Western Death Squad2
Ethics & Morality

Welby: we wrestle not against ISIL, but against Jihadi principalities and powers

We are, once again, a nation at war. And, rather like World War I, it won’t be over by Christmas. The Prime Minister has identified our target: “We should be very clear that the cause of this problem is the poisonous narrative of Islamic extremism,” he declared (..yes, he said ‘Islamic’ rather than the euphemistic distinctive ‘Islamist’). And he warned: “..this mission will take not just months, but years.”

And it will.

Of course, in a sense, we have been at war since September 11th 2001, when al-Qaeda unleashed its barbarous nihilism upon the Western world. The ‘War on Terror’ has been and remains a battle against a virulent religio-political ideology; against a concept, more than flesh and blood. Yesterday’s vote in Parliament amounts to a formal declaration of our ongoing participation in the global struggle against it.

Many MPs referred to righteous motives, humanitarian ethics and legal frameworks. A few alluded to the principles of the Just War; that our response to the Islamic State must be “reasonable, necessary and proportionate to the aim that has to be achieved,” to quote former Attorney General Dominic Grieve. Two people mentioned Jesus in the House of Lords debate – the Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Pearson of Rannoch. One naturally expects the occasional Lord Spiritual to consider the ethical teachings of Christ in relation to such weighty matters as war, but among the Lords Temporal and Commons laity the Ukip Peer alone dared to mention Him by name.

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s speech was wise and informed:

“My Lords, a danger of this debate is that we speak only of Iraq and Syria, only of ISIL, and only of armed force. ISIL and its dreadful barbarity are only one example of a global phenomenon..”

He doesn’t name them, but he’s talking basically about (inter alia) the Taliban, al-Qaeda, al-Shabaab, Hamas, Hezbollah and Boko Haram. He says we need to deal with “a global, holistic danger” not merely with military weapons, but with “a better story”:

The vision we need to draw on is life-giving. It is rooted in the truths of the Judaeo-Christian tradition, relying heavily in the Middle Ages on the wealth of Islamic learning, the Abrahamic faiths – not necessarily enemies – and enriched by others such as Hinduism and Sikhism in recent generations. Religious leaders must up their game and the church is playing its part. It is the role of the church I serve to point beyond our imperfect responses and any material, national or political interest to the message of Jesus Christ and the justice, healing and redemption that he offers.

One tends to hear the phrase ‘Judaeo-Christian tradition’ much more on the lips of Ukip-ers than Church of England clerics these days. Kippers often whistle it almost without meaning, or at least devoid of nuance; clerics tend to be fearful of the undertones of dogmatic supremacy. But Justin Welby tempered the phrase with a little multifaith humanity, which is, of course, intrinsic to and an expression of the very liberty which the tradition has generated and fostered. But ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State negates our ethical values and would deny us those liberties, so the Archbishop isn’t inclined to straddle a fence:

The action proposed today is right, but we must not rely on a short-term solution on a narrow front to a global, ideological, religious, holistic and trans-generational challenge. We must demonstrate that there is a positive vision far greater and more compelling than the evil of ISIL and its global clones. Such a vision offers us and the world hope, an assurance of success in this struggle, not the endless threat of darkness.

Other Lords Spiritual were more equivocal. The Bishop of Coventry Christopher Cocksworth wondered whether we will be any more successful in destroying ISIS than we have been in crushing al-Qaeda. He asked: “Can an ideology ever be wiped out?”, but then answered himself with the observation that it might be “dismantled by the more powerful weapons of truth, justice and compassion”. There is some truth in this: as Lord Alton made clear, one cannot bomb an ideology.

The Bishop of Derby Alastair Redfern was more pessimistic. In a swipe against the “negative” Prevent strategy and US rhetoric of eradication, he said: “It will not be eradicated; it is about a difference of views about what the good life is.” The Islamic State, he avers, has a political vision which is religiously good in its own terms and by its own definitions, so his prescription is that “we have to engage with the debate about what a good society is.. We have to contribute to that together if we are to stem this tide and create a safer world to live in.. We need to be much more proactive about facilitating a discussion about, and exploration of, the good life among people of different faiths and different political persuasions”.

Inter-religious debate and ecumenical chat with barbarous thugs over a cup of tea and a slice of halal cake? One is loath to be negative, My Lord Bishop, so good luck with that. Perhaps Canon Andrew White would be happy to arrange and host a little tête-à-tête for you with Islamic State spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani? If you manage to escape with your head, please drop us a line and let us know how our (apparently mutually exclusive) conceptions of the good life may happily cohere and our applied theologies coexist in peace.

But to the contribution made by Lord Pearson of Rannoch (Ukip), which merits quoting in full:

My Lords, I refer you to a short debate I held in Grand Committee on 19 November last, when I asked the Government to justify the Prime Minister’s Statement after the murder of Drummer Rigby that there is nothing in Islam which justifies acts of violence. I will not repeat what I said then, given our time constraint, but mention it as background to these few words.

We are now met to consider military action against the self-styled Islamic State, which has surfaced since that debate, and I support such action; but I fear that military action alone—and even victorious boots on the ground—will not be able to contain the resurgence of jihadist Islam on our planet. I suggest that we have to look deeper and accept that there are many verses in the later Koran and in the later actions and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, which Muslims are instructed to follow, which justify acts of violence.

Islam has the problem of the Muslim tenet of abrogation, which holds that where there is contradiction in the Koran, the later texts outweigh the earlier. I cited two of those verses on 19 November but have time for only one today. Surat 9.29 reads like this:

“Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture—[fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled”.

That means a tax on non-Muslims.

There are many other such verses which are being enforced by ISIS, the Taliban, al-Qaeda, al-Shabaab, Hamas, Hezbollah, Boko Haram, and wherever the sharia penal code is strictly enforced.

It does not help to point out that the Bible and other ancient religious texts have similarly violent passages. Jehovah did indeed smite the uncircumcised quite a bit in the Old Testament, but there is nothing of that in the New Testament, from which Christianity takes its inspiration. Jesus said:

“Love thy neighbour as thyself”,

and, “Do unto others as you would they should do unto you”. His instruction was universal. He was not talking just about relations between Christians, whereas I understand that the verses of peace in the Koran may refer largely to relations between Muslims. Of course, modern Jews do not act out the gruesome instructions of Leviticus and Exodus, so the comparison with the Old Testament does not help.

As I said on 19 November, Christianity has still been the volcano through which much evil has erupted over the centuries, but that is no longer happening. Today, it appears that the collective darkness of our humanity has moved largely into the violent end of Islam, where only peaceful Islam can resist it theologically and defeat it at its roots. As the noble Baroness the Lord Privy Seal said in her opening remarks, we must support our Muslim friends as they try to reclaim their religion—I would add, particularly in this country.

I repeat a question I put to the Government on 19 November, to which I did not get a reply: as our jihadists are such a tiny minority who misinterpret the Koran and the holy texts, why does the great majority of Muslims not do more to stand up against them? For instance, could not the Government encourage our Muslim leaders in this country to call a great council to issue a fatwa against our jihadists, casting them out of Islam? Dozens of our imams wrote to the Independent newspaper on 17 September invoking Islam for the release of Alan Henning. Could they not form the nucleus of such a council? It would also need to address the violent verses in the Koran to which I have referred. One suggestion is that they should be declared to refer to the internal struggle between good and evil within each one of us, while true Islam flows only from the verses of peace.

Perhaps such a new explanation of Islam might also help to meet the point made by the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury—that our young Muslims need a much better vision for their lives—with which, I am sure, all your Lordships agree.

I look forward to the Government’s reply.

He won’t get one, of course; at least not a substantive one which engages with the profoundly theological dimensions of a labyrinthine theo-political entity possessing of neither temporal statehood nor uniform spiritual authority. You may decry Lord Pearson’s elementary exposition of theology, and ridicule his naive attempts to redefine and reform foundational precepts of an ancient religious cult. But he is at least attempting to articulate some of the doctrinal, scriptural and metaphysical realities of the jihadi principalities and powers. Without some understanding of these, and without a bold acknowledgement that our struggle is, as the Prime Minister said, against a particular vision of Islamic dominion, we may never again live in peace until the parousia and the coming of the Prince of Peace.

  • The Inspector General

    How to sell this war to the people. Well, let’s start by calling it a police action. We are somewhat positively assured that it falls to the white western race to police the world.

    The action is to make it uncomfortable to continue to behave anti socially. Rather like domestic policing then, but without the bleeding heart state forgiveness that allows criminals to come up before the courts for twenty, maybe thirty times, before it is realised incarceration is inevitable. No such benefice for IS fighters. There will be no probation, no parole, no understanding. Just justice. We in the west seem to have become separated from the concept of justice, and many are now troubled by that, and that ‘another chance to sort your life out’ does not apply.

    The Inspector understands, and wishes these types a speedy transition to the realisation that justice really is justice this time. It will hurt them to do so in the process, and they will tell us about it. Be certain of that.

    • Phil Rowlands

      That is totally unfair Inspector.

      We should give them what they want

      Let them have an Islamic State

      Elephant Island springs to mind.

      • The Inspector General

        Far too late for alternatives Phil. A lot of people have gone to a great deal of effort planning to wipe them off the face of the earth. The disappointment involved if the operation was called off would be immense. No, they remain marked for death. It’s better that way.

  • Mark Mills

    If we, in the Judaeo-Christian tradition, wish to claim the moral high ground, could we perhaps start by bringing those suspected criminals amongst us who happen to be rich, powerful or both, to a Judaeo-Christian traditional trial?

    • The Inspector General

      It’s a prized perk of the job, that a Prime Minister be allowed to lie to
      the house. It’s not all one way though, and lesser mortals do have the chance to catch him out at PM Question Time. That his worthy detractor’s failed to do so is neither here nor there.

      The man you allude to will never stand in the dock for what he did. We’ll
      just have to get on with our lives with that in mind, knowing we can’t always
      have absolute justice on this earth.

