British troops in Iraq British troops in Iraq. Image: Getty

For David Cameron, airstrikes are a prelude to ground troops. All out to stop the second Iraq War, argues Kevin Ovenden

Obama is sending ground troops to Syria and Iraq.

He is sending a “permanent expeditionary force”. He told the Congress yesterday: “It puts everybody on notice in Syria. You don’t know at night who is going to be coming in the window.”

They are sending troops back to Iraq and now to Syria, but it was the invasion of Iraq which created the chaos out of which Isis emerged under the occupation and in its prisons in the first place.

In doing so the President of the United States has given the lie to Cameron’s flannel about the 70,000-strong “moderate” rebels in Syria.

It is Nato which is to “put boots on the ground”. Cameron must have known that yesterday when the government published its motion for war to be voted on tonight.

We know from former US Ambassador to the UN, Colin Powell, as part of the “special relationship” of British prime ministers unswervingly supporting the US military, that Tony Blair told George W Bush a year before the Iraq War that Britain would join the US invasion of Iraq come what may.

Why should Cameron be any different? US bombing for over a year in Syria has not worked. Cameron knows that. When he vaguely says that Britain must play its role alongside the US, what he is doing is preparing the way for British troops to follow Obama’s plan and be sent to fight, kill and die in Syria.

Cameron knows he has no chance of getting that through parliament tonight. So instead he is – just like Blair – hiding the truth and adopting salami tactics.

Cross the threshold of joining airstrikes first, and then say that inevitably does not work, and that it has to be followed up by ground troops. “We can’t let our allies do all the work.” This is just how the US war in Vietnam started, with an expeditionary force, followed by more and more troops. A Labour prime minister – Harold Wilson – refused to join it.

And Labour MPs can stop Britain joining a second bloody Iraq disaster tonight.

Cameron will pretend tonight that he is “supporting our soldiers” while denouncing those opposed to war as “terrorist sympathisers”.

But he is moving towards sending British soldiers to kill and be killed in Syria on a double lie – the lie that the airstrikes will work, and the lie that it will stop there.

This is not just about stopping the bombing.

It is about stopping a second Iraq War, which is already seeing a clash between the rival powers, including Russia and Turkey.

All out to stop Iraq War #2.

Kevin Ovenden

Kevin Ovenden is a progressive journalist who has followed politics and social movements for 25 years. He is a leading activist in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle, led five successful aid convoys to break the siege on Gaza, and was aboard the Mavi Marmara aid ship when Israeli commandoes boarded it killing 10 people in May 2010. He is author of Syriza: Inside the Labyrinth.