Since Cameron’s reaction to the alleged chemical attack in Syria the air is filled with eclectic conspiracy theories. As ridiculous some conspiracy theories sounds it is easy to see that the justification provided by the administration for an imminent military intervention is disingenuous. Government line of reasoning is leading many to sinister theories to explain alternative motives for the probable Military action.
I agree that conspiracy theories are generally manifestation of bigotry or attempted rationalisation of hidden resentments but they point out two critical ends about the political measure in question. But sound reasoning is an evolutionary process and it comes about through a series of trail and errors where less rigours theories are abandoned in favour of those that coincide with the reality. Conspiracy theories are like microbial cultures on political medium where crude theories come to existence that is useless on its own but collectively essential for the evolution of social discourse. Second, the intensity of conspiracy theories is an indication of public response to the political discourse. The greater the number of conspiracy theories the stronger indication that the public cannot understand the basis of political decision; another way to look at it is a socially generated indicator of the honesty of political motives.
Cameron is itching to launch a strike because he believes that Assad regime has used chemical weapons against civilians. Let’s see what is wrong with this reason for staging a war against a sovereign nation.
First, it’s illegal and immoral to stage wars against a sovereign nation without the endorsement of the United Nations, even if it is intended to save innocent life. Governments should work through a legal framework and abide by due processes.
Second, the administration should warrant and corroborate behind any reasonable doubt that the chemical weapons really were used by Syrian government. It should be established what kind of chemical weapon was used and which belligerent party has used it. The Syrian war has turned into a proxy war where Iran and Russia have provided military, economic and diplomatic support to the regime while on the other hand Westerners, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Wahabi groups and Sunni Jihdists are assisting various sections of the opposition. It is feasible that the Saudis provided the ingredients that can be used to make the dirty bomb, or some sprinter Islamist group from Libyan brought it with them. Such possibilities are numerous and not dismissible and their motive would have been to provoke international intervention.
Third, after over a decade of military campaign in Afghanistan and Iraq our armed forces should know that the situation on the ground is extremely complicated and it is really difficult to mitigate mistakes. NATO is much better positioned than fledgling Syrian government to decipher rules of engagement to minimise such mistakes. Yet thousands of innocent civilians have been killed in NATO strikes across Afghanistan, some in bizarre incidents, for example hundreds of people have died when NATO war planes targeted wedding ceremonies mistakenly for insurgent gathering. How ridiculous is that? It may well have been some part of the Syrian military that let loose some rocket that they may or may not knew contained WMD and they may or may not know the consequences and impact of the weapon. That does not necessarily mean Assad and his circle of regime sanction the operation. An equivalent would be that some foreign nation claim to hold Cameron accountable for the death of dozens of women and children in a wedding party in Afghanistan and launch a strike against Britain.
Fourth, Britain has no legal commitment to intervene even if the Syrian regime used chemical weapons. It might be the right thing to do but that is not why the government should take action. The government is sanctioned to act within a legal framework not some moral imperative. We cannot trust the judgement of politician to lead us into wars but the constitutional commitments.
Fifth, why would Assad government use chemical weapon at a point when its armed forces was turning the tide. Surely it would had gain more tactical advantage if it was used when the rebels had the upper hand. This is even more unlikely when the regime knew it would change the stance of international community.
Sixth, if Assad Regime indeed used chemical weapons, wouldn’t a military action provoke him further to use chemical weapons in retaliation to the attack against civilians and possibly Israel and Turkey?
Seventh, we stood by while over 100,000 civilians were killed by conventional weapons but Cameron chooses to intervene after a single and appalling attack that killed 1300, according to rebel sources. Surely death by explosives is agonising too.
For all these reasons it is unlikely to understand why Mr. Cameron would insist on a military intervention.
What is really important is not a surgical strike but the pursuit of two strategic objectives.
The first and most pressing is taking all measures to stop the bloodshed in Syria, it would further disintegrate the fabric of Syrian society and threaten our interests. Overthrowing Assad is not in the interest of peace, it might achieve Cameron Administration’s short-sighted political objective. The end of Assad regime might exacerbate the situation by creating a power vacuum where extremist will further nurture. This we have seen in Egypt, Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan. Assad is not the legitimate president of Syria but a brute whom has desolated the Syrian society for a decade and accumulated a personal wealth of 1.5 billion dollars in Hong Kong and Russia. The reason he is in power is because the institutional system in place unlike in Britain is incapable of appointing a legitimate leader and if Assad is dismissed another thug will come forth and take his position. This we will call the best case scenario. The worst case scenario and the most likely would be the creation of a mosaic of factions and characters, which is already taking place, which would ravage the country in their struggle for power.
The second would be to learn from this horrific incident and recognise that the truth is important. We should find out the truth about the chemical attack but this too is unlikely. The only institution currently available for the task is nation states but there is an obvious conflict of interest. There is no method to ensure that government will not temper evidence in pursuit of their own agenda. This shouldn’t be surprising when we know that the government is willing to transgress into our private space and then lie to us. They would not blink if they were to lie to some foreign people especially when there is no constitutional safe guard to hold them accountable. What we need in this volatile world is independent institutions to investigate such crimes. This will not happen by a decree or funding to some NGO but through collaboration of international community where they show good faith and political will.