Giles Fraser at The Guardian:
But despite my considerable reservations, it is still useful to invoke one aspect of the just war tradition and apply it to the current conflict in the Middle East: just wars require not only proportionality but also a reasonable chance of success. And the problem with so much of the west’s military involvement in Iraq, in particular, is that it has precious little conception of what success actually looks like. Bombing Islamic State is no more than a tinkering around the edges of a massive conflagration that is now increasingly being compared in scale to the thirty years war.
The sectarian conflict between Sunni and Shia, ignited first by the Iranian revolution and then deepened by the ill-advised western invasion of Iraq, is of a much greater order of magnitude than that acknowledged by Obama’s hands-off drone and air-strike approach.
We are witnessing a shift in the political tectonic plates throughout the whole of the Middle East and beyond into Africa, and the west’s apparently surgical involvement will probably do little more than generate some short-term satisfaction that we are doing something.