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On Rafael Behr and how to mangle history by way of gratuitous Corbyn-bashing

Hammer Corbyn1It’s a curious inversion of most extant moral codes to claim the high ground on the basis of support for war and quicker resort to fatal force by the police, while painting those who argue against them as ethical imbeciles. But the last week has seen numerous critics pass judgment on the alleged failings of Jeremy Corbyn – and by extension, the wider left – on these very issues.

After the evaporation of Jihadi John, and the Paris atrocities, Corbyn’s refusal to fall in behind the Start the War Coalition has seen him widely castigated, not only by the media but the Parliamentary Labour Party too.

Rafael Behr of The Guardian is just one of those entering the fray, with a hit piece accusing the Labour leader of ‘mangled history’. He even opens his polemic by reminding us that he sat history O Level a quarter of a century ago, a sure-fire indicator that he knows whereof he speaks. 

This is a product of the sophisticated end of the anti-Corbyn industry. On the surface, there is none of that ‘Jihadi Jez’ nonsense that disfigured the coverage of fair and balanced Sky News.

But that, in more flowery language, is more or less what he is getting at when he accuses Corbyn of  ‘aligning a critique of British policy with the selective history that adorns jihadi propaganda.’ Less pithy perhaps, but making the same point. Corbyn is a cheese eating surrender monkey, only without the cheese.

And there is more from Behr, by way of peroration:

The solution is not an atonement list of supposed western aggressions in Muslim lands, maybe adding a few platitudes about diplomacy and the undesirability of war … Yet this is the Labour leader’s answer after so much study: some mangled history without a conclusion, half an argument, the sound of one hand wringing.”

So what, then, is the solution? If you critique someone in print for not offering a conclusion, isn’t it incumbent on you to offer a conclusion yourself? If you want to bomb Syria, why not just say ‘I want to bomb Syria’? 

And what is this talk about ‘supposed’ western aggressions? Twelve years ago, Britain served as a junior partner in a US-led pre-emptive invasion of Iraq, mounted on a spurious pretext.

That looks awfully like aggression in many people’s eyes, and is a likely breach of international law. Behr’s choice of adjective alone is itself playing fast and loose with the facts. 

Moreover, much of Behr’s argument is based on a dubious analogy with world war two as a prism through which to view the war on terror, now something of a rhetorical staple for post-Blair Blairism.

True, he is more nuanced than the likes of Nick Cohen, who likes to play route one football on the apparent historical parallels. Behr even explicitly denies accusing the left of appeasement, and insists that he does not view a regional insurgency as a state on a par with the Third Reich. 

But his words read very much like get-out clauses; such is the established weight of this frequently repeated trope that the subtext is always there. Behr is effectively doing exactly what he says he isn’t doing, albeit by dog whistle means.

If we use the world war two rerun scenario as the basis of the dispute, it is no more tenable to deny that western intervention has been a factor in the emergence of ISIS than it would be to leave out the role of the Versailles in a GCSE essay on the origins of the second world war.

Acknowledging the truth no more makes today’s anti-war left apologists for Jihadism than writing The Economic Consequences of the Peace made John Maynard Keynes’ a propagandist for proto-Hitlerism.

Speaking as a secularist, a rationalist and a democratic socialist, I’m in no doubt that ISIS stands for values diametrically opposed to my own. I avidly desire its defeat. The question is how the rest of the world can best defeat it.

But we live in 2015, not 1938 and not 2003.  The premise that there is some easy and bloodless manner in which to make either al Baghdadi or Assad go away is plainly delusional.

Is Behr proposing a major US-led boots on the ground conventional war on Syrian territory? Leaving aside the huge cost in human life, this is simply not politically doable this close to the next US presidential election, and probably won’t be after it, either.

Even it were possible, it would likely prove unwinnable militarily, and its readily predictable deleterious repercussions across the Muslim world would be incalculably grave.

More limited interventions, along the lines of the bombing of Libya in 2011, tend to be subject to the law of unintended consequences, on steroids. And again, many Syrian non-combatants will die.

If a case is to be made for war or military action short of war, the onus is on it advocates to prove that such action would facilitate a solution rather than exacerbate a ghastly train wreck, and would minimise loss of life. They repeatedly fail to do so. In fact, few of them even try.

If we are going to talk about history being ‘mangled’, with the past reduced to a grab-bag in which to delve for suitably instructive homilies on whatever cause happens to be expedient today, let us be clear.

