|Time to push the button or adopt an|
"I'll hold your coat" attitude?
Why not pay a ransom and save lives? It's a fair question and some Governments will do so, albeit discreetly, but it's long been UK Government policy not to pay a ransom, no matter how painful or final the threatened outcome may be. Writes Julian Bray.
The shocking videos emerging overnight thought to show the beheading of Aid Worker David Haines, 44, this latest barbaric act followed the earlier beheadings of two American journalists. David Haines, a family man only seeking to help those less fortunate in foreign lands, and not part of any conflict.
Prime Minister David Cameron returned to London overnight to host a Sunday morning meeting of the 'Cobra' committee. The constitution of a COBR (Cabinet Office Briefing Room) meeting is usually chaired by the Prime Minister or another senior minister, with other key ministers as appropriate, and representatives of relevant external organizations.
COBR meetings are generally held in one of the Cabinet Office buildings in Whitehall, London. Each is held in a secure room fitted with video and audio links able to display all intelligence information relevant to the situation under discussion.
Afterwards in a brief statement, Cameron expressed his condolences but still will not recall Parliament, he will not commit to troops on the ground, and continues to be at odds with many highly respected former Heads of our Armed Forces. You may recall the Defence Secretary was recently slapped down by Mr Cameron. No air strikes immediately turned into there will be air strikes.
The strategy emerging seems to be an 'I'm in charge' attitude by the Coalition Prime Minister and that we will work with others, the classic "I'll hold your coat attitude" to I.S. outrages. Mr Cameron only touched on the fact that the beheadings were carried out by a British citizen.
Clearly the elephant in the room, the 'threat' is some say already within our borders. A key component is that of the payment of a ransom. An Italian hostage was recently released, it was rumoured that a £5 million ransom was paid 'under the counter' to secure the release of the Italian national.
The argument goes that any ransom paid over immediately funds an escalation of the terrorist cause, more bombs, outrages, killings, funding drugs and even 21st Century slave trading. The ransom money finds its way back to arms dealers, gun runners and so on.
Some years back, just before the despot Idi Amin was in power in Uganda, I spent a few years in the country, immediately after Independence, my task to create a new Uganda company from an old established East African organsation besed in neighbouring Kenya. I was called in by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office to see if I could assist with the negotiations over the release of a Mr Hills.
The options were explained over tea and biscuits, and early on in the discussion, the question of a ransom or bounty came up. The position was clear. No money would change hands. Uganda as a nation even under Amin, though would benefit from activities promoted by the British Council..... even new Libraries for upcountry Uganda!
But rolling the years on and dealing with the current ISIS situation, and what may be happening in the Ukraine, and elsewhere; the conflict rule book seems to have been thrown out.
There are no Rules of Engagement, the Geneva Convention ignored, and no respecting the position of non-combatents such as aid workers, journalists, photograhers, cameramen and anyone and anything (such as the ill fated Malaysian airlines MH17) venturing intgon conflict zones.
Its all been turned upside down. Nothing can be relied upon and unlike previous recent conflicts the immediate accessibility of social media means that often the first we hear of any developments is not through normal TV, radio and Press news channels but via Twitter, Facebook and other immediate elements of the internet driven social media...
We live in dangerous, violent, uncertain but interesting times... trouble is we also need strong credible politics and politicians. All of which is from my own soundings currently in very short supply. We might not be near pushing the 'WAR' button, but clearly only a cigarette paper away from serious international conflict generated by some very well financed barbaric opponents...
Mr Cameron may well be softening us up for something bigger or is the Scotland Independence vote and a General Election less than a year away, clouding his old Etonian style thinking?
JULIAN BRAY [ 01733 345581 ], Journalist, Broadcaster, Aviation Security &Operations, Travel / Cruise Industry Expert, Writer and Coach EQUITY, NUJ, Broadcast ISDN changed number 01733 345020) SKYPE: JULIAN.BRAY.UK e&oe A later updated version is always on the Website