Once again, I agonise over not only the prospect of military action but the reasons advanced for and against it – this time, in Syria.
I cautiously concede that the British parliament probably reached the right decision when it rejected David Cameron's request to back such action at the particular moment when the debate occurred. To delay for two and a half years and then rush in while a UN inspection team has yet to report seems bizarre to say the least (or, in Ban Ki-moon's more diplomatic wording, “ill considered”). That doesn't mean that I reject the general principle. I'm torn; I don't, at this moment, come down definitively on one side or the other.
I won't bore you with yet another rehearsal of my thinking on this subject ... you can, if you wish, revisit my last monologue ("Still worrying about those shades of grey") over the Libyan intervention. I will, however, mention some of the reasons I've heard expressed in the current debate.
Though I may or may not agree with them, these all strike me as honourable reasons:
- Intervention will not be effective.
- We must try to shorten this terrible blood letting if we can
- Intervention will cause more suffering, and cost more lives, than it will save.
- We can't just stand by while human beings are killed, tortured, driven from their homes.
- Investment in aid to refugees and long term planning for their return would do far more good.
These, however, chill me to the bone with moral dismay:
- It's not our concern.
- They're all terrorists anyway.
- It's a long way away.
- We should have gotten rid Assad years ago – this is our chance.
- We have enough problems of our own.
- Our reputation is on the line.
- Intervention will push up the price of fuel.
- We need to show the world who's boss.
- We have no pressing national interest at stake.
- We have to consider the Kirkuk-Banias oil pipeline (thank you, Gayle, for reminding me of that one).