Corbyn’s Pyrrhic Victory?
He hasn’t gone away you know! And, with a predictable outcome that few didn’t predict, Jeremy Corbyn has been returned as Labour Party leader after a seemingly interminable electoral process. His margin of victory is roughly the same as last year, but he has benefitted from the upsurge in membership since the 2015 vote. Owen Smith fought a brave fight, but it rarely looked like being enough to mount a credible challenge to Corbyn’s grip on the leadership. What happens next for both Jeremy loyalists, and the rebel MPs who make up most of the parliamentary representation?
The rebels haven’t been routed. Owen Smith made a decent effort. There were no big beasts of the Soft Left running for the job. They will feel it is no longer their party. The membership is no longer representative of the country at large. Despite Corbyn’s assurances, many MPs fear being the target of compulsory re-selection, a mainstay preference of the Hard Left since the 1970s. There is disillusion and despair where once there was hope; the Tories can carve up a massive overall majority at the next election if polls, media, and political analysts are anything to go by. They will have to wait in the very long grass.
The Corbynites will be unstoppable now. How many will stay the course is a valid question; party loyalty can be measured more by door knocking in winter rather than by clicktivism and retro posturing. Some will be in for a rude awakening. The answer to Ed Miliband’s defeat was not to go more to the Left, but to try to understand and represent the needs and aspirations of Labour and swing voters. This will not be achieved through street demonstrations but via parliamentary relevance and principled, but non-doctrinaire, core Labour values.
The impasse is there again. While MPs and leadership differ, the Tories, despite the farce of Brexit, continue to govern unopposed. The old Militant Tendency tactics and strategies of infiltration, mass intimidation and a belief in neo-Marxism are so removed from the beliefs of the ordinary voter, that the Labour Party, as per the Corbyn leadership, can no longer claim to represent ordinary working people, or indeed, the liberal (small ‘L’) strain in British politics. The best and the brightest may be either driven out of the party by the new puritans, or just decide to walk away from the fray. Politics will be the poorer for that; Labour may be finished.
Trump Lies, Clinton Wins
The first debate is over and what have we learned? We saw a bloviating Donald Trump unable to handle the concept of a basic argument. We observed a Hillary Clinton unbound, someone who barely broke sweat while her opponent came out with his usual nonsense. For many, they’ll never have seen Clinton seem so relaxed. Most of the viewers will have made up their mind. There is no contest. The Election is between a competent woman with tons of political experience and an Oswald Mosley figure, both ridiculous and frightening, one who is totally unsuited to any political office.
Hillary Clinton was offered a plethora of contradictory advice. Thankfully, she ignored most of it and instead tackled Trump on all his inadequacies in her own calm, methodical and, at times, humorous manner. She got one of the best sound-bites for the Democrats in a response from the Stupid One, when she pressed him on why he hadn’t published his tax returns. Trump’s remark that it was ‘smart’ not to pay his fair share. She did way more than she had to do. Her debate game was as good as she’s ever been in public, in any forum.
Trump was appalling, even by his own unbelievably low standards. He lied habitually, dozens of times over ninety minutes. He lapsed into incoherence and bluster, at one point slagging off Rosie O’Donnell. He demonstrated that he wasn’t fit to be the local dog catcher, let alone President of the United States. He admitted not preparing for the debate, and it showed. The Republican Party must be looking at this guy and wondering how the hell it even got to this. The Trump campaign has not only been hugely damaging for America, but also for the GOP.
Hillary Clinton barely had time to scratch the surface on all of Trump’s calumnies but she did score enough to steady Democrat nerves that had been in a bad way since her pneumonia bout. Trump is an unapologetic representative of White Nationalism. We can dress it up and call it all we like. A Clinton presidency can be a force for good; were Trump to ascend to the highest calling, it would be a truly nightmarish result. Hillary’s got this; if we see a continuation of what we saw on Monday night, then the US is heading for its first woman to take the chair in the Oval Office. November can’t come quickly enough.
