Jeremy Corbyn is the only leader who speaks the truth without a hidden agenda, and I hope very much that he will be able to persuade his MP's to vote against the bombing of ISIL in Syria. He is the one hope in a fearfully dangerous scenario. I hope he will not be brow-beaten by his opponents who have the hidden agenda of using the present crisis to try and unseat him.
Obama, Cameron and Hollande know that it is not true to say that this bombing will keep the terrorists from the streets of Europe. Paris proves this, and the attack on the Russian plane. A Moslem Community leader, who is working to persuade young men not to be Islamised, said on BBC News at Ten last night that it will make his work more and more difficult. The streets of London will be more dangerous, not less.
There is deliberate (I have to say this because we are talking about intelligent people) confusion. Hilary Benn told us on News at Ten that it is essential to attack ISIL. Most of us would agree. But attacking Syria is not the motion. The motion is to bomb ISIL, a more specific action. And one that most strategists say will be ineffective because ISIL is a global movement, and Syria but a small part of it. It is also well-known that ISIL leaders shelter around hospitals and schools for protection, so it is almost impossible to pick them out. Everyone recognises this, and I am sure Cameron does too, so why does he suggest bombing will achieve the objective of destroying ISIL.
The reason is that if he does not stand by President Hollande he and other European leaders will not grant the concessions Cameron needs to win the referendum. It is an example of a secondary agenda making bad policy.
Similarly, Angela Merkel's extraordinary calls for refugees to come to Germany in unlimited numbers, even though everyone predicted terrorists would enter under their cloak, is because she too has a secondary agenda:
a) she needs more low-wage workers.
b) she knows most will move on from Germany.
c) she knows it is impossible to stop the flow of refugees at the borders and understands the Moslem doctrine of a debt of honour; hence it is her way of keeping Germany free of terrorist attack.
It seems to me that Jeremy, in the next debate, should make the point that the vote should not be either-or to bomb Syria. Britain's expertise is strategy, that is how we won the last war. The bravery and heroism of our Forces, certainly, but backed up by Military command, codebreakers, inventions and very good strategic planning. This is what we are good at. And that is what is needed now. Everyone agrees that the interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan lacked strategic planning, both during and after the campaigns.
There is no evidence of strategic planning for Syria. President Hollande announced that France would retaliate. This was the thinking of President Bush, and it is entirely understandable, and a very natural emotional response, but in these matters it is more sensible to be driven by the head; and ask, 'Retaliate, how?'
What I hope Jeremy will be able to do is propose an amendment, since nothing will be lost by delay in a confrontation that has already lasted 12 years (since the invasion of Iraq), and propose that Britain uses its prestige to gather allies to a Conference of nations affected by Islamic extremism, including Russia and perhaps China (whose African interests are threatened); a major Conference of politicians, the best military advisers, theologians and a historian like Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith to discuss these questions:
1. What is the nature of Islamic extremism; what motivates it?
2. What is the right strategy to defeat it?
The first question is fundamental because on it depends the answer to the second. In his autobiography Blair famously more or less admitted that he knew little about Islam when he decided Iraq should be invaded. I recall Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who knew more about Islam in his little finger saying, 'If we invade Iraq we do not know where it will end'. It is totally different to fighting Nazism or Fascism or the IRA. ISIL is a religious movement: attack it and you get martyrs and more to join the cause.
In a fact the world has been here before, that is why history helps us understand. Hilary Benn spoke of crucifixions and beheadings. Familiar stuff - the world has seen it before. ISIL are driven by the same theological ideology that led the Islamists, after the death of Mohammed, to sweep with breathtaking speed across much of Western Asia, North Africa and the Byzantine Empire, eventually taking Spain, half of France and Italy. The dilemma faced by Kings of Europe then and Pope Urban II was exactly the same as leaders face today. And I think they gave it more serious thought.