Will Cameron intervene in Iraq?

David Cameron cut short his holiday to chair Wednesday’s Cobra emergency committee meeting on Iraq as pressure on him mounts to take military action against Islamic militants.

Last Thursday, President Obama announced air strikes against the Islamic State (Isis) in northern Iraq, but although he has said that the strikes will continue if necessary to “prevent an act of genocide”, he has repeatedly stated that he does not want to be pulled into a longer involvement in Iraq, says Martin Pengelly in The Guardian.

In recent days, both the US and the UK have been conducting airdrops of food and water to Yazidis fleeing persecution on Mount Sinjar. The response of the US and UK governments has been an “incoherent mess”, says Steve Richards in The Independent.

In an interview with The New York Times at the weekend, Obama suggested that the reason the US had not intervened militarily when Isis began its offensive was because such action would have encouraged Iraq’s Shia prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki (whose sectarian policies have alienated the Kurds and driven the Sunni tribes into the arms of the jihadis) not to compromise. Yet faced with the continuing horrors of Isis, that is just what Obama is doing now.

Meanwhile, Cameron, who stated last summer that there was “no political appetite for intervention” is now under pressure to join the US in its limited military mission. That would require Cameron to recall parliament early and be confident he could win a vote.

This “nervy, tentative pragmatism” may be preferable to the “shallow evangelism” of Bush and Blair, but “ultimately, it is for Iraq’s governing factions to work with all parties”.

It is “fantasy to think that the Iraqi government and its military can stop Isis on their own”, says FT’s Richard Haass. Isis has “zeal and momentum”, whereas Iraq is “beset by division, corruption and incompetence”.

Obama needs to make the case for military intervention. This is not about nation-building, but using air power to weaken an adversary. Others, including Kurds and Iraqis, will need to provide ground forces.

Isis is more of a threat than al-Qaeda; it wants to “create a caliphate… over swaths of the Middle East and beyond”. The US should carry out sustained attacks on both Iraq and Syria. Borders are irrelevant. “The president said people the world over look to America to lead. He is right. Now is one of those times.”

Merryn

Claim 12 issues of MoneyWeek (plus much more) for just £12!

Let MoneyWeek show you how to profit, whatever the outcome of the upcoming general election.

Start your no-obligation trial today and get up to speed on:

  • The latest shifts in the economy…
  • The ongoing Brexit negotiations…
  • The new tax rules…
  • Trump’s protectionist policies…

Plus lots more.

We’ll show you what it all means for your money.

Plus, the moment you begin your trial, we’ll rush you over THREE free investment reports:

‘How to escape the most hated tax in Britain’: Inheritance tax hits many unsuspecting families. Our report tells how to pass on up to £2m of your money to your family without the taxman getting a look in.

‘How to profit from a Trump presidency’: The election of Donald Trump was a watershed moment for the US economy. This report details the sectors our analysts think will boom from Trump’s premiership, and gives specific investments you can buy to profit.

‘Best shares to watch in 2017’: Includes the transcript from our roundtable panel of investment professionals – and 12 tips they’re currently tipping. The report also analyses key assets, including property, oil and the countries whose stock markets currently offer the most value.