      • Mark Mills

        I wasn’t thinking about one individual, I was commenting on the general corruption of moral values that appears to arrived in our places of power

  • JayBee

    The vision we need to draw on is life-giving. It is rooted in the truths of the Judaeo-Christian tradition, relying heavily in the Middle Ages on the wealth of Islamic learning, the Abrahamic faiths – not necessarily enemies – and enriched by others such as Hinduism and Sikhism in recent generations.

    Are we to wrestle against the principalities and powers inciting Jihad with the weapons of sycretism and multifaith consensus? Do they have an ounce of Divine power to demolish its ideological strongholds? From such a “vision” may the Lord preserve us.

    If Christian leaders wish to articulate a positive vision far greater and more compelling than the evil of ISIL and its global clones they need look no further than the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the gospel to preach in season or out of season. This is the vision that offers us and the world hope, and deliverance from the endless threat of darkness.

    • dannybhoy

      I agree in principle, but what we are up against here are people who believe Islam is the one true faith, that this is spread by the sword, that a Muslim may lie to an infidel, may deceive him in any way necessary that Islam may flourish.
      So as individual Christians we can choose to be martyred for our faith, but as citizens of the United Kingdom we have a responsibility to defend our families, our community and our Sovereign.
      Preaching the Gospel to the Nazis was a good thing to do, but it wasn’t preaching that defeated them.

      • JayBee

        Quite right and it won’t be preaching that defeats ISIL, only recourse to fighting a “just war” has any chance of doing that. But the battlefield isn’t just physical, the ideology has to be totally discredited in a “hearts and minds” struggle to counteract radicalisation and the dark propaganda that seduces idealistic and impressionable youth.

  • carl jacobs

    A nation at war? The dissonance between the rhetoric and the commitment is striking. It’s a strange kind of war that only involves pilots – principally because the bad guys can’t actually shoot at pilots with any degree of effectiveness. It’s war where there is no cost to be paid beyond expenditure for Flight Ops and munitions. Let’s be blunt, here. Heroic it isn’t.

    So along the way, could someone answer a few question?

    1. What is the objective? (Here is a hint. “Stopping the slaughter” isn’t an objective.)

    2. How does this action help achieve that objective?

    3. How will you know when you have achieved the objective?

    Because what this looks like to me is this:

    We have to do something. What is the least we can do with the smallest amount of political risk? Bombing? Good. Make it so. And spice it up with alot of rhetoric about war and commitment and stuff.

    carl

    • Albert

      I expect you’ve covered this somewhere else, Carl, so I apologize for asking what you think should be done.

      • carl jacobs

        Albert

        What is the objective? You can’t answer the question “What should you do?” until you answer the question “What do you want done?”. Ending a transient humanitarian catastrophe is not a credible objective.

        Do you remember Somalia in 1993? The US Army heroically rushed to stop starvation. Then the political leadership sat around a table and said to each other “What are we doing there?”. They occupied a country without the first clue what to do with it. They weren’t committed for the long haul. They weren’t going to vicariously colonize it. They didn’t want to escort food conveys forever and ( oh btw) in the process produce a population totally dependent on those food convoys. So they p*ssed around for ten months with an inconsistent policy of force drawdown and mission escalation. Eventually they had pictures of dead bodies of American soldiers on CNN. So they ran away and taught Al-Qaida that if you hit Americans, they will run. In the end all this noble effort achieved was to get a bunch of GIs killed and encourage our enemies into what became 9/11.

        This is what happens when you send men to war without any clear understanding of why you are fighting. So tell me, Albert. What do you want the outcome to be? The political outcome, I mean. Heck, why don’t you just me what the Western powers are trying to achieve with this war they’ve declared? Because bombing by itself ain’t gonna achieve nothing.

        carl

        • Albert

          Sorry Carl, I don’t see the bit here where you answer the question what you think should be done. It’s an honest question. It’s clear that you don’t like the present policy. Is your view that we should go in boots on the ground, for example? Or are you arguing that we should not go in at all, in any form? Or something else?

          • Jack would like to hear the answer to that question too.

          • carl jacobs

            I will answer the question, Albert, if you tell me the objective you want achieved. If your objective is “We must stop ISIS from killing people” then my answer is “Nothing at all.”

            If your objective is “Destroy ISIS” then you go in force and be prepared to stay there fifty years. And you better be willing to do the hard things necessary to suppress an ideology. It’s not just shooting people on the battlefield. You have to learn how to discredit an ideology in the Muslim mind and act accordingly. You can’t attack the problem from a Western mindset. Don’t try to westernize Islam. Islamicize your strategy. Are you willing to do that?

            So anyways. Say what you want the outcome to be. People are assuming a nebulous outcome become they don’t really know how to define it.

            carl

          • Albert

            For a man who has so many strong opinions, you are being remarkably coy about this. When I was at school, my History teacher used to say “In order to be entitled to attack Metternich, you have to be able to say what he should have done instead.” I think that applies here. You have attacked all sorts of things. I have said nothing about it (except to ask the question what it is you are proposing instead), therefore, I think it will not do for you to await my answer, before supplying yours.

            There may be all sorts of problems with the present strategy. I think there may be some problems with doing nothing as well. So I repeat: in the light of all your criticisms, what do you think should be done?

          • Albert

            BTW, I would have thought it is obvious that I would think we should Islamize the strategy. Am I not always sticking up for Muslims? Did I not yesterday point out the religious divisions that stand in our way of winning over the people who, we need on our side?

          • carl jacobs

            Albert

            what do you think should be done?

            Done about what?

            If you are asking what should be done about the atrocities committed by ISIS, then my answer is “Nothing.”

            If you are asking about what to do about the existence of ISIS, then I would offer three possibilities.

            1. Divide it against itself into civil war.

            2. Wait until the Turks decide it is in their interest to suppress it.

            3. Do the hard work of convincing your population of the necessity of long term intervention. Any intervention against ISIS will effectively be a nation-building exercise, and that must require deep public support. If you can develop that support, and ISIS has shown itself a threat outside the ME, and the Turks have not intervened, then I would support intervention if there was some national interest that could be achieved.

            Personally, I prefer 2. I don’t see ISIS as a significant external threat. It’s going to breed weakness and instability and a new version of Afghanistan. Eventually Turkey will have to act.

            carl

          • Albert

            You don’t think then, that we have any kind of responsibility for creating this monster?

            I’m not sure about 2. BTW. IS is probably weaker now than it will be in the future (if left). It may become more powerful and more destabilizing to Turkey in the future, such that Turkey might not be able to intervene. Moreover, your reference to Afghanistan is interesting. Did not the West invade Afghanistan because it was a base for terrorism against the West? Thus, at the moment, your final paragraph could be viewed as incoherent.

            The thing that worries me most about intervention against IS is that evidently, intervention is precisely what they want us to do.

          • carl jacobs

            Albert

            We caused the problem by leaving. The only way to solve it is to return in force. Lack of public will was what drove withdrawal in the first place. How then do you propose we fix it? This is the question that keeps getting asked. The answers are vague because no one knows what to say after “Take military action.”

            So we play every Western leader’s favorite foreign policy game – “Virtuous Bombing.” It’s safe. It’s fun. It makes you feel good about yourself.

            carl

          • Albert

            No, we caused the problem by dismantling the infrastructure of internal Iraqi security. After that, whether we left or stayed, there was going to be violence. It was that violence that drove the lack of public will. The present situation is a direct result of America having no imperial history on which to base her policy and therefore making elementary mistakes.

            The ideal solution is that Iraqis solve it internally. According to the BBC, there are, at most 30 000 IS troops. There are 400000 Iraqi and Kurdish troops opposing them. I’ve not made a thorough study, obviously, but one thing is clear: IS took so much ground because the Iraqis ran away. But the Iraqis have been trained by the US. So that sounds like poor Iraqi leadership to me.

            These problems can be fixed. One way of fixing them is to stop the advance of IS, to show that they are not supermen. Airstrikes are clearly part of that. They restore the morale of the troops on the ground and undermine the morale of IS.

            This is where a theological grasp helps. IS clearly belongs to a strand of Islamic thought that sees the presence of God confirmed in the people who are victorious. Islam is not a religion of the cross. It was the conquests of Mohammed that brought made people Muslims. Show, on their own terms, the members of IS that God is not with them – but with the Muslims who are fighting them – and things may change. When that happens, leadership inside IS will start to fray. My guess is, that this conflict may actually turn out to be easier that people think.

            Will this work? Who knows. But it looks more likely to work that just letting the present situation – a situation we have created – carry on, and get worse.

            Happy Jack makes an important point. As a NATO ally, it may well not be possible for us to stand aside if/when Turkey acts. So if we must act, we should act now, before the job becomes harder. And why rely on Turkey anyway? Almost from its inception, Islam has been able to be a threat to the West – our generation knows that better than most.

          • Albert

            Carl, just to add, I asked whether you thought we had any responsibility. You replied, We caused the problem by leaving. That is not quite an answer. It seems evident to me that we have a responsibility (or more specifically, you Americans) because we screwed it up last time.

          • carl jacobs

            Albert

            Whether true or false, it’s irrelevant. There is no politically viable path for re-introduction of soldiers. Obama got elected in 2008. That put paid to any long term commitment. What concerns me is that we might follow a policy that demands re-introduction even though it can’t be done.

            That would be a disaster.

            csrl

          • Albert

            It’s only irrelevant if Western soldiers are needed. As I’ve argued, that is far from evident.

          • carl jacobs

            Albert

            If you side with a surrogate and the surrogate loses, you suffer the consequences of defeat. The US lost the Vietnam War. It didn’t matter that the US has long since withdrawn its forces. The side we supported was crushed by the side we fought. It was our defeat.

            If you are going to commit to fighting ISIS through an unreliable surrogate like the Iraqi Army, then you better know that push come to shove you can back up your surrogate in any way necessary to make sure he wins. Otherwise, your commitment of Aircraft will be enough to tag you with the consequences of defeat. You do not want to be seen losing a war to these people for the reasons you yourself expressed.

