Might it be time for the US and Nato to consider some kind of international summit to consider the future of part of the Middle East? Alan Massie makes some pertinent points in his review of the military situation in both Iraq and Syria (Perspective, 3 June).
It is unpalatable, indeed sickening, to consider concessions to the barbarism of Islamic State.
Yet the point he makes about the possible emergence of a three-state solution – with Sunni areas dominated by IS, Shia areas dominated by Iran, and a separate Kurdish entity – deserves to be taken seriously. On the one hand, this could simply be seen as appeasement. But on the other it is a simple recognition that Iraq is no longer viable as either a military or political entity.
The alternative to some form of negotiated deal is an all-out offensive to destroy Islamic State once and for all. It appears that this would not be acceptable to public opinion in the West.
Why? Because people have seen the replacement, or attempted replacement, of one authoritarian regime by another in countries throughout the region.
A dictatorship based partly on secular and religious forces was replaced in Egypt by a more theocratic one, and it was replaced by the military. Is it any wonder the public appetite to send ground or air forces to defend such regimes has waned in the last decade? Even if the appetite was there, the question has to be asked about whether a military victory would have a lasting impact.
It is right to try and balance the revulsion against IS tactics with a long-term view of how the Middle East might emerge.
It is a time for realpolitik as well as compassion. It is time for the US and Nato to use all their diplomatic ingenuity to bring the warring factions together.