Dave's grand strategy got a full airing on this evening's Channel 4 News via his Philip Hammond appendage. Those 70,000 figments of his imagination have now assumed form. They comprise some 20,000 Kurds and 50,000 assorted moderates, apparently. The RAF's unique capability to smash IS forces and installations accurately and without civilian casualties in the complete absence of reliable, on-the-ground intelligence is something this army needs if they're to smash their way into Raqqa and liberate the town of the blight that befell them.
Of course, the fiercest fighting taking place is between Assad's forces and that of the rebel groups variously organised under the Free Syrian Army banner. The involve some progressive, secular, and democratic forces. And groups that are not. Yet there's no reason why any of them would break from their fight with the dictator's army and turn their guns exclusively against IS. For the Dave plan to work, that has to happen. Luckily, the plan is underpinned by another plan to solve this thorny issue. The big powers have met with various Syrian opposition figures as part of the Vienna Process. It's early days, but Hammond gave the long-drifted idea that some sort of conciliatory compromise can be struck between Assad and his non-Islamist opposition whereby his dictatorship would give way to an interim administration, followed by democratic government. This would free up these sides to turn their attentions against IS and crush them. According to Hammond, the only man standing in the way of the scheme is one Vladimir Putin. Therefore the British bombing campaign is premised upon a road map that no one, not the Russians, not Assad's regime, and neither the FSA nor the Kurds are signed up to yet.
And what are the chances of such a deal getting struck? By any reckoning they cannot be described as generous. Putin's interest in Syria is the maintenance of a reliable ally in the Middle East. He knows what Russia can expect should Assad remain in power, hence why FSA positions are getting a hammering. The Kremlin is hardly likely to assent to an uncertain transitional government where, at best, a question mark is raised over the fidelity that has with Russian geopolitical interests. From his perspective, under the name of democracy his opponents in Washington, Paris, and London are looking to install a regime more congenial to their designs for the region. And one does not need to be a Putin cheerleader to see that is more or less correct. What, did you think the US bombed IS positions on behalf of the Kurdish YPG out of kindness as opposed to a coincidence of interests? IS are hardly an existential threat, despite their bloody crimes, but they do stand in the way of a permanent settlement in the region what would leave US hegemony unchallenged by Russia and Iran. With diametrically opposed interests, the idea Russia are going to roll over on a perceived strategic asset is thinking more woolly than anything ever uttered by pacifists demonstrating outside the Palace of Westminster.
If Dave didn't desperately want his war, surely military action would post-date, not precede a plan of action. But, again, the war drive draws deep from a desire to be seen to be doing something and, of course, to play the war leader. Dave's plan is fragmentary, vapid, and depends the unfolding of an unlikely scenario. There is no case for bombing.