Leaders: Air strikes against IS must get go-ahead

THE UK is already a target of IS terrorist attacks. But co-ordinated action is needed

French Rafale fighter aircraft are currently deployed in strikes against IS in Syria. PIcture: AFP/Getty Images

We need to be absolutely clear about the short-term effect of Britain stepping up its military action against IS and begin bombing in Syria: it is likely to increase the risk of a terrorist attack in Britain. But that does not mean we should not do it.

Prime Minister David Cameron, when he urged MPs to back UK air strikes, said such an action would “make us safer”. But he added the vital rider that that would happen in time.

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The hard fact is that as a country we are already at risk from IS, and have been for some time. It is reported there have been seven planned attacks in the UK thwarted in the past year.

Of course another hard fact is that air strikes alone on Syria will not eradicate the threat posed by IS. It is already under fire in Syria from the air forces of France, Russia and the US among others and the British addition to that will likely not be decisive.

And air attacks alone will never win a war. For that to happen the enemy’s territory has to be occupied and at present all the west’s hopes in Syria lie with those occupying boots on the ground belonging to the Free Syrian Army. To any observer it is obvious that the Free Syrian Army are a long way from winning the civil war even with years of western airstrikes.

But while Britain joining in the bombing in Syria will probably increase the likelihood of a terrorist attack, the greater danger lies in doing nothing.

Although airstrikes will not eradicate IS or all Islamic extremists, there will always be someone willing to attack, it will degrade the death cult. When boots on the ground do eventually take back the ground currently belonging to IS, it will severely curtail IS activities, leaving them no place to train and no rallying point for extremists around the globe, but it will still not completely eradicate that threat.

But it will significantly lower it, and the longer it is before that happens the more likely a terror attack on this country is. Speed is really of the essence here and if we do want to lower the risk the we really have to ask if pinning our hopes on the Free Syrian Army is the way to go.

A quicker and more certain route would be for the boots on the ground to be those of a multi-national force which would have to include troops from some Islamic nations. That force should also have UN backing specifically for such military intervention.

And if we are to depend on such unity among the disparate nations that are ranged against IS, it would seem sensible as a starting point that we as a nation begin with some sense of unity. But with Labour hopelessly divided on the subject it seems that is a long way off. In a somewhat odd series of events, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn waited until the debate in parliament was over before making his views known in a letter to MPs setting out why he was against airstrikes in Syria, a position that puts him at odds with many of his front bench.

Mr Corbyn said that one of the reasons why he would not back the strikes was the prime minister “not setting out a coherent strategy, coordinated through the UN for the defeat of IS”. That is true, but he has the beginnings of a strategy and a willingness to act, and at least understands the reality which is that doing nothing increases the risk to this country, and the longer nothing is done the greater the risk.

Get out and enjoy Black Friday

Today is Black Friday, that US-inspired import which has led to a number of our citizens being involved in near riots as they battle it out grabbing bargains in a shopping frenzy not seen since, well, the January sales of years long past when “the sales” were a national institution.

Even our august cops this week issued a warning that Scots misbehaving at retail outlets today would be rounded up, and could be charged and reported to the Procurator Fiscal.

Americans, it would appear, have a lot to answer for. Our old-fashioned Hallowe’en has now been turned into a decorating frenzy with pumpkins on every “porch” and children “trick or treating” as guising takes a tumble.

But, while there is understandably a degree of cynicism about Black Friday being another import which sits ill with us, actually, having a spending spree in the shops (and online) today is no bad thing. We get what we think are bargains, whether it be lap tops or the latest trainers and by doing so spur on Christmas spending.

Ever heard that expression “spending our way out a recession”?

Well if ever there was a time to get cracking, it is Black Friday.

Rather that set our faces against it as another made-up opportunity for big business to part us from our hard-earned cash, we should see the opportunity.

Retailers are desperate for our business and a quick start to the Christmas shopping season so we shoud not disappoint them. The retail sector has been badly hit as consumers tighten their belts. So why not welcome this American innovation both for fun and doing our bit for the economy?

We should embrace Black Friday and enjoy it. And make a start on the Christmas shopping.