Opinion: Why the Lib Dem membership should strongly oppose the UK’s new Iraq-Syria ‘bombing war’

iraqBeheadings, women buried alive, executions for being in the wrong tribe ? This is not the democratic peaceful Iraq promised in 2003. But just 3 years after the US withdrawal, they went back again in early August with a bombing campaign, and now the UK is joining them.

The Prime Minister’s intent to bomb Syria as well as Iraq is the subject of apparent disagreement between the Foreign Office and Downing St. The flaky legal justification is that Syria is unable to prevent fighters from crossing the (unmarked) desert border into Iraq. However, since the US has declared the Syrian regime illegitimate and has supported anti-government rebels, it has contributed to that ‘inability’. That explains the Foreign Office reticence.

The self-defence argument in the US and UK has been lamely made. In the US, and from Iraq, alleged elaborate bombing plots have turned out to be propaganda-driven. (Notwithstanding the need to tackle home-grown extremism more generally). The US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has unambiguously stated that the US possesses no intelligence that ISIS is planning attacks on the US or its allies.

Muddle is at the heart of this war. After the West arrogantly missed the boat in the period when a negotiated Syrian settlement was possible, the UK voted against full war, fed by fears of high tech Russian kit, and of a reformed Syria troubling our allies in the Eastern Med. Western policy thus turned to its darker institutions to arm Syrian rebels, in panic mode. Arms and money flowed from Gulf states (and Libya), as reported. Their primary motivation is their loss of influence following the rapprochement between the West and Iran.

However, there was a price to pay. Do larger Gulf states support democracy and anti-state uprisings ? Of course not, and so well-motivated sectarian Sunni fighters received all the training and support and soon linked with Iraqi Sunnis aggrieved at their treatment by the majority Shia. It doesn’t take a genius to work out which countries routinely use beheadings as a weapon of state.

The war’s main military problems were swept under the carpet for MPs.

Turkey is the key ally with the strongest interest; refugees, cross-border militancy, and the Kurdish issues. They refused use of strategic airbases and will not participate, torn between seeing the Kurds bogged down, and ISIS giving urgent cause to cross-border Kurdish unity.

ISIS militants are few in number but effective in their training and barbarity. The Pentagon has almost certainly exaggerated their numbers. Opposition to them in Sunni parts of Syria and Iraq however is muted due to grievances against the Shia. The US government rather implausibly talked of bombing command and control centres.  But even if there are 20,000 fighters they are spread along fast desert roads in an area the size of Britain. No doubt they operate in small groups, and vacate ‘targeted’ buildings quickly. What’s more, bury a gun and go to the market, and they are ‘instant ciivilians’. They easily switch sides from Al Nusra to ISIS and other groups, and follow the cash.

It is simply foolish to talk of ‘destroying’ such groups.

Nevertheless, ISIS has its uses for the West. They create leverage, pretexts, and keep certain Gulf states content. The real military aim is thus almost certainly ‘containment’ and protection of the borders of our allies. Our military are no doubt concerned about the political and intelligence approach and vague war aims, and exasperated about the overfed Iraqi army.

There are alternatives, however.

The priority is to sever the ISIS-Gulf state relationship completely. The West does have the leverage for this. Second, the supply lines and money flows are well known and we need to support Turkey, Jordan, and Kurdish Iraq in cutting them off. Third, we need a negotiated settlement over Syria, and following the agreement over Ukraine the time is right. Fourth, we need to work with ‘our guy’ (Iraqi PM) to achieve a better constitutional settlement in Iraq, and head-off the ‘three state solution’.

This process will make an urgent United Nations Security Council resolution easier, paving the way for the re-establishment of the rule of law on both countries, by force initially, with the consequent reduction in ‘terrorist space’.

* Paul Reynolds works with multilateral organisations as an independent adviser on international relations, economics, and senior governance.

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  • Paul
    In general I am in agreement with much of what you have written. However, an independent Kurdistan has been overdue for the last ninety years and the artificial Sykes-Picot boundaries need to be replaced with boundaries which reflect ethnic realities rather than imperial pen pushing.

  • Richard Dean 27th Sep '14 - 11:24am

    I think this article is well-meaning but muddled in many ways.

    One way is in the idea that action is futile because ISIS can hide their weapons and imitate civilians. In fact, it would be a success if they did just that. It prevents the “beheadings, women buried alive, executions for being in the wrong tribe”, perhaps for enough time for stringer security to be put in place, and for necessary political change to occur.

