You cannot win a “war on terror” by military action. Anyone who believes otherwise should look a the modern history of Ireland.
The Irish people wanted independence from Great Britain. They moved between violent and political approaches over time. Ultimately the Irish developed the dual strategy now nicknamed “the bullet and the ballot box”. the British Empire was at the peak of its powers in the early 20th Century. Ireland is not a large nation like India. Ireland is not a powerful nation like the USA. Ireland is not located far away from the centre of British power, like New Zealand. Ireland is a small, weak country sitting right in Britains armpit.
Despite holding all the cards the British could not hold Ireland. They could win every battle but never win the “war”. The Irish learned that it was foolish to engage in fair fights against the British, so we fought dirty, the guerilla.
The IRA in the 1920’s made it impossible for the British to administer Ireland.
In the 1980’s and 1990’s the Provisional IRA in Northern Ireland moved from a guerilla war to a terrorist war. They fought it on British soil. It was even dirtier than the guerilla war of the 1920’s. The British evenually learned that they could not win this war. Every victory they scored against the terrorists was a recruitment drive for the IRA.
The British learned at last that the way to end a war on terror was to build peace. Engender understanding and respect for your foe, listen to their grievances, right the wrongs and work together to build a better society.
So I was simply astounded yesterday listening to David Cameron crowing like a cock in parliament over the murder of “Jihadi John”. Simply calling the man by this jingoistic nickname is an indication that the British Government have forgotten all the hard won lessons of the Northern Ireland peace process.
This morning as David Cameron surveys the wreckage of Paris I wonder how bullish he feels about “taking out” Jihadi John? The important thing here is to take a deep breath and review the situation.
The “war on terror” is going to kill British and French people, and perhaps also Americans and Russians. You don’t fight a war in Syria. You care for the Syrian people. You give them peace and prosperity. You defend them from violence. You stop selling them guns and start buying their melons. You stabilise their economy and give the Syrian people what they want, a safe and comfortable home. That’s how you defeat terrorism.