Nigel Farage, the outspoken leader of Britain’s UK Independence Party (UKIP), has spoken out against Prime Minister David Cameron’s plans to extend his country’s bombing campaign from Iraq into Syria.
The reason Farage opposes the plan is that he remains unconvinced that Cameron has a global long-term strategy. Such a strategy is necessary, Farage believes, to truly destroy ISIS and the radical-Islamic threat in general, and must include cooperation with Russia.
I don’t back bombing Syria on current terms. Whether we bomb or not we still face threat on London’s streets. I think to go to war you need to be absolutely clear what your aims and goals are. … There needs to be a long-term global strategy.
He then said the UK has to build a “grand coalition” before it does anything. Asked whether this coalition should include Russia, he answered: “How could it not be?”
Although Russian President Vladimir Putin is an old-fashioned dictator who threatens American interests in the Middle East and elsewhere, the fact of the matter is that he’s already involved in Syria. Russian troops are fighting against ISIS. The West may not be happy that Russia’s involved, but a realistic foreign policy looks at things as they are, not as we’d like them to be.
It simply doesn’t make sense to exclude Russia from the anti-ISIS coalition. We simply have to work together with Putin, especially if we don’t want to send in ground troops of our own.
America’s greatest president ever, George Washington, once told his compatriots that they should be weary of ever joining lasting coalitions with any countries. To him, coalitions were always meant to be temporary and dependent on a specific set of circumstances. Putin and the West share a common interest at the moment: to defeat ISIS. After that we can devise a new policy of containment towards Russia if that proves necessary.
The European Union, and the West, view Putin as the devil. They want to view Putin as the devil. I’m not saying I want take him around for tea and meet mum on Sunday afternoon … But the point is, on this bigger overall battle we need to start recognizing we’re on the same side.
You haven’t got to like somebody to be their ally. … If we’re going to beat ISIS, we have to recognize Putin’s on that side, and maybe we have to swallow really hard, Mr Cameron, and we have to say to ourselves perhaps even Assad is on that side as well.
That’s a bitter pill to swallow, but the facts on the ground being as they are, there are no other options. The West — and especially Britain and the United States — have to accept that Putin is part of this war. Whether we like it or not, we can’t defeat ISIS without acknowledging that and acting accordingly.