    Just yesterday there was a report, on Sky I think, that ISIS were massing around a town close to the Turkish border. In that kind of situation, ISIS are not in small groups spread thinly across an area the size of the UK. Where there are troops and civilians fighting against ISIS on the ground, air support can provide vital assistance, and at the same time causes significant loss of equipment and personnel.

    It’s doubtful a negotiated settlement was ever possible with Assad. As is the idea that “pressure” on Gulf States could be effective in anything much. Does a rapprochement with Iran really threaten other states in the region so much that they’d be willing to create a terrorist group who threaten those other states?

  • Caracatus 27th Sep ’14 – 11:40am
    My issue is that if 38 degrees can do such a thing, why can’t the lib dems ? (Well of course they can, thing is they won’t!)

    A couple of times recently in Facebook discussions I have been accused of “believing the lies of 38 degrees”. I was puzzled because I barely knew who 38 degrees were and was not aware of believing or disbelieving anything they might have said.

    Anyhow a friend recommended me to get involved with 38 degrees. I have to say that I find the frequency of contacts from them more than I would wish. However, they seem a well intentioned group and many of the causes they take up seem to be natural territory for Liberal Democrats. Not the right wing Paul Marshall type Liberal Democrats but the bulk of people who have been the backbone of the real party for the last fifty years.

    Thanks to their approach yesterday I sent a message to my MP asking him to vote against more War in Iraq. I had a considered reply from this Conservative MP before breakfast.

    And this maybe answers your question Caracatus, the very last thing that Clegg and co want to do is listen to party members. Whilst they no longer write articles in the national media telling us to leave the party and join Labour, they certainly do not want to know what we think, unless we have been primed first wth e-mails and video clips from on high telling us what we ought to think and then giving us the opportunity to agree with theim.

  • I think it’s immoral not to attack ISIS. They’re committing the most appalling crimes, genocide, forced religious conversions, torture, and effectively making some of the women and children they capture into slaves. Genocide and the slave trade cannot be allowed to exist anywhere.

    Further more by removing a secular dictator (Saddam) we are partly responsible for the rise of ISIS. We cannot just leave our Kurdish allies and other minorities to be exterminated by these fanatics, and that is what ISIS have planned for them. ISIS want to wipe anyone who won’t go along with their barbaric ideas off the face of the earth.

    Even from a totally self centered point of view, leaving ISIS to create a terrorist state in parts of Iraq, Syria and where ever else they attack next would be an extremely stupid thing to do. They’ll only use their control of the territory to create terrorist training camps to export their poisonous doctrines and terror else where , left unchecked it will be on our shores before long. They have already said they want to ‘expand’ their ‘caliphate’, so they have already told us the want to invade other countries next as well. We’d be mad to allow this to continue.

    I think we need to take the gloves off and crush these groups now and attack any government that allows it’s citizens to fund them. Any gulf leader who allows these groups to be funded either directly or indirectly should, in my opinion, be captured and put on trial for crimes against humanity. I really think the West need to crush Islamic terror groups the way that someone like Putin would.

  • Daniel Henry 27th Sep '14 - 12:44pm

    Interesting proposals Paul.
    I’m hoping to see an emergency motion on this topic debated at conference.

    I’m currently in the “something must be done to help established countries protect themselves against ISIS and if that involves airstrikes so be it” camp, but I’m definitely open to persuasion on whether there’s more effective ways to combat them.

  • Paul Reynolds 27th Sep '14 - 12:45pm

    Good, astute points in the comments above, mostly born of 600-odd word limits ! Some important clarifications.

