If we had killed Himmler or Göring or Goebbels with Hellfire missiles fired from a Reaper drone in - let’s say - 1938, would the world be a better place? I am sure that we would all agree in retrospect, that that would have saved hundreds of thousands of lives and a generation of misery, and so would have been more than justified. But would it have been justified under International law at the time? And would it have made Hitler a weaker or a stronger person? And what would his military reaction have been? These, of course, are the very questions troubling us all over the killing of Soleimani and his deputy. Was it justified? Will it save lives? What will the reaction be from Iran or their proxies across the Middle East, and very probably across the rest of the world as well?
I welcome the fact that the Iranian reaction so far has been modest and relatively harmless and hope that will satisfy their need for revenge. We must all de-escalate and seek to use diplomatic means to resolves the crisis. (Thank goodness that the UK, unlike America, has kept our Embassy open in Tehran). We must never forget that the security of our own troops - and civilians - must be paramount; but also, that we have an overwhelming duty to keep Daesh contained. Our troops are mainly being used to train both Iraqi and Kurdish soldiers to do just that. I visited them a year or two ago near Erbil; and it will not surprise you to hear that our boys do a great job. Military training is one of our greatest skills. It makes a huge contribution to keeping Daesh under control, and we must not be deflected from it.
Parliament’s back and plunged into the Committee stage of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill. 30 or 40 hours of debate were set aside this week for it. But despite Remainers’ complaints that that was not nearly enough (their vote against the Programme Motion was one of the main reasons for the General Election), they were unable to put up enough speakers to keep the debate going, so that it collapsed in about half of the time allocated. By the time you read this, we should have completed most stages of the Bill, and so will be moving towards Big Ben chiming out to celebrate Brexit at 11pm on 31 January.
Europe in turmoil, President Trump in deep trouble, dangerous events in the Middle East. The world is indeed a dangerous and confused place at the moment. Britain must be in the lead in seeing us through it.