Rory Stewart, Parliamentary candidate for Penrith and The Border, took time out of his campaign last Friday, to meet with local British Medical Association members at the Roundthorn Hotel in Penrith, where he delivered a talk on the rise and threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. A former deputy governor in Iraq during the 2003 Iraq war, as well as a former professor of International Human Rights at Harvard University, Rory Stewart is considered a leading expert in conflict throughout the Middle East, and served on the Foreign Affairs Select Committee and as Chair of the Defence Select Committee, during his first term in parliament. Rory Stewart has been a key proponent of a far more cautious approach to military intervention, that recognises the limits of our own capabilities. He has called for stronger reinvestment into the UK’s diplomatic services, to ensure local diplomats have the necessary historical and culture awareness, as well as the necessary language skills, to properly advise and shape British foreign policy.

Speaking at the BMA event, Rory Stewart said:

“Our failure to predict or anticipate the rise of the so called Islamic State, highlights a chronic under-investment in the Foreign Office and MoD going back decades, that has seen us lose much of the specialist country knowledge and on-the-ground expertise we were previously renowned for. People are rightly questioning what our involvement is doing to help local people in Iraq fight IS, and whilst our military support has helped to contain this terrorist organisation and prevent them spreading further, what is desperately needed is a political solution, led by Iraqis themselves. This must be where we invest our time, energy and support. Air strikes and military support on their own will not be sufficient to defeat them.”

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