            So the inability to re-introduce soldiers is not irrelevant. It is a central strategic concern.

            carl

          • Albert

            Backed by the West, the 400 000 soldiers of Iraq are not going to lose to IS. They might not actually destroy IS, but they will not lose.

            In any case, the reality is that war involves risk. It involves not knowing how things will go. It involves flexibility. It involves making use of the opportunities as they come along. Your argument is a case for pacifism.

          • Isn’t Turkey in Nato?

          • carl jacobs

            Jack

            Yes. Why does that matter? Who in NATO do you think would object if Turkey moved into Syria?

            carl

          • Jack’s point was that as an alley, if their borders under came threat, NATO would be obligated to assist if Turkey encountered serious difficulties. Why wait until then?

          • carl jacobs

            Jack

            Their borders won’t be under threat. ISIS could create regional instability that Turkey might find threatening to its interests. ISIS crossing into Turkey is a fantasy. The Turks have a real army. ISIS won’t go near it.

            carl

          • Albert

            “Thank God for the French Army!”
            Winston Churchill on the appointment of Hitler as Chancellor of Germany.

          • carl jacobs

            Meaning what exactly?

          • Albert

            There you are relying on the Turkish army. Doubtless you will say that the idea of a future IS army taking on Turkey is absurd. But is it more absurd than the idea that a German army, defeated and diminished by war, serving a country impoverished by the same, would attack and defeat France within 7 years of Hitler?

            Who knows what the future holds. If IS is successful, it may draw other Muslim countries into its fold – it could undermine the populations of other countries around. Muslim states are not combating IS because it has no chance of being a threat to them, but because it does.

          • carl jacobs

            Albert

            But is it more absurd than the idea that a German army, defeated and diminished by war, serving a country impoverished by the same, would attack and defeat France within 7 years of Hitler

            Yes. In fact, it’s so absurd it borders on paranoia. Germany was a major world power that was defeated in a war. ISIS has none of the advantages that made Germany’s re-emergence possible. Like an educated populace and an industrial base. ISIS isn’t even a state. It isn’t likely to ever be a coherent state that would make it a threat to anyone.

            Sure, we don’t know the future. But we can assess the likelihood of future threats. A powerful conquering ISIS is not a high probability.

            carl

          • Albert

            Again I think you seem to claim to know much more than you can know.

            Germany was a major world power that was defeated in a war.

            You are missing the point. The comparison is not between Germany and IS, but between Germany against France and IS against her opponents in the region. Germany in 1933 had an army of 100 000 men, no tanks or armoured vehicles. That’s smaller than Belgium. It had no air force. No one would have thought it possible that Germany could recover so quickly against her enemies. As late as 1934/5 Britain was boldly proclaiming that there would be no war in Europe for 10 years.

            You haven’t the faintest idea what could happen in a few years. But an IS actually in control of a state would be a serious problem. Stopping IS getting that control looks comparatively easy.

            As a matter of interest, why do you think Obama is doing all this? Normally, nothing gets him off the golf course.

          • carl jacobs

            Albert

            I didn’t miss the point. The fact that Germany and France were peer powers is why Germany re-emerged as a threat. The size of the German military in 1933 was not as important as the industrial base that supported the military. For your comparison to work, Turkey and ISIS would have to have already been peers. ISIS is in no way a peer of Turkey. It hasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of becoming a peer of Turkey in a timeframe worth planning about. The Turks gave a good military. It’s one of the better forces in NATO.

            carl

          • carl jacobs

            Albert

            Why do I think Obama is doing this?

            1. He is a lame duck President, and they often turn to foreign affairs in the later period of the administration because they still have control.

            2. Because he is a Leftist, he is pre-disposed to see military power as an instrument of social justice instead of an instrument of national policy. It’s the “Rwanda problem.”

            carl

          • Albert

            Interesting. I don’t see killing people as a justifiable instrument of national policy, unless one is looking at defence in the face of unjust aggression. Forgive me if I misrepresent you, but I have never felt that the concept of “unjust war” has any purchase for you. Am I right? On the other hand, if national policy is restricted as I have suggested, then there is no inherent opposition between it and war as an instrument of social justice.

            I am surprised that you don’t see that we might have some responsibility to the innocent who, as a result of our own misjudgements are on the receiving end of more unjust violence.

          • Albert

            The more I think about this response, the more I think it is exactly back to front. I think that going to war is the last thing Obama wants. I think he doesn’t want to do this sort of thing, and I think that doing so is a public admission of the failure of his policy. Frankly, it’s an admission that he was naive. Last year he more or less proclaimed the end of the war on terror. Now he looks a fool. That’s how history will remember this presidency, and I expect Obama knows it. He is going ahead with this conflict, even though his personal interests are against it. His legacy is being bombed in Syria and Iraq. The reason he is doing it: he knows he cannot let this one go.

          • Isn’t Turkey in Nato?

    • CliveM

      Carl, ok let’s play devils advocate for a second. Is the overall strategy based simply on air strikes?

      1) the US was reluctant to get involved until a more inclusive Govt was in charge in Iraq. This has been achieved. So perhaps the rivalry between the Shia and Sunni factions can be more manageable.

      2) Ok no UK or US boots on the ground (except probably special forces as advisers) but the Kurds are being better armed and Iragi forces are getting air support.

      3) other Gulf states are supplying aircraft as well. A broader coalition minimise the Islamic complaint that this is simply anti Muslim.

      I don’t quite see why you feel that stopping the slaughter of minorities is not a part of the war aims. What do you think is? Or do you feel this is simply a public relations excercise? Why? I don’t see overwhelming support in the UK for this action.

      • carl jacobs

        CliveM

        I don’t see overwhelming support in the UK for this action

        That is a huge red flag. The gov’t is sending men to war and the public is at best indifferent. If something goes wrong, that public indifference is going to flare into open hostility and opposition.

        So we are going to hang this policy on the ability of Iraq to win on the ground. Does this not seem a problem to you? And what happens if Iraq loses? Do we just accept defeat in the war and say “Better luck next time.” The implications of being seen to lose this war are extreme. So we are setting ourselves up to have to introduce soldiers even as we undermine the public support necessary to send them to fight. We are saying “No soldiers” while following a policy that contains a huge risk of having to dispatch those soldiers in order to avoid a humiliating strategic defeat.

        If you want to kill ISIS, then go to Iraq and kill ISIS. Don’t use half-baked methods with a terrible risk of failure.

        carl

        • CliveM

          My point is that the govt by joining the coalition, aren’t out to make easy popularity. Regards the Iraqi army, well I have to admit my confidence isn’t great! However I do believe that the Kurdish army is deserving of some confidence. I do wonder also how IS will perform in the face of motivated and well armed opposition. It has a lot of volunteers who are neither well trained and if the stories of press ganging is true, not necessarily well motivated. It will be when things get hard that their real capabilities will be understood.
          Yes air strikes have their limitations (and you are more of an expert in this then me) but it can degrade some of IS’s capabilities with regards some if their more expensive and hard to use weaponry.

          • dannybhoy

            Many people accept that Islamic nations are held together by a dictatorship as was Yugoslavia by General Tito. Thew disparate groups are held together by often brutal power and dissent is dealt with severely.
            The West then encouraged the Arab Spring thinking that would lead to more freedom and democracy. Instead it has led to more bloody chaos, persecution and unbelievable suffering.
            You cannot encourage democratic values on a religion which believes in a theocratic submission to Allah. Democracy is alien to Islam.
            However much we may dislike the methods these dictators like Mubarak, Saddam Hussein and even Assad used, that is how their societies work. We can condemn, cajole boycott or whatever, but getting involved miltarily in a society we don’t really understand and religious schisms we understand even less is both arrogant and unwise.

          • CliveM

            I’m not sure what your argument is. We ignore and stand back, forget about the beheadings, shrug our shoulders at the crusifixtions, smile ruefully at the rapes, because IS may bring some sort of order? Whatever the truth about Sadam etc is, that is history. What is happening in Irag is happening now and these things can’t be ignored.

          • dannybhoy

            We can’t view the horror with complacency, we can try to rescue Christians and other minorities from persecution though.
            But if you don’t understand my argument Clive, take a look around at what is happening. Have we made it better or worse? Are the Iraqis happier? Is Afghanistan vastly improved, the women freer, with more opportunities for education?
            I think not.

          • CliveM

            So how do we rescue them? Where do they go?

          • dannybhoy

            We need to establish safe havens where we can protect them properly in safe regions.
            The Jewish people did it with refugees from Europe and Islamic nations. They set up absorption centres, gave them education and health care etc.
            But look Clive, just to show you how serious the situation is, our own government won’t bring in these poor Christian people to the UK even though they’re accepting all kinds of other folks from all over the world.
            Now why do you think that is?

          • CliveM

            Safe havens would require protecting. That would require the army getting. “boots on the ground” they would be a target and would inevitably get involved in fighting. Which would negate your policy of not getting involved.
            Don’t ask me to defend the Govts immigration policy!! The only thing I would say is that Iraqi Christians would rather be safe at home. Immigration isn’t the answer.

          • dannybhoy

            Clive,
            Perhaps you establish safe havens nearer safe countries like Jordan or Turkey, but still within Iraq, so that they can be supplied and maintained and protected by Western forces with the active cooperation of friendly nations.
            You get busy recording family details home towns etc -like a census. If the Western forces are acting in a humanitarian capacity there can be no complaints from anyone except IS.

            Arab national armies will have to do the fighting within the war zones, we do the protecting and running of refugee sites.
            Then we’re doing something positive. We reassure nearby nations that we are involved, but not in battle mode.
            I think something along those lines would have the backing of people at home and the world at large.
            Whilst we should be concerned for all civilians I admit that my main concern is to help the Christian minorities under persecution and other non Muslim minorities. These are the people who are bearing the brunt of this savagery, and we should be helping them.
            But for the rest of it, the internecine and religious strife, it is an Islamic matter and can only be solved within Islam. Our getting involved is similar to intervening in a row between husband and wife…

          • CliveM

            Well as I said I’m not going to defend Govt immigration policy!

