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/ Iresponsible Politicians

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tripehound - on 11 Apr 2018

It is unbelievable how Trump and Putin are mouthing off at each other over Syria like a pair of spoilt children. Do they not realise tens possibly hundreds of millions of lives are at risk if they kick off a world war. We need politicians that act like grown ups. Even our own government talk about the EU with reference to Agincourt, Waterloo, and world war two, hardly conducive to good relations.

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teh_mark on 11 Apr 2018
In reply to tripehound:

Whilst chemical weapons are horrific and have no place in the world, I can't help but feel we need to stop acting like the world police. I don't know what the solution is in this particular case, but we don't own the world and we're not very good at recognising that much of the world has not caught up to where we are with democracy and freedom.

You can't force the evolution of society, and we have no right to try.

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thermal_t - on 11 Apr 2018
In reply to teh_mark:

> Whilst chemical weapons are horrific and have no place in the world, I can't help but feel we need to stop acting like the world police. I don't know what the solution is in this particular case, but we don't own the world and we're not very good at recognising that much of the world has not caught up to where we are with democracy and freedom.

> You can't force the evolution of society, and we have no right to try.

I'm not sure that sits comfortably with me. How long can you sit back and watch genocides, how does history judge you for doing nothing. Just because something is happening within a different imaginary line drawn on a map, how does it make it any different to it happening within our own imaginary borders. 

1
teh_mark on 11 Apr 2018
In reply to thermal_t:

I'm not entirely comfortable either, but I don't think active inteference with the rest of the world is the solution either, and I don't know where you draw the line. As a society we weren't any better not long ago, and I feel that by forcing our ideals on societies that aren't ready for them we only breed resentment and create new problems rather than solving old ones.

I can't help but feel we're currently reaping a crop we started sowing over a century ago in the middle east. There's no easy solution.

tripehound - on 11 Apr 2018
In reply to thermal_t:

But what if getting involved escalates the conflict and many many more lives are lost? We just have to look at the last American invasion of Iraq to see that. The answer to conflict is not yet more conflict.

Stew99 on 11 Apr 2018
In reply to teh_mark:

Is "world police" the right way to be looking at things?

Reality is that we have, as always, a choice:

  1. Do something.
  2. Do nothing.

Key here is that both options have consequences.  There isn't an option which results in nothing happening.

Example:  (slightly OTT - yes)

Do something - Invade Iraq.  Okay .. on the face of it we got rid of a dictator who had done, amongst many others, such horrible things as gas the Kurds.  Hurrah!  But sectarian violence quickly engulfed the country killing much more than the original invasion.  Boo!  

Do nothing - leave Iraq on its own when ISIS appeared.  We did nothing ... and pure dead evil spread rapidly.  Thousands died.  Women and children were enslaved.  Boo!!  Cost much more lives to fix the choice to do nothing retrospectively than it would have to have taken care of the situation properly in the first place. (Now we get to argue about what "taken care of properly" would have meant )

My point is that it isn't as black as white as "we can't be world peace".  Doing nothing is a choice/a decision.  If we choose to do nothing ... we need to live with the consequences of that choice good or bad.  

In context of Syria, the war has nothing to do with the Syrian's anymore.  The war is about who is going to run the middle east ... or better perhaps which world super power is going to hold influence/sway in that region. 

Our politicians have a choice to make:

  1. Option #1:  Do nothing.  Which in fact means - let Russia & Iran (who in turn have both 100% made the choice to do "something") run the middle east.
  2. Option #2:  Do something.  Maintain the status quo - which means, basically, Iran/Saudi Arabia/Turkey/Egypt & Israel being "relatively" equally balanced.  But is going to require bombing a fair few people/countries to keep everyone back from one another.

Doesn't read like an easy decision to me - I'm glad I don't have to make it personally.  Looks like a lot of people hating one another down there.  

summo on 11 Apr 2018
In reply to thermal_t:

> . Just because something is happening within a different imaginary line drawn on a map, 

How do you feel about the working conditions and regimes in Asia, where most things in our houses are made? How many unnecessarily die annually there.

I'm by no means on Assads or Putin's side, but we need to visualise how things we pan out, if we intervene. There will without doubt be consequences. Putin needs that Mediterranean port in Syria and will defend Assad to the end. It is better to find a poliical means that allows Assad to flee and Putin to take control of the port as a mini Russian state, otherwise thousands are likely to die if it kicks off, and that's ignoring what develops with Iran and Israel. 

Stuart en Écosse - on 11 Apr 2018
In reply to thermal_t:

> I'm not sure that sits comfortably with me. How long can you sit back and watch genocides, how does history judge you for doing nothing. 

