Strike Raqqa by all means!
By D. J. Webb.
I’ve been unimpressed by Jeremy Corbyn’s floundering around and failing to make the case for staying out of a war in the Middle East. There is a serious argument to be made to that end. The man is not a self-evident clown for opposing a war in a far away country of which we know nothing. I am going to make the argument here that we could take part in an aerial bombing for two key reasons, but that we shouldn’t imagine doing so will make us safer.
After the terrorist attacks in Paris, it is hard to argue that the Islamic State does not deserve to be flattened from the air. This is about retribution, not about “making us safer”. By all means, flatten Raqqa. If possible, try to identify the military targets there, of course, but the Paris attacks do deserve a response. The second reason to take part is that France and the US are allies, and allies should come to each other’s aid when called upon to do so.
However, we should be clear that support for terrorism among our unassimilated Muslim communities is homegrown. Raqqa provides an inspiration and may even be able to offer militants in Paris and elsewhere money and weapons from their oil sales. But flattening Raqqa would still leave us with Muslim minorities seething with (unjustified) resentment. It might even leave them seeking revenge against us here in the UK. To fail to bomb Raqqa for fear of a terrorist response would be cowardice. We could take part in the Raqqa air raids if we value the relationship with France and the US sufficiently, but we should also find a way of dealing with the homegrown threat of terrorism and shouldn’t imagine flattening Raqqa accomplishes that.
Britain does not possess enough military firepower to be a serious independent force on the international stage. Yet this bombing raid appears partly designed to allow Mr Cameron to strut across the international stage and preen himself. We should be clear that this is just an air raid of retribution, and not a reorganization of the whole of Syrian culture. We must not allow Mr Cameron to see the UK sucked into a ground war. That would turn a preening exercise into something serious, with a large cost to be paid in money and lives.
If the Americans move the mission (as I suspect they will do) on to the installation of a new Syrian government via conquest, we should sit that one out. A population divided along sectarian and tribal lines has no obvious government-in-waiting, and if we had prized Syrian stability we would never have encouraged an uprising against the Assad regime in the first place. Mr Cameron’s claims of a local army of 70,000 moderates is nonsense—these include 30,000 Islamic extremists, at least, even by the UK government’s own admission, as some of the disparate “moderate” groups not affiliated to the Islamic State are in themselves extremist groups. In fact, if we want to restore stability to Syria to end the refugee flow, there is only one way: to back the Assad regime, arm Assad, bomb the “moderate” rebels as well as the Islamic State and so help Assad regain control over the country. Given that the refugee influx into Europe is not ideal, we probably should arm Assad and help him recover his position, without involving British ground troops.
The longer-term issue is that terrorism has domestic roots in immigration and multi-culturalism. If we are serious about addressing terrorism, the first thing we should do is halt immigration from Muslim countries. Even if some immigrants have valued skills, the ones from Muslim countries tend not to, and reasons of national security and national integrity demand that we halt this influx. No refugees ever. No family reunion visas for people from Muslim states. No spouses brought in from Muslim countries. We need to go cold turkey on Muslim immigration—this is far more important than bombing Raqqa, which is merely designed to make it look like something is being done, while the immigration continues.
The entire edifice of multi-culturalism should go before it is too late. It should be a criminal offence for teachers to preach multi-culturalism to their little charges. I would imprison all such teachers for attempted radicalization of schoolchildren. The fostering of a culture of grievance in ethnic-minority children is a form of “multi-cultural grooming” that has serious consequences. I would close down all the mosques in the UK: liberty depends on a common culture, and not the transplantation of foreign cultures, fully formed, to England. People would have the liberty to pray in their own ways at home, but the public sphere must be English. I would close down all the Muslim schools, or hand them over to the Church of England, and insist on a Christian assembly in all schools. I would arrest BBC governors for attempted radicalization of ethnic-minority populations via their broadcast output. It would fall under the sedition laws.
There has been too much fatuous discussion of “defying” terrorism by waving a pencil in the air after the Charlie Hebdo attacks and by “not giving the terrorists what they want by being beastly to Muslim minorities” and so forth. Let us be clear: we are not showing any defiance at all of the Islamic extremists, and only a determined reassertion of our own culture, heritage and traditions would constitute defiance. If we’re not prepared to do this, bombing Raqqa won’t achieve anything for us. What we need to do is here, at home, in England. Our response to terrorism must not be fear or appeasement, but anger—an anger strong enough to cause us to move against the presence of confrontational subcultures in Western Europe.
Finally, the future of the Western alliance needs to be called into question after the Paris bombs. France is, for now, our ally. But a France that appears determined to emerge as an Arab majority Muslim nation by the end of the century is actually a potential threat to the UK. Any alliance with European countries can only be on the basis that those countries are determined to remain culturally European. Let’s go with the French on their retribution sortie, but make it clear to them that they must stop handing out passports to Algerians and Moroccans—otherwise our foes will become a majority in Paris, and not just Raqqa, and then we will have a problem of a totally different order on our hands.