Writing in the Western Daily Press on Saturday 5th December 2015, Dr Liam Fox wrote:
Former defence secretary and chair of the South West Conservative MPs Group Dr Liam Fox explains why he supports action against Daesh in Syria
The most worrying aspect of the horrific events in Paris is that they are likely to be repeated. It is, therefore, very important that we understand the significance of this action.
It is not about provoking a new confrontation with Daesh, given that it has already confronted peace, decency and humanity. We have seen what it is they are capable of – beheadings, crucifixions, mass rape; we have seen the refugee crisis it has provoked in the Middle East, with its terrible human cost; and we have seen its willingness to export jihad. It is also not about bombing Syria per se, as is being portrayed; it is the extension of a military campaign we were already pursuing in Iraq, across a non-existent border in the sand.
To understand the nature of the threat and why it requires a military response, we need to understand the mentality of the jihadists themselves. They represent the endpoint in a chain of thought and behaviour and comprehending their poisonous mindset is crucial if we are to grasp what we are up against. Jihad is part religious fundamentalism, and part violent anti-western political ideology.
First, they take an extreme and distorted religious position; then they dehumanise their opponents by calling them infidels, heretics and apostates – let us remember that the majority of those they have killed were Muslims, not those of other religions. Then they tell themselves it is God's work and therefore they accept no man-made restraint – no laws, no borders; and then they deploy extreme violence in the prosecution of their self-appointed mission.
We have seen that violence on the sands of Tunisia, and we heard it in the screams of the Jordanian pilot who was burned alive. We must be under no illusions about the threat we face. Daesh is not like the armed political terrorists we have seen in the past; it poses a fundamentally different threat. It is a group that seeks not accommodation but domination. They hate us not because of what we do, but because of who we are and stand for. They hate our history, our identity and our values.
On the military question of whether British bombing, as part of an allied action in Syria, will be a game changer, I say; no, it will not, but it will make a significant and serious contribution to the alliance. The Prime Minister is absolutely correct that some of our weaponry enables us to minimise the number of civilian casualties, and this is vital from a humanitarian point of view, as well as keeping a propaganda weapon from our opponents. Britain is contributing as we did successfully in Libya.
We must be rational and cautious about the wider implications. No war or conflict is ever won from the air alone, and the Prime Minister was right to point out that this is only a part of the wider response.
If we degrade Daesh's command and control, territory will need to be taken and held, so ultimately we will need an international coalition on the ground. There may be as many Syrian fighters as the Joint Intelligence Committee has set out, and they may be co-ordinating with the international coalition, or be capable of doing so, but we must also recognise the need to take and hold territory.
The action will not in itself defeat Daesh, but, alongside the Vienna process, it may help to bring peace in the long term to the Syrian people. Without the defeat of Daesh, there will be no peace.
We have not chosen this conflict, but we could not have ignored it; if we had done nothing that in itself would have been a policy position which would have its own consequences. That does not mean we will not see a terrorist atrocity in this country, but if we do not tackle Daesh there will be an increasing risk that we have to face the consequences over here. That would be an abdication of the primary responsibility of the Government and Houses of Parliament, which is the protection and defence of the British people.