This evening in someone else's car, I had the experience of listening to Iain Dale on LBC. He hosts an evening phone-in. He set up the session by saying that we had moved into a new era as a result of the Paris deaths which meant that we had to take some kind of new action. The big question was whether the British people had 'the stomach for it'. He said that people might accuse him of being a 'warmonger' but so be it.
The first three calls that I heard were opposed to him each from different perspectives. One was Crispin Blunt MP who made it clear that he thought there was no action (in Dale's meaning of the word) that made sense so long as the civil war was going on in Syria. Whatever else happened, that had to be solved first. I surmised that he comes from a kind of pax britannica perspective, that he thinks that the UK still has some kind of useful role to play, acting as a referee in the middle east in order to protect 'our' interests, but as a realist he could see that saying 'we will bomb' made no sense.
Iain Dale ignored everything he said.
Then a caller came on who said that hadn't the French and the US been bombing for the last two years. so what had they been bombing and why hadn't it worked?
Iain Dale seemed to be saying: but that didn't disprove the point that we should go on bombing.
Then 'Raheem' came on and Raheem said that he worked with young Muslim men and he could see that many of them became radicalised by Western policy of backing dictators in the region and then bombing civilians. He gave the example of Cameron greeting the PM of Egypt.
Dale said that he didn't like the word 'radicalised' he said that he preferred to say 'brainwashed'.
Raheem said that every time he talks to these young Muslim men they mention western policy. Iain Dale said: but that doesn't explain the rapes and murders of Muslims wherever Da'esh are.
Raheem faltered a bit here (and I found myself willing him to say that a radical, authoritarian, militarised group will always have more than one objective: often one towards the outsider enemy (in this case the West) and another towards people perceived as collaborators, quislings and apostates. What's more: radical, authoritarian groups often have some male-led, male-based ideology about sex in which women only have the roles of handmaiden and child-makers. So, 'hating the West' and killing or raping fellow Muslims are not in contradiction with each other for a group like ISIS.)
Anyway, Raheem didn't say that.
He said that Iain Dale didn't understand the problem.
Iain Dale then repeated exactly what he said at the beginning of the programme as if he hadn't heard the previous three calls, said 'Did we have the stomach to take what action was needed..?'
And I got out the car.