            You see I think the problem with your solution is that it achieve what you appear to be advocating ie non involvement in what is essentially a religious/factional dispute.

            If we did send in army to protect the camps, it would be like moths to a flame. Within a very short period of time the area would be crawling with IS, attempting to blow up, kidnap and murder the troops. After a couple of beheadings the Govt would be left with the choice, pull out or fully engage. Neither would be palatable.

            The answer isn’t an easy one and I am not confident with our present strategy. But if we are to engage, do it fully and properly. We mustn’t let the Govt pretend to us that what it is currently doing amounts to anything serious.

          • dannybhoy

            Well my view is that we wouldn’t be aggressors, we would be defenders of minority groups. If IS wanted to attack refugee camps we would be forced to defend of course, but
            better that than get involved in a religious war we don’t understand or have any part in.

          • CliveM

            Well whatever happens I have a feeling it won’t be what any of us want and it will be the innocent that will continue to suffer. Their is a bit if me that say a plaque on all their houses!

          • dannybhoy
          • CliveM

            Thanks and edited!!

          • The Inspector General

            You don’t rescue them. You kill the persecutors. Don’t worry, God understands. As for the muslim women, worry not. They give birth to their own oppressors. It’s their problem…

          • CliveM

            That is really my point (less the Muslim women giving birth bit!!)

        • The Inspector General

          What’s wrong with you Carl. The Inspector has already explained that this is a police action, not a war. You don’t lose police actions, they just take longer to achieve.

          • CliveM

            Inspector

            I think one of the points Carl is making is it is not absolutely clear what sort of action the coalition is proposing. Is it just police action or are they out to destroy IS?

          • The Inspector General

            Don’t worry about Carl, Clive. He’ll come round. He still hasn’t got over Vietnam, you see. Thinks what Charlie managed can be easily repeated. It can not in this case.

          • CliveM

            Thing is, many of his points are valid . At the risk of appearing frivolous about the issue, have no problem with thinning out IS. However the govt seems to be muddling up the immediate ie giving the Iraqi govt and people relief from a specific threat, with an objective that is intangible in military terms ie the destruction of an ideology. It needs to sort this out and frankly half a dozen ageing a Tornadoes is not going to achieve either.

            Do it properly or not at all.

          • Perhaps its one of those situations that cannot be done “properly”. There may not be a clear conclusion to be achieved in the sense of finally defeating a terrorist matrix or the ideology that drives it. So what?
            What’s wrong with doing what is politically feasible even if it is limited because the populations of America and Britain are weary of interventions in the Middle East? If IS can be disrupted and pushed back for a time, it may be possible to establish some sort of regime in Iraq and Syria capable of bringing more order. They’ve had it all their own way for too long. If not, then options can be reassessed once elections are out of the way.
            Some situations have to be approached pragmatically. The only other alternative is to do nothing.

          • CliveM

            Actually Happy Jack I agree with what you say above. Problem is this isn’t what the govt seems to be proposing, and what it is proposing wouldn’t meet the objectives you have set out. I am for action (unlike Carl) I just don’t think we are doing it properly.

          • The Inspector General

            Clive, Carl would make a first class aide-de-camp. He’d worry about everything and let you know the slightest weakness in your plan. Whether you want him to or not. As for a commander in the field, he’d be bloody useless. Worse than useless.

          • carl jacobs

            See, this is the problem, Inspector. You are treating this like a military operation. I am treating it as a Foreign Policy problem to which military force would be applied. The questions I am asking are not military questions. They are political questions that should be answered before deployment occurs. Otherwise, you get guys in Uniform being told to “handle things” while politicians seek to cover their proverbial backsides. And who do you think catches it in the throat when things go wrong?

            carl

          • The Inspector General

            Carl, leave it to the military. The people understand that is the way it is done. How do you have a foreign policy on IS and why would you need one anyway ?
            Churchill would have told you that you commission the military for an operation and then leave well alone, politically. If it went wrong, he sacked generals, but no one sacked him. He learnt the hard way, from Gallipoli. We have it easier, we can learn from his mistakes.

          • carl jacobs

            Inspector

            You are right this about Vietnam. I have seen up close and personal what happens when a gov’t loses support for a war because it couldn’t define what it was doing.

            And, for the record, Charlie ceased to exist after Tet. There were still Viet Cong units, but they were populated with NVA regulars. Charlie got his ass handed to him. He didn’t win the war. And if you so desire I can start using the Vietnam experience to explain why this strategy looks so flawed to me. Maybe because of all those parallels with Vietnam?

            carl

          • The Inspector General

            Carl, innocent white men being beheaded in the desert by IS, and you seriously think this action is going to lose public support ?

            Those blighters will live to regret those videos…Well, live for a short time, we hope…

        • Let’s see how it goes before getting too gloomy, shall we?

      • carl jacobs

        Just to be clear, Clive

        The end of the humanitarian catastrophe should be a result of the achievement of the policy objectives that define the war. Much like the death camps in WWII. You end the death camps by winning the war. You don’t fight the war to end the death camps.

        carl

        • CliveM

          Well I still don’t see why ending a human catastrophe shouldn’t be a war aim. Understanding your point about WW2, it doesn’t really apply. The death camps weren’t in operation in 1939. All this does is make the argument that their are other valid reasons for war.
          Saying all that, I do share your uneasiness about the lack of a clearly identifiable objective.

          • carl jacobs

            Clive

            It seems to me the only motivation for this war has been an emotional response to the brutality of ISIS. The reason they have no objective is because they are driven by pictures. At the end, what Govt is supposed to be sovereign over the land controlled by ISIS? What should be done with ISIS? How do you prevent it from coming back? How do the answers to those three questions inter-relate? Has anyone asked these questions? How is the air campaign integrated into the overall strategy to defeat ISIS? Who is forming and coordinating that strategy? Who is responsible for carrying it out? Please tell me we aren’t just flying sorties looking for random targets of opportunity with no coordinated strategy whatsoever.

            Do I think this is a popularity contest? No, I think it is a bunch of politicians who want to been seen ‘doing something’ without actually doing anything that would cost. These are do-good internationalists who flinch when someone asks them to cash the check their do-good rhetoric has written. So they dig in their pockets for some spare change.

            It infuriates me to see military forces used like this. You squander capital, and create problems, and eventually there is a real war that has to be fought with real blood to be shed.

            carl

          • CliveM

            Just so I am not putting words in your mouth, if I understand it’s not that you are against military intervention here (in principle) it’s that you don’t believe that our politicians have thought this through clearly, decided on a quantifiable and achievable objectives and then resourced it adequately?

            If this is what you are saying I agree.

            Or is it that you think that the required action is beyond the capabilities of a liberal democracy (as outlined in a previous post) and therefore we shouldn’t bother?

          • carl jacobs

            Clive

            Both. I do not believe a liberal democracy will sustain this kind of operation in the face of any substantial cost. And neither does your political leadership. That’s why they are doing what they are doing. It’s the path a politician can follow that allows for easy clean disengagement if the public turns. Sending soldiers would mean they would have to face that political wrath – with the loyal opposition stoking it at every opportunity. They are trying to half-ass a solution. If it goes south, you could have ISIS victorious, the Muslim populations in the ME seeing ISIS victorious, and the Western powers refusing to fight. We should just hold a recruiting fair for the Jihad instead.

            You either do this and win, or you don’t do it and stay clean. You don’t publicly fight through a surrogate unless you know the surrogate can win, and also that you are willing to commit to make sure he wins.

            As a general rule, you never fight for an abstract moral principle. You fight for self-interest. Because only self-interest will sustain the fight.

            carl

          • CliveM

            Should it not be “our political leadership”?

            I’m not as pessimistic as yourself. As I have said previously I think their are lessons to be learnt from the Israelis. Limited but specific interventions when a threat becomes clear ( and if left alone IS will be a threat to the West) can buy the respite needed for a time.

          • carl jacobs

            Clive

            Yes, it should. I actually thought to fix that.

            carl

          • There’s nothing abstract about resisting the barbarity of IS. It seems more than appropriate to have as an objective weakening their capacity to murder and rape and to push them back. The Iraqi state has asked for help.

            It may not be a sophisticated political objective or in our immediate direct self interest. However, it is the right thing to do. We made this mess. Its incumbent on us to help clear it up.

          • carl jacobs

            Jack

            It may not be a sophisticated political objective or in our immediate self interest. So what? It is the right thing to do. We made this mess. Its incumbent on us to help clear it up

            This is exactly the kind of thinking that I want to avoid. This isn’t a law enforcement issue. This isn’t about ‘doing the right thing.’ The military isn’t a stick to be pulled out everytime some politician gets a moral itch to ‘do good.’

            And let me repeat the obvious. No one anywhere has articulated a plan to ‘clean up the mess.’ This just might have something to do with the fact that no one has defined any coherent policy objectives. Are they trying to produce failure? Because this is the way to do it.

            carl

          • This is an entirely new situation – a growing barbaric threat posed by a crazed and demented band of fundamentalist. An organised group of thugs with no state that is claiming territory and committing carnage along the way. Surely, conventional ‘rules’ of war and politics don’t apply. Jack is in favour of the bombing that has been approved and, thereafter, once the results become clear, further action can be considered.

          • Albert

            Quite. When we look back on history, we have the benefit of hindsight and so it looks like it was all clear from the beginning. But look at allied strategy in 1939. It was all worked out: wait behind the Maginot Line until allied strength was strong enough to attack Germany – i.e. until 1942. Then ask what was Churchill’s strategy for defeating Germany when he persuaded the cabinet to keep up the fight at the end of June 1940. He didn’t have one, beyond his expression of “Keep buggering on” and hoping something would turn up, sooner or later.

