Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Syria: Caution Thrown to the Wind.

'Putin's position on Syria and the determination to act scrupulously within the law prompted government sources to caution against an immediate military response. Sources said ministers, in common with the US administration, would want to take time to study the evidence from the UN'
Caution was obviously necessary. Yet there has been very little evidence that the UK, France and the US leadership has done anything contrary to giving the impression that they are very much decided upon  attacking the 'Assad regime' no matter what the evidence from the UN inspectors turns out to be.

What is so dangerous here is that the US is regarding the alleged chemical weapon attack as a propaganda trump card necessary to restore its 'credibility' after two and a half years of demanding Assad should go without any success. This is brinkmanship of a very dangerous sort that could spin out of control.

Using cruise missile attacks against Assad as 'a show of strength' when the UN inspectors have not completed their mission nor presented their findings cannot acheive anything of benefit. It cannot remove Assad nor guarantee the situation on the ground would not deteriorate further.

As Machiavelli knew, in politics an action can be adjudged evil or not in the light of what it is meant to acheive and whether it has any realistic chance of realising the end or not. With Syria, there is no clear end that missile strikes could acheive other than trying to aim at 'degrading' its ability to wage war.

Given that it is unclear if or why Assad would have launched a chemical weapons attack, the attempt to use missile strikes to take out his 'assets' is hardly going to bring about the political and diplomatic settlement that the West claimed it wanted and evidently did not..

Having continually made Assad's removal the precondition of negotiations and by not engaging with Iran in June 2013, missile strikes are hardly likely to compel Assad to negotiate and yet have no guarantee of removing him. At the same time, if they embolden the FSA, that is only going to intensify the war.

Moreover, there is no guarantee that missile strikes will not lead to further chaos on the ground which Al Qaida affiliated jihadist groups would exploit. As it has not yet been conclusively proved that such groups would not use chemical weapons themselves, then greater amounts them could be seized-and used-by them.

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