Laudable sentiment so don't take this the wrong way, but how does history judge you for jumping in without all the facts, beyond the very recent hindsight that what we think we know could be very far from the truth, qv: Iraq/Bush/Blair. Also, anyone who thinks that any of this is about ridding the poor Syrians of cruel old Bashar is deluded. This is entirely about Pax Americana with craven support from a Britain that has slid back into nostalgia for the empire. Make no mistake, we were never at war with Daesh, we were running around to contain Russia and Iran. At least John Bolton has always been honest about his motives and never pretended their was any humanitarian angle on American led wars in other people's countries.

 

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Pete Pozman - on 11 Apr 2018
In reply to thermal_t:

> I'm not sure that sits comfortably with me. How long can you sit back and watch genocides, how does history judge you for doing nothing. Just because something is happening within a different imaginary line drawn on a map, how does it make it any different to it happening within our own imaginary borders. 

I remember a guy whose dog chased a fox into a farmyard. The fox cunningly negotiated a slurry lagoon, but the dog was going at such a lick that it ran right out into the middle, then started to sink. It was  dreadful to watch. The dog was struggling but sinking and it was deep. The guy was desperate  to save the dog but the last thing he was going to do was dive in ( clue: you can't swim in slurry).

The dog was saved, by the way, but the bloke had to calm down first and do some thinking before he took action. If only we had leaders like that. We wouldn't have had the Iraq War or the War in Afghanistan and we wouldn't be facing the extinction of all life on the planet. 

Putin is a vile man but Trump... I haven't seen a specimen like him since I was 9 and in the school playground. God help us all.

teh_mark on 11 Apr 2018
In reply to Stew99:

> Do nothing - leave Iraq on its own when ISIS appeared.  We did nothing ... and pure dead evil spread rapidly.  Thousands died.  Women and children were enslaved.  Boo!!

Would there have been a Daesh (or any of the myriad forerunners of militant Islamic fundamentalism) to take care of without our long-standing interference in the middle east? Our actions have consequences long beyond the immediate effects we see now and in the near future, and with specific regards to Syria I'd struggle to think of a single instance where fighting a proxy war has benefited the population of the country in question.

Stew99 on 11 Apr 2018
In reply to teh_mark:

  Sykes–Picot made a hell of a mess that the world continues to live with today and will continue to live with 100's of years to come.    Couldn't agree more.

However ... neither you or I can change what happened in the past.  The facts on the ground exist today whether we like it or not - people are fighting - some of them are fighting for the lands they were born in and other others are foreign meddlers.  Some of those are fighting for (according to our morals) just causes and other (according to our morals) are fighting for unjust causes.  A choice must still be made.  A) Do nothing - sit back and let them all fight it out until either they are all dead (improbable both sides will die off evenly) or one side wins and slaughters/enslaves the other - hopefully the side that wins has a similar set of morals to our own (lest we run out of oil!) or B) we intervene.

We get blood on our hands either way.  There is no option equivalent to "fingers in my ears ... la la la ... I didn't get involved because Britain made terrible choices before I was born - so those people all dying down there must be someone else's fault".  

The question really is - are we going to do something about before it gets out of hand or will we let it fester a bit longer and get involved only when they chemical bomb a few more children/schools/hospitals? 

How many children do think is the right amount to die before UK getting involved is appropriately justified? (I am being rhetoric to make a point ... you don't need to answer that )

FYI ... I deeply agree with your sentiment w.r.t Sykes–Picot/any post colonial carve ups.  I deeply shocking peace of work IMO.  And agree also that proxy wars most certainly don't benefit the current inhabitants of a piece of land.

Post edited at 16:54
dread-i - on 11 Apr 2018
In reply to Stew99:

>Do something - Invade Iraq.  Okay .. on the face of it we got rid of a dictator who had done, amongst many others, such horrible things as gas the Kurds.  Hurrah!  But sectarian violence quickly engulfed the country killing much more than the original invasion.  Boo! 

<tangent>

When the coalition invaded, they asked the Iraqi army not to fight. The army, mostly stepped aside and the country was taken within a very short time. Sadam had planned a Vietnam style insurgency, and had left weapons caches all over the place.  To thank the Iraqi army for choosing the winning side, the US disbanded the army, leaving ~400,000 troops with their AK's, and access to lots of weapons, but no job.

The moral of the story is: If you have good intentions and things go well. There will always be someone who properly fsck it up for you.

 

Yanis Nayu - on 11 Apr 2018
In reply to tripehound:

We’ve developed into a world where the worst people rise to the top. 

girlymonkey - on 11 Apr 2018
In reply to tripehound:

Maybe we could stop selling arms? It would be a good start if we don't want blood on our hands

teh_mark on 11 Apr 2018
In reply to Stew99:

> However ... neither you or I can change what happened in the past.  The facts on the ground exist today whether we like it or not - people are fighting...

In 1916 I'm sure the decisions that were made were made with the best intentions. My point is not that we should not fight because we f*cked up in the past, it's that in 2116 our actions may well be viewed with just as much disdain as the Sykes-Picot Agreement. The consequences of what we choose to do now may well be felt for years to come, it's not as simple as 'we must intervene because innocents are being killed'. Innocents