            Good job Carl Jacobs wasn’t running the country at the time or we would have given in.

          • Guest

            Can someone explain to me why my avatar isn’t showing? I’ve added it to the profile.

          • carl jacobs

            Albert

            Churchill didn’t have a choice. Defeat meant the existential end of England. There is no reason to engage ISIS other than as some form of International law enforcement. That is never a reason to go to war. It is in fact not lost on me that people who opposed the Second Iraq War as being self-interested are suddenly interested in fighting in Iraq over ISIS.

            The West doesn’t have to do anything about ISIS. It could safely ignore ISIS completely. The absence of threat means we can choose. If we choose to do something, then we should do it right. It’s not always true that doing what is possible is better than doing nothing.

            carl

          • Albert

            How horrible, fantastic, incredible it is, that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas-masks here, because of a quarrel in a faraway country between people of whom we know nothing…

            This idea that we have a choice over IS, like we did over whether to confront Hitler, is a fantasy. In both cases, we cannot avoid the confrontation. In both cases, we bear some responsibility. In both cases, people argue(d) against on isolationist grounds. In both cases, avoiding the confrontation made matters worse.

            I find it odd that those who supported creating the problem, cannot see the need to respond to the mess we have created. There is a clear difference between 2003 (an utterly unjust and stupid conflict, which certainly did not serve any Western national interest) and this one. We shouldn’t have gone to war in 2003 for fear of creating the present situation (among half a hundred other reasons). We sadly have to do something about it now. We are unlikely to make matters worse (unlike 2003) and we hopefully will make things much better.

          • carl jacobs

            Albert

            It’s funny. I remember people disparaging the “Saddam-Hitler” connection in the run-up to the war. “Iraq is no Germany!” They were right, of course. Comparisons between Nazi Germany and Saddam’s Iraq were fatuous. Now here you are asserting that we have no more choice about confronting ISIS than the West did about confronting Hitler. It’s just as fatuous. In fact it’s even more fatuous since Iraq was an actual nation. Here you are demanding the West confront 40,000 guys in trucks because they are a threat. They aren’t a threat to take Baghdad but they are a threat to the West. Fortunately for us, we have the vaunted Iraqi Army – which previously failed against ISIS. But now with a unity gov’t and some air support, we can trust it to carry the field because … moral …because I don’t know. That whole “Shias refusing to defend Sunnis” problem is still there but … Airstrikes! Moral!

            In 2003, there was an actual tangible threat to the US in Iraq. The war addressed that threat. This is residual fallout, but its infinitely better than the alternative. I don’t know what threshold you would have required to mitigate the nuclear threat. But the reality is this. If Saddam had gotten nuclear weapons, the whole pile of fecal matter would have been dropped right in the lap of the US. It was therefore basically our call what to do about it.

            This outcome in Iraq is trivial and insignificant compared to the possibility of a nuclear-armed Saddam Hussein acting as hegemon in that part of the world. A British gov’t circa 1890 would have understood that without any difficulty at all.

            carl.

          • Albert

            Carl,

            Here you are demanding the West confront 40,000 guys in trucks because they are a threat.

            The fact that they already control huge swathes of land, have amassed $2bn with $3m each day and are able to reach into our own countries to get more support, makes you characterisation of them as guys in trucks rather daft. But this is not the only reason we should confront them, we should confront them because we are part of the reason they exist at all.

            They aren’t a threat to take Baghdad but they are a threat to the West. Fortunately for us, we have the vaunted Iraqi Army – which previously failed against ISIS. But now with a unity gov’t and some air support, we can trust it to carry the field because … moral …because I don’t know.

            So one minute you say IS are not a threat, because they can’t even take Baghdad, the next you say we can’t rely on the Iraqi army. Can we have some consistency please? I have little confidence in the Iraqi army by themselves, but with air support, Western support and intelligence and the Kurds, things look a little different. What are you offering? A free pass from Iraq into Kuwait? There was I thinking you would probably have supported the war of 1991.

            In 2003, there was an actual tangible threat to the US in Iraq.

            Really? Scud missiles can fly to the US, can they? Precisely how was Iraq more of a threat to the US than a number of other verifiable nuclear powers?

            This outcome in Iraq is trivial and insignificant compared to the possibility of a nuclear-armed Saddam Hussein acting as hegemon in that part of the world.

            Well obviously. But there was no evidence even of Saddam having a nuclear weapons program. A non-nuclear Saddam would be far less worrying than a future nuclear IS.

          • carl jacobs

            Albert

            That was sarcasm – which I thought was obvious from the context. I have said many times I do not see ISIS as a threat to the West. A perceived victory by ISIS is entirely another matter. That would have much broader ramifications because it would be seen by a much wider audience. That is why the abrupt American withdrawal from Somalia was so destructive. It was widely perceived as defeat and gave others the fortitude to take action against us.

            No, there is nothing daft about calling them 40,000 men in trucks because that is what they are. They are a gang with Kalashnikovs. You don’t actually consider them an army do you? And that should give you pause. How did the Iraqi army not overrun them? What has changed that would suddenly give you confidence? Air power isn’t the answer because it shouldn’t have needed air power to win.

            No, Saddam couldn’t threaten the US but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t threaten US interests. That doesn’t mean he couldn’t influence the world economy because of his control over a major part of the world’s oil supply. That doesn’t mean he wouldn’t have drastically altered the Arab/Israeli conflict by neutralizing Israeli nuclear supremacy. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t crazy enough to actually start a nuclear war.

            And a nuclear armed Islamic state? It will be lucky to successfully breed goats. It’s going to recreate Afghanistan. It’s going to fracture and devolve into primitive tribalism. That isn’t a good basis for developing the infrastructure necessary to build a nuclear weapon.

            carl

          • Albert

            That was sarcasm – which I thought was obvious from the context.

            It’s becoming increasingly difficult to know what you are getting at.

            How did the Iraqi army not overrun them?

            Fear of capture, loss of leadership and doubts about the future of Iraq under the leadership of the time. When morale goes and everyone runs away, you don’t need to look for rationality.

            They are a gang with Kalashnikovs.

            Again, sarcasm, I assume. Where are you getting your information? You seem very confident you know. Are you on the ground?

            That doesn’t mean he wasn’t crazy enough to actually start a nuclear war.

            Crazy enough, I guess. Just not able.

            No, Saddam couldn’t threaten the US but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t threaten US interests.

            Well, this is what you said:

            In 2003, there was an actual tangible threat to the US in Iraq…

            Your position is quite difficult to follow.

            And while we’re about it, you don’t think that IS would represent a threat to the stability of the region and Israel?

          • carl jacobs

            Albert

            If you are having trouble understanding my position then let me summarize:

            1. ISIS isn’t a significant threat to any credible military. The fact that it has picked up some hardware here and there does not change its fundamental nature. A gang with a tank is still a gang. That is a comment about its military discipline and capability – not its possessions. The fact that the Iraqi army could not overcome ISIS speaks to problems in the Iraqi army that will not be solved by airstrikes.

            2. I don’t want to hang the reputation of the US on such a slender reed as Iraq because there is no fall-back plan if things go wrong. A new unity gov’t and the prospect of airstrikes do not overwhelm my misgivings.

            3. It would be helpful if someone would define some objectives so that a plan could be made about what the hell this bombing is supposed to accomplish. That way I wouldn’t worry about coordination of land and air forces to achieve these (mythical) objectives. Maybe it wouldn’t seem like such a half-assed solution. Maybe I could have confidence that they would fly enough sorties to actually make a difference.

            4. The US shouldn’t involve itself if it doesn’t have a national interest, and ISIS doesn’t present any national interest worthy of war. For good or ill, the political leadership in the US walked away from Iraq. I think it was a bad decision, but I didn’t win the election. “Bad things happening because we left” does not constitute a national interest.

            5. You can’t mitigate a nuclear threat after the fact except by nuclear attack. The Second Iraq War was a war of nuclear risk mitigation. It was fought to preempt all those things I listed. I don’t much care if the UN and every nation in Europe thinks the US was wrong. Neither Europe nor the UN would have shouldered the burden of dealing with the consequences of a a nuclear-armed Saddam. It was an American burden. It was an American call.

            6. The United States doesn’t need the permission of the UN or anybody else to go to war. There is in fact no nation on Earth that needs such permission. The only restriction on war is the trade-off between the benefit of victory and the consequence of defeat. If you tread on the toes of a major power, there are consequences. That is the extent of the enforce ability of “international law” regarding war between nations.

            Clear?

            carl

          • Albert

            Carl,

            Clear?

            At least it’s not sarcastic.

            The fact that the Iraqi army could not overcome ISIS speaks to problems in the Iraqi army that will not be solved by airstrikes.

            No it shows it might just take airstrikes to lend a hand.

            I don’t want to hang the reputation of the US on such a slender reed as Iraq because there is no fall-back plan if things go wrong.

            The reputation of the US has already been trashed by (a) going in unjustly and foolishly, (b) screwing up having having gone in and (c) having the most morally inert President in the history of the country ignoring the problems his predecessor created. Ignoring this problem will only make matters worse.

            It would be helpful if someone would define some objectives so that a plan could be made about what the hell this bombing is supposed to accomplish.

            You seem extremely confident that this hasn’t been done. Frankly, if the US is as amateurish as you seem to believe, then I don’t think you are in a position to complain about the Iraqis.

            The US shouldn’t involve itself if it doesn’t have a national interest, and ISIS doesn’t present any national interest worthy of war.

            Again, you seem extremely confident of this. You seem to think that if you ignore the problems they will go away.

            You can’t mitigate a nuclear threat after the fact except by nuclear attack.

            Great. So why stop at Iraq? In fact, given the absence of evidence, why start with Iraq?

            The United States doesn’t need the permission of the UN or anybody else to go to war.

            It would appear that things your government has signed up to would mean that you do. At least, that’s the opinion of Kofi Annan. I would be alarmed by your view that no legality governs war, but I have long since given up expecting moral concerns govern your thinking on the international level.

