I had another late night request yesterday from the Evening Standard's letters page, asking for my views on the proposed UK intervention in Iraq. I don't know if they will use my words in today's edition, but here they are:
Twenty five years after the Rushdie protests, we still don't have a viable policy to address Islamic extremism. Twenty years since British jihadis fought for the Bosnian Mujahideen, we are still scrambling to properly respond to the issue of UK Islamists fighting overseas. If in doubt, revert to type - support the same side as the Jihadis, then when that is exposed as folly, launch air raids, and hope for the best. In the very year when government in Libya has collapsed (the RAF's last destination) that is not good enough.
Western governments should tackle ISIS at source - stop its funding from the Gulf, stop its flow of manpower via the Turkish border, and stop the flow of support from Salafi Muslims in Europe - be it directly as fighters or indirectly as often dubious charities. Whilst support for a secular Kurdish state could have been given by now, more generally, a retreat from this troublesome part of the world is overdue. As what is really a Sunni v Shia civil war continues (towards an Islamic Götterdämmerung?) let us look to our moat. And where he can, the Prime Minister should begin to pull up the drawbridge.
Paul Stott, University of East Anglia