cue stirring martial music and the sound of gas turbine engines spooling up:
It seems likely that very shortly, brave British Lads and Lasses of the RAF will once again be taking to the skies to bomb the bejesus out of–who, exactly?
Downing St, we have a problem:
The problem, Dave, is that whilst we do have most of the basic ingredients for a damn good war–semi-hysterical Frogs, an American president who would much rather be playing golf than getting involved in the sordid affairs of ‘the old world’, underfunded and ill-equipped British Forces and much table-thumping by the popular British Press. We have ageing lefties acting as stand-ins for Appeasers, and we even have old empires trying to reinvent themselves (the Ottoman and Russian empires). What we don’t have is a personalised enemy. Pull up a chair, pour yourself a brandy and light a cigar, and I’ll explain:
If you remember your history lessons, back in those halcyon days at Eton, you’ll know that at the beginning of the last century we gave those beastly Huns a damn good thrashing–not entirely true, but let’s not get bogged down in trivial matters such as the truth–with the aid of the Frogs, the Yanks and assorted Colonials, we hammered those Huns. The Fritzes were well and truly f**ked, and a damned good thing too, what! It certainly prevented any future nonsense and put them firmly in their place–ah, hang on a minute.
Just before the middle of the last century, the Jerries–those sons of Fritzes–were at it again. All the basic ingredients for a damn good war were there, I refer my Right Honourable Friend to my opening paragraph–and we duly jumped all over the Jerries. At the end of it, this country was bankrupt and 30 million refugees were wandering around Europe looking for somewhere to live–and you think you’ve got problems with a few million displaced Syrians, but I digress.
My point is, the enemy had a name–Hun, Fritz, Jerry–now I ask you, what sort of name is ‘so called Islāmic State’?
When is a so-called state actually a state?
I’m glad you asked me that, Dave. You see, the ‘so-called Islāmic State’ controls an area of land roughly the same size as the United Kingdom. Like yourself, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (the head of the so called Islamic State) has problems with people who want to break the state up. Unlike you, he doesn’t have to address suck tricky questions as when does devolution actually become independence, and how do you deal with the subsequent political fallout–not to mention how do you explain to Brenda that you’ve just lost half her kingdom–no, Mr. al-Baghdadi simply decapitates his political opponents. The same solution may have occurred to you, over breakfast perhaps, when Samantha inadvertently mentioned Nicola Sturgeon? I’d advise you not to–and Comrade Corbin is about to be knifed in the back by the Parliamentary Labour Party and at least half of the Shadow Front Bench, so you needn’t worry about him either.
You see, Dave, this so-called state actually is a state. It has schools–OK, the curriculum might be a bit suspect, but given time…no, given time I’m sure it would still be suspect–it has hospitals, old folks homes, a police force and a civil service. It has a thriving economy–flog-off the oil on the spot market to anybody who wants it, no questions asked, it receives a steady trickle of donations from sympathisers, and it has a foreign policy, of sorts. Kill everybody else–Mr. al-Baghdadi doesn’t need a diplomatic corps, and you know how much diplomats cost, Dave. It even has an army–granted mainly teenagers from Birmingham and South London, but let’s not split hairs, it has an army. Anyway, where do you think the UK gets its soldiers from?
So then, the so-called state is a state, and the semi-hysterical Frog in the Élysée Palace is legally entitled to declare war on it. Hell, we can even legally declare war on it, if the mood takes us, but there are just a couple of minor details to bear in mind before waving the chocks away.
I never thought that I would be saying this, but…
I actually find myself in some agreement with that newt-fancying, ageing lefty former mayor of London, Ken Livingstone (non-UK readers Google the name). It is true, there are such animals as just wars–full disclosure, family records are incomplete but as a boy I was led to believe that at least 10-15 second cousins were ‘resettled in the East’ by the Nazis and, Holocaust deniers apart, we all know what happened to them in ‘The East’–the Second World War was a just war, the First wasn’t and the second Gulf War was a bit iffy, to put it mildly. The point is, Ken is quite correct when he points out the bombing campaign in London can be squarely laid at the door of a certain Anthony Blair, and his decision to tag along with ‘Dubbya’ and oust Saddam. Saddam was a nasty piece of work, no doubt about that, but there was no post Saddam plan. Having destroyed the Saddam regime, the Coalition then farted around for a few years, eventually ‘handing over’ Iraq to a parachuted-in, hand-picked politician who was bound to fail. Once he failed, the Coalition (OK, the Americans) then replaced him with another who was also bound to fail, because by then the ISIS threat had emerged, and indeed had seized some territory in Iraq. Iran was also on the move, but that is too long a story for this article. That little exercise in Iraq cost trillions of dollars and too many innocent lives–I count Coalition soldiers as well as Iraqi civilians as innocent lives. It totally failed, and the tragedy was that Blair was warned beforehand that it was doomed to failure. Confusion over WMD apart, intelligence sources warned of an increased terrorist threat to the UK if we went ahead with the war–there were other, more intelligent ways of dealing with Saddam, but then nobody would have won any medals and no non-Iraqi companies would have made millions repairing the infrastructure. Speaking of Blair, his much trumpeted ‘third way’ (of politics) turned out to be much the same as the first two. Get yourself elected by promising anything and everything to everybody, then once in power, work on the pension fund as much as you legally could, and line up a post-power job for yourself.