          • carl jacobs

            Albert

            I have been having fits with this blogging SW tonight. I am going to answer in a sequence of posts.

            No it shows it might just take airstrikes to lend a hand.

            An army … an actual trained army … can’t handle what in military terms is an armed mob, and you think this can be fixed by some airstrikes? You fundamentally misunderstand the profession.

          • Albert

            Well, I’ve heard senior American military men argue for airstrikes. Presumably they know what they are doing.

          • carl jacobs

            The reputation of the US has already been trashed

            You can think what you like about what happened in Iraq. The US military did not leave under the specter of defeat. I wouldn’t risk that by trusting the Iraqi army. You can go back to trashing the US now. The UK is of course free to fill the gap since it knows so much better how to do things.

          • Albert

            The US military did not leave under the specter of defeat.

            Sure, they beat the army in the field, but then failed to provide long term stability. That sounds like failure. But the trashing of America in the world is not just because of that, but because the war was wrong, the peace was poorly handled (shouldn’t you be complaining that there wasn’t a strategy for peace before the war), and then the US left matters to get worse.

            The UK is of course free to fill the gap since it knows so much better how to do things.

            No we’re not. If we try to act in opposition to the US we get hit economically. But yes, we do know much better how to do such things. Who ever heard of removing the local security forces without knowing what you were going to replace them with?

          • carl jacobs

            You seem extremely confident that this hasn’t been done.

            If there are actual existing political objectives for this war, could you do me the favor of telling me what they are? Surely they were fully developed in the debate in Parliament.

          • Albert

            I thought Dreadnaught had expressed these earlier.

          • carl jacobs

            Great. So why stop at Iraq? In fact, given the absence of evidence, why start with Iraq?

            The US attacked Iraq because of who Saddam was, and what he might do with them. I am sorry if this answer doesn’t satisfy you. It does have the benefit of being the truth. Politics doesn’t require consistency after all. Different interests will dictate different responses. That’s why the West fought with Stalin to destroy Hitler. Allow me to paraphrase:

            Great. So why stop at Hitler? In fact, given the absence of evidence, why start with Hitler?

            GWB acted on the information available to him. He could do no more. He made the right decision.

          • Albert

            Even the objectives of 2003 were confused. Was it to disarm or regime change? The claim was to do with nuclear weapons. The evidence for this was unavailable, that’s why your comparison with Hitler fails. GWB did not have the information that justified his action. He had decided to attack Iraq before (or rather without) the evidence. He made the wrong decision.

            If Saddam was such a threat, why was he not removed in 1991? Which policy was wrong?

          • carl jacobs

            It would appear that things your government has signed up to would mean that you do. At least, that’s the opinion of Kofi Annan.

            I am shocked at this opinion by a UN apparatchik. (Note: That was sarcasm.) Here is what we should do to resolve this disagreement. We should submit it to the Security Council – that being the body empowered to decide such matters. Shall we do that? Hmmm?

            Here is the reality. The major powers demanded a veto because they didn’t want anyone trying to compel the major powers to fight each other. The fact is that the UN can’t decide to clean a bathroom without US consent. That makes the US sovereign over the UN. Said body has no authority over the US except that which the US grants. The US may freely and arbitrarily withdraw such grants at will. You should read the learned articles written by earnest intellectuals on Security Council reform. They are greatly offended by this reality.

            If you want to tell me about the legality of national actions, then you must first tell me where this legal authority resides. Then you must tell me how that authority enforces its will. We both know the answer to both questions will be an awkward silence.

            carl

          • Albert

            The fact is that the UN can’t decide to clean a bathroom without US consent. That makes the US sovereign over the UN.

            I’m talking about legitimacy, and you talk merely of power. Am I not right in thinking that the real issue here is that you do not admit matters of international actions are governed by morality?

          • carl jacobs

            Albert

            Legitimacy is not the same thing as legality. Jack questioned the legality of the war, and you said:

            Does the UN not feature in legality?

            Legality assumes some temporal authority that plainly does not exist. I am talking about power because that is the way things really are. The nations are as beasts and they interact as beasts interact. That is the way it must be because that is the way men are. There isn’t going to be a rebuilding of the Tower of Babel. We should probably greatly fear it if was ever allowed to come to pass.

            Certainly there is morality in international affairs. The problem is we have very little idea what that morality should be. Scripture says almost nothing about it, and I do not trust the syntheses of morality between the nations based upon the model of anthropomorphizing nations into men. Ask a simple question or two. Is it good or bad that Scotland was incorporated into the UK? If it hadn’t been, you wouldn’t have survived the rise of Germany. Would it be better for Europe to subdivide into ever smaller countries in service to the human appetite for self-rule? At what point does it become good for people to be forcibly incorporated into a greater political whole? I don’t have any idea how to answer those questions, but I know they are real.

            You asked about Just War/Unjust War. I tend to think in terms of Prudent vs non-Prudent or Wise vs Unwise. The problem is the Just/Unjust War mechanism become very interrelated with the ideology exported with the conquest. People end up saying “Unjust war” when they mean “Unjust ideology.” Again, it comes back to when is it good for small incompetent gov’t’s to be gobbled up by greater powers. Does it matter if the greater power does it for its own glory? Certainly it was a good thing that the US occupied the entire land mass between the oceans. Otherwise the US would have dissolved into a collection of warring states. Does that mean the Indians were just collateral damage? These questions have so many unknowables that it’s almost better to try not to answer. Like the market, you just let the states negotiate their relationship on the basis of power.

            I like to rag on Canada because … well … Canada. It’s like bag asking to be punched. But it is greatly to the benefit of the US to have a friend and ally on that Northern Border. If Canada wasn’t friendly, I would wonder whether that territory should be forcibly incorporated for the security of the United States.

            carl

          • Albert

            Carl,

            I wonder how many people would share your view that there is no international law. What you mean is that, on your voluntaristic Protestant view of ethics, the idea of international law is unintelligible. But that might just be a failing of your theology.

            I am talking about power because that is the way things really are. The nations are as beasts and they interact as beasts interact. That is the way it must be because that is the way men are.

            So in the end, your voluntarism ends up not with Jesus, but with Nietzsche on a global scale. Great! Isn’t that a failure of your theology?

            The problem is we have very little idea what that morality should be.

            It is true that we do not have a complete idea of that morality, but basic principles apply: it is always wrong to do evil that good may come of it. Directly and deliberately killing the innocent is always wrong. There is a right to self-defence. Force used to protect the innocent must be proportionate etc. These are not difficult ideas and from them we can begin to uncover the moral laws which should put a block on war.

            You asked about Just War/Unjust War. I tend to think in terms of Prudent vs non-Prudent or Wise vs Unwise.

            So morality doesn’t have a governing place. What’s left you say is prudence. But prudential for whom? The strong against the weak, I assume. And we’re back to global Nietzscheanism again.

            The problem is the Just/Unjust War mechanism become very interrelated with the ideology exported with the conquest.

            That may be how the left uses it, but it is an error of reasoning to move from X is misused to X is invalid. So your argument achieves nothing.

            People end up saying “Unjust war” when they mean “Unjust ideology.”

            I don’t. Just war theory is designed precisely to present that sort of thing. It seems to me that you dislike Just War Theory because it is misused. So what? All things are misused. What that means is that we should work harder to understand how things should be.

            I think that your various questions about Scotland and the US show considerable moral confusion. I’m not sure whether the incorporation of Scotland into the UK was evil: the Government of Scotland consented to it. The US treatment of Indians was certainly evil. Nevertheless, good has come of these things. The fact that God brings good even out of evil, just shows how good God is. It does not make evil good:

            Woe to those call evil good and good evil.

          • The Second Iraq war was legally questionable and most certainly did not satisfy the criteria of a Just War.

          • carl jacobs

            Jack

            According to whom? The US is a sovereign country. It possesses in itself all the authority it needs to conduct war.

            As for “Just War” …

            carl

          • The two concepts tend to go together in a civilised nation state.
            Might isn’t right, Carl.

          • carl jacobs

            Jack

            So then what is the legal authority which condemns the Second Iraq War? You split the concepts. Not me. You said it was questionably legal. According to whom is it questionably legal?

            carl

          • Albert

            Does the UN not feature in legality? The war breached the UN’s founding charter, to which the US signed up. I know that this kind of thing runs a horse and cart through your moral voluntarism (=international moral relativism), but the US was surely bound by its own sovereignty. On your terms is any war conducted by a sovereign country illegal?

          • carl jacobs

            Albert

            No, the UN doesn’t figure in anywhere. It is not and never has been and never will be an authority over the Nations. The US senate only ratified the UN charter because this is true. The UN has no ability to bind the sovereignty of the US. The veto was controversial at the time because it essentially placed the five permanent members “above the law” so to speak. But that was the price demanded for the existence of the organization.

            For the UN to have authority, it would have to possess sovereignty. It possesses nothing. It is a creature of the nations, and it does what the powerful nations want. It enforces exactly such “law” as the powerful nations demand be enforced and only against those whom the powerful nations desire restrained. That’s reality. But its not law. So to answer your second question…

            No, the idea of an illegal war is a meaningless concept in international terms. A country could theoretically violate its own laws. But there is no lawful authority over the nations. That’s why Germans were prosecuted at Nuremburg but Russians were not. It wasn’t about law. It wasn’t about justice. It was about victory.

            carl

          • CliveM

            Safely ignore IS? No I think that is a statement to far. There are several reasons why our interests are at risk with regards IS, not the least of which is oil security. I also don’t want another safe haven for anti western terrorist camps.

          • carl jacobs

            Jack

            The only thing “new” in all this is Youtube. There is no growing threat to anyone outside of the ME. ISIS couldn’t take and hold Baghdad let alone Iraq. It is simply exploiting Sunni/Shia divisions in the country. If it was a little less brutal in its methods, the West wouldn’t even be paying attention to it. No, the only thing that has changed is the emotional reaction to stories coming out of Iraq. Those stories trigger the “war as enforcement of international law” reflex. The only truly Just War becomes the selfless war devoid of national interest.