It is Behr that is doing the mangling, with the factional imperative to get in some cheap shot Corbyn bashing taking precedence over serious analysis of to tackle the menace of Islamic State.

12 Comments

  1. jeffrey davies says:

    who sacked the proud regiments the torys who sacked the police man the torys now how were we able to fight nah the torys dishonesty has cost many jobs many many many but blaming a labour man about bombing another country is just up the torys way taking the blame away from them jeff3

  2. Neil Skitt says:

    By bombing Syria “many non-combatants will die”? So they’re not already dying at the hand of Assad’s barrel bombs? Or being chucked off towers by ISIS for being gay? The situation in Syria is horrific already.

    I notice you don’t put forward a solution yourself. Are you proposing that we stand by and hope that all sides in Syria find a peaceful solution? That is delusional.

    We need to intervene, but in a smarter way. First the US and Russia need to agree that ISIS is the priority. Bomb them, downgrade their capability, and allow the Syrian rebels to complete the task of finishing them off on the ground. Next, agree the departure of Assad in a managed way to allow an orderly transition to stable, representative government (learning from the mistakes in Iraq). None of this is easy and is predicated on the unpalatable agreement that Assad can depart in a way that he should never have been allowed to.

  3. Richard Tiffin says:

    Great article, thank you.
    Articles like the ones mentioned above have been appearing from Blairites as well. For example, Conor Pope on labour list wrote an almost identical article, criticism without suggestion.
    I think Pope’s article reveals to us why these commentators are not advising a course of action.
    It’s because they are not calls to arms, they are not foolish enough to be premature and suggest action before the ruling elites make clear noises about an actual course of action they are going to persue. They’ll wait to hear the dog whistle thank you very much.
    What they seem to be is simply part of the get Corbyn cacophony.
    Every hack with an ounce of sense that they can please editors and sell a few lines by going all anti Corbyn. They have seen the agenda, you’d be blind to miss it. So it’s a no brainier, turn in the copy, bank the cash, pick up the brownie points from the editor and back to the computer to start on the next one.
    They could hardly turn in pro Corbyn copy just now could they? Other than the couple of sanctioned pro Corbyn columnists (kept for the appearance of balance) they know if they turn in pro Corbyn copy it’ll be spiked quicker than my kids will turn Christmas wrapping to rubbish.
    We need to grow up and live with, combat it. They ain’t going to support him and the will do all they can to undermine him.
    Call me a conspiracy theorist if you wish, but how many times do you want to watch a river flood before you know it will flood again?

  4. John Penney says:

    It is demonstrably true that the Tories and the Labour Right, and their lickspittle mass media spokespersons like Behr shamelessly and constantly mangle recent and more distant Middle East history to let Western imperialism (particularly post 1918 British and French colonial imperialism , and the motives and consequences of the US -led Iraq War) off the hook with public perception of blame for the ever widening death and destruction in and emanating from the Syria/Iraq/Libya/Yemen regional arena of death.

    It is also quite true that the UK/Western media is remarkably unwilling to spell out or investigate the perfectly clear long term supporting roles of Turkey and Saudi Arabia in particular in nurturing IS as a proxy in the war for regional dominance between the local imperialisms of Sunni Turkey/Saudi versus Shia Iran/Iraq. Add in the regional imperialist meddling of Russia , and the globally vital oil resources desired by all sides, and it is far too complex a conflict for our short term politics driven media even to attempt to tackle with anything approaching coherence or objectivity. Indeed at present behind the sonorous “defence of the realm” rhetoric of the Tories, their press and their craven Blairite PLP allies, a key driver in the UK for the current drive to more war intervention actually appears to be the extraordinarily petty desire to keep Jeremy Corbyn on the back foot – on an issue that the British public are easier to fool on than the more basic issues of Tax Credits or the imminent destruction of the NHS.

    The Left however , and Jeremy too, in recent and past interventions and statements on the Middle East conflict has all too often given the Right endless ammunition for current attacks – by being just as selective on history, just as slippery in ignoring facts which contradict the desire Left narrative, and just as astonishingly craven and disgusting in turning a blind eye to masses of people suffering dreadful death and oppression, just because their struggles and plight is currently “politically inconvenient.

