Allowing parents to seize their children's passports to stop them going to fight in Syria is all very well, but we also need a proper military plan for defeating Islamic State
By Con Coughlin, Defence Editor
Telegraph Online – 20 July 2015
David Cameron has set out a wide range of measures for combating the growing threat posed by Islamist radicalisation. These include allowing parents to cancel their children's passports if they suspect they are planning to travel to Syria or Iraq, as well as setting out plans to tackle segregation in the UK. But to my mind there is one vital element missing from this otherwise commendable plan for tackling the appeal of Islamist extremism: a comprehensive military strategy for defeating Islamic State (Isil) in its Syrian and Iraqi heartlands.
Over the weekend a series of prominent military thinkers – from Lord Richards of Herstmonceux to Julian Lewis, the new head of the Defence Select Committee – were highly critical of the Government's failure to devise a coherent military strategy for tackling Isil. Lord Richards, until recently the head of Britain's Armed Forces, said Britain needed to get on a proper "war footing" if we were to stand any serious chance of defeating Isil. Mr Lewis, meanwhile, accused the Government of making up its Syria policy "on the hoof".
I have been making the same argument for most of the past year, accusing Whitehall of nothing more than "tokenism" when it comes to tackling Isil.
The main reason for Mr Cameron's hesitancy over the military element of the campaign against Isil is the disastrous Syria vote two years ago, where the Commons voted against taking military action in Syria. But what everybody seems to forget – including most of the Left-wing commentators who are complaining about British pilots taking part in American bombing raids in Syria - was that the 2013 Commons vote was about bombing the Assad regime, not Isil, which is an entirely different matter altogether.
I can understand it might prove embarrassing for the Prime Minister to acknowledge that, instead of bombing Assad, he now wants to bomb Isil (who themselves are trying to overthrow the Assad regime). But the challenge posed by Isil is simply too important to get bogged down by petty political points-scoring. What we need is a properly thought through military plan for defeating Isil. And what's more, we need it now.