            Jack is in favour of the bombing that has been approved and, thereafter, once the results become clear, further action can be considered.

            Yes, that is the quality of planning that is being offered. Not even a thought of the realistic options available for further action. Not a thought to how current actions may commit you to subsequent actions that are politically non-viable. Let’s just bomb them and see what happens.

            That attitude is maddening.

            carl

          • Maybe to an ex-serviceman, Carl.

            Years ago Jack read a paper entitled ‘The Science of Muddling Through’. Its premise was the future is uncertain and one has to take the first couple of steps in the direction one wants to go, then reassess options. This predated the public sector obsession with ‘strategic plans’, ‘objectives’ and ‘targets’. It worked too for centuries.

            “The only truly Just War becomes the selfless war devoid of national interest.”

            Not so sure about that as one of the premises of a Just War is defending one’s own proper interests and those of others who ask for assistance or to whom one has treaty obligations. It is right to aim for a peaceful and stable world and especially so in the powder keg of the Middle East. The West has vital interests economic in the region. Other criteria are acting proportionately, making the situation better and having a realistic chance of success. Bombing IS to curtail their advance and deplete their military capability and reduce their murderous activity, seems reasonable to Jack.

            And this is not just about Youtube. This may have created a public climate conducive to limited military intervention. It is also about the halting of murder, rape and the violent expulsion of 100,000’s of people from their homelands.

          • carl jacobs

            Jack

            There is a difference between adjusting a plan to circumstance and not planning at all. How far do you think an entrepreneur would get trying to get a business loan if his entire plan was to ‘muddle through.’

            Do you have any idea how much planning goes into an effective air campaign? Planning that is supposed to be driven by the need to achieve specific political objectives that currently don’t exist?

            carl

          • Agreed, Carl.

            The military role is to plan according to the objectives set by the Commander in Chief. Here, the short-term political objective is to disrupt IS’s capacity to advance and spread its evil.

            Politics is different to business. With the latter, there is a market and a product. Match the two and success follows. A loan is dependant on sales targets, based on market research and an assessment of cost and sales projections, known risk and collateral against the loan.

            Politics is different. National leaders are not bank managers and are called upon to act in unpredictable and uncertain environment. Filing to act because they don’t know what the future holds would be a dereliction of duty.

            Imagine the Apostles asking Jesus for an strategic plan and a tactical plan with SMART objectives, when He commissioned them to evangelise the world ! Or, the American settlers wanting the same before they moved West !

            Sometimes, you just do what you know to be right, follow your nose and see what happens, and then take the next step.

          • Albert

            If it was a little less brutal in its methods, the West wouldn’t even be paying attention to it.

            It is the brutality of the IS that means we do not want it establishing itself as a state.

            The only truly Just War becomes the selfless war devoid of national interest.

            Not true. WWII was a just war, but it was not devoid of national interest.

          • Hi Carl ,

            I don’t demure from your frustration. But, there are “realist” reasons to intervene in Iraq, at least from an American perspective. The problem is that most Americans don’t really adhere to realism as a foreign policy idea, so the language has to be obscured by humanitarian rational etc, to explain to the American public why American boys have to be put in harms way again. Britain has to do the same because the government needs liberal and labour support, which is why the argument isn’t couched in hard headed realism.

          • carl jacobs

            Hannah

            And then what happens when that idealism runs flat into the hard costs required? What happens to support for the war?

            carl

          • Hi Carl,

            I’m with you there. I’m just pointing out why the west is justifying what it’s doing to the public, rather than decisions based on realism. Of which as said above there are many.

          • dannybhoy

            Hi there Hannah!
            We have another example of our elected leaders deciding on a course of action for which there is no clear strategy, no clear objectives and no exit plan.
            It is a situation which can only be resolved within the Islamic community, and Western involvement will ultimately result in an Islamic backlash here in the UK.

          • Hi Dan,

            There are answers to all 3 of those, that people may not like them or that these decisions are being made in Washington, not London,is another issue. The UK involvement is political, as much as it is military, so the UK involvement is more to do with the American request for help from an ally and the belief of the British elite that it is still a global power via being the side car to America’s motorcycle ( Cameron et al are conveniently forgetting that recent cuts have severely limited British capacity to act in such a fashion :let’s face it a dozen ageing tornadoes isn’t going to crush IS on it’s own).

        • Phil Rowlands

          The war aim is of course that the Iraqi army will just march in to a bombed out and naturalized enemy just like the plan on the Somme in 1916.

          We will I think need to decide where the Islamic State should exist. We have no will to defeat it, but if don’t decide they might decide it is Saudi Arabia.

          Perhaps though it was Saudi all along!

    • dannybhoy

      Well said Carl.

    • DanJ0

      It seems to me that we’re trying to be part of a crowd, to encourage others more suited to the task to act.

    • Dreadnaught

      1. What is the objective? (Here is a hint “Stopping the slaughter” isn’t an objective.)
      The objective as put before Parliament was to destroy the military capability of ISIS.

      2. How does this action help achieve that objective?
      By initially disrupting the supply-line and operational capacity of ISIS.

      3. How will you know when you have achieved the objective?
      When ISIS ceases to exist; are no longer a threat to the UK and people of Iraq are able to return to their homes and resume a normal life.

      It has been outlined as a short term objective as part of a longer term commitment to divest Islam of its propensity to violent propagation of its ideology.

      Only an idiot could believe that this will be achieved in a single operation such as this is, if it is even deliverable at all. The only real and lasting change will have to come from within that religion itself. Individual western nations will have to be more realistic in the securing their own defences and commit to employing all diplomatic measures available for years to come.

      • carl jacobs

        Dreadnaught

        So you are going fight what is basically light infantry with precision weapons from strike fighters. Here’s a thought. Why don’t you try fighting that locust swarm with a shotgun. If you are going to try to achieve the objective of destroying ISIS’s military capability, it would perhaps warrant the deployment of forces that (you know) might actually have a chance of achieving the objective.

        And in point if fact, I have been talking about the political objectives that the military victory is supposed to secure. If the objective of the application of military force is to destroy the other guy’s military force, then there is still the question of why you sent military force in the first place. Someone should be able to answer that question. Military power is applied to achieve political objectives. What are those political objectives, and how will this application of force work to achieve those political objectives?

        carl

        • Dreadnaught

          Given you disclosed background you should be perfectly capable of answering all your own questions.

          • bluedog

            Carl’s questions are entirely valid.
            In particular he raises the point about the professed intention to wage war for the purpose of destroying an opponent’s military capacity. This never works. The purpose of waging war, if it is to be effective, is to take and hold territory from which a threat emanates. Only then can remedial measures be put in place that prevent recurrence of the original threat. Remedial measures include annihilating the enemy population and replacing it with your own, or for those of a sensitive disposition, re-educating the enemy population. The Allies successfully adopted the second course after the Second World War with Germany and Japan. Earlier conquerors, among whom must be listed the British Empire, have occasionally employed the first course of remedy.
            An enduring weakness of current Western policy in both Iraq and Afghanistan is an absolute refusal to employ either technique. Which is why we are where we are – back at square one with a new opponent in exactly the same location as before.

          • Be serious. White Christians will never be able to *re-educate* Islam fundamentalists. So just who would you annihilate? You want Britain to ethnically cleanse the Middle East? All Sunni Muslims? All Muslims? Who?

            Britain has been asked by the Iraqi state for assistance. It is for that state to restore order once IS military capacity is weakened.

          • bluedog

            ‘Remedial measures include annihilating the enemy population and replacing it with your own, or for those of a sensitive disposition, re-educating the vanquished enemy population.’

            Only the completely obtuse or deliberately vexatious, in short HJ channelling Dodo, could possibly interpret the first part of this sentence as a valid proscription.

          • Well, if Happy Jack misunderstood you then apologies. However, this clause “or for those of a sensitive disposition” suggested your preferred approach. Especially, as you acknowledge, re-educating the population is a non-starter.

          • bluedog

            A qualified apology is taqqiya.

          • As is an ambiguous post.

          • bluedog

            Dodo, only ambiguous to those who take quotes out of context and lack the emotional intelligence to recognise irony when they see it, or alternatively, misrepresent irony as fact.
            The Dodo cannot change its feathers.

          • The written medium is not conducive to the successful communication of irony – no facial expressions or verbal intonations, you see. And sarcasm or irony, in the context of other commenters having trivially suggested putting Islam to the Sword, at home and abroad, is open to being (mis)understood.

            And Jack did not quote you ‘out of context’. Here’s what you wrote:

            “The purpose of waging war, if it is to be effective, is to take and hold territory from which a threat emanates. Only then can remedial measures be put in place that prevent recurrence of the original threat. Remedial measures include annihilating the enemy population and replacing it with your own, or for those of a sensitive disposition, re-educating the vanquished enemy population.”

            The ironic comment, as Jack read it, was: “or for those of a sensitive disposition”, linking your two proposals and suggesting those with steel would opt for the first option; those of a weaker nature would opt for the second.

            Was this irony too:

            “An enduring weakness of current Western policy in both Iraq and Afghanistan is an absolute refusal to employ either technique.”

            Why just these two options? Neither seems destined for success. The apparent option actually being attempted is to delay and crush the murderous IS and install and support regimes, militarily and economically, that will be capable of balancing various hostile factions – tribes, ethnic and religious groupings – in ways that are seen as fair for all concerned. This has been the failure of Western intervention thus far. Mainly, in Jack’s view, because they have relied on universal suffrage and democratic elections.

            Dodo’s may not be able to change their feathers. Jack doesn’t know much about that. However, he does know that clarity of expression is important.

          • dannybhoy

            “An enduring weakness of current Western policy in both Iraq and Afghanistan is an absolute refusal to employ either technique.”

