In the face of the latest rush “to do something” (in this case about the Islamic State), Hugh White provides some sensible counsel.
They should also be reminded there is simply no way to have any real influence over the way that new order evolves with the kind of low-cost low-risk commitments the interventions would involve. As we saw in Libya, campaigns of air strikes can affect what happens on the battlefield, but they confer no control over the political consequences of victory or defeat. Only troops on the ground can do that, and only in immense numbers. So only those willing to commit huge ground forces have any hope of being able to shape the outcome. Anyone else would be better staying away.
Finally, they should be reminded that the terrorist threat posed by Islamic State to western countries such as Australia is best met not by military interventions of the kind that have already been tried and have failed in Iraq and Afghanistan, but by the less spectacular but more effective work of intelligence agencies and police forces.