- ISIS deserve to be bombed.
- The UK can bomb ISIS in Syria.
But that doesn't mean the UK Should Bomb ISIS
Whether to bomb ISIS is the controversy at the moment and I've been shuffling around on the fence for some time. On the one hand ISIS are clearly dangerous, vicious, evil and if they can be destroyed or defeated it will be a better world. On the other bombing is never clean, surgical or free from collateral damage; non-combatant men, women and children will die.
I'm coming to the conclusion that bombing as a general strategy is very likely to do more harm than good. I'm afraid that the civilian casualties, lack of a full plan, PR benefit to ISIS mean that bombing will lead us to an even worse position that we are in now.
Paris Changes Everything? - It shouldn't
ISIS want attacking Europe to change everything. They want the walls raised to refuges, they want Muslims to feel uncomfortable in Europe and America. They want prejudice and division. They want a clash of civilisations, of religions.
A war with ISIS can never be won from the air, to beat them they need to lose support and lose on the ground and may well require a multinational multi-cultural force to give ISIS what it claims to want a war between civilisations on the ground in rural Dabiq at which point it may draw in their fighters to a significant defeat without the civilian damage of a major bombing campaign and bring an end to their so called Caliphate.
We might become a greater target for terrorists if we get involved but that is an awful reason not to do it, giving in to terrorist threats is the wrong approach. There is a similar but fundamentally different and better argument that we should try to avoid taking actions that will add support and recruits to the terrorists which is a sensible and practical way to operate. These two factors will often but not always be aligned and doing the
Bombing that can be justified
I can see justification for very particular missions in a couple of categories. Firstly to intervene to prevent an advance by ISIS fighters on civilian populations, secondly if there is a particular leadership target that will cause real damage to ISIS. But these should only be only occasional missions not an ongoing campaign being conducted by a multitude of countries which it is hard to imagine doing anything to make the situation better rather than worse. I picture raids in these categories being more like one a month than daily activity.
What should Jeremy Corbyn Do?
Given that the shadow cabinet isn't going to accept an anti-bombing vote I think the best that can be done is an unfortunate compromise. If there can be a position to support a limited number of actions (not time) before the Government reports to Parliament the impact including estimate numbers of civilian casualties.
Potentially it might be possible to trade support on bombing ISIS for a substantial increase in the numbers of refugees that the UK will accept. Firstly because it is the right thing to do but also to make clear that the UK cares about Syrians, including Muslims and it is only ISIS that we are trying to harm. This would not make bombing the right course of action but it may be the best damage limitation that can be achieved.
What ISIS Really Wants]()
Article suggesting there is no long term plan