    1. The military challenges point about the terrain & force mobility of this conflict, combined with the fact that ISIS is not the type of organisation with ‘command & control’ centres, is that they can quickly assemble groups to attack a target town or suburb, usually poorly defended by corrupt and unmotivated forces. They do not barrack in targetable buildings and can easily blend in as civilian locals and re-emerge as fighters. Fighting this type of force from the air is tricky, to be euphemistic. Air bombardment is also of little back-up help if Iraqi government forces have already fled, as is frequently the case..
    2. I was not the only one in 2011 concluding publicly that anti-Assad forces were at their peak, and thus it was time to cut a deal … provide assurances to the Russians over their iconic but militarily useless Syrian Mediterranean base.(source DoD advisers) and implement the UNSC-supported federalisation. My reference to arrogance relates to the wrong assessment that a total surrender of the Syrian government was possible, despite Russian military support. In diplomacy one never knows the outcome of negotiations, but judgments have to be made IN THE LIGHT OF ALTERNATIVES. Cutting a deal now may take 2 years, but that is better than 10 years of war, with a high risk of regional escalation and serious mistakes by Western/ally forces if things get desperate.
    3. Yes it is true that some Gulf states are absolutely adamant that Iranian influence must be curtailed and pre-empted. This is due to fear of their own Shia populations, and age old rivalries. It has been variously claimed in the region that in return for Saudi support for the bombing, for example, extra effort has been promised to topple the Assad regime as part of the ISIS campaign. There is an additional dimension too in that some Gulf states wish to supply gas to Europe via Syria (undermining Russian leverage in Europe. I cannot verify this but the general atmosphere is evident.
    4. I agree about the Kurdish history but just now we are at the ‘art of the possible’ stage.
    5. My point about alternative routes to resolve these conflicts is not just that there are alternatives available, for example along the lines I set out, but that no alternatives have been seriously considered at Westminster, and that the US/UK approach and its various components have not been properly challenged & questioned.

  • I don’t think the article provides any convincing evidence to support the headline proposition. Strangling supply lines and cash, even if it was possible which I doubt, would be very slow and painful. Not a realistic nor practical alternative. This is a criminal gang in a lawless vacuum, a big one maybe but no more, definitely not a legitimate government, and should not be treated or dealt with as having any kind of status beyond criminal gang of murderers, extortioners, and rapists. The action is a policing one, the restoration of law and order, albeit on a massive scale.

    Not to provide support to this policing action would be a disgrace, akin to witnessing a gang rape or murder on our own streets and doing nothing bar filming it and distracting the criminals whilst swiping their wallets. The priority is to stop the crimes by, if necessary, lethal force. Everything else is secondary.

    How we got into this position in the first place is an entirely different set of misjudgements related to highly complex situations, but for the moment that is a set of lessons for another day.

    I would prefer this to be positioned by all involved as what it really is, a policing action against a criminal gang, and our involvement to be under the direction of the local legitimate authorities. But that is a gripe with terminology rather than sentiment.

  • Thanks JohnTilley for bringing up the question of Kurdistan. I’ve long been of the opinion that this is something the UK & EU should be encouraging and am of the opinion that in the current circumstances facilitating the establishment of Kurdistan and it’s borders provides an opportunity for positive engagement in the region.

    Also set against:
    1. What the UK has recently gone through, namely the Scottish referendum and all the debate about devolution, regional identity, and formally recognised “national minorities”.
    2. What happened in the former Soviet controlled European countries.
    3. What Europe as a whole went though in the last 100 or so years.
    (Aside: the order listed simply reflects the order of my thinking about the issue.)

    I’m beginning to wonder whether an approach to a solution to Iraq et al. isn’t to force the maintenance of the artificial states but to effectively divide and conquer by allowing the creation of nation states with clear regional identities and then begin the long walk back to unity. Looking back could any one honestly say that the current peaceful union in Europe could of been reliably foreseen in circa 1900?

    Yes, our experience in former Yugoslavia, shows this approach doesn’t come without costs, but whilst the region still bears the scars, here we are 20 plus years out and much positive progress has been made.

  • Tony Dawson 27th Sep '14 - 1:10pm

    Surely, the main reason why the government motion yesterday did not include bombing ISIS in Syria is that it is not so many months since our Prime Minister was trying to get Britain to join the US in a bombing campaign which would effectively be on behalf of ISIS in terms of ‘degrading’ (sic) their principal enemy, the Assad regime? This might well have led to a far more extensive and successful ISIS blitzkrieg invasion of Iraq, perhaps with the conquest of Baghdad.

    Does anyone have the slightest ideas of what the targets will be of this bombing campaign and the likelihood/extent of (sic) ‘collateral damage’?

  • Eddie Sammon 27th Sep '14 - 3:09pm

    Some simple points:

    1. Paul Reynolds seems to have some career in undermining the west.
    2. Those against the motion should at least be in favour of some sort of military action against IS.
    3. Those not in favour of any military action whatsoever against IS are effectively taking the side of IS.
    4. Those of us who speak out against IS are in danger and people like Paul make it worse.
    5. Syria was and is different. A year ago public opinion was so set against Syria bombing I think a war there would have been effectively unwinnable in the long-run.