    The total failure of most of the Left to support the life and death struggle of the only substantial social force defending women’s rights and non sectarianism in the Middle East conflict, the Kurdish Resistance to IS, being the exemplar of this selectivity.

    This weeks article by Prof Alex Callinicos in Socialist Worker entitled ” Our Job is to defeat imperialism not ISIS” is probably a new low for this sort of arrogant Left slogan mongering and sympathy and solidarity selective blindness. For too many on the Left the obvious need of Kurdish forces to call in airstrikes from whatever power will supply it to kill IS tank and artillery assaults TODAY, to prevent ever worsening massacres and enslavement of women , will always be trumped by the need for comfortably safe western “anti imperialists” not to soil their political hands by “sowing illusions in imperialism”. and of course the “imperialism” the UK Left is nearly always referring to is solely US-led western imperialism . The many other lesser regional and local imperialisms fully implicated in the Middle Eastern catastrophe pretty much get a free pass. indeed over the years the Western Left has all too often fallen into the lazy fallacy of seeing any power whatsoever “opposed to US Imperialism” as part of some mythical “Axis of Resistance” – a (Soviet era originating ) fallacy allowing the murderous theocratic fascism of Iran, the Baathist fascist kleptocracy of the Assad dynasty in Syria, Saddam Hussein’s Sunni Baathist Tikriti clan fascistic Iraq dictatorship , and the crazed family dictatorship of the Gaddafi clan in Libya, all to be roped in as somehow “progressive” in the struggle for workers power and socialism !

    Lest anyone claim this was just an aberration of the Far Left, think again, I’m afraid the ghastly Stalino/Trot politics of the Far Left has totally dominated the Stop the War Coalition since its inception, and our very own Jeremy , and many more on the Labour Party Left have supped deeply of its very partial and distasteful political analysis and soviet era-originating simplistic analysis of “imperialism”.

    Unless Jeremy and the rest of us on the Left, can distance ourselves from the bogus , grossly simplistic, Stop the War Coalition type analysis in dealing with the crisis in, and originating from, the Middle East crisis he will continue to be caught out by the fast changing events, and will not be able to develop a more confident , principled, socialist, narrative with which to take on the shallow “a few more bombs will always do some good” gung ho populist militarism of a press and Tory Party always keen to distract the public from the consequences of the ever deepening Austerity Offensive.

    1. Richard Tiffin says:

      Did I miss the conference vote or make some mistake? As I recall conference was clear, stay out of Syria until a UN mandate applies. How exactly is it ‘far left’ to ask the leadership and the party to abide by a conference decision? Isn’t that what we were voting for when we voted Corbyn, greater democracy in the party? We can’t even argue that it was £3 tourists fault as delegates were chosen before the leadership election.
      Secondly, I’d be grateful if you’d post links to Mr Corbyns selective and slippery historical interpretations and positions as I don’t recall seeing them. I know for sure that others you accuse are guilty as charged in my view, but I am yet to see evidence of Corbyn doing the same.
      Thirdly, I have no problem your criticism of the SWP or the stop the war coalition dominated by the SWP for some of the positions taken, but then to use that as a brush with which to paint the ‘far left’ is a distortion. The positions on the far left range from within the party like myself out through the myriad of groupings further left and are as varied today as when the life of Brian poured scorn on the Judean Popular Front, so please, stay specific and avoid the sweeping generalisations you made. I consider myself ‘far left’ but would disassociate myself from the bulk of what comes from the SWP.
      Fourthly, support of the Kurds. Clearly, allies are required in conflict and the US has chosen the Kurds in Northern Iraq, a conflict spilling into and being responded to by Turkey, a NATO ally, as well as Syria, but be careful what you ask for. At this moment, by taking territory in northern Syria, north east of Raqqa, what is taking place is an invasion, and you appear to be suggesting that we support this by air strikes when it is demanded. We might argue that this is a good and even that the territory is pre 1918 Kurdistan, but is this what the people of north and Eastern Syria want?
      They sure as heck want shot of ISIL, but to be replaced by what? An occupying force who claim it is their own territory? How is that working out in Palestine/Israel?
      This isn’t about anti imperialism, though naturally enough I ain’t a great supporter of any form of imperialism, or even neighbourly national and international cross border bullying, it’s about what is the end goal.
      If we don’t have a view of an end goal then we won’t consider the problems we might create whilst solving the problem in front of us. Isn’t that the mistake of the globe dividers in the past, straight lines on the map are all to often borders dividing ethnic communities.
      I wish to be unequivocal here, I am anti ISIL, the quicker we destroy them the better for the people of Iraq, of Syria and elsewhere, and the biggest winners if we do that will be women. I am even atheist, so the sooner they all stop looking for the sky daddy to save them the better. But I want the end game to be thought through, and that is sadly lacking, the appropriate term being reactive.

