A Time for Strategic Leadership to Defeat the Threat to World Peace

I watched Question Time this week as I always do on Thursday nights but it had more poignancy than usual because it was solely devoted to the issue of the French Terrorist attacks last week and the bigger issue surrounding the safety and security of World Peace. The panellists were Evgeny Lebedev, the Russian owner of The Independent, Medhi Hasan the journalist from Al Jazeera, Anna Soubry the Business Minister, Natalie Nougayrède the editor of Le Monde and one time editor of the Guardian and Max Hastings the respected journalist and war historian. This was a considerably high profile panel to produce some clear and succinct answers to the threat the world faces.

With exception of Anna Soubry, all panellists offered some tactical answers but none offered global strategic solutions to the problems we as humankind face. Unfortunately for Soubry she demonstrated a clear lack of understanding of the nuances and subtleties of the interconnected issues we are facing and in a quite one-dimensional and non-intellectual way offered very simple solutions to a very complex problem. This, from a Minister, who sits, and has influence at the Cabinet table. Most worrying.


I suggest that this particular threat even more than the conventional inter- state problems faced by the world in the Second World War is very different and requires strong international alliances, which are unbreakable and determined.

My strategic solution initiated and sanctioned by the UN is fourfold: –

  1. Defeat ISIS by use of conventional force.
  2. A pan-European solution to the refugee egress.
  3. Intelligence to defeat the instigators of Civil War
  4. Deny Funding.


Defeat ISIS by conventional force.

I would advocate that through diplomacy we ensure a UN Security Council determination to facilitate a conventional military defeat of ISIS. The command and control should belong to those states most affected by the threat in the region but fully supported by hardware, materials and personnel by those nations most able to supply the necessary expertise in these areas.

The tactical application of military strategy to be determined by the conventional forces involved in the conflict.

So, should ISIS dissipate themselves into a non conventional guerrilla force which is most likely when confronted, the strategic response maybe formulated and assisted by others, but the tactical and operational application should be determined by the ground commanders. A sound post conflict response is probably the most important aspect of this part of the strategy and is too big to be dealt with here. 

A pan-European solution to the refugee egress.

At a time of threat of this magnitude, it is important that Europe responds cohesively and this is almost certainly not a time to be questioning the bonds, which have kept European peace for over 70 years. We must be in Europe, not breaking a treaty, which has clearly stood the test of time. This is a European problem and all member states must fully shoulder the burden of responsibility and not leave the issue to a few guardian Border States.

Close the external European borders. All refugees presenting themselves at the borders must be given entry and then detained in order to be biometrically assessed. Then an assessment of their status to determine whether they are genuine asylum seekers under international law. If so all European countries must take a proportion of those refugees based on a pro-rata basis. This is the international law but nobody must expect only a few member states to shoulder a disproportionate burden irrespective of the internal political fallout.

All economic migrants should be denied entry post assessment and returned to the country of origin to apply to enter the country of their choice in the normal way.

Intelligence to defeat the instigators of Civil War.

The terrorist threat we face as individual states is in fact a Civil War. People who are of the country in which the acts are carried out perpetrate all of the terrorist acts. I recognise that this is often as result of training and hardening of attitudes in other countries but the radicalisation of people starts in the home countries and so I would define this as Civil War. To combat Civil War requires the gathering, analysis, dissemination and operational actions based on intelligence. It is a civil problem not a military one.

Combatting our own countrymen who would commit Civil War against us depends on our ability to act on the whole of the CONTEST strategy, which has to date been very effective, by community, the police and intelligence agencies and the rest of the public services. If not properly supported, it will inevitably fail. We will never have complete security and so the whole population needs to be educated as to the content of the threat.

I was on a train recently and spotted a bag lying between seats unattended. I was the only person who questioned why it was there and who it belonged to. This, only 2 days after Paris. Astounding.

The current government has a problem, aspiring to small state and low taxes. Now is the time to park some of those aspirations and keep us safe and secure. If that means raising taxes and increasing the size of the state, then so be it. Better to have our state that not!

Deny Funding.

It is clear that the people who would harm us whether internally or externally receive huge amounts of money to fund their infrastructure and subsequent actions. They are a sophisticated enemy who require a sophisticated response. This means unfettered neo-liberal markets provide the oxygen of both publicity and the means of making huge amounts of money. Money never has an intrinsic value only an instrumental value and allows the enemy to purchase expertise and ordnance. There must be a coordinated global response through the business world and real legal action must be taken against those who supply or assist the enemy in any way through materials both hard and soft.

That justice against perpetrators must be seen to be done and the International Court is the place for that to happen.


Many more informed and influential thinkers have written many more words than I have on this subject, and I am not proposing this as the only set of solutions, but it seems to me that at the moment when we most need it, a strategy needs to be put in place that we can all recognise and act upon, at an international, national, community and individual level. It will require international co-operation not seen in our lifetime, but I believe that is what is required and it is now time for the International institutions to play a world role.


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