192015Nov

Britain must act against terror but in what way?

My latest column in the Wiltshire Gazette & Herald, “Britain must act against terror but in what way?”
Michelle Donelan's column in the Gazette & Herald 19 Nov 15
The weekend’s tragic events in Paris brought into sharp focus what the Prime Minister has called the ‘Evil Death Cult’. Da’esh.

We have not yet got to grips with what we should call these wicked murderers who kill so indiscriminately; there is (so called) Islamic State, ISIL, ISIS and Da’esh. But whatever we call them, we can all agree that they are utterly barbaric and evil.

As well as last week’s attacks in Paris, we have seen Da’esh backed terrorism in Belgium, Denmark, Lebanon, Turkey and Kuwait as well as the ongoing, devastating violence in Syria and Iraq. Earlier this year, 30 British holidaymakers were killed on the beach in Tunisia and it has just been confirmed that the Russian plane that crashed in the Sinai desert earlier this month was brought down by a bomb. The threat is real and cannot be understated.

In response to the attacks, the UK is set to double the funding to fight cybercrime to £1.9bn a year. This will protect against hackers gaining control of the nation’s electricity supply, air traffic control systems or hospitals. The government has also announced more funding for the SAS and other specialist units, as well as an extra 1,900 security and intelligence officers at MI5, MI6 and GCHQ. Although the overall terrorist threat has not increased, it remains severe, which means that a terrorist threat is ‘highly likely’ and, as a result, security has been intensified at events in cities and at the UK’s borders.

Since Friday my inbox has been filled with suggestions of how to deal with the global terror threat that Da’esh pose. A popular suggestion is bombing the organisation into oblivion; but I am yet to be convinced that bombing alone will deal with the complex, well-organised and well-funded terror gangs.

Similarly popular is to reject all action in the hope that they will leave us alone. Given their stated goal is to create a far broader Islamic caliphate, coupled with the fact that they hate our ‘western’ way of life, this is a very dangerous tactic. Theirs is a poisonous ideology. They hate us; they hate our history, our identity and our values. Doing nothing is not an option.

Some have suggested that we engage in diplomatic talks with the butchers’ barbaric ‘leadership’. I think that this will be almost impossible given the complexity of the situation and the barbarism of the regime. Where would such talks start and where would they end?

One common suggestion is that the world could prevent the deaths of innocent civilians by closing Europe’s borders to refugees. I believe that this argument is greatly undermined by the fact it would almost certainly condemn untold numbers of innocents to death.

The defeating of Da’esh will be very complicated. It will almost certainly be time-consuming, very expensive, probably involve grubby compromises with unsavoury individuals who we would rather not deal with at all, but defeating this evil organisation is absolutely vital.

Let’s make no mistake, these people openly want to destroy us. I do not believe that any military option should be off the table, but if and when Parliament is asked to vote on military action I will approach any decision of such gravity with the deep thought and respect that it deserves.

We must never be intimidated by terrorists. We must never allow these murderers to achieve their vile aims. I am convinced that one day we will win the fight against such evil; but we won’t win the fight if we don’t act.