “I don’t like you killing people, so let’s have a chat over a cup of tea”. Though I accept that the cup of tea method has a role.

  • Jonathan Brown
    ” had we acted more forcefully and more intelligently 2 years ago, an incredible amount of carnage could have been avoided. ”
    Not so .Military action would have spread the conflict and reignited the civil war in Lebanon. Remember Hizbullah?
    The Lebanon civil war dragged on for 15 years and that does not augur well for the current situation in Syria and Iraq.

  • Richard Dean
    The method in that part of the world is a chat over coffee and dates.

  • A Social Liberal
    “the Little Englander thing we do so well and leave the Iraqis to be slaughtered.”
    In the Mandate times the Iraqis were slaughtered by Indian colonial troops.

  • nvelope2003 27th Sep '14 - 1:21pm

    Human beings have been using various types of military action against people they do not like or fear since the start of human existence and it has just made things worse. As weapons become more powerful the slaughter and devastation have become more terrible. This was a chance for the Liberal Democrats to make the case for a different approach and a chance to end this coalition on a point of principle. What a missed opportunity to put the case for a peaceful solution to an apparently insoluble problem which of course is all about money and thieving as all such disputes have always been and always will be whatever religious reasons are advanced. The Greens, Respect, SNP, SDLP, PC etc have taken the place we should have taken and put another nail in our coffin. At least a few others have taken a principled stand against this madness.

    Of course the Daesh/ISIS are psychopathic barbarians but no worse than so many others who we have tried to destroy and ended up creating an even worse mess and so it goes on and on as the greed of human beings for wealth and status knows no bounds. So often the supposed good people have been allied with those who are as bad, if not more so, than the ostensible enemies – the name Stalin springs to mind. Now we are allied to Iran which yesterday was our enemy.

  • Jonathan Brown 28th Sep '14 - 1:27am

    @ “Military action would have spread the conflict and reignited the civil war in Lebanon. Remember Hizbullah?”

    Inaction has spread the conflict – from Syria to Iraq and to Lebanon. Hezbollah are up to their necks in this war already.

    Had we given support to the Syrian opposition 2 years ago – even perhaps a year ago – much of this could have been avoided. That support could have taken a variety of forms, from enforcing a no fly zone to just giving rebel groups the weapons they needed (mainly anti tank and anti aircraft) to defend the territory they held from regime air attacks. The rebels may not have been able to win, but they’d have been strong enough that peace talks had a chance.

    @ Eddie Salmon “It seems that people want to use the excuse of attacking Syria to “accidently or coincidently” drop a few bombs on Assad. ”

    Unless we make it our explicit aim to remove Assad then all we are doing by bombing Syria is uniting what is left of the moderate opposition with the more extremist elements and prolonging the war. The Assad regime is the root cause of this violence. No peace talks can succeed while the regime’s leadership remains in power. The regime cannot defeat ISIS, and nor should we want to help it do so. The more moderate opposition can’t defeat ISIS without help either.

    We need a plan to try to bring the war to an end. Air strikes could play a part in this – but they need to be part of a strategy that involves Syrians, and that cannot work unless the strategy also aims at either defeating the Assad regime or battling it to a point where it is forced to change (i.e. Assad and other key war criminals are overthrown and a military regime remains in power but negotiates a peace with the opposition). I am not saying that we need to be the ones to do this fighting. For the war to end, Syrians need to do it.

  • Jonathan Brown 28th Sep '14 - 1:38am

    Oh, a few people keep bringing up Libya too, so just a comment on that.

    No one is pretending that Libya is in a good situation. That does not mean that this is the West’s fault. And it does not mean that western bombing was a mistake.

    First we ought to consider what the alternative would likely have been: the Gadafi regime slaughters it way through eastern Libya, then rampages through the Nafusa mountains. Knowing that they faced certain death if they surrendered, the rebels would have fought (and lost). And then the regime would have embarked upon a wide ranging policy of reprisals. Yes, we’d probably have had more secure oil supplies if we’d stayed allied with the regime, and yes, we’d have been able to rely on it to prevent migrants attempting to make their way to Europe, but this would not have been a good outcome.

    Western intervention was widely welcomed in Libya: it was explicitely requested by the rebel leadership, and the ‘thank you’ demonstrations help by Libyans in the aftermath of the war show that this was the case.

    We should not be so arrogant to deny Libyans any agency or to assume that we could control what happened next. The Libyans had a good chance to create a civil state and functioning democracy. They came close to succeeding. We should not be ashamed of our efforts in helping give them that chance.

    Even now, though things are bad, we should not make the mistake of assuming that they couldn’t be worse. Compare Libya – which experienced Western military intervention (thousands dead during the war and then in low level violence since then) with Syria – which did not (hundreds of thousands dead, millions of refugees, the war spilled over into Iraq and Libya).

    Now, there are plenty of differences between Libya and Syria, and I’m not suggesting necessarily that western intervention in Syria would have been a success. (I think the right kind of intervention would have been a lot better than inaction, but that’s a separate post.) I _am_ saying that we should not lump Libya in with Iraq 2003, where we are indesputably responsible for a massive amount of carnage.

  • Richard Dean 28th Sep '14 - 2:00am

    A problem with the cup of tea/coffee and dates approach is that it doesn’t solve anything at all. It’s completely un-transparent, without any kind of accountability, hidden in nice language, and basically akin to a police force agreeing which gang can have the drug trade. Maybe it works for a time, maybe it saves some lives too, but sooner or later another gang will try to muscle in, and the whole things will start again.

  • Eddie Sammon 28th Sep '14 - 2:13am

    Hi Jonathan, thanks for your explanation. We’ll have to discuss it another time, but I find your posts interesting.

  • Richard Dean
    An Arabic word meaning “foreigner.” Bollywood is much more popular in the Middle East.
    Jonathan Brown
    I will keep bring up Lebanon.
    Nothing like a bit of skiing in Beirut.

  • Jonathan Brown 28th Sep '14 - 4:24pm

    @Manfarang – would you care to elaborate re: Lebanon?

    For a while Lebanon tried to stay neutral in the Syrian civil war. It’s Syrian/Iranian influenced government has now more or less openly taken the side of the the Assad regime in the war. Lebanese soldiers are regularly fighting against Syrian rebels – and their local sympathisers – inside Lebanese borders, and Hezbollah have thousands of soldiers committed to the war inside Syria.

    Just as with concerns about weapons falling into the wrong hands being a reason not to deal with the Syrian opposition, this sounds to me like the boat has sailed. The Syrian civil war has already dragged in Lebanon. Our non-intervention has probably in fact done more to cause this to happen than intervention would have done.

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