By Dominic Trynka-Watson
It is truly frightening just how infatuated the New York Times is with Barack Obama. I cannot imagine for one minute that this article, for example, would have been printed with had John McCain or Mitt Romney won the 2012 presidential election.
More worryingly, this article’s message is very dangerous. Whilst I do not have an inherent problem with the idea that moral considerations may sometimes override strict adherence to international law, being able to make a moral case for intervention is not enough on its own.
A UN and Arab League delegations are still in Syria and, arguably, either organisation is better placed to lead on this – Western intervention in the Middle East will always be viewed as a sort of neo-colonialism, regardless of its intent, which was demonstrated in the bombing of Libyan targets during that country’s recent civil war.
Resorting to military force before other options have been fully explored is always foolhardy, which is why we in Britain have much to be proud of in the House of Commons’ recent vote, and weighing in will almost certainly escalate the conflict and the potential for it to spread.
For Syria is no military weakling. Indeed, the talk of cruise missiles is occurring precisely because Assad’s air defences make an aerial assault too risky. There is also the small matter of Syria having some very advanced Russian anti-ship weaponry. Western navel vessels could quite realistically be sunk in retaliation.
And, whilst Syria lacks the capability to strike the US or UK itself, regional allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia are well within range and some analysts believe their Scud D missiles have a 700km range – adding the British base on Cyprus to their list of viable targets.
There is also the small matter of Russia and China’s position. Even if they proceed with the coolest of heads, intervention will greatly increase the tensions between us and rob us of the high ground on issues like Russian interference in Georgia.
To make a moral case for intervention is not on its own enough. For that moral case to stand up it must be clear that the likely consequences of not acting outweigh the risk of making matters worse.