Nick Clegg writes in the Independent on Sunday today about the lessons of Iraq and how they apply to Syria.
He cites four ‘tests’ for future intervention. He says: “But, in my view, there are four tests we must always apply. Is intervention legal? Does it command local and regional support? Are we confident intervening will alleviate suffering? And is the UN behind it? Or, in the absence of UN approval, are there reasons to intervene on clear humanitarian grounds.”
The situation in Syria meets none of these tests with in any certainty. The situation in Iraq did.
Unfortunately, Nick Clegg once again demonstrates a love for a simple sound bite, and no real understanding. He is an intellectual lightweight.
These issues, like the economy, cannot be reduced to four simple rules. Their complexity defies the obvious and the plain. This is not common-sense.
So let’s start with a sensible definition of our objectives. And no, a soundbite is not an objective. ‘We want to stop the killing’, is adolescent (with due apologies to adolescents everywhere). It is the kind of thinking that gets even more people killed.
We must recognise hard truths. There is no way out for Syria, but through the civil war that it is fighting. Whatever choice we make – involvement or non-involvement -we will have blood on our hands.
Syria is part of a wider set of issues about how the people of the middle-east govern themselves – the Arab Spring is not over, it is ongoing.
Russia as always plays its own game of real-politik with the hard and fast application of a grandmaster.
In fact, we must weigh risk. Be alert to potential dangers and gains – and their probability. We must mitigate against failure.
But the first , and define clearly our goals and objectives; what do we really want in Syria.
Oh and Nick…here’s ball go bounce it.