Same Trump, Different Day
There is, in Donald Trump Watch, an attempt at a pivot going on. So unpopular is the Hair right now in terms of winning the race, so mocked is he by anyone with half a brain and so toxic is his brand, that his favourite trick, the double-down, just isn’t working anymore. Instead, he has tried to massage his message. This is coming hot on the heels of his new campaign appointments, including Steve Bannon, probably the first time since the 19th Century that the Democrats or Republicans have had an out-and-out White Nationalist as their campaign chief. But with every twist and turn Trump makes to lose some of the inflammatory and fascistic rhetoric, the more uncomfortable he becomes. He’s no sheep in wolf’s clothes, he’s the real deal. But when the Republican candidate says that he won’t deport every illegal immigrant, is he telling the truth now, or was he when he said he would? It’s become evident since way before the nomination that this is a dangerous man with limited capacity for verbal and mental acuity. He is a mess. One that deserves to be thrown out with the thrash into the garbage of US political history. November can’t come soon enough.
If Trump debates, and there are big doubts as to whether he will or not, it won’t necessarily be a cakewalk for Hillary Clinton. So cataclysmically low are the expectations of Trump in the debates, so discounted has his prospective performance been and so mocked his inability to construct even a basic argument, it is presumed that Clinton will annihilate him. She may well do so, such is the chasm in intelligence and basic civility between the two. But it could well come down to Trump just holding steady after doing no better, or worse, than his campaign has already defined him as. If there are floating voters who don’t know what a fascistic, Kremlin- steered, obnoxious, racist he is, then you have to ask: where have they been living for the last six months? He is so far behind right now in what he needs to do to win the White House that Hillary can theoretically afford some off moments. She will have a laser-like focus between now and election day, something that’s never been a problem for her in the past. Trump is going down and the debates won’t be enough to stop that.
Corbyn Slow-Motion Train Crash
It must have seen like such a simple wheeze. Have Jeremy Corbyn board a Virgin train, sit down on the floor and make him seem like Jesus, or a Franciscan Friar, there amongst us common folk stuck sitting at the toilet door. For a few, brief hours, it seemed as though he was finally catching a break. Here was something that would fire up the base even more in the run up to the leadership contest. What could possibly go wrong? For a start, if you’re going to engage in such a PR stunt, make sure that there are no seats available. The footage is unclear, but it appears that there were plenty of seats to go round. The problem through a public relations prism is that it appears that Jeremy Corbyn and his handlers couldn’t organise a knees up in a brewery. It is that lack of any nous, that makes the operation look completely amateurish. There’s no way this man has a prayer against the Tories. But try convincing his followers of that.
Many of Jeremy’s disciples, his Jeremiads, see him as a holy man standing up to the iniquities of the less righteous, the unrighteous being those who oppose his leadership of the Labour Party. Try asking them would you not rather a leader who can get you half a loaf rather than no loaf at all and you’re liable to be howled down, condescended, intimidated and perhaps common to all three such actions, be called a traitor. Such is the bad blood in Labour now that it is difficult to see a split not occurring whoever is elected. Most of the bile, the vast majority of it, has been coming from Corbyn supporters, a lot of whom seem to have a long list of former Left People they call traitors. So the Hard Left now sees every living Labour Leader as a sell-out. Anyone who remembers Militant’s carry on during the 1980s will feel its déjà vu all over again. The extreme Left want the purity of never having to compromise. It is the political adherence of a cultist; Jeremy can do no wrong, he is the way and the light, do not be distracted by the devils that seek to tempt you from the path of true righteousness. Labour, as Her Majesty’s Opposition and as a potential party of Government, looks finished.
The Conventions are over and it’s full steam ahead for the Presidential Election in November. The seemingly endless campaign has moved up a gear as Republican and Democrat campaign themes became clarified. While there is a natural concern among all right-thinking human beings that Donald Trump may sneak a win, the Presidency is still Hillary Clinton’s to lose. The stakes have rarely been higher. At time of writing, the FBI are investigating Russian hacking of the DNC emails; the more the links between Trump and Putin are exposed, the less likely the former is to become President. Rarely has there been such a strong contrast between take away messages from each convention.
Fear. No matter how hard some of Trump’s enablers try to sell him, he’s a dud. All he has is the pedalling of fear. Fear of the other, of immigrants, of Muslims, of Mexicans, of the federal government taking your guns, of Hillary Clinton, of reason, of hope, of compassion. You know what you get with Trump. A fascist, racist, idiot man-child. A man who is still polling in the 40s, and a brute (yet cowardly, always the way) who sees himself in the role of Bully-In-Chief. His convention was a dark carnival of snarling idiocy. There was nothing of positive note on offer. He is the Sith Lord Candidate.