  • Eddie Sammon 27th Sep '14 - 3:28pm

    I’ll change my third point to: “those not in favour of any military action whatsoever against IS are effectively saying we are as bad as IS”. The article taken as a whole appears to help IS more than it does us and that doesn’t seem fair.

  • Paul Reynolds 27th Sep '14 - 3:31pm

    Thank you Eddie ! ha ha. I am not of the ‘pacifist left’ I am happy to say. I am in interested in a more successful pursuit of the UK, European – and Western interest more generally. Is there anyone remaining that believes that US and UK interests have been well served by our military and foreign policy in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, Mali and Syria so far ? We can and do sometimes do better – Kosovo, Sierra Leone, and maybe Ukraine (we shall see). Also, unlike most of the armchair ‘bomb first’ crowd in Westminster I have been in harms way in Iraq and many other countries on behalf of the British. Not everyone that raises legitimate questions about foreign and defence policy is automatically a friend of ‘the enemy’, whoever the enemy might be this week.

  • Eddie Sammon 27th Sep '14 - 3:55pm

    Hi Paul, as I suggested, sorry for saying you are taking the side of IS, but effectively saying the west are as bad as IS, by campaigning fairly equally against the both of us, you are effectively supporting al-Qaeda’s argument. You have also campaigned against droning, so have a record on this. As you mention, you didn’t support Afghanistan either. You mention Mali, which seems to be not only against the US and the UK, but against France’s campaign against violent terrorists there.

  • Eddie Sammon 27th Sep '14 - 3:59pm

    What makes it worse is that you aren’t even on the pacifist left and support possible fighting between the west and Russia, everything you say seems to help al-Qaeda. Even if you offer some token criticism of them.

  • If the UK plays a role then it should be through the UN.
    Military action by the ferengis is not going to do it.
    The Americans lost in Vietnam, Dropping tons of bombs on North Vietnam did not defeat them.
    There is a road to peace but it involves the people in the Middle East coming to the table.
    Outsiders will not bring peace but only cause more conflict.

  • Richard Dean 27th Sep '14 - 4:48pm

    Are we in Hollywood? Who are the “ferengis”?

  • Stephen Campbell 27th Sep '14 - 5:07pm

    We’ve been told for years now that there’s “no money left”. No money for the NHS, no money for the disabled, no money for those in social housing, no money for legal aid, etc. Yet we can apparently afford another war. There’s always money for war, isn’t there? At least the arms manufacturers will be happy with military action. After all, when business and economic growth depends on war (killing people), war will have to be a perpetual venture! There will inevitably be innocent deaths due to our actions and whenever the West takes “action” these days we almost always kill more innocent civilians than we do “bad guys”. That has been the case with America’s drone programme.

    And @Eddie Sammon, you really are very intolerant of opposing views for someone who claims to be liberal and democratic. Your black and white “you’re either with us or you’re with the enemy” dichotomy echoes the very stance IS takes: “you’re one of us or you’re against us”.

  • Eddie Sammon 27th Sep '14 - 5:43pm

    Hi Stephen, I apologised immediately about that line and I will try to be more tolerant to opposing arguments. I just think when people’s lives are at risk then failing to back military action shouldn’t be a consequence free choice. It’s not fair and leads to free riders benefiting from the risks of others.

    I have said several times, but sometimes not enough, that I respect votes against military action if they have very good reason. However, I feel that pacifist arguments really do put us in danger because IS are already targeting us and it doesn’t seem liberal to just surrender to them, which is the only thing that will stop them targeting us.

    I’ll let you have the dig against me on intolerance, but please bear in mind my concern about the risks of such arguments.

  • R Uduwerage-Perera 27th Sep '14 - 6:36pm

    So simply put, if one is against further killing, no matter who does it then one is automatically a supporter of ISIL?

    How ridiculous, and yes I am on the pacifist Left, but what is wrong with wishing to find a resolution that will not inflame the situation any further and will spill over onto our streets because communities are being further marginalised if they do not automatically object to something that is obviously objectionable.

    There is no simplistic answer to the problems in the Middle East, but one thing is for certain bombing the peoples there will lead to further hatred of The West.

  • Eddie Sammon 27th Sep '14 - 6:43pm

    Oh here we go, people are jumping on a straw man argument from a slip of the tongue I made. Have fun! Genocide appeases!