      1. John Penney says:

        Your pompously self righteous response would be simply amusing, Richard, if it wasn’t so typical of the , with a few honourable exceptions, utter record of equivocation and failure to offer any solidarity at all by the Left in the UK as regards the life and death struggle of the various Kurdish forces battling ISIS across Syria and Iraq.

        What on earth do you mean that the current Kurdish advance towards Raqqa is an “invasion” ? Complete tosh – are you suggesting that the entire Sunni population of the area really wishes to live under IS/ISIL ? Or indeed that the proven non setarian, politically progressive, Kurdish (and sundry Yazidi etc allies)forces would harm the non-Is/ISIL local population. Of course they wouldn’t – they would LIBERATE them from fascist terror. But then your hair splitting misrepresentation is so convenient to excuse a failure to recognise the right of the ONLY effective large indigenous fighting forces adhering to the principles of equality for women, non religious or ethnic sectarianism, and democratic self government, to call down vital close air support from whosoever THEY deem necessary.

        It’s so easy to sit back in the comfort of our bourgeois democracy and suggest that the Left takes its time endlessly theorising about all these difficult issues , and of course keeping our hands nice and clean from acknowledging that sometimes liberation forces have to temporarily ally with imperialist powers to defeat the most pressing , in this case murderously fascist, enemy.

        Most of the UK Left with today’s attitude would have grudged supporting the French and other European resistance movements getting arms from air drops from the RAF during WWII , because “The British were an imperialist power – and we don’t want the resistance movements to be fooled into trusting imperialists”. To suggest the Kurds with their history are actually currently fooled into thinking the US, or France, or Britain, are on their side long term, is patronising in the extreme.

        On your point about Jeremy Corbyn – I’m a Corbyn fan overall but I’m afraid that as Chair for many years of the StWC he has to take responsibility for their grossly simplistic position on the Middle East conflict just as much as John Reece and Lindsey German, because he didn’t state his opposition at the time. I don’t recall Jeremy supporting the right of the valiant male and female Kurdish fighting forces defending and recapturing Kurdish Kobane from its murderous IS/ISIL invaders, to call upon the close US air support that was vital in its defence and recapture ? No he didn’t. And so he has to be implicated in the same failure of political analysis and moral courage that the rest of StWC exhibited – along with most of the Left.

        1. Richard Tiffin says:

          Pompous and self righteous, thanks Comrade. Not sure it was I with the pompous language though, but hey ho, let those who read this decide who is pompous, we are clearly biased.
          First, I’m sure the conference decision must be something of an inconvenience to you else you might have addressed it.
          The decision was made and the party made it. They made it for good reasons and more folk than you and I with our inconsequential spat were debating it.
          So what do you think, we trash it? Of course you do. Why? Because, despite your being a Corbyn fan ‘overall’ the sub text is clear and leaps from your comments, the left have it wrong, action is required now and the Kurds are the people to take that action as far as you are concerned.
          Sorry mate, that ain’t party policy and what happened in Paris, as horrific as it was, in my view has not overturned the decision of conference.
          But first I think you need to read my post again. I have no idea what the people in the region want other than to be rid of the yoke of ISIL. To repeat, be rid of ISIL.
          There was an uprising with no clear economic objectives, only political followed by a civil war that sunk into sectarian religious conflict, but I still don’t know what the population want other than the absence of oppression, but neither do you.
          The questions are, who will remove this oppression, when and what next?
          Clearly you believe it needs to be the Kurds to become liberators from the ‘fascists’ as they are there on the scene and they have the qualities you deem to be vital. Not sure you are correct in the characterisation as I cannot see how much national socialism has in common with the theocratic caliphate, but down to you mate.
          How would the Kurds form an exit strategy were they to remove ISIL for they would be the de facto government? Would they have an exit strategy at all or will they consider the territory Kurdistan? They are certainly desperate for territory with the oppression the Turks are dishing out to them. Would the local populations want an exit strategy or would they be happy with that part of Syria becoming Kurdistan and then living in it? What regime would they leave behind or form if they had an exit strategy or not, socialist, independent regional government or a return to that strange Syria form of socialism once the current regime had been removed? Do you know the answers to these questions? Do you care? I doubt it, the action now is what matters to you, and the Kurds leading it.
          The fact is you are conflating nation with religion. The Kurds are not acting as Sunni as you suggest in one part of you response, contradicted by the notion of it being non religious non sectarian in another. They are fighting for national autonomy, a different proposition entirely. So the ‘harm’ you put into my mouth is not oppression upon their arrival, I don’t believe that would happen, it’s the question of what will happen down the road? What would their financiers, the US want them to do? To leave it to the people or to form a government in their image? To hold the power because the local population was rebellious, just until it was stable?
          We are back to Iraq here. I in no way supported the regime, but the consequences of the invasion,to remove the regime meant the cure was as bad as the disease, how would it be for the region if the Russians the Iranians and the Syrians took umbridge at the Kurds taking control? They might not like the the beheadings and the caliphate be they won’t like the consequences of the removal of the Kurds much either as hell rained down upon them from the Russians.