Hope. Yes, Hilary Clinton is not universally popular. But, as President Obama opined in a magisterial address to the hall, she is uniquely qualified for the role. The election will be fought championing social gains and her platform has also incorporated some of the key Sanders economic themes, particularly around the minimum wage. The historic nature of her nomination must be attested to. This is a break-through for women; the vote of 51% of the electorate, particularly Republican women, will be crucial to the outcome.
U.S. politics, like no other, appeals both to identities and the collective. So, Trump’s main target audience is the angry white male, or the white poor. The former, while vocal, won’t be enough to see him over the line. There may be some traction with the latter, particularly in the rust belt. The other target segment is the top 10%, who go Republican anyway, although he’s losing the traditional advantage among college graduates. Whereas Clinton will seek to keep the Obama coalition (Soccer Moms, Blue Collar Swing State, Millennials, African-Americans, Latinos, LGBT) and add ‘women’ to that constituency. This coalition speaks more to the collective, or, as Andrew Sullivan put it, the America he recognises. An Obama style vote, where the’ Bernie or Busters’ are marginalised, will be enough to see a second President Clinton elected.
Hillary Clinton will be remorseless in her emphasis on competence and temperament. The contrast is just too glaring for it not to be the main issue to differentiate the personalities. The ‘Brexit’ result scared the hell out of liberals; the Electoral College system, however, does not favour a protest vote scenario. Those who don’t know better or should know better may take a chance on Trump. The odds don’t favour him being able to terrify his way to the White House though.
Yes, Clinton and Trump have big negatives. This is where the Democrat strategy becomes interesting. At the margins, it is sufficient for swing-voters to find Hillary likeable enough. As long as they respect her judgment. The old beer-test no longer applies; if anything, you’d rather have a beer with Mrs Clinton than with Donald Trump. The huuuge (sic) Trump problem is that he isn’t even likeable enough. No amount of spin can make this crass buffoon respectable. He is as odious as he is dim. Michael Bloomberg was right when he said he knows a con when he sees it.
Hillary Clinton’s Convention was agenda setting. It was a shout out to the spirit of Eisenhower Republicanism and, as highlighted by President Obama, a continuation of Obama’s gradualist progressivism. The Left needs to realise the old adage that half a loaf is better than no loaf at all. The run-in will be a big test for Bernie. If he can move as many of the Hold-Out Sandernistas as he can to vote for Hillary in November, he will have done the Republic a great service. To paraphrase from the LBJ ‘Daisy’ commercial, the stakes are that high.
There will be twists and turns between now and polling day. There will be some wobbly times for the Democrats. But careful messaging, with, overall, surrogates going negative and Hillary staying positive will be enough to counter the Nasty Natterings of Nativism (thank you Spiro Agnew for something, at last). The Democrats will aim high while their opponents aim low. They’ll also be adopting the ‘Untouchables’ dictum; put one of us in the hospital, and we put one of you in the morgue. No more will Swift-Boating be allowed. Time to fight for democracy itself. It’s time to save the Republic.
As a visitor in London on the weekend of the Brexit Referendum, there was a strange atmosphere about the place. It felt as though a country had taken leave of their collective senses, and for this correspondent, it had an air of being behind enemy lines. The country that stood for Europe in 1939, had now rejected the institution that came from the ashes of that war. The Leave decision had seemed both brutish and symbolic. The UK had voted to quit after decades of tabloid vitriol and contempt towards Brussels and a populist campaign that preyed on fears about immigration by appealing to the worst instincts of the electorate. Europe had lost a member of the family. Things had changed utterly.
The fallout from this self-inflicted catastrophe was in many ways worse than feared. Trillions wiped from share value globally, a spike in racist assaults in England and political chaos at Westminster. The demographic and class split that had been projected by pollsters, came home in dramatic and divisive fashion. The Old voted to Leave, the Young voted to stay. Middle Class Graduates voted to Remain, Working Class voters wanted to go. Scotland, London and Northern Ireland put it up to the rest of the United Kingdom; we aren’t with you, mate. The consequences of last Thursday’s decision will be played out for years.
For the Conservatives, the reckoning was swift. David Cameron will go down in history as having made a monumental error in calling this referendum to appease the right wing of his own party. The catastrophe has cost Boris Johnson his lifelong ambition to be Prime Minister. The party of traditional financial stability has presided over the most risky political stunt in the last fifty years. It looks like Theresa May might come through as PM by being one of the last sane Tory MPs in the field.