  • Agree. I am deeply ashamed of our party this weekend. With the honourable exception of Mr Huppert, we appear to have elected a job lot of government glove puppets. This is not why I have devoted much of my life to campaigning for the LibDems.

  • Nom de Plume 27th Sep '14 - 7:49pm

    Yes. I do hope they have a plan. A plan which extends beyond dropping lots of bombs. Otherwise, this will follow the pattern of other failed campaigns. Even if they do manage somehow to defeat IS (an optimistic assumption), it will simply return Iraq to its ‘normal’ state of bombings and sectarian tensions. I do wonder if it is possible to create something functional from a society which has been subject violence, if not outright war, for over ten years. So much for the West’s humanist foundations. I will try not to watch Iraq War III, or any of the sequels.

  • Richard Dean 27th Sep '14 - 7:51pm

    @R Uduwerage-Perera
    Do you have any evidence that “communities are being further marginalised if they do not automatically object …”? And if that is the case, there’s obviously a simple solution – make it clear that they do indeed object. Indeed, that does seem to be what is beginning to happen now, and it’s generally a good thing and not in any way demeaning.

  • Eddie Sammon 27th Sep '14 - 8:38pm

    I don’t wish to fall out with those against military action, I just don’t think abstaining from the fight should be a consequence free choice.

    Best wishes

  • Eddie Sammon 27th Sep '14 - 9:10pm

    We should also run a tough campaign against the far right and people like Britain First. It can leave a bad taste in the mouth if people like me want action against IS, but are silent about people like Britain First and their muslim intimidation.

    Piece by piece.

  • Jonathan Brown 28th Sep '14 - 2:13am

    If Lib Dems oppose the bombing of Iraq I think they should either
    – be committed pacifists opposed to participating in violence
    – be unsure of what to do (and so not attack those who support the bombing, even if they are not in a position to support it themselves)
    – or suggest an alternative that we can and should support because it’s more ethical / has a better chance of leading to a decent outcome, etc.

    Although Paul makes some good points, others I think are pretty dubious and result in him not really doing any of the three options above.

    It does seem to me that the immediate threat to the West from ISIS/Daesh has been exagerated, but it seems naieve to think that if the group continued to expand and destabilise more and more countries that it wouldn’t sooner or later impinge upon our direct interests, even if we ignore the possibility of British jihadis returning home to fight.

    I share Paul’s concern (if I’ve understood him correctly) that the government / the US still doesn’t appear to have a good strategy. Personally, I think that bombing could be an important part of one, and in Iraq – in support of the Kurds, even if not the Iraqi government – in the short term it’s fairly easy to see where it fits in with one. But in the longer term, we need something more serious than ‘bomb ISIS to destruction while working with our allies’.

    But I don’t believe that we’d easily be able to cut off Gulf funding to ISIS. I also think that all peace talks with the Assad regime have been guaranteed to fail thanks to our failure to exert significant pressure on it. (Which is not to say that peace talks were ever likely to succeed, only that they have never stood a chance because we haven’t been willing to seriously support the Syrian opposition.)

    I don’t support bombing ISIS in Syria, because in the absence of a decent plan that includes working with the Syrian opposition, I think it will (and has already) cause more harm than good. But I think airstrikes in Iraq have already saved huge numbers of lives, and while the strategy there is still not very good, at least in the short term we can see the purpose of them.

  • Paul Reynolds 28th Sep '14 - 6:54am

    If LDV readers wish to read strong criticism of the bombing campaign strategy from senior military figures, below are two links, one quoting criticisms from the UK, a former commanding officer of the SAS, and the other from the USA, a former US Marine Corps General.



  • Eddie Sammon 28th Sep '14 - 8:44am

    Paul, I can understand disagreeing with the motion, but please tell me how attacking Russia might be a good idea, but IS not? I understand pacifism, even if I get frustrated with it, but this is just bizarre. A slip of the tongue?

  • Richard Dean 28th Sep '14 - 10:06am

    @Paul Reynolds
    Have you read the articles you link to? The first says that bombing will work militarily, provided there is also political change. Is anyone disputing that? The second is about Syria, not Iraq, and says that bombing will work but there also needs to be boots on the ground. Neither author wants to not bomb, both want something extra.

  • A Social Liberal 28th Sep '14 - 11:20am

    I’m gobsmacked ! Nadine Dorries has just said something I totally agree with . . .. . sort of.

