This week’s statement on Syria to the Commons worried many MPs. There is little appetite for us to become more involved in the dreadful Syrian civil war. MPs are united in condemning the brutality of the current regime in Syria. Many of us are also doubtful that the UK could help were it to supply arms to people there or to make moves with the USA and others towards military intervention.
My favourite spending cut has been to remove our troops from front line duties in Afghanistan and to get most of them home altogether. I think they have done enough. The Afghans can now do their own patrolling. I have pleaded with Ministers to put our troops out of harm’s way where possible by discontinuing UK patrols, with fewer troops remaining for any additional training and back up the Afghans may still need.
I now find msyelf urging caution over Syria. Just who are the opposition forces we wish to help? How can we distinguish between those opposition forces who believe in liberty and democracy, and those who wish to replace one tyranny with another? How could we ensure any arms supply went just to the people we can be sure have the right intentions? How do you stop the regime taking the weapons on or after delivery? How do you distinguish between the different opponents of the regime? How do you ensure that an apparently well intentioned opponent does not come less well intentioned should he receive arms from us? How do you get the arms into the country against the wishes of the Syrian government?
Many of Syria’s neighbours are rich and well armed states. Why don’t we leave this set of problems to the Middle Eastern powers to tackle?