The Labour Party is in absolute turmoil. A career Trot clings stubbornly to power when the overwhelming majority of his elected colleagues want him out and out now. Corbyn runs the very real risk of destroying HM’s Opposition. Egged on by a motley collection of dreamers, political know-nothings and, frankly, mad individuals, the Corbyn experiment has failed. It is time for Labour to regroup around a Centre-Left Remainer, someone who won’t be afraid to put it up to the Hard Left that if they want street politics, there are alternative parties for them to join.
The case for Scotland having a second independence referendum has never been stronger. Nicola Sturgeon can argue that the interests of voters north of Hadrian’s Wall have irreparably drifted from those south of the border. The hypocrisy of a Westminster Tory government dominated by Leavers dictating policy to Scotland on such a kernel matter of self-determination would be breath-taking. If Labour pivot to supporting the case for Scottish independence, the march towards that goal may be swifter than imagined less than only two years ago. A constitutional crisis that has been sped up rather than created, Brexit has served to underline that Scotland and England are inexorably drifting apart.
Another fine mess the Leavers have created is injecting fresh doubt into Northern Ireland. The Six Counties voted to remain. The DUP – bizarrely – supported a referendum that drives a wedge in the Union. As it happens, the Irish Government will row behind many of the British Brexit negotiation positions; this is because governments tend to look to national interests. But let’s be clear. Nationalists can point to the winner takes all democratic centralism of the vote result. The Good Friday Agreement was a precarious patchwork of a deal; last Thursday’s result has frightened many.
The demographic breakdown from Brexit is a further issue of concern. The lowering of the tone has allowed racism to rear its ugly head in public. The anti-immigration rhetoric was stoked up so much that we shouldn’t be surprised that working class areas voted to leave. If you’re not White or Eastern European, it is not a good time to be living in certain parts of England. The fact that younger people voted to remain may offer some solace for future European engagement. But the country voted out and once Article 50 is invoked, the countdown to leaving begins.
The grounds for optimism aren’t that widespread. The hope is that market adjustments and political instability will be short-term. But the real risk is that voting leave has done real medium to long-term damage to the UK, Europe and the World. The Centre may hold, but this unnecessary political adventurism has shattered the hopes of millions. Better Together wasn’t just a slogan to remain, it is a truism that we should all aspire to or should we not, there should be compelling reasons not to. Leave never made the case that there were these reasons. They’ve broken it. They can try and fix it.
Trump’s Card a Losing One
Trump’s only gone and done it. He’s decimated his opponents in the Republican camp and is now the presumptive GOP nominee. There are a few (wise) commentators saying that he may even go on to win. The process so far has been bizarre beyond belief that this horrifying prospect can’t be ruled out. But it is unlikely. Look at 2008 and 2012. President Obama’ election and re-election have shown us that the electoral demographics have changed significantly since the Reagan hey-day. It is no longer possible to be elected by angry white men. There aren’t enough white voters without college degrees to elect Trump. Black voters aren’t going to go for the Manhattan goon. While he probably could run Hillary a lot closer than the more optimistic Democratic pundits are suggesting, he’s still going to lose. But even if she wins by a 48-50 state clean sweep or takes 55 to 57% of the vote, it means tens of millions of Americans voting for a racist ignoramus. The withdrawal of Ted Cruz means Trump can start making some PR hires and consultants to help him move to the Centre. It may be much too late to convince many in the Republican Party. For Paul Ryan, both Bush Presidents, the vast majority of Congressional GOP representatives and conservative talking heads, Trump is either seen as un-electable or beyond the pale. There is an irony to this. The Republican Establishment encouraged the growth of Tea Party know-nothingsism by caving in to the wing-nuts. Now, the lunatics have truly taken over the establishment. Trump won’t win in 2016. But he will make America worse again over the coming months. For a country that prides itself as one of the cradles of modern democracy, there is something profoundly wrong about a system that allows such a thug to get so far in the race to the White House.
