Can I justify supporting military action while writing a ‘zenpolitics’ blog? Can there be such a things as a ‘just war’? When is intervention justified in the affairs of another state? Ultimately the justification has to be humanitarian, and that’s the way I see the situation in Syria. Iraq 2003 was political, with grand ideas of a new world order, and economic, riddled through with self-interest, and with remarkably little thought given to the likely consequences.
Intervention in Syria this time around has to be step by step, where we have a clear end in view but revise our position in the light of circumstances. IS poses an extraordinary threat to lives and values, and requires – demands – an immediate and practical response.
I’m also troubled by my argument that the Assad regime should be included in the alliance against IS. I’m well aware of its brutality. But if the shortest route to ending violence has to involve Assad, and I believe it does, he should be included. The US, Russia, France, the UK, Saudi Arabia, Iran, all working together, bringing together diverse interests but with a common goal, is our best chance.
I’ve argued often that compassion has to come first in all our considerations. How that’s expressed toward the people of Syria, toward people in any war situation, is a mighty challenge. But we cannot sit on the sidelines, we cannot wait for grand strategies to be put in place. And we must avoid cheap accusations of warmongering. We have a war on our hands, not in our backyard, but one with profound implications for all of us. We have to respond.