Should the UK intervene in the unrest in Syria?


7 Answers

millicent williams Profile
No the UK has intervened in too many countries and our forces are spread very thinly, we no longer rule the waves or have a massive empire, thanks to successive governments incompetence  we are as I have said before a "minor state of Europe" and as such we should recall all forces and stop spending vast amounts of money we don't have on other countries problems.
Yo Kass Profile
Yo Kass answered
I guess the question 'should the UK intervene in Syria?' depends on the more general question: 'Why would one country militarily intervene in another sovereign state's affairs and politics in the first place?'

I've thought about this question for a while, and I've come up with two reasons: Reason a) For Money Reason b) To be nice. I'll try and expand below...

For Money

It seems the general consensus here in the UK is that the government can little afford to spend more money on military action in far flung countries like it perhaps could afford to in the golden age of it's colonial empire, especially now that we're facing a second wave of economic recession, basically we'd be better off spending the war money getting our economy going again.

The main criticism I would have of that argument is that it assumes the UK did not consider the economic benefits of military action in Iraq, Afghanistan or Libya. Although it's difficult to speculate on cost vs economic benefit of a war, it does strike me as a little strange that the UK and US (l include the US because- let's face it, the UK has become a loyal satellite orbiting around the US economy) were actively rallying support to intervene in Iraq (on the now admittedly incorrect information about WMDs) , Afghanistan (Because a network of Saudi-nationals attacked the US mainland), and Libya (to prevent civil war and a humanitarian crisis) when they are, as yet, reluctant to intervene in Sudan where ethnic cleansing and genocide have been undisputedly going on unchecked since before 2003.

We've all heard the oil war argument, that the US and UK only intervened in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya because of the ridiculously large amount of oil reserves these countries control. But I'm bored of that one- so let's just say the US and UK didn't have an interest in building pipelines across Afghanistan and securing the oil-related interests they had been accumulating in Iraq and Libya since the 80s.

What other reasons could there be for sending over a few hundred thousand troops out into the desert? Well, another factor people don't seem to consider is that perhaps going to war in Afghanistan and Iraq actually benefited the economy... Yes, the government is taxing us left, right and center- it wouldn't seem very bright, especially if the government had any inkling that we might be heading towards the collapse of the banking sector, to take fistfuls of our hard earned cash and waste it policing other countries for the fun of it.
What would make sense is taking that tax money, and putting it back into our economy to make our country better prepared for financial meltdown. How would we do that? Well they could have flown around the country in a Goodyear blimp dumping cash out of the sides, but the cost of filling a tank on one of those things considering oil prices these days... Instead, they decided to take our tax money and allocate to an industry that is highly developed in the US and the UK, will create jobs, and guarantee a return on investment, that's right- defense!
But they couldn't just decide to give the money straight to companies like BAE Systems and tell them 'Here, let's double UK operations, make some F-35s and a few Tornados (and sell some to Saudi Arabia too)- they had to start a war first.

Economics is all about the efficient allocation of resources, and what is more efficient and untethered than a wartime administration?

The idea that our leaders and politicians might have known the banks were in trouble, foresaw economic hardship and decided that preemptive action was required kind of fills me with a warm sense of security. It means there was a plan, that it was essentially in our benefit, and yeah, sure, we had to find an excuse to pick a fight with some baddies and their evil regimes... But it was worth it!

But where does that leave us with Syria? Well Syria's oil and gas reserves are by no means negligible (sorry, I know I said I'd leave the oil thing out), but they don't come close to the amounts up for grabs in Iraq, and in comparison with the situation in Libya, Syria is a whole other kettle of prolonged fish.
Yes, removing Bashar Al-Assad and his regime, and muzzling their military capability is definitely achievable, but the mess that would leave Syria in, with all it's different sects, ethnicities, Iran's vested interest, Iraq's vested interest- it would be a conflict that could easily require decades of significant foreign presence and that does not sound like a sensible investment no matter how big the defense contracts or oil fields on offer are.

SO. To answer the original question, on the basis of the reasons we intervened in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya- It is not a good idea to intervene in Syria.

That brings me to the second reason why the UK would want to intervene in Syria: To be nice-

By 'to be nice' I actually mean 'To prevent the murder of any more Syrian civilians at the hand of the current regime, regardless of whether it makes financial sense to do so.'
Syria has never been big on human rights, democracy or the right to protest. The current president's father came into power some time in the '60s and when he died, his son was unanimously elected president.
For me, Syria is the true personification of terrorism.
Real terror is intrinsic with the way the country is run, genuine fear- that is how Syria has been governed since the Assad clan rocked up. People have been 'disappearing' for decades and then reappearing on their relative's doorsteps or other public places as mutilated corpses, Syria is run by the secret police, and on my visit to the country in the '90s, it was apparent that everyone suspected their neighbor of being a government informant (with good cause) and the name of the president was treated much the same way Lord Voldemort's name is in the Harry Potter series, no-one dared to mention his name out loud for fear of attracting unwanted attention to themselves.

All that is genuinely terrible, but I hardly expect the UK or any other government to get involved in Syria for anything as 'minor' as that.
What I would compare the current situation in Syria to is Bosnia in the '90s.
The Army of Republika Srpska was allowed to ethnically cleanse Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats for a good three years from 1992, whilst NATO convened, passed resolutions and deliberated over the introduction of the famous 'No Fly Zones'. 8000 people died, around 30,000 were displaced and rape, torture and sexual assault became common practice against the target community. It took a good 3 years for NATO to take direct action, and that was with the US and the UK not involved in prolonged campaigns in other countries like they still are in Afghanistan.

The parallels with modern Syria is scary. Assad's regime is racking up the death count, rape and torture is being carried out by the military and the police and the international community are debating over UN resolutions that didn't seem to matter so much when it was the invasion of Iraq we were talking about.

Do I think the UK should intervene? Yeah, I think so.
Will they? They probably will, eventually.
But to be honest the situation in Syria is so desperate and so complex that I'm resigned to never seeing a fully-recovered and functional Syria in my lifetime.
Syria's plight is something I feel passionate about, but I don't bother going to protests, or blogging about it, or even trying to make people around me more aware of it because I'm resigned to the fact that the only thing that will lead to any significant international help coming to Syria is if the Syrian people just put their heads down and get on with their job of being slaughtered by their own government so that the death toll becomes sufficiently high, and the scale of the atrocities too severe to ignore any more.
Ray Dart Profile
Ray Dart answered
Absolutely not - it was probably a mistake to help the rebels in Libya - another example of schoolboy foreign policy to go along with the schoolboy economics.
Janey Profile
Janey answered
No, as foreign intervention will prove counter-productive.The struggle in Syria  is a protest against a vicious autocracy and has aspects of a civil war.There are tribes who support Gaddafi and there are Syrians who believe the opposition is more sectarian and Sunni-dominated than their human rights agenda would suggest.Any British humanitarian zeal could become misinterpreted as a cover for wider intervention and retreat could be militarily humiliating.The outside world can mitigate, but should not try to change, what is happening in Syria.
Tony Newcastle Profile
Tony Newcastle answered
Janine D. Tells me --via a Shout-- that she is pleased she has found your Shoutbox, now. I cannot find it, so I am assuming that you do not wish to Shout with me.
janine Dolan Profile
janine Dolan answered
No that would be crazy and I doubt that would happen.we in the UK are in deep do-da thanks to this incompetent goverment.
Ray Ottewell Profile
Ray Ottewell answered
No I don't think so. Let America do it, they love going to war, and spending all there money :))

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