    I am on record as opposing the bombing of ISIS – not because it is wrong but because it is wrong to risk young men and women’s lives (not to mention some very expensive equipment) carrying out operations that will do nothing to change the course of events in Northern Iraq. ISIS will continue running its terror regime, women will continue to be raped by their soldiers. The coalitions strategy should have been to have an experience (whether it be US, Indian or African) led ground war with all the assets the coalition can throw at the terrorists.

    Dorries spoke of welcoming mission creep which would end up with western ground forces fighting. I agree insomuch as this should be the logical step to take once it becomes clear that Khurdish/Iraqi troops are unable or unwilling to make inroads. Given this governments ability to pander to popular opinion I do not have Nadine Dorries’ faith that there will be allied boots on Iraqi ground.

  • Richard Dean
    “Are we in Hollywood? Who are the “ferengis”?”
    An Arabic word for “foreigners”.Bollywood is much more popular in the Middle East.

  • Those who argue that action against this murderous criminal gang will result in the death of innocents caught in the crossfire are, I think, missing the point that this is not an organisation with objectives that can be resolved around a table in Geneva. If not physically stopped with lethal force they will continue to rape, torture, and massacre, and any pause merely allows them to dig in, regroup and rearm. Innocent people will suffer and die horrendously if we do nothing.

    The judgement is about the route of least harm, of minimising innocent suffering. I believe that route involves providing tangible resources to assist in destroying ISIS. Bombing may not be the total solution. Boots on the ground will be needed, but not our boots I hope. The boots should be local / regional ones.

  • SteveL
    Do you think the RAF should be bombing Boko Haram in Nigeria?
    If not, why not?

  • Richard Dean 28th Sep '14 - 1:23pm

    Type “Arabic word for foreigner” into Google and then click on the “Listen” button. It sounds quite different.

  • Richard Dean
    Type in the word for European then.

  • A Social Liberal 28th Sep '14 - 1:56pm

    John Tilley.
    With respect – we don’t know where Boko Haram are. The French and the Nigerians couldn’t find hide nor hair, despite the terrorists lugging around a huge number of captives. The US with their advanced capabilities couldn’t find them.

    Now, if you hypothesise that the French or NIgerian army made and continued contact with the enemy, that we had the correct airframes in the region with appropriate armament then yes, I would advocate airborne intervention.

  • Farangia may be a better transliteration.

  • paul barker 28th Sep '14 - 2:30pm

    @John Tilley, also The Nigerian Government hasnt asked for our help, Iraq has.

  • Richard Dean 28th Sep '14 - 3:48pm

    That’s not it either. Try looking in Wikipedia, or else here: http://www.sjtrek.com/trek/rules/

  • @Manfarang – I suspect you are confusing Persian with Arabic; it is important to remember that one of the big challenges in Western Asia is the mixing of peoples from very different ethnic backgrounds and cultural traditions.

  • Roland
    That is right. A lot of Shias in the Gulf states.It is a word in Arabic as a well remember it.The word of course comes from Frank ( French ) ie Crusader.It spread to a number of other languages, Persian, Hindi and as you can clearly see the word farang.
    There is a serious point here. A lot of people don’t know what they are talking about when they talk about the Middle East and Islam and that may explain the serious policy failures of the Americans in that region.

  • Richard Dean
    Arther C Clarke ‘Rendezvous with Rama’ The spaceship is given the name of a Hindu god. Other science fiction writings of Clarke have names which come from Sanskrit. That is how science fiction writers often operate.

  • Richard Dean 29th Sep '14 - 4:23am

    May I recommend that you expand your reading to include Iain M.Banks? He is more modern than Clarke, and does not use that naming scheme. A good one to start with is “Consider Plebas”. If you’re into paranoia then try “Excession”.

  • Bombing will not solve the problem but it may stop ISIl from taking Baghdad. At this stage , the first step must be to stop ISIL expanding it’s territory.The fact that arab countries are bombing ISIL will hopefully persuade them to reduce funds from their country support ing the group.

    Many of the previous mistakes were being over ambitious with too few resources. In Afghanistan the initial aim was to remove the Taliban and provide security; what it became was an attempt to change Afghan society closer to what left wing middle class people wanted in the country.

    Labour MPs flatly refused to ensure Britain provided the resources to create stability in Basra and repair basic infrastructure. Blair going to war was not the only problem: the refusal of Brown and the Labour Party to ensure adequate resources in Helmand in 2006 and Basra post 2003 made disaster inevitable.

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