Both France and the UK seem to be leading ‘we must do something’ crowd but for several years have been solidly reducing defence spending to such a degree that even if intervention in Syria were in the national interest, only swatting the arse of Syria is available as an option.
To do anything meaningful is going to take more than the resources on display during Operation ELLAMY and the cupboard is bare (and getting barer) so Uncle Sam will have to step in, again.
You can’t blame people in the US getting rather pissed off with being the worlds whipping boy AND bank manager at the same time when collectively, the nation states in Syria’s border are so unable to offer the full range of capabilities and at a scale to deliver a decisive intervention.
It is this inability to intervene meaningfully, and meaningfully means on the ground in a peace enforcement role, that results in the situation we find ourselves in now, namely, the last chicken in the shop option of having to support one nasty faction against another nasty faction except the first nasty faction has Mr WMD.
The simple reason we bemoan the fact that there are no good options has nothing to do with the situation on the ground but instead because we don’t have the ability to forge a good option by the application of sufficient force.
We recently saw the extent of European influence in Egypt, one can just imagine the corridors of power reverberating with the booming voice of Europe cancelled a handful of export orders!
That said, it is worthwhile looking back at the multi year, multi billion and multi lives lost intervention in Iraq, a nation that is currently descending ever deeper into its own brand of sectarian violence.
Perhaps the lack of options is not such a bad thing.
Whether intervening is in the national interest is open for discussion.
In the yes camp is collective responsibility as a grown up nation and permanent member of the UN Security Council, the fact that WMD’s should be seen as beyond the pale, their use should not go unpunished and regional stability is generally speaking, ‘a good thing’
On the other hand there is the opinion that Assad, however murderous and deserving of a rope, is probably better from our perspective than a collection of people who really hate us. Who would we prefer to have their hands on anti ship missiles, anti aircraft missiles and chemical weapons?
That is the uncomfortable truth.
Morals and national interest are never the best of bedfellows.
On top of that is the huge variety of unintended consequences of intervening by choosing one side in a civil war over the other.
The delicate balance of regional and religious politics; Russia’s relationships, Qatari gas, Saudi oil, Iran, Israel, Turkey and Uncle Tom Cobbley and All mean that whatever we do someone, somewhere will be pissed off.
Despite the horrific scenes from the last few days my opinion is that we should stick to supporting our regional allies like Turkey, Israel and especially Jordan to manage the influx of refugees and maintain their borders. We should state this and that is that, our very own red line.
Some sense of ends, ways and means would be refreshing as well, especially the ends.
Whatever the arguments about national interests and whether ‘we’ should intervene in some way the simple fact remains that the reason there are no good options is because the collective ‘we’ of Europe have decided to reduce defence spending.
Despite the much diminished stick size we seem to be in the habit of talking a good un.
Making promises you can’t keep does the victims in Syria no good at all.