We should be willing to bear the costs and risks of military action alongside America in the cause of protecting the minorities of Iraq from the risk of extermination. To do otherwise would be to place our own phobias – our visceral reluctance to return to Iraq, our abhorrence of risk, and our new reluctance to use force even against the most implacable foe – above the moral case for action.
If you start with the question "what is right", then unless you are an outright pacifist, I submit that the answer is clear: the moral course is to use force to protect a minority from possible extirpation. If you accept that argument, then everything else falls into place.I can readily see the attractions of such a firm stance. But what would we be getting into? Is there any real prospect of defeating Islamic State by dropping bombs on them? Or of bringing them to the conference table? Would we be taking on an open-ended commitment to defend the Yazidis and the Kurds? For how long? At what cost? What would be the exit strategy?
I don't pretend to know the answers. There are no easy choices. But if we are to go beyond humanitarian aid, we need to have a much clearer idea of the strategy involved.