Syria: Should Britain get involved?

There have been acres of newsprint devoted to the increasingly violent conflict in Syria. One such article appeared in the Daily Telegraph detailing how many Western troops could be deployed into Syria. A paper written by an influential defence think tank argued that as many as 75,000 troops would be needed with an initial deployment of 30,000

Now it might be that Western troops may have to be involved but the question should be how these forces will be formed and who will be involved. The USA is usually the biggest contributor to these international forces. This is because of the amount of money and military hardware the U.S. is able to devote.

If you look at the National Security Strategy under George W Bush it argued “the United States has long maintained the option of pre-emptive actions to counter a sufficient threat to our national security… forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries the United States will if necessary act pre –emptively” . This meant that US forces were sent into action where there was just a sniff of a threat against the United States. This pre emptive strategy lead to the disastrous Iraq war in 2003.

If we fast-forward this to the National Security Strategy under Barack Obama we see a marked change, his national security strategy will put the emphasis “on diplomacy with war as a last resort” . We have seen this in action regarding the Syrian crisis with the United States and Great Britain consistently using the United Nations to come with a plan to end it bit which have been consistently blocked by the Russians on the Security Council.

This has naturally led to the talk of Western forces becoming involved in the conflict. The US has said, “It will not intervene a message that was carried to London last week by Tom Donilon the National Security Adviser”. This therefore leaves Great Britain this author would argue in the unenviable position of having to be the ones who will put together the lion’s share of the force that will go into Syria. This would mean that we would have troops committed to Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria if it gets to that point.

At the time of writing Britain has committed to “an extra five million pounds worth of aid to Syria’s opposition……Foreign Secretary William Hague insisted that the U.K. would only supply equipment to those who are not directly involved in the fighting”

There is a note of caution which needs to be sounded. Syria is riven along sectarian lines, no matter who overthrows the Assad regime it will not bring peace in fact in this author’s opinion it will only bring more conflict which has the potential to spill over into the wider region given that both Iran and Saudi Arabia and Iran are funding either side.

Should Britain get involved in Syria? We have already got involved but this is as far as the support should go. We should continue to try to use the diplomatic channels but leave the Arab League and the Syrians to work out a lasting peace deal.