Monday 11 December 2017

Strategy is flawed but at least intentions are finally made clear

A pair of US F-15E Strike Eagle flies over northern Iraq, after conducting airstrikes in Syria. AP Photo
A pair of US F-15E Strike Eagle flies over northern Iraq, after conducting airstrikes in Syria. AP Photo
A still image taken from video shows Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron addressing the House of Commons. Reuters
A child walks on the rubble of collapsed buildings at a site hit by what activists said were barrel bombs dropped by forces of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, in Aleppo's al-Sakhour district. Reuters
A Kurdish Syrian refugee carries an infant after crossing the Turkish-Syrian border near the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province. Reuters
Kurdish Syrian refugees sit with their belongings after crossing the Turkish-Syrian border near the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province. Reuters
Turkish and Syrian Kurds run as Turkish security forces use tear gas to disperse them near the Mursitpinar border crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border, near the southeastern town of Suruc. Reuters
Turkish and Syrian Kurds pull down a part of the Turkish-Syrian border fence, near the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province. Reuters

Michael Clarke

How the strategic wheel turns.

Britain's parliament was suitably sombre as it debated whether the country should enter another war this weekend - its 11th combat operation since the end of the Cold War. But, sombre as it was, there could be no doubting the willingness to be called to arms. After the confusion and anger following the Syria vote last year, when that government blithely presented a flawed strategy to parliament and was defeated, there was a determination this time to express stern resolution in the face of the medieval barbarity of Islamic State.

This time the strategy is just as flawed, its chances of success no better, but this year it seems that force is the right answer to a more difficult problem.

In 1939, the then-government of Britain passed up better opportunities to confront fascism, but then committed itself to war over Poland - which it could not possibly defend - because the time had come where nothing remained but to fight. There was no clear strategy, still less an "exit strategy", but doing nothing would be worse.

So now Britain's parliament has put on its Churchillian front and stepped into someone else's civil war to confront the Islamo-fascists of Isil in the same spirit.

This 11th combat operation is more curious than any of the previous 10. Britain goes into a war that the US estimates will take a number of years with barely a flicker of mobilisation.

Not much of the force that has already been assisting US air strikes for the past month will change after the vote.

Irish Independent

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