In a world of vanishingly fewer moral absolutes, one thing is certain: that ISIL are a disgrace to civilisation and must be ended.
We need to learn lessons of the past and go about defeating ISIL in a thoughtful and more balanced way, and airstrikes can, and must, only be the first step in doing that.
In order to stop the vicious cycle of bombing, war and terrorism we need support of Arab countries in building a coalition against ISIL. Without them, this is another Western intervention that will incite hatred and attacks. This involves a great deal of diplomacy and negotiation to work out a comprehensive, international, UN-backed plan to defeat ISIL. This will take time – weeks and months – but that’s what should be done. In the meantime, we can pin down the enemy with the RAF – and that’s what we shall do.
I don’t believe in a Britain that is armed to the back teeth, but while we are I believe it is our responsibility to use the military might we have in a measured and pro-active way that defeats threats to our nation.
This isn’t Iraq, it’s more Afghanistan. We aren’t going by dodgy intelligence on whether this regime is legitimate; the deaths of thousands are on their hands. This is a new enemy that has directly attacked our allies not one month ago and would gleefully do the same here on our shores. Just as when we went after the Taliban to show that attacking our civilians will not go unpunished, we should go after ISIL.
I share the scepticism about what British airstrikes will be able to achieve, and I too am worried that this will be first step in what will be a long war. But these concerns pale in comparison to the atrocities that ISIL are committing over there.
War is awful, war is abhorrent, and war should be the last resort. But, there is no talking ISIL down; there is no negotiating with them. We have to stop their threat and we have to do it in a way that truly defeats what is becoming a generational enemy.
Not supporting airstrikes on Syria does not make you a terrorist sympathiser, nor does it mean that you aren’t interested in the security of your country. This is an extremely difficult foreign policy decision and anyone saying that there is certainty in their actions is naïve at best.
But my view is that if Britain can take positive action to fight ISIL then it should.
That’s why I believe it’s the right thing to do for MPs to vote for Britain to take part in airstrikes on ISIL in Syria.