            In my view that’s because we in the West have lost our moral base, i.e. Christianity, We have replaced it with liberal democratic values (personal freedom of expression) and politically correct human rights.
            As a consequence we are continually falling between two stools.

        • Dreadnaught

          You asked for answers – I provided responses. You don’t engage but ask more questions without saying what you would do and then go on to make dumb-arsed remarks about locusts while discussing issues in which servicemen are putting their lives on the line. Considering the disparaging tone you’ve registered so far, I don’t take your contributions as in any way deserving of further response.

          • carl jacobs

            Dreadnaught

            Your responses addressed nothing I have said on this thread. Nothing. At all.

            carl

          • Dreadnaught

            And your service record is as phoney as your Creationism belief.

          • Naa-naa-nanaa- naa.
            *sticks tongue out*

          • carl jacobs

            Dreadnaught

            Why would you accuse me of lying? The questions I am asking are exactly the questions asked by military professionals. They enhance my credibility. They don’t undermine it. They have to do with why military force is employed – not how. My first reaction to your three answers was actually to reformulate your answers this way:

            Our objective in the war against Japan is to sink their Navy.

            Sinking their Navy will help us achieve this objective.

            We will know we have achieved our objective when their Navy is sunk.

            That’s a reasonably good paraphrase of your answers to me. I did not find them adequate.

            Google the “Powell Doctrine.” Try answering the Eight Questions of the Powell Doctrine in terms of this adventure. Then you will understand what I am talking about.

            carl

          • Dreadnaught

            My aspersion on your integrity I regret and withdraw. Had you given direct explanation as to why my responses you found worthless or offered your own preferred alternatives would have been more constructive given that we can only gauge a required response from direct speech. Previous contributors requests for your views you ignored.

          • carl jacobs

            Dreadnought

            Thank you for that. I genuinely appreciate it.

            carl

      • Manfarang

        A bit like the bombing of North Vietnam.That brought them to their knees didn’t it.

  • len

    If ISIS is totally destroyed the evil spirit that has infected it will
    rise again elsewhere.I realize that this is not what people want to
    hear but it is the truth.
    The problem with evil can only be
    understood properly from a Biblical perspective.Man was created
    ‘neutral’ and he could be spiritually energized and motivated from a
    loving creative source or from a source who`s sole motive is the
    glorification of ‘themselves’ and to further that are prepared to lie
    steal kill or do whatever it takes to achieve their aims.
    So when we look at people we get glimpses of the motivating power ..By their’ fruits’ we can know them.
    I know this is a very ‘black and white’ picture of humanity and only
    given as an example because most people are a mixture but both sides of’ the same coin’ can become separated and we do see this.
    It is only God(the God of the Bible) who can ultimately
    restrict evil until He eventually eliminates evil altogether but man has
    assisted the ability for evil to become more dominant in those who have
    opened the door to it.When a religion seems to give’ authority’ to those who have been indoctrinated into hate then the problem becomes an extremely serious one for all humanity.

    • cacheton

      ‘The problem with evil can only be understood properly from a Biblical perspective.’

      But what is that perspective? The theological problem of evil has not yet been sorted even in Christianity.

      Either – God made everything, therefore that would include evil (the devil), or at least the possibility for humans to do what many people call ‘evil’.

      Or – God and Evil are two separate absolutes, but this then disqualifies God from being the Universal Creator.

      Which is it?

      • dannybhoy

        If God gave some creatures (including angelic beings) the power of reason and free will, then evil is to choose not to obey Gods revealed law or not to seek God’s will in a situation not clearly covered by God’s law.
        To continue along that path is to go further away from the light and into one’s own personal darkness.
        That’s how I understand it anyway.

  • Marie1797

    Archbishop Welby:
    “It is the role of the church I serve to point beyond our imperfect
    responses and any material, national or political interest to the
    message of Jesus Christ and the justice, healing and redemption that
    he offers.”

    Well said Archbishop.
    On that note, we need to do a lot more in this country to uphold
    Christian values and vision which we have lost along the way.
    Thinking of what Giles Fraser has written in the Guardian about
    education being the inoculation against radicalism, and the boys from
    Cardiff who joined the jihadis in Syria, and all the other British
    educated young men and women who have chosen that route, it seems our
    insipid secular education has failed to inspire. Failed to instil
    proper values and vision for young people, failed to keep out the
    trojan horse plotters implanting their islamic values and visions,
    failed to protect our citizens. It’s provided us with equally
    insipid leaders who are in the main ignorant of Christianity and have
    up till now thought that other faiths equally as benign as
    Christianity.

    As usual the government have chosen the short term option of bombing IS
    now instead of spending the £100 million on education and books for
    RE lessons they’re blowing it on a few new war heads.

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2014/sep/26/loose-canon-education-can-inoculate-young-muslims-against-radicalism

    • dannybhoy

      As Christians we should be focussing on the fact the young Muslims leaving our shores to fight as Jihadists are doing so in spite of years of exposure to Christian beliefs as practiced in our Christian society.
      Many are from well to do professional Muslim families who may be third or fourth generation Muslim immigrants.
      If in spite of all their access to and influence from Christian values, they still reject Christianity and embrace a more extreme/devout form of Islam, then Justin…… we have a problem. 🙂

      • Marie1797

        Yes, Dannybhoy, but we are no longer a proper Christian society full of Christian beliefs anymore. These are poo pooed and ridiculed and one is likely to get arrested for ones Christian views in public.
        RE is no longer seen as a serious subject in schools, having been
        usurped by sex education and now explicit sex education is being given the green light for our schools, compare
        and contrast with Vladimir Putin this week talking about introducing
        engineering into Russian primary schools, what a difference.

        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2771618/Schools-minister-backs-explicit-sex-education-children-aged-11-Education-Secretary-Nicky-Morgan-gives-green-light-controversial-resource-providing-schoolchildren-information-pornography-rape.html

        • dannybhoy

          What we desperately need is a Revival! On one hand we know that God has His timetable for this world, but that doesn’t mean we are supposed to sit back and wait for events to unfold. We need to come together as Christians in our local areas and start seeking the Lord.

          • alternative_perspective

            IMHO

            “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
            Before there can be revival, we need humility, prayer, worship and ethical behaviour… then God will listen to us.
            Sadly, the modern church(es) doesn’t do humility very well, it prefers schism on points of doctrine, it rarely excepts that other traditions or schools within the universal church might (also) be correct. And as for worship… the average CoE service is dull as ditchwater (as are most RC services) and in most community and pentacostal churches I’ve been to, you’re luck to get 30 seconds of prayer and then only for personal prayer requests. As for ethics and morality……
            Judgement is coming to the church before revival.

          • dannybhoy

            I agree with all of that.

        • CliveM

          I really don’t understand why some people think Putin is a good thing just because he pretends a reverence for the Church. My son already does Design and Technology in his primary school. It’s been happening for a while. Putin is a nasty, brutal thug, who allows the murder of his own countrymen for personal political and financial gain.

          • Marie1797

            That’s what western leaders say about other leaders they don’t like, fear, or want rid of! That’s what they were saying of Assad, Saddam and Gadaffi.

          • All nasty b*stards though, Marie. It just so happens it suited the West to support them at times.

          • Marie1797

            Hmmm…. it would seem the Yanks and their Saudi and Qatari pals more so than anyone else since they came off the gold standard.

          • Deal with the devil and his wings are certain to brush against you.

          • Jack mixed his metaphors there but you’ll get what he means.
            The pursuit of Western interests without morally sound dealings with the players in the region just creates and adds to the unholy mess that exists there now.

          • There’s more to Putin than that. His conversion is an interesting account. Jack would sooner trust his Christianity than some others he could name.

  • Shadrach Fire

    Your Grace,
    It is suggested that the Government should assist in the re-definition and foundational principles of Islam.
    I don’t see why not since they have already re-defined the fundamentals of Christianity in order to meet the social requirement of the secular Christians and other heathens.
    A new type of Christianity would be appealing to many in the country in order to justify their un-biblical lives. In fact we could just do as we please since it will merely require another tweaking of scripture by Dave (I am a Christian) Cameron.

  • Marie1797

    A little info on “who is really behind ISIS”

  • Manfarang

    At war! Is there a general mobilisation? Are all the young people being conscripted?
    Is rationing being intoduced? I thought not.

    • No …. and neither didn’t happen during the Falklands War.

      • Manfarang

        At the time of the Falklands there was very much a mobilisation as anyone in Portsmouth and other military towns will tell you.A lot of young men did go to the recruiting offices only to be told they were too old. Among older people there was a wave of WW2 nostalgia.
        Who can forget the man on TV giving reports about the war.Some women even wanted to marry him.
        In Thailand at the time most people were sympathetic to Argentina as were many other countries

    • alternative_perspective

      I’m not sure I could be persuaded to fight, kill and die for this demos.
      The country that struggled against the Nazis no longer exists.

      • Manfarang

        The Scots voted Yes? Hitler planned to separate England and Scotland and reunite Ireland.

  • cacheton

    ‘as our jihadists are such a tiny minority who misinterpret the Koran and the holy texts, why does the great majority of Muslims not do more to stand up against them?’

    But you answered this yourself earlier in your article, ‘Islam has the problem of the Muslim tenet of abrogation, which holds that where there is contradiction in the Koran, the later texts outweigh the earlier.’

    This ‘tiny minority’ are not misinterpreting the Koran; the verse you quote is very clear. That is why other Muslims cannot do more to stand up against them, because to do so would be contrary to their religion!

    • alternative_perspective

      Perhaps that’s the subtext he is raising.

  • bugalugs2

    “We must demonstrate that there is a positive vision far greater and more compelling than the evil of ISIL and its global clones. Such a vision offers us and the world hope, an assurance of success in this struggle, not the endless threat of darkness.”

    It’s called Christianity, would that the C of E were as willing to live and preach it as they are to accommodate to and excuse sin.

  • CliveM

    See link, this might throw some light onto some of the discussions below:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-29423776