Not for the first time, I agree entirely with the hon. Gentleman. As we saw in Paris, as our domestic security leaders tell us, and as the many desperate refugees flooding into continental Europe testify, the implications of this evil are real, and I do not believe any realistic alternative course of action exists that properly deals with the nature of this threat.
My concern is this: we must accept that to defeat this evil we need a grand strategy covering humanitarian, military, political and security dimensions, and this will likely require more time than many of us, and perhaps of our constituents, want to contemplate. Special precision-strike Tornadoes will not be enough. We will need to embrace uncomfortable compromises with Iran, Russia and Assad himself.
Syria will not become benign in its outlook until a comprehensive long-term political solution is found that demonstrates acute sensitivity to many conflicting but co-existing outlooks. Yet this political solution does not have a hope of success until we realise that some enemies of our way of life and freedoms cannot be hidden from. They cannot, and will not, become less lethal. They will not diminish unless we take military action to degrade them—a task we cannot justifiably outsource to our French and American allies.
Let us be clear: although I believe it is true that air power will not defeat this enemy by itself, it will not be defeated on the ground alone either. We will need a co-ordinated approach involving an Arab coalition, NATO, Iraqi and Syrian Kurds, and the Iraqi and Syrian armies, but our airstrikes are instrumental to our task of defeating this evil.
I want to address the argument that bombing Syria will not stop jihadi bombers already in the UK or France. No, I do not believe it will, but that is to misunderstand the comprehensive strategy that must be employed, and is now being employed. Special forces, the police and the intelligence services are well positioned to prevent these atrocities, but the severe risk we currently face is unlikely to diminish if we fail to support today’s motion. If we fail to act, the evil heart pumping life into this death cult will remain healthy. Finally, we must not underestimate the scale of the humanitarian crisis facing Syria, or the time and resources needed to help bring order to that country.
I have thought very carefully about these matters. There is much I do not know—I concede that—but my conscience is clear. We must act and begin the long, intense, delicate and difficult process of facing up to a profound evil. I support the motion and our Prime Minister’s compelling case.