At times like this we all try to think about how we can beat those who seem intent not just on murdering innocent people but on attacking our very way of life. The bombing of the Russian plane and the terrible Paris attacks demonstrate that the policy of trying to contain ISIS isn’t working. So here’s what I would do…
1. Accept this is a war, and act accordingly.
2. Invoke Article 5 of the NATO constitution and make every effort to include Russia in a coalition of interests with a single aim – to defeat ISIS militarily. It will mean parking the issue of Assad’s future.
3. Launch a total war on ISIS targets, initially through huge bombing campaigns, but also using ground forces from as many countries as possible, especially Arab ones.
4. Next week David Cameron should introduce an emergency motion in the House of Commons, which, if passed, would give parliamentary approval for military action in Syria alongside the US and France.
5. Drive a stake through ISIS’s heart by taking Raqqa by force in a surprise strike, using thousands of special forces and paratroopers.
6. Britain and other western countries should follow Austria’s lead and ban the foreign funding of mosques. This may mean having to ban foreign funding of all religious institutions, not just mosques. Immediately follow Tunisia’s lead and shut down any mosque linked to extremism. Ban mosques from employing Imams from Saudi Arabia.
7. Theresa May should massively increase the budget of the UK Border Force and immediately recruit several thousand
new border guards. US style border checks should be introduced at key locations, but especially Calais and major airports.
8. The Prime Minister should announce an immediate 33% increase in the funding of the security services, giving them an extra billion pounds a year. This should primarily be used to increase surveillance of terror suspects.
9. Confront Saudi Arabia over its overt and covert support for ISIS and Wahabi extremism. If Saudi Arabia fails to act, impose sanctions and make arms sales to the country illegal.
10. Make London a very uncomfortable place for radical extremists and reverse its reputation as ‘Londonistan’.
11. Encourage muslim role models to go into schools and mosques to launch a ‘hearts and minds’ campaign and explain to muslim teenagers why extremism is wrong.
12. Confront head on the myth that western foreign policy and the invasion of Iraq led to the rise of ISIS.
13. Encourage the EU to abandon Schengen and lead moves to reimpose border controls between each EU country.
14. Build refugee camps along the North African coast. Handle asylum application within the camps. Impose high profile EU coordinated naval patrol along the North African coast and turn back the boats.
15. Develop comprehensive plan to deal with Syrian refugees who arrive from Turkey.
16. Develop a Marshall Plan to enable Syria to rebuild following the end of the conflict, and identify other countries which need a similar plan in order to persuade their citizens not to flee, and in the long term designed to persuade them to return.
I realise this is just scratching at the surface in some ways, but we have to recognise that the terms of the debate have changed. Talk of containing ISIS will no longer wash. They and their unique brand of evil needs to be confronted.
In the 1930s we had, in the end, to recognise that the only way to beat Hitler was to stand up to him. We are in a similar position now. You can’t sit down and talk to these people. No amount of appeasement will work. Difficult decisions must now be taken in the full recognition that the world order has changed and that further loss of life will inevitably happen.
Time will tell if the British people have the stomach for the fight or if we have the politicians who have the courage to impose the measures needed if we are to pull through.
In writing this, I also recognise I will be called a lot of things, no doubt primarily ‘warmonger’. I’ve said right from the start that ISIS need to be taken on and we are at war so at least I am consistent in that. Let’s have the debate and recognise that although there will be differences of view, the debate can at least be conducted in a civil manner.
At least in this country we can still have an open debate, unlike in areas controlled by ISIS. Those who disagree with me will have to explain how they would protect the very freedoms that ISIS is seeking to take away from us.