The US continued to hit ISIS targets in Syria with its existing coalition, but yesterday saw its parallel coalition for fighting te terrorist army in Iraq expand significantly. David Cameron led the British parliament to a lopsided 524-43 vote in favor of conducting air strikes in Iraq, allying with the US and France, and new members such as Denmark and Belgium. Cameron warned that this would take years, and a lot of patience:
“The hallmarks of this campaign will be patience and persistence, not shock and awe,” British Prime Minister David Cameron told Parliament.
After pleas from Cameron – and six hours of debate – Britain’s lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to take part in the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS.
With the commitments growing, America’s closest European ally is joining France and the Netherlands as well as Denmark and Belgium, two countries who also said Friday they would provide their military resources.
The European support does not extend to Syria, but the White House says it’s important progress.
“There is broad effort underway to build this international coalition,” said press secretary Josh Earnest, “and we are pleased with the pace of this coalition’s growth, and we’re pleased with the strong ties among the United States and countries around the world.”
UK support was broad, but not unlimited. Labour leader Ed Miliband insisted that while his party would join the Tories in the decision to fight ISIS, there was “no question” of using British ground troops to defeat them. The “coherent strategy,” Miliband explained, was to support the Iraqi and Peshmerga troops fighting ISIS while not “repeating the mistakes of the past” by having troops in Iraq:
The lopsided margin gives Cameron a lot of breathing space, but perhaps not enough for a realistic strategy to defeat ISIS. The air strikes will cause disruption, and perhaps a significant amount of it, but it’s not going to force ISIS out of the cities and towns it holds now. In order to do that, the coalition would have to heavily bomb civilian populations — and if that tactic got used, Cameron could kiss his 10:1 ratio of support goodbye. What happens when a few months pass and it becomes clear that it will take a superior army on the ground to finish the job? Miliband’s statement makes it pretty clear that Labour won’t be coming along on that ride, and it’s not just the British who might balk. With our own government insisting that this war can be won by air support for an Iraqi military that hasn’t been effective at all, outnumbered Peshmerga, and a collection of so-called Syrian moderates, the expectation has been set against ever sending American troops into combat against ISIS.
ABC News gives us “a rare look inside Raqqa,” which shows in brief the extent to which ISIS has already become dug in there:
What would we bomb to force ISIS out of Raqqa as seen there?
Meanwhile, as France also takes part in airstrikes on ISIS targets in Iraq, French Muslims demonstrated yesterday in support of … the coalition. Calls for moderate Muslims to publicly declare their position were answered in Paris, where a large demonstration protested ISIS and its atrocities, carrying signs in English as well as French:
It’s a start, anyway.