Article published in The Express, 3 December 2015. © Richard Kemp
THE RAF should bomb Syria without delay. We are at war with the Islamic State, a war they declared.
They have killed British citizens and intend to kill more. We must fight them relentlessly and with maximum effort.
Airstrikes alone cannot defeat an enemy that holds ground. There will have to be a major land campaign with American, British and Middle East boots in the sand.
But with effective targeting intelligence our Tornadoes can kill IS fighters and commanders with devastating precision. These will be replaced, but the intensive US drone campaign in Pakistan that decimated Al Qaeda shows what can be achieved.
Airstrikes can also destroy IS munitions and savage their economic infrastructure. Only last month in eastern Syria American tankbuster planes and ground attack gunships destroyed 116 petrol trucks that IS were using to smuggle the crude oil they depend on for funds.
To the faint hearted who say we must find a political solution my reply is that never in history has a serious insurgent or terrorist group been overcome except by severe military force.
And the suggestion that there could be negotiation with IS is contemptible naivety.
Airstrikes must be part of a wider strategy encompassing ground operations, economic warfare and the political landscape at the end of the conflict. But if we wait until everything is in place before we join the fight we will be too late, as we sit and watch IS gain momentum and support.
Denying that support is crucial. Muslims from across the Middle East, Asia and Europe are flocking to fight with IS. They do so because they see jihadists standing up victoriously to the ‘apostate’ Arab regimes and to the West. Only when IS are exposed as bloodied losers, and fighting with them a path to certain death, will this life-blood of new recruits be cut off.
Will British air strikes in Syria provoke terrorist attacks at home? Yes, because the publicity-obsessed IS will be desperate to be seen to hit back at us. But they are trying to kill us anyway. Seven attacks in the UK have been foiled by MI5 in the last 6 months alone.
We faced the same question in 1940, and our decision to stand and fight against the Nazis led to British casualties that would have been avoided had we put our hands up and allowed the Germans to roll over us. The threat from the Islamic State is of a different nature but it is every bit as serious and needs to be fought with equal ferocity and determination.