How to take out Daesh?

christopher_lee180-1120 July. London. Why has it taken David Cameron five years to come up with what Downing Street briefers call ‘a strategy’ to defeat the ambitions of Daesh, IS, ISIL or whatever we are to call the bloodied builders of a new caliphate?
Why has it taken five years for Cameron & Co to believe SIS and Security Service assessments of the ambitions of Daesh and the consequences of that frenzy in British society and close by?
Why does Cameron begin his outline of strategy by identifying a British Muslim Community?
During that five years the Cameron-Clegg coalition hacked at and in some areas beheaded the military system with which Britain would need to contribute to an international effort to contain then destroy Daesh.

Today, as the PM makes his grandstand declaration of war, his Treasury-led defence policy is at the heart of yet another Strategic Defence & Security Review.

The immediate past Chief of the Defence Staff General Lord Richards of Herstmonceux said yesterday (19 July) that the UK has to plan to put troops and tanks on the ground if it is to succeed in defeating Daesh.
So, we have a Prime MInister who at last believes the Daesh/IS threat is strong enough to threaten not only the British sunbathers of Tunisia but the very shopping malls to which the survivors returned.

Cameron could argue that the extreme threat is a relatively new conundrum and that in 2010 when the political coalition came about, the IS was in its infancy.

A threat from a Middle East Islamic-inspired ideology was however very clear. The Undergroound and bus bombings in London in 2005 demonstrated that.

The Intelligence services including the Metropolitan Police Counter-Terrorism command were stretched almost to breaking point thus telling us that the threat was real. Moreover, many of the successes began with information given to the Met and MI5 by Muslims themselves.

Cameron’s talk today of a Muslim Community further demonstrates either a clumsy presentation of his new policy or a complete misunderstanding of people he wishes to have on board in anti-terrorism campaigns. There is no such group as The Muslim Community. Can you imagine Cameron talking about the Conservitive Community in the UK? One of his dozens of young thrusters a.k.a. special advisers could have explained that publicly stating that Muslims are separate people is not the way to launch his grand strategy.

Furthermore, it is apparent from Cameron’s text and recent statements from the Home Secretary Mrs May that the government is yet to grasp the commonest form of radicalisation.

The following is a reasonable model to follow: the most disatisfied with his or her lot is likely to be the third generation that understands that when grandparents and maybe parents arrived in Britain they were sympathetically received and either through an instinct of obligation or even a fact of non-option they are content with their lives in the UK.

But the third generation has no similar sense of history and change of identity. That generation contains those likely to sense the British suspects them of being radicals just by looking at them. They feel their roots more keenly and with that comes the need of an identity check that says they are not British but, say, Kuwaiti or whatever. They are not a member of what Cameron calls the Muslim Community.  MI5 always knew that.

And what of General Richards’ point that British forces should be lining up to take on Daesh?

Question: lining up with whom? This is asymmetric warfare. We need from the general a wiring diagram of forces he believes necessary to take on Daesh across the Middle East, Saharan North Arica and Afghanistan (where IS has Taliban on the run).

The UK military cannot provide that force and most certsanly cannot sustain the numbers it has on any operation such as he envisages. Therefore the general (perhaps the best of his generation) must tell us who will form a coalition of the willing from Western Europe and Gulf states and who will design and agree the second wiring diagram of command and control.  Then comes the all important Terms of Reference and finally the clear objective – each battle won has to have something to put in the place of the void thus crerated.

Cameron has to realise that to get anywhere near the idea of going on a war footing as the general suggests then any government has to plan long beyond the 5-year Plan.  Incidentally, 5-Year Plans were the failures of old Communist regimes and were simply replaced with new and equally failing 5-year plans.

In short, if Cameron’s speech today is to have any meaning, he has to delay the autumn SDSR, consider a more specific and perhaps subsidary foreign policy document that identifes how he intends to battle Daesh and what he thinks will replace the void Daesh would leave among ther disatisfied.  All this done, he can then go to the miliatry and ask them how they could back up this policy.

Past record of the five year Cameron watch, suggests that little has been learned from experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Cameron would do well to make sure he can tell all what he intends Britain to do, how his political and military resources would execute his policy, for how long it could be sustained, who else would come on board, who would run it and assuming bit by bit success how would the people of the great Muslim countries understand that the UK (Cameron will be long gone by the time this operation is in its stride) is getting into this on such a grand scale and not simply as yet another knee-jerk to a terrible afternoon on a Tunisian beach.

 

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