If there is a strategy buried under the ‘no strategy’ response by the US and the UK to Isis, it seems to be that David Cameron and Barack Obama have preferred to make the case for greater military involvement by waiting for everyone else to get frustrated that nothing is happening.
Where a few weeks ago, there was plenty of muttering about the polls and the public being weary of intervention, we see today that voters are starting to push for greater UK involvement. They are not, of course, in favour of boots on the ground (one of those phrases that is as worn out now as a very old boot, along with ‘knee-jerk response’): the Sun’s poll finds 58 per cent of voters are against ground troops. But 39 per cent say we should arm the Kurds, and 47 per cent are in favour of air strikes (with 31 per cent opposed and 22 per cent saying they don’t know). Similarly, ConHome reports a shift in Tory membership towards military intervention, with more Conservatives (albeit still a small proportion) supporting ground troops (11 per cent, up from five per cent in July), and one in ten saying we shouldn’t get involved in Iraq, considerably down from one in three in the summer.
David Cameron was on Today earlier, and he continued to refuse to rule out joining the air strikes:
‘Well, these are all things that should be considered, and we’ve supported the American airstrikes up to now, which have been helping to make sure that the Kurds… As I say, we’re not ruling anything out, I think we shouldn’t underplay what Britain has done already.’
Given Labour and the Lib Dems have also made supportive noises about Britain’s further involvement, at least when the leaders do decide what their strategy is, they’ll have a little more backing.