Tony Blair, the UK’s former chief warmonger, has called for “boots on the ground” in the fight against IS. Almost immediately the US launched missile and airstrikes against targets in Syria and Iraq, having informed Syria’s dictator that the airstrikes were coming. 47 tomahawk cruise missiles were launched from ships, each missile costs $1.59 million. That’s $74.3 million! Such is the perceived threat posed by the terrorist group. There is no data on which other missiles and bombs were used, however I did see a video of an airstrike of a “vehicle staging area” which was hit by multiple strikes at once. The strikes were in a regular pattern which would suggest that cluster bombs were being used. But then neither the USA or Syria have ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions so that’s alright then. The legacy of these airstrikes will persist for the civilian population for years to come, but I’m sure that that they would consider the loss of their children’s’ limbs as a small price to pay for ending the tyranny of IS and replacing it with a more benign tyranny.
The reason why the war criminal Blair is calling for ground troops to be used is because of the nature of IS. They are relatively lightly armed and are highly mobile. They learned their trade fighting against the USA after the illegal invasion of Iraq by Dubbya and his British poodle Blair. They are used to fighting against an enemy with superior fire power and complete control of the skies. So they disperse their forces, hide them from view. In the words of Mao Zedong who stated, “The guerrilla must move amongst the people as a fish swims in the sea”, they merge with and blend into the civilian population which means that there will always be “collateral damage” due to these airstrikes no matter how precise the munitions are. In short, airstrikes are not going to be very effective and they will not lead to the destruction of IS, so ground troops will be required if the job is to be completed.
The only question is where these ground troops are going to come from? Iraq? it would take at least a year before the Iraqi armed forces would be capable of fighting IS, but they would probably be able to hold a northern front with US air support. The Kurds? They would be able to make limited gains against IS from the west, but they could not venture far from their semi-autonomous areas as their supply lines would be stretched too much. Jordan? They are already involved in the airstrikes and as such they will no doubt suffer the wrath of IS for doing so, but they would probably be able to squeeze IS from the east. Turkey? They would be able to make significant gains against IS, but they are members of NATO so any incursions into Syria would be fiercely resisted by Russia, they will probably hold their southern border. So it would appear that a containment exercise is in progress. But containing and defeating are two different things.
In order to defeat IS there would have to be troops sent into Syria itself, or the forces which are already present in Syria would have to be bolstered and used as proxy forces. Does this mean that the Syrian regime will be used? That’s unlikely because it is so unpalatable, but it wouldn’t be the first time that the West has snuggled up to a dictator out of expediency. It would be more likely that some other, less unsavoury, group would be armed and trained then used as proxy forces. Just like the US did with the mujahedeen in Afghanistan when the Soviets invaded all those years ago. Who ever is used will need to have some kind of US and/or UK troops embedded with them in order to direct the airstrikes. Which would probably mean that our troops will be on the ground, if they are not there already. But given the sensitivities of despatching NATO troops into Syria they will consist of small teams of special forces.
What has this got to do with Scotland? Everything and nothing. The timing of these airstrikes, coming almost straight after the referendum result, suggests to me that the US was waiting for the result before going ahead. They needed to be sure that they could get the UK on side before they started, a Yes vote would have prevented that. But now that the unionists have won they can ride a surge in English nationalism and get a vote passed in Westminster on more engagement in the Middle East. The UK government will be engaging itself in another war in our name, this will probably happen on Friday. So we must congratulate the No voters for getting us pulled into another war in the Middle East. This one will be so much more confused and it will have so much more potential to badly wrong than Iraq or Afghanistan combined. Let us hope that it doesn’t.