Beginning in 2001, the UK has been in continuous war and the current (2015) military commitment in Iraq and Syria is open-ended. The principal characteristics of the four major conflicts has been that they aren’t against countries. The 9/11 attacks in New York precipitated a military coalition against the Taliban terrorist group, who were located in Afghanistan. More-or-less the same coalition began a war against Iraq in 2003 and successfully completed regime change (against Saddam Hussein). A third war, in Libya, also successfully completed regime change against Gaddafi’s hateful dictatorship. Finally, the UK joined yet another US led coalition against the Syrian Assad regime and the terror group ISIS. The UK has been involved in wars of offense for fourteen years, which extend for an unforeseeable number of years. These wars are aimed at punishing terrorists and accomplishing regime change.
If Syria was a country, the UK would expect their bombers to be attacked by the Syrian air force for territorial incursions*. Syria has ceased to be a country and is now a mosaic of defended zones. The British, alongside the USA and France, have declared that one zone (ISIS caliphate) is a legitimate target. The proposition is that the caliphate-zone is in Syria but not Syrian**. The caliphate-zone is centred on the town of Raqqa and that town and the oil fields controlled by ISIS are our principal target. ISIS don’t have an air force nor anti-aircraft weapons and so militarily are ‘sitting ducks’. Once ISIS is ‘defeated’, the coalition will move onto their next, lesser target, Assad.
ISIS cannot fight back against coalition bombers but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to. After all, who phlegmatically accepts bombing saying ‘Well what can we do?’ Warfare against the coalition can only be conducted through assymetrical attacks. The recent (13 Nov 2015) Parisian attacks are an example of assymetrical warfare. The barbarism of close contact warfare is intentionally shocking. The assymetrical warfare ISIS employs is tactically identical to bombing campaigns. Bombing intentionally intimidates; bombing is a terror tactic. Unfortunately on every occasion it has been used as a principal method of warfare it failed (Germany vs. UK 1941-4; USA vs. Japan in 1944-5***; USA in Vietnam 1965-69). Bombing softens up an enemy but doesn’t win wars.
In Libya (2013) Cameron gave significant military (bombing) support to a quasi-military group. They took power, provoking a civil war, which continues to this day. Like Syria and Iraq, Libya isn’t a country. Regime change in both Iraq and Libya has eliminated central government and created failed states. Libya is now a conduit for Africans fleeing war and economic destitution. The western model of nation-states has disappeared under the weight of internal centrifugal forces and western interventions.
Victory for the coalition is impossible as it’s predicated on a failed model. None of the countries that the UK has intervened in militarily has survived as a country in a European sense. The US led coalition’s desire to avoid casualties promotes bombing and drone attacks, which results in assymetrical warfare. ISIS isn’t a country, it’s a religious-terror franchise. Conventional strategies cannot defeat ISIS and western countries must brace themselves for more assymetrical attacks.
Both the New York and Baghdad attacks were illegal and both were psychological attacks.
* (a) Only the Russians have been invited into Syria, which is why they have a base on Syrian territory and the UK, USA and France don’t. (b) The Turkish air force shot down a Russian bomber for an incursion of 17 seconds(!) in November 2015.
**The Saudi dominated Taliban operated from Afghanistan.
***The bombing of Hiroshima didn’t end the Japanese war in 1945.