The UK shouldn’t be involved in military action against Syria, no matter how horrific the original use of chemicals was. And here’s for why:
- The responsibility to protect is not the responsibility to punish. Leave that to the ICC. The war crimes commission can act in due course. That’s of course unless the government wish to give the Russian and Chinese government the press release that says ‘the west doesn’t give a monkeys about international process’. The same should be the case for the need to secure UN resolutions.
- The unintended consequence of action is to alienate those within the regime who might have been sought out to negotiate. Or who might have been alienated by the use of the chemicals in the first place. All action solidifies the resolve of the regime.
- You might hit Russian advisors. That would be ill-advised.
- You might get dragged into something expensive and difficult (and let’s not forget that the Syrians have decent kit). There’s no will of the people to engage. The Iraq legacy persists. Scepticism about evidence and nice rhetoric also persists.
- You shouldn’t want anything other than a stalemate here. The analysis done on the ‘rebels’ doesn’t make them look particularly friendly/acceptable to the west. So, don’t do anything to radically tip the balance, and remember Egypt just went bad. Syria will be way worse and less containable.
- Our military is no longer geared for this. The SDSR did not provide for us to Libya (not really) and it certainly does not provide for this. Put the battle charts down, warm the diplomats up and leave it to someone else.
- Attacking Assad is likely to have consequences for the UK. Let’s not invite on consequences. Instead, let’s read Baroness Manningham-Bullers’ evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry and conclude that she was a wise sage, with transferable advice.
On the less edifying end of the scale:
- We’re just coming out of recession. Don’t rock the international oil boat. Don’t spend money we don’t have. It’s bad enough giving huge quantities of international aid money away, when the food bank in my local church is over-subscribed. When people cannot get the treatment for health problems that is a clinical need because there’s no money and when the schools have to beg for contributions from parents.. Our national security is currently not found in Syria. Don’t invent connections when there aren’t any.
- We are no longer a global policeman. We are no longer a medium sized power. We are a key component of a European security community. Let it be for others to lead.
So, on Thursday, when Parliament is recalled, I hope they put the battle maps and the war drums away. Patience, influence and other tools are required here.
Of course, they will do the complete opposite.. and then there will be a cottage industry in writing and broadcasting about why it was such a complete cluster….. plus ca change?