As I predicted, there has been a third beheading by IS and an indication of more to come. This should mean a lift in popular support of the announcement by Obama of increased action against IS by the US and of the increase in “humanitarian” involvement of Australia and some European countries.
But since the Obama announcement there does not yet appear to have been any substantive action by the US, let alone any hint that the US might recognise the need to send troops. With 10 Arab countries a communiqué has been issued expressing support for the US action but no apparent military involvement by any of the 10 (and a refusal by the Turks to allow its bases to be used). A conference on Iraq has also been arranged in France for tomorrow and the UN Security Council (which Abbott is attending) will also meet.
However, there has been some recognition by the US that it is not only the IS which is of concern. US Secretary of State Kerry has refused to agree to Iran attending tomorrow’s conference because, inter alia, it is a “state sponsor of terror in various places”. And, arising out of a debate about whether the US is “at war”, the White House has stated that “The United States is at war with ISIL in the same way that we are at war with al-Qaeda and its al-Qaeda affiliates all around the globe” (see articles below).
War usually involves troops on the ground but there is no sign that Obama will go beyond providing “special forces”. Nor is there any recognition that the “war” is in reality against Islamic forces.
Following Obama’s strategy statement I drew attention last Thursday to his assertion that
“ISIL is not Islamic. No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim. And ISIL is certainly not a state”
and I expressed surprise that this had not been questioned by Australian commentators.
In yesterday’s Australian former Army Head Peter Leahy did make an important contribution (see below) including by saying that “Yes it must be destroyed, but the real end state is to attack the radical ideology that seeks a caliphate, demands sharia law and countenances the slaughter of innocent civilians.” And Sheridan has also mentioned the problem of radicals.
But there is a need to publicly recognise that the extent of this “radical ideology” is much wider than commonly portrayed and a need for a policy (or policies) on how it is to be managed.
The need for an early policy statement by the government is confirmed by the rejection by Australia’s Islamic communities of Australian involvement with the US (see also article below by Mark Schliebs).
One important aspect relates to immigration. On this morning’s Andrew Bolt program, Bolt himself asked how “radicals” might be excluded from the 4,000 refugees the government has promised to take from the Iraq/Syria violence. Immigration Minister Morrison responded by indicating that the focus would be on Christians, implying that there would be a checking process. A process with a possible wider application?