In March 2011 I wrote a post asking where the national interest was in intervening in the Libya uprising.
Have we really learned nothing from the vanity and hubris of Blair, putting service personnel in harms way, the same personnel the government is making redundant, so politicians can puff out their chests and bask in a bit of uniform love?
As trouble continues in Libya and no doubt some of the weapons that were so freely supplied to the Libyan rebels will find there way into the hands of those wishing us harm I am still struggling to see where the UK’s national interest in Libya was, the kind of long term strategic interests that the National Security Council is supposed to have a grasp of.
In a spot of synchronised commenting this weekend, David Cameron and General David Richards have both talked up the prospects of limited intervention in Syria and arming the rebels.
Seems rather ironic that the British Government cannot afford to equip its own armed forces can do so for someone else.
Taking sides in a brutal civil war, a civil war whose fault lines run very deep, does not seem to be in the UK’s national interest to me.
Even though I asked the question about Libya I could still see the issue of uncontrolled economic migration and petrochemicals as something to consider but with Syria, am just having difficulty seeing the upside of intervention.
This lack of national interest has been wisely noted and not a great deal done but why the change in mood music now?
There is noting wrong with compassion for the innocent but as strong as this should rightly be, it should not cloud our judgement. As usual, the average person involved is nothing at all to do with the Jihadist lunatic fringe but there are so many deep seated tribal alliances, ancient hatreds and permutations and combinations of local politics, religion and ethnicity that stepping in on one side or the other seems doomed to create a set of unintended consequences that might run counter to our interests.
Jordan, Turkey and Israel are more than capable of containing the situation and any acts of overspill or deliberate provocation. Widening the conflict, however much the rebel forces would like to, is not in their interests so despite the odd containment action they are also adopting a watching brief and keeping a low profile.
As the country collapses and moves towards some sort of ethnic partitions, a set of ever more gruesome atrocities inter ‘everything’ infighting would a wiser move be to offer limited military support to our allies in the region (not that they need it), maintain some political distance from the tainted participants and concentrate on providing humanitarian aid to the innocent displaced.
In all the talk from David Cameron I have still to see him talking about how we would benefit from intervention beyond the naive and indulgent ‘its for the children’ defence.
We seem to be sinking into the defensive ‘threats to our interests’ mentality in the Middle East rather than thinking long term about what we want from the region. This might be a wholly selfish attitude and not entirely compatible with decent humanitarian values but we need to be harder nosed in our Foreign Policy because to be blunt, we don’t have the cash to waste.
Come on Dave, what’s in it for the UK
Sven has a go at answering the question