Like Sir Tony Randall, the Tory MP for Uxbridge, my vote was against the invasion of Iraq back in 2003. That's where the comparison ends between me and Conservative MPs, as I presumably opposed it for completely different reasons. I didn't, and still don't, believe Britain or Iraq would be well-served by an intervention which didn't have UN Security Council support, didn't have proper evidence to back up its alleged threats and didn't have clear goals. I vividly remember marching across London Bridge to Trafalgar Square with 1million fellow Londoners, many with pushchairs, to let an unapologetic Tony Blair know that 'listening' wasn't enough. The invasion was cack-handed and bound to stir up trouble.
And yet today, I find myself agreeing with Tories who would support a military campaign against ISIS. What happened? Why the change of heart?
Because ISIS is not merely a dictatorship which may cause damage within its own borders. It is a motley band of murderous militia whose stated aim is the destruction of nonbelievers and the re-establishment of a 7th century theocracy which knows no borders.
Saddam Hussain was a nutbag. Iraq TV used to sport pictures of him on a white horse waving a phallic sword about to remind us all of his power. Sacha Baron Cohen didn't have to add much to create an absurd egomaniac dictator persona after watching Hussain's antics.
He was also a bloodthirsty warmonger. His stated aim was the destruction of the Kurdish people, and was guilty of genocide. This is no angel, and the characters on the British left wing who claim that the invasion of Iraq was the source of these Middle Eastern conflicts (read George Galloway, among other two-faced leftists who support neofascism) would do well to speak to Kurds whose families were massacred before making such claims. To reiterate, Hussain had to be stopped; the U.S./UK coalition of the willing was, however, badly thrown together and probably did more harm than good.
But ISIS is not Hussain. It won't be content with containing its ambitions within a state which, arguably, chose its own terrible fate under Saddam Hussain by supporting a nutbag who would at least bring some semblance of social order even at the cost of brutal repression. Sacrifice the Kurds and indulge Saddam's crazy control freak, horse riding ego trip, and at least there's a chance you can walk the streets safely after dark.
There is no appeasing ISIS. The plot in Australia last week was real: they have shown they will murder ruthlessly till the Kingdom of Allah is upon everyone.
ISIS and their ilk justify the urgent need for a military intervention which even those tired of Blairite warmongering won't oppose. There will be no peace as long as ISIS IS allowed to pursue barbaric repression of Kurds, women, children, foreigners and anyone deemed unworthy of the caliphate. And air strikes will not be enough. Boots will have to hit the ground and stay on it before this conflict is over.
Had Blair done his job right and stood up to the stooges of the Bush administration to protect Iraqi museums, use Iraqi oil money to microfinance women's enterprise and remove infrastructures from religious groups, ISIS may not have taken hold.
But now is not the time for what ifs. The Commons must vote decisively for military action where it is clearly needed and justified. Obama's administration is efficient and capable of nipping a real threat in the bud.
Let's hope our leaders have the courage to support him.