It's quite a long time since I last had no idea what to do
about Syria. But I have finally come to a view on whether the UK should join the coalition that is currently carrying out air strikes against ISIL in Syria. I'm cautiously in favour, for the following reasons:
- We're already bombing ISIL in Iraq;
- That seems to be going pretty well, all things considered;*
- The border between Iraq and Syria is effectively imaginary;
- Our allies are already bombing ISIL in Syria.
It may very well be true that adding British drone missile capabilities to the coalition in Syria is unlikely to win the war, in and of itself. It may also be true that a final resolution of the Syrian war is beyond Western capabilities anyway. But ISIL is both a regional menace and a global nuisance. Its impact as a Caliphate stretches from Bangladesh to Nigeria, by way of bedrooms in Brussels and Bradford. To the extent that the UK is able to take action to degrade it, it should do so.
I'm reasonably settled in my view on this now, after a lot of indecision. Part of the reason for this is that the counter-arguments are so bad. I had the misfortune to catch Diane Abbott on the Today Programme this morning. It is, incidentally, a sign of the depths to which Labour has plunged that Diane Abbott is now such a consistent defender of its positions. It's almost impossible to set myself up on the side of an argument advocated by Diane Abbott, Jeremy Corbyn, Peter Hitchens and Giles Fraser.
Time will tell on this, and I very much doubt that we will see much of an impact, but in the last resort, it's a bit craven to agree that action should be taken, and then demand that it's taken by anyone but us.
*On 17 September 2015, it was reported that around 330 ISIL fighters had been killed by British airstrikes, with zero civilian casualties. By 26 September 2015, ISIL had lost a quarter of its territory.