          To move on to the personal insults. You characterise me as if somehow I feel that all is important is the left keep its hands clean and yet you know I supported you in a debate with Mr Western when along with you I argued that to be naive. Alliences are messy, sometimes they are unpleasant, but required.
          Your insult of the left in relation to how the left would have behaved in France in WW2 and ignored the valour of the socialists in the international brigades in Spain, how very convenient. The left I know are happy to become involved and well you know, and they would be off to fight so socialism just as the international brigades would, but hey, let’s not let facts get in the way of an insult.
          Finally, because I am bored now, I await the links to shape me Corbyns position. You merely expressed guilt by association, you have found him guilty, so when you get a minute I look forward to reading it.

          1. John Penney says:

            One non sequitur statement after another from you , Richard. You really can’t avoid obfuscation and avoiding the arguments can you !

            Yes I know it’s currently Party policy to avoid further intervention in Syria. unfortunately this position is so non analytical and tactically barren as to leave the field wide open to the Blairite Right to present themselves as the “realists” and patriots – as against the “dreamers and pacifists of the Corbyn Left”.

            Re my point on whether with its current “no good can ever come from intervention by imperialist powers,” mindset, the Left in the 1940’s would also have opposed any support for the huge arms supply drops from the RAF for a wide range of , often communist, liberation movements across Europe in WWII, you simply avoid the question, and substitute a complete red herring about the Left’s support for the Republican cause in Spain ! Even here of course the disgraceful collaboration of too many on the British Left with the Stalinist Bureaucracy’s deliberate sabotage of the revolutionary socialist Republican struggle , in line with Stalin’s then new “Popular Front with bourgeois democracy” tactic, should give you pause for thought on citing this as an example of the Left at its best.

            I don’t know from what I’ve said where you get the idea that I see the Kurdish forces as in any way fighting as “Sunnis”. The whole point of the Kurdish forces (in their many factions) is that they are NOT fighting on the basis of religion, but as a genuinely non sectarian national liberation movement, with purely secular, in many cases socialist, progressive political aims.

            You can endlessly raise all your ” unpredictable consequences arising” worries as regards the longer end game outcomes of a victory of the Kurds over the IS/ISIL barbarians in the North of Syria and Iraq – but of course this is all just an excuse for avoiding offering solidarity to the only progressive, non sectarian, fighting force in the entire region – because for tactical reasons the Kurds chose not to be enslaved and pogrommed by the cleric-fascists of IS/ISIL/Daesh, and tactically simply had to accept air support and weapons from the imperialist power of the US.

            Sadly too many on the Left also slipped into this immoral ideological swamp of obfuscation in the earlier cases of Bosnia and Kosovo, again failing to acknowledge that it was only the intervention of the imperialist western powers that ended the imminent genocide of the Bosnian Muslims and Kosovans by Serbian murder gangs.

            The sad fact is that the PLP Right and their press allies have found a populist cause here with which to humiliate Jeremy and his team, knowing that the crass political selectivity of the StWC, which appears to still dominate Jeremy and his small team’s thinking, simply doesn’t measure up to the more tactically pragmatic needs of the day in the Middle East. The majority in the PLP will try to engineer such a humiliating rebuff in Parliament on Iraq/Syria (especially after the latest UN Security Council resolution – which if anything is more open ended than a Chapter 7 vote) to Jeremy’s position that they hope his continued leadership becomes untenable.

