Despite the ghastly consequences of being an international police force, the West just can’t seem to get enough of it. Apparently the First Gulf War, the Second Gulf War, Afghanistan and Libya weren’t enough. We feel the need to accentuate the world’s problems by trying to fix them.
The Middle East is an incredibly complex, diverse, and messed up region. Western interference stretches right back to the medieval crusades. The partitioning of the defeated Ottoman Empire amongst France and Britain is probably one of the largest factors. As Daniel Hannan so aptly said, “The Arab Spring has failed because constitutional democracy needs nation-states”. When we divided up the region, we paid no heed to ethnic divisions. We merely drew the lines where it was convenient for us. “The resulting states were wholly synthetic, lacking ethnic or religious identity.” They were only united by their hatred for the Western powers who had toyed with them.
Like all good Englishmen, I hold a healthy degree of suspicion for the French. Like all socialists, I hold the ‘Special Relationship’ in high contempt. We certainly shouldn’t sacrifice British lives in honour of its maintenance. We can’t allow inflammatory Daily Mail headlines to provoke us into war. People are describing events along the lines of a classroom, with Obama as the teacher and Britain and France as competing students, each pleading with the teacher to “Pick me! Pick me!” Why are we so eager to rush headfirst into the worst idea since the election of Margaret Thatcher?
A Syrian intervention would be costly when we have no money, stretch our military when its already stretched at present, and most likely have no positive effect on the situation whatsoever. It is not our responsibility to police the world, and we must remove ourselves from that mind-set.
A most probable consequence of military strikes, carried out by the West against the Assad regime, would be that the fighting spills out into surrounding territories. It’s very possible that other Muslim countries may seek retribution in the form of reprisals against Israel. Very soon we would no longer be dealing with a local tyrant but with a region-wide total war with no conceivable end.
Even if we won out over the Assad regime with minimal fighting, if Shia Muslims simply took the attack lying down, we would be hard put to know what to do with Syria once that war was over. As we have seen so often before, Arabs are a very difficult people to govern. It’s far more likely that the situation will descend into the urban warfare faced by Allied soldiers in Iraq. Intervention would be a terrible idea, even if we were capable of it. It would be a much better solution to donate large sums to The Red Cross and other humanitarian groups, in the hopes that they might actually help people. Aside from that, I’m afraid there is really nothing we can do.