Ed West

Now that Iraq really is threatened by jihadists, should we intervene?

Now that Iraq really is threatened by jihadists, should we intervene?
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The war on terror has gone not necessarily to our advantage. For the second time in a dozen years the land of Abraham has been invaded by a partly-British army, although this time it is composed not of regular soldiers but of bearded lunatics from Crawley.

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, an Islamist offshoot so extreme that even al-Qaeda thinks they’ve taken things a bit too far, now controls a huge swathe of Syria and Iraq, roughly in the region of 40,000 square miles, or 4.0 Wales on the International Wales Scale. That makes Sunnistan larger than an independent Scotland and with a great deal more oil.

The failure of the Americans to nation-build was epitomised by the fact that a US-trained Iraqi army of 30,000 fled from just 800 ISIS militants in Mosul. Defeatist armies tend to reflect a society with low levels of cohesion and conversely high levels of clannishness and corruption, problems which mar the artificial states created by the French and British after the fall of the Turkish Empire. (An interesting theory of why nation-building in the Middle East doesn’t work was provided by Steve Sailer’s ‘Cousin Marriage Conundrum’ before the US invasion.)

Two months after that article appeared the Coalition went ahead and invaded Iraq; and never has a war been prosecuted and, without actually being lost, all its objectives being not just not achieved but actually reversed. It’s almost like we started a war with Imperial Germany in 1914 and ended up with Nazi Germany in 1918. I feel for the families of those who were killed in that doomed expedition, but most of all I feel for the poor people of Iraq, who have endured so much and have more suffering ahead of them.

For the situation now is extremely alarming, not just for the Iraqis but for the wider region. If ISIS attacks Kirkuk it could bring about all-out war with the Iraqi Kurds, with the implications that has for the wider Kurdish region. Iran is bound to feel a need to intervene; and as ISIS has taken hostage 76 Turkish citizens, Turkey, and by extension NATO, may feel the right to act. The Iraqi government has already called for American drone support, but any politician in Britain who suggests this great idea of ‘liberating Iraq’ [cue Dr Evil air quotes] is likely to have one or two hurdles persuading the public.

Ironically, unlike in 2003, Iraq really is now threatened by dangerous extremists with links to the 9/11 perpetrators and who pose a risk to the region. But as a wise man once said, ‘fool me once, shame on – shame on you. Fool me – you can't get fooled again’.