From Russia to ISIS, NATO needs to act

The President’s recent admission that he has no strategy on ISIS spoke volumes to the lacklustre response to current crises

The President has admitted that he has no strategy – we have now reached a crunch point

Faced with a Russia flexing its muscles in the Ukraine and ISIS fighters using brutal, medieval like tactics such as beheadings on television, NATO leaders gather in Newport today look like a group unable to prevent events spiralling out of control.

In respect of Russia, sanctions come and sanctions go yet Putin’s army continues to advance into the Ukraine, seemingly unscathed by the words of condemnation spouted by leaders in the West.

When it comes to ISIS meanwhile, Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday rightly saw leaders across the board express grave concerns about the threat posed to us all by this barbaric group. Yet despite this, the beheadings go on, the persecution of religious minorities continue unabated and now a British hostage is being lined up to be the latest to be beheaded on television.

NATO stands at a crossroads in Wales. The West and President Obama in particular, has so far failed to get to grips with the international crises the world now faces. The President’s recent admission that he has no strategy on ISIS spoke volumes to the lacklustre response to both Russia and militants in Syria, Iraq, Nigeria and many other countries.

I have traditionally been cautious in calling for military action, fearful that within the Middle East the consequences of taking such action can in many ways cause greater harm than not doing so.

But we have now reached a crunch point. Failure to take some sort of military action against the terrorists in Syria and Iraq will simply leave them with the impression that our resolve is crumbling, that our words mean nothing and that they can somehow continue their quest of a caliphate based on their twisted ideology.

Polling in America suggests that 73% are concerned about the White House’s lack of a strategy, a figure that one suspect would be similar in the UK if voters here were asked the same question.

NATO needs a united and robust strategy to emerge from discussions over the next few days, with military action not just an opaque ‘option’ being considered but a tool that will be used along with sanctions, arming our ‘friends’ (whoever they might be now) and using our aid to support our military and security priorities.

In Russia also, we need to take immediate action to bolster the position of the Ukraine government by providing the security support that they need. And for those who worry that it would merely inflame tensions still further, let us remember the words of President of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaite who rightly declared over the weekend that President Putin is “practically in a state of war with Europe” already.

It’s time to turn words into action.

It’s time for NATO leaders to get a grip of events that are fast spiralling out of control.

It is time, ultimately, to show that invading another country as Russia is in the midst of doing and persecuting minorities in the case of ISIS has no place in the world and will be met with a tough and meaningful response.

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