There can be no doubt after the Paris attacks, and the downing of the Russian airliner, that ISIL intend to kill all those who don’t believe in their horrific caliphate wherever and whenever they can. Britain can no longer dabble in this war against ISIL which was so clearly articulated by Prime Minister Hollande of France. The day in September 2013 when our Parliament voted not to strike Assad, after he killed 1500 off his people, mainly women and children with chemical weapons, was a dark day for Britain and a key factor in the rise of ISIL. It hugely diminished the UK’s ability to influence world events.
Britain can prevaricate no longer. We must use all our military, security and diplomatic means to fight and destroy ISIL in Syria, Iraq, Britain and anywhere its influence is directed. The Peshmerga of Iraqi Kurdistan have yet again shown us, with British support, that ISIL can be defeated as they retook Sinjar from ISIL.
Many claim that British air strikes in Syria and further British support to the fight on terror will make little difference, but this is commentary from people who evidently know little of warfare and certainly have no practical experience in these matters. Royal Air Force jets may be few in number, but their precision strike capabilities are the best in the world. UK Special Forces, the SAS, et al, are the best in the world and ideally suited to bring down terror networks as they so ably demonstrated from WW2 through the Malaya Emergency, the Dofar Campaign, Northern Ireland, Iraq and many other (not to be named) successes. Equally our counter terror police and the Security Services (MI5, 6 & GCHQ) are the best at seeking out terror. These are the surgical weapons which now must be fully unleashed.
We must attack them directly and comprehensively in their centres of Raqqa and Mosul in Syria and Iraq. We must disrupt their attempts at radicalising the few vulnerable and disaffected youth in this country could fall prey to their recruiting methods.
The population of this country will play a huge role in keeping the United Kingdom safe. Our collective vigilance thwarted many an IRA, Al Qaeda and other terror attacks. It is also the stoicism of the British public which is needed more than ever to hold their nerve and not to succumb to the horrifically brilliant ISIL physiological campaign.
It is time for our politicians to debate and vote for comprehensive strikes against ISIL in Syria to ensure the terror we saw in Paris does not pervade our lives for the next generation or so. The time for talking is nearly over, it is action that is now required, it is time to defend our democracy with all means even if that means not always practicing it.
With Britain fully engaged militarily, and our much respected diplomatic skills used to bring the US, the Russians, Iranians and others together to collectively and comprehensively attack and destroy ISIL, there is a chance that the many dead in France could, and should, be the beginning of the end of ISIL.
Hamish De Bretton Gordon OBE is a former commander of NATO’s CBRN Battalion.
The views of the author are not necessarily those of the W&Y.