Jeremy Corbyn can claim that last week’s test of the electorate was a good result. No it wasn’t. A British Labour party should be racking up hundreds of gains in the local elections, not making a small net loss. The results in Scotland were grim. The Conservatives are now the official opposition in Hollyrood. That’s how far the SNP have outmaneuvered Labour. There was a zero bounce for Corbyn in Scotland. The victory of Sadiq Khan in the London Mayoral vote came from a strong candidate who distanced himself from the Labour leadership. This writer doesn’t hold with many on the Soft Left that Jeremy Corbyn is wrong on every issue. He is thoroughly unelectable as a Prime Minister though and the sooner Her Majesty’s Opposition come to their senses and depose him, the better. Sadly, this looks like being later rather than sooner. He will trundle on as a General despised by his Officers but loved by his troops. He is a hero of the Regressive Left who hold with the 100 year strategy for political gradualism. And who benefits? The Conservative Party, that’s who. The same Tory Party that’s in a state of civil war over Europe. Yet, friends of Jeremy would rather go down in flames than face political realities. Even if the Conservatives implode after the June referendum, the Labour Party is ill-placed to capitalise on such an internal collapse. There’s not a lot to be optimistic about.
The ‘war on drugs’ must be one of the longest and most unsuccessful wars of all times. The arguments are well rehearsed; both pro and anti-legalisation hold to their shibboleths to their hearts and heads. There are strong moral and policy grounds for maintaining the law and order approach. If tobacco were discovered tomorrow, with what we know now, there would be no health grounds for licensing it. And that is the argument that legalisers have to defend. Are they saying that as long as it’s legal and sold under license, we shouldn’t care about those who become addicted to the product? But the central point of those advocating change holds strong. The sheer cost of the ‘war’, the loss of life, the growth of criminal cartels, the corrupting of public officials with narco-money, all these have been an appalling drain on human and financial capital over the last forty years. Legalisation isn’t a magic wand but it would have the immediate effect of de-criminalising users of both hard and soft drugs and the concomitant removal of that cohort from the criminal justice system. Vast swathes of American and European society have been scourged by heroin, crack; it may be too late for that lost generation. The hardest part of legalising the trade is the recognition that that there will be new addicts with the resulting social problems for individuals and families. But it would be better than what we have now; a war without end.
There has been something inspiring about the Bernie Sanders run for President. A veteran Left-Winger runs for the Democrats as self-declared socialist. That’s pretty gutsy to start with. Sanders is speaking like a man a pre-Carter Democrat. There is carping, some of it justified, that Bernie is a carpet-bagger, hitching his bandwagon to the Dems. His supporters would turn around and say that he, and not Hillary, is the true heir to the LBJ Great Society, to the FDR New Deal and a necessary counterpoint to the DNC Democratic compromise of the mid 1980s to the present. No cynical triangulation for Bernie; he says what he means and means what he says. But the Sanders journey may be coming to an end. While HRC is only 200 pledged delegates ahead, such is the sweep that the Vermont Senator requires between now and June 2016, Hillary may not even require the super-delegates to come out in her favour. Despite the enthusiasm, the sincerity, the lack of pandering to big interests, he may just have reached the end of the road. He will probably keep going, just as his opponent did in 2008 against the outgoing President. It may have been an impossible dream from the start. And it would be appalling if Trump were to sneak in as President because Bernie supporters decide to stay at home. US politics is broken in so many ways. Bernie Sanders tried his best to fix that. It has been a valiant run and he should be saluted for his passion and integrity in truly trying to make America great again.
It looks like we might be heading for a new type of government in Ireland. Or then again, maybe we’re not. Such has been the tortuous path of negotiations between Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, most of the Independents and indeed with everybody else but Sinn Fein, that it is still impossible to say if these talks will end in a new type of politics in Ireland or another General Election. We just don’t do things like they do in mainland Europe; we can’t go months without an elected government as our institutions and local councils do not have enough autonomy and authority to survive for long periods without guidance and direction. The state rumbles on but for every week that there’s no elected cabinet, for every day there’s no Taoiseach, for every hour there aren’t ministers with sufficient democratic mandates to take executive action, the body politic becomes more and more weakened. The public may not take well to the behaviour of the two major centrist parties refusing to go into government together or even agreeing minimum supply and confidence measures. There’s so little between the two major parties on policy grounds that any contested discussions are more smoke and mirrors than differences of real substance. There is a real danger, if the two big parties put their heads in the sand, that a succession of elections could make Ireland ungovernable. There is a virtue in compromise. It can be reached. But the odds are on an election within three years and it will be quite an achievement to even make it to that length of time.