However, having invaded Iraq, could things have still worked-out OK? Probably yes. What was needed was a Marshal-type plan, involving massive rebuilding of Iraqi industry (instead of plundering the oilfields and awarding contracts to (mainly) American companies, and having Iraqis run their own country from the outset. Yes, that would have meant leaving the Ba’athists in power for a while, the same way that German civil servants and local government officials suddenly became ex-Nazis in 1945, but it worked. A lesson from history not heeded–I suppose because it would have meant occupying Iraq for a couple of decades to ensure civil stability.
What’s the plan, Dave?
It’s all very well bombing the buggers in Syria as well as Iraq, but I really must point out a couple of problems with that, before we get into anything else. I’m rather afraid that our gallant lads and lasses of the RAF are going to discover that those nasty, underhanded Islamists, will have hidden military assets in–wait for it–hospitals, schools and old folks homes. The same as they already do in what was formerly a bit of Iraq, but is now part of the so-called Islāmic State. Should they go ahead and destroy those assets anyway, accepting the inevitable collateral damage? The semi-hysterical Frog in the Élysée Palace has already stated that he–and by extension, we, are at war, so why not? Under the so-called rules of war, if a state hides weapons in civilian areas, those areas are deemed to be military targets. Just keep in mind that the Israelis came in for a lot of flak when they took that view during their last incursion into Gaza, even though the UN has now quietly admitted they were aware all the time that weapons were being hidden in UN facilities. It might be debated whether Gaza is a state, and of course if you keep referring to the ‘so called Islāmic State’ then it might be open to debate if civilian areas are legitimate targets in that so-called state. My advice is to start referring to it as ‘The Islamic State’ and be done with it. Al-Baghdadi isn’t bothered if you legitimise it as a state or not, but it might save an appearance at the Court of Human Rights in the Hague if it all goes horribly wrong, which if history is any guide, it probably will.
So, having secured the vote in Parliament to bomb ISIS in Syria, what next? I have to tell you, Dave, and I’m sure that others are also telling you the same thing, that you will need ‘boots on the ground’. Bombing the bejesus out of the area will achieve very little, except perhaps further attacks in London and Paris.You can’t rely on the Arabs to fill those boots–although you might succeed in getting them to pay for them–so you will have to send gallant British lads and lasses into Syria, to root out ISIS fighters. There will be casualties, and there will be Collateral Damage–lovely phrase that, sounds so much better than innocent bystanders mown down by over-excited teenage soldiers, don’t you think?–but in the end, we will prevail and you can go into ‘Full Churchill’ mode. Naturally, being an ex-colonial power, fighting alongside another ex-colonial power (the Frogs), I can understand that once the fighting is over, we will have no wish to remain in the area, and in effect, re-colonise Syria (formerly a French possession) and bits of Iraq (formerly a British possession). I mean, let’s be totally honest here, Dave, both former colonial masters buggered-up the area the last time they were in charge, and back then the Washington Golfer-in-residence and one of Vlad the Invader’s Bolshie predecessors, had no opportunity to add to the confusion. No, you will want to return the land illegally seized by the now former, so-called Islāmic State, to its rightful governments–that would be Assad in the case of Syria, and whoever happens to be in power in Baghdad at the time, right? Oh dear– isn’t Assad a war criminal who is only being kept in power by the combined efforts of Iranian ‘advisors’, Hezbollah fighters, and more recently, the Russian air force? I’ll hand over the newly liberated territory to somebody else, I hear you say. Who do you have in mind, Dave, the Kurds? That will upset the Turks. OK then, grit your teeth and hand it back to Assad, insisting that he holds elections so Syria can become a truly democratic state. That will upset the Turks as well, who really, really want Assad gone–mainly because he keeps Turkey in check, but that’s a long story and too complicated for now. The Turks could probably be persuaded to go along with it–the usual Swiss bank accounts, visa-free travel to the EU and a free power station or two that they need, and which Vlad the Invader was going to give them, before they shot down one of his fighter aircraft. Vlad would support the idea of elections in Syria, not least because he suggested it himself. The semi-hysterical Frog in the Élysée Palace might have been under the impression that Vlad was willing to see Assad out of power, and to join some sort of coalition against ISIS, but following his recent trip to Moscow has been disabused of that notion. What Vlad actually said was that Assad would have to be part of the solution, and then–if we really thought that we must –we could arrange an election in Syria, so the Syrians could elect a legitimate leader, who might just happen to be Vladi’s pal, Bashar (al-Assad). I have to tell you, Dave, that if I wanted to hold a totally free and democratic election– whose result I knew beforehand– I would ask Vlad for advice. The man is a genius– he’s grabbed the Crimea, he’s sliced-off about a third of Ukraine and now he’s going to keep Assad in power and so safeguard his naval base in the Mediterranean. He also adroitly failed to over-react when the Turks, in a fairly blatant attempt to get NATO involved in helping them get the Russians out of their naval base in Syria, and Assad out of power, shot down one of his aircraft.
Don’t get me wrong, Dave. I’m no lefty, tree-hugging pacifist. If somebody hits me, my initial reaction is to hit them back with the heaviest blunt item I can lay my hands on–but that would cause me some problems once the Police arrived on the scene. Bombing the so-called Islāmic State, which is in reality a state, will have to lead to a full-scale invasion, if the aim is to prevent any further terrorist attacks in Europe. The invasion will succeed and then? I’m sure you’ve got it figured out, so tell me…