Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Syria? Or bust?

“The whole of the Middle East is intimately related. Beneath the smooth
surface of British rule and the slender garrisons which normally sustain it are
smouldering the antagonisms of centuries. There are always feuds and animosities.
There are always scores to be settled and fanatical thirsts to be slaked.”
- Winston Churchill, 1929

American sabre rattling has started over Syria. Will President Obama now send troops, tanks and planes to intervene? As commentator Robert Tracinski wonders, “Maybe he will, maybe he won't, maybe it's already too late. Maybe he'll wait for the French to do it.”

But if he does, which way would he have them point their guns?

The Syrian regime has been helping the Iranian revolution go nuclear, helping Hezbollah send missiles into Israel, and (arguably) helped itself to Iraqi chemical weapons and technology before and during the Iraq war.  And last week, and maybe months ago as well, it reportedly helped send out a gas attack killing thousands of anti-regime Syrians.

And the rebels opposing the Syrian regime? They’re the same brand of Islamists ousted so violently in Egypt because they were in the process of rapidly setting up an Islamic dictatorship.  "Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of." And those fighting forces you can speak of fly the black flag of Al Qaeda—no less brutal than Assad, and even more virulently opposed to the West.

Tragic though the conflict is then, the West has no dog in this particular civil war.  It has nothing for which to support the regime, and no reason to support its (and our) long-term Islamist enemies.

Perhaps the only role for the West here is the one counselled by Margaret Thatcher in Yugoslavia once Tito died and the scab was ripped off a century or more of tribal hatred: “End the arms embargoes and seal the borders.”

I fear however the West is instead about to arm its enemies.

[Hat tip for links and quote to Robert Tracinski and Robert Spencer]


  1. reportedly helped send out a gas attack killing thousands of anti-regime Syrians

    The point about chemical weapons used on populations that puts their deployers beyond the pale is that they can't be targetted.

    If used by Assad they weren't used against anti-regime Syrians, they were used against people, regardless of where they stood.

    There is a spectrum of precision in use of force from police manhandling a suspect to nuking cities and the more you get away from controllable, accountable and recoverable acts towards mass non-specific inaccurate destruction the more criminal the behaviour.

    Chemical weapon use is typically far to the criminal end of the spectrum.

  2. I like Margaret Thatcher's idea the best, leave them to sort their own crap out. it probably won't happen thou...

  3. Western interests have been arming and funding parties to this conflict right from the start of it. They are involved and have blood on their hands. They have a dog in the fight alright. One that is not a friend. One that is going to turn upon Westerners in an indiscrininant manner soon. THen none of us is really going to be safe.


  4. It seems silly to take sides in a civil war - especially when the Islamists are getting beaten by something that at least looked relatively forward thinking.

    This will Obama's next dilemma - which branch of the family to support?



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