Would military action mean the UK would be subject to more terrorist attacks?


November 27, 2015 by Paul Goldsmith


The West would be the subject of terrorist attacks from ISIS whether or not they get involved in Syria. So it is NOT a reason not to go ahead. 

In the Autumn of 1993, just after Yasir Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin had shaken hands on the White House Lawn signalling the clear possibility of peace between Israel and Palestine, whilst US Foreign policy consisted of nothing more than trying to help Bosnian Muslims not be ethnically cleansed by Serbs, the World Trade Center was bombed for the first time and on my university campus in Leeds, speakers from Hizbut Tahrir (the forerunner of Al-Muhajiroun, Islam4UK and the other now proscribed groups), were standing outside the student union telling us all about the impending creation of “Khalifah”, the Islamic State.

I tell you this because when considering the threat that getting involved in Syria will make Britain more likely to become a target for terrorist attack we need to confront a reality. We ARE a target for terrorist attack, and as long as so-called Islamic State exists, we will always be a target for terrorist attack. Jeremy Corbyn said in his letter to MPs that an attack on ISIS in Syria wouldn’t protect our security but the truth is that NOT attacking ISIS in Syria won’t protect our security either. Part of their openly stated ideology is to create hatred between Western civilisations and Muslims to fuel their holy war and their modus operandi for doing that is the use of terrorist attacks. Using the threat of terrorist attack from ISIS as a reason not to attack them in Syria is like the boy at my old school who said that if I put him in detention he would ‘wait for me outside school that night’. It just made me even more sure I was right to put him in detention, and threats that ISIS will launch terrorist attacks if we get involved in Syria should remind us that we are right to want to obliterate them.

There ARE legitimate arguments against military action. There MUST be a plan for the aftermath. A proper plan, including a massive amount of money and people to ensure the civil institutions keep running, and an alternative government is in place. Don’t forget that many of the leaders of ISIS are former leaders of Saddam Hussein’s Baath party who were removed in 2003 without a plan for who would replace them. At the moment, the plan is to keep Assad in place so this is irrelevant. But that’s not the issue I am talking about here. I am talking specifically about the threat of terrorist attacks on the UK increasing if we get involved in military action in Syria.

Some argue that air strikes on Syria will kill civilians. Thus allowing ISIS to claim we are targeting all Muslims. I have little doubt that ISIS fighters would happily strap a two year old girl to their chests whilst firing a rocket just to make this happen. But we have been involved in airstrikes in Iraq and these seem to have been targeted well enough. Again though, whether or not there are civilian casualties, the threat from ISIS to us on British soil is real. As long as the Caliphate exists, it is a clarion call for Islamic Radicals to go and fight and then spread terror to maintain the motivation for other countries to alienate their own Muslim communities. Without the Caliphate, we will actually be safer.

The key question is to ask yourself is this: If the Israel Palestine issue was solved, if there had never been an invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, if the ‘War on Terror’ had never happened,if there was peace throughout the world between Muslims and the a West, would ISIS still want to launch terrorist attacks on UK soil?

Any understanding of their aim and raisin d’etre, and a thought to what students outside Leeds University were hearing in 1993, would elicit the answer of yes, they would.

4 thoughts on “Would military action mean the UK would be subject to more terrorist attacks?

  1. swiveleyed says:

    Wrong argument. We should be asking what we are going to add when 11 other countries are already bombing Syria. Our effect will be minimal and what we are achieving in terms of protecting us is minimal. Others ae already doing it.

    We are offering our airbases for our allies to use against Syria, providing some of the bombs they are dropping, sending intelligence, using our UAVs for surveillance, and we are in Iraq. Its not like we have our thumbs up our backsides.

    Funnel the immense amount of cash this bombing campaign will cost into security services here and root out ISIS members on our soil. That is the threat to us right now.


    • You are right in part. Yes, we could just leave it to the other countries. But then if we do that, what happens when we are attacked? Sorry to be a bit reductio ad absurdum about this, but it ends up being a bit like saying that the Americans shouldn’t have joined in the Second World War as there were plenty of countries fighting against the Germans. But, as you say, we are already doing plenty, so do we need to do any more.
      Then you think we should be using the money to root out people here. I believe that as long as the caliphate exists in Syria and Iraq there will be extremists here. So we need to get rid of the caliphate.


  2. Alistair Fox says:


    I’ve always admired the consistency and factual basis of your articles, but your post here is as consistent as our government’s environmental policies.

    On one hand you argue that the UK is a target for terrorism regardless of what we do. On the other hand you respond with “I believe that as long as the caliphate exists in Syria and Iraq there will be extremists here. So we need to get rid of the caliphate.” So getting rid of ISIS will get rid of terrorism? The former argument rings true – we are where we are – and we may be able to reduce the threat but not eradicate it.

    In addition, the “…Americans shouldn’t have joined in the Second World War as there were plenty of countries fighting against the Germans” argument is rather missing the point. In that case there was a direct threat to the UK (Germany had occupied France, not sent in some terrorists) and we, and the other ‘allies’ were running short of resources. This is not the case with our allies against ISIS.

    The argument should not be “why shouldn’t we bomb Syria” but what is the best course of action. Simply bombing, because economically, militarily and politically we can, is not a good reason. Nor is ‘because we don’t want to be left out’. Historically, trying to bomb an ideology out of existence has not been successful. We need is a more intelligent solution.

    Perhaps an agreement to treat the majority of people in the ME the way we would want to be treated, and expose the weaknesses in the ISIS ideology? But it’s difficult for people to hear an argument when bombs are going off. For once I guess I’m with Andrew Neil http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34877683


    • Yes, thanks Alistair. As you can tell I am confused on all this and don’t really know what to do. I am about to publish a blog which reveals that further. I genuinely feel sorry for the politicians who have to make this decision. It is hard, and very easy to poke holes in my arguments. My point about ending the Caliphate reducing terrorism was not to say terrorism will end, because it won’t. But the caliphate is at the moment, I believe, a SOURCE and motivation of terrorism, so ending it might help. I say might, because I don’t know, and anyone who claims they are speaking with certainty on this should be challenged. I am lucky, in that I have some very intelligent people challenging me on this at the moment, and I can only hope that the PM, and Jeremy Corbyn, are surrounded by smart people who disagree with them to help them make a better decision. I fear that this is not the case with Corbyn.


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