Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 19 June 2014


I have no doubt that we should not have gone into Iraq in 2003. We were told that they possessed weapons of mass destruction and they did not. However, it is quite likely that even if we had not intervened, the Arab Spring would by now have created instability and possibly even civil war within that fragile sectarian country.

On the other hand, we had little choice but to go into Afghanistan given that the Taliban regime both harboured and encouraged the group of Islamist terrorists who planned and executed the attack on the twin towers in 2001 in which over 3,000 people died.

Sometimes it is right to intervene militarily to protect our national interests, sometimes it is not.

I recognise that, largely as a result of our Iraq and Afghanistan experience in the past 10 years there is no appetite in the UK or USA to intervene militarily in the Middle East again. This is why we did not get involved in the Syrian conflict, a decision reached after a knife-edge Commons vote last year.

I completely understand why people in this country do not want us to get involved.  The situation is complex, we were wrongly taken to war by a former Prime Minister and too many of our fine men and women were killed for little obvious benefit.

However, two wrongs do not make a right. It might have been wrong to go in in 2003, but it might well be wrong to turn the other cheek now. It might well be right for the West to take a stand in Iraq once again to prevent the lunatic, brutal and very dangerous Jihadists known as the ISIS from taking over that country.

It remains a complex situation and it may be more about tribalism and terrorism than religion. But can we really stand by and watch this group of highly motivated well-resourced Sunni Islamists realise their dream of setting up a barbaric Caliphate stretching from the Mediterranean to the Gulf? Wouldn't such a regime not just destabilise that entire volcanic regime but also be a base to launch terrorist attack after attack upon the West?

It is a painful thing to have to consider military action of any kind. Perhaps the Iraqi security forces will surprise us all and repel these insurgents. But sometimes we have to see the bigger picture and recognise the consequences if we do not act.  We must remain vigilant.

posted by Gary @ 10:21