US opposes Brexit
Barack Obama is enjoying a well-deserved swan-song tour of Europe. He stated quite unambiguously while speaking in Britain that Brexit would not be in the interests of the British people. He said, quite rightly, that should the United Kingdom vote to leave the European Union, then Britain would go to the back of the queue when it came to trade negotiations. Why this was decried by the motley right-wing crew who look like they could well succeed in forcing UK cessation from the EU is not surprising, They don’t like hearing the truth on this one. We simply do not know the level of economic shock and the duration of the same that will occur should the British in their wisdom decide to leave. There will be an immediate drop of several hundred points in stick markets across the world. The British would be entering totally uncharted territory. Never before has a constituent member of the European Union left the ‘club’. Despite what the Brexit proponents have suggested, the Berlaymont will not be rushing in with a plan B. The Plan B, such as it is, is scrambling for help and international goodwill which may be in short supply after the UK’s history of saying ‘non’ throughout their membership of the EU. This is a much bigger issue than Cameron’s survival as Prime Minister. He may win the vote with Labour Party votes. But he has brought this upon himself. Like Oedipus, he may be the master of his fate and the master of his downfall. President Obama was right to say what he did,
The BBC Documentary series on Obama already has an elegiac feel to it. Compared to the horrors of the Republican Party nomination process, President Obama’s eight years in Office already assume as rosy glow. The series works because of the superb access – look, there’s Hillary Clinton! – behold, it’s Bob Gates! – and while there’s an overall tone of respect from the programme makers, they don’t shy away from the more troublesome aspects of the legacy. Syria is a blot on the conscience of humanity; but did Barack Obama cause this? The inability to tackle inequality in the US; is this Obama’s fault, or more likely, could any President have survived the GOP scorched earth policy that Obama has had to endure from 2008? On a smaller level, a couple of things strike this viewer. The first is how much Barack Obama has aged in the last eight years; a Presidency will not help you look younger. The second is that being President is like chairing a board and having to sift through the opinion of principals. ‘O’ arguably steered the world away from a global depression in 2008/09. His job is one most of us would find impossible to cope with. This series is a fitting testimony to the qualities of the man.
So, so long Ian Duncan Smith. The Quiet Man has raised his voice yet again, and, what exactly? His resignation should not be seen as matter of principle over spending. To say that IDS is on the economic Left of the Tory Party is not to know the Conservatives. They are a party of power that drift between the centre and the right; it is difficult to have respect for any organisation and leader that had Lynton Crosby as one of their main advisors. No, IDS has quit in order to be a martyr for the anti-European cause, laying down a marker for if and when Boris becomes PM. Maybe this long-term dis-loyalist has ambitions for the top job himself? Maybe; but most Conservatives will remember his disastrous time as leader at the turn of the century. When Cameron goes, it could be a bit of a free for all. George Osborne is still well placed but if Brexit is carried and Britain leave the EU, then IDS will be a happy man wherever he ends up. Britain could be sleepwalker into leaving the European Union; Europe will be a very different place if they do.
Multi-Party or Grand Coalition
The aftermath of the Republic of Ireland’s General Election leaves the country celebrating their 1916 commemorations without a permanent government. While Ireland hasn’t had a single party government since the 1970s, it has usually been straightforward enough to form a coalition. This time, the parties are weighing up whether a minority multi-party administration can be formed on a ‘confidence and supply’ basis or if there should be a burying of the hatchet between the two big traditionally Centre parties – Fine Gael and Fianna Fail – to form a comfortable and stable government. Under PRSTV, the Irish electorate is expected to throw up fractured results well into the immediate future. Many commentators are now arguing that only a grand coalition between the two big civil war parties will lead to a government that will last the course. While mainland Europe may be used to month after month of political negotiations, it is not the Irish way. The pressure will really be on in April for the political shadow boxing to stop and for the adults to take over in the negotiations to establish an administration that is effective and one that has a mandate.
Another month, another ISIS atrocity. This time Brussels, tomorrow, the Middle East, Africa, anywhere. That’s why the ISIS campaign of violence is so frightening. Their political objectives are so beyond sane that to even write that phrase makes the stomach churn. These thugs are ruthless killers; they corrupt the young and poison their minds. It is a death cult that seems all too easy to join and all but impossible to escape. The response in Europe will be more security. Better to feel safe than sorry. But ISIS are winning to the extent that the West are having to change their way of life every time there’s a terrorist outrage or a hostage is decapitated. This is not the time for moral equivocating. This feels like an existential struggle. President Obama is right in his objectives on this one; ISIS must be degraded and destroyed. It is a campaign that one fears may take decades. That is the tragedy; it may not take as long as that but the US is not dealing with a rational actor in this situation. The resolve of the West is being severely tested.