            The blame for this isn’t just the rabble rousing of the Labour Right and their press megaphones, but I’m afraid it is also the responsibility of Jeremy and his team to actually engage with the real tactical issues of the here and now in the Middle East. That none of us seem to know if Jeremy actually is an unconditional pacifist say a lot about his team’s failure to clearly set out a principled Left position.

            Lastly if you really don’t think that the barbaric forces of IS/ISIL represent a totalitarian theocratic form of fascism then I really think you, and much of the Left need to try a bit harder to understand just what fascism as a (very historically disparate) mass movement of reactionary violence actually is.

            The only reason the Far Left in particular isn’t prepared to stick the completely appropriate label of “fascism” on to IS/ISIL, is that to do so would highlight the need to prioritise the destruction of this murderous movement , and accept temporarily and tactically a role for various imperialist powers. And of course in the case of the StWC in particular the “fascist” label for ISIS/ISIL would raise uncomfortable questions about past opportunist collaboration with blatantly reactionary Islamic fundamentalist organisations in the UK during many years of campaigning, highly selectively against US-led imperialist aggression in Iraq in particular.. Jeremy was Chair of StWC and I therefore cite to you their entire gamut of selective, crass, over simplifications on the Iraq/Syria crisis as, by default, what we must take as their Chairperson’s view also – unless he specifically distanced himself from these statements – which he never did.

      2. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

        I actually and to my surprise, enjoyed your well informed and well thought out post above and didn’t find it particularly pompous.

        But when the dust has settled; exactly the same people who are in Isis will the people who will form the new state/states in the Middle East and in North Africa, (as in, Israel Both Sharon and Ben Gurion and many other is government were former terrorists lets not forget that,) so the sooner we stop bombing them back to stone age and get on with helping to rebuilding those countries the better for us all.

  5. I agree that there must be at the very least a frank discussion and abandonment of the bungling strategy, as Brahma Chellaney writes, of “training, funding, and arming jihadists who are deemed ‘moderate’ to fight against the ‘radicals’ – that is backfiring today … [E]ven after acknowledging that a majority of the Free Syrian Army’s CIA-trained members have defected to the Islamic State, the US recently pledged nearly $100 million in fresh aid for Syrian rebels.” at https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/intervention-fuels-anti-west-terror-attacks-by-brahma-chellaney-2015-11#SlWQdDSbGpSLDpc8.99

  6. Bazza says:

    Perhaps it is the time for Progressive Labour – grassroots, bottom up, democratic, and peaceful.
    Of course if the Right Wing Labour MPs can’t live with this they could always resign their £70k posts and perhaps go and work in a factory on the shop floor.

  7. David Ellis says:

    ISIS is responsible for its own crimes but the West is undoubtedly responsible for ISIS. Not though in the way Corbyn or others would seem to believe. For the degenerate left the Islamists are either an understandable reaction to Western policy or are directly created by the West for purposes of overthrowing Putin’s allies amongst the Arab tyrannies. On the first point Hitler was not a justifiable response to Versailles he was facilitated by it. Zionism was not a reaction to The Holocaust it took advantage of it. ISIS did not arise out of the resistance to the illegal invading armies of the West. Far from it. Its response was to become the most violent and vicious wing of the sectarian civil war that the invasion sparked. Bush and Blair lyingly claimed to be bringing democracy to Iraq. ISIS were there to make sure that didn’t happen. Their next big break came in 2013 when Congress and Parliament voted to turn its back on the Syrian people whilst Assad hacked his way through half a million of them and turned 7.5 million into refugees. They saw the opportunity to land grab in the liberated areas where they moved in to slaughter revolutionaries, trades unionists, intellectuals, democrats, socialists, minorities, men, women and children. The third big break for ISIS which will see their spread to the big prizes like Egypt will be when the West joins forces with Putin and Assad to bomb them in Syria. Civilians will die but the tyrant Assad and his Russian and Iranian backers are the only ones that can take advantage on the ground. The West will be seen not as liberators but the bringers of genocide and it will be seen to be in bed with the old tyrannies that it had claimed for years in the name of democracy to be against. In fact the biggest boost for ISIS last month was not Paris but Cameron’s cosy meetings with the ironically named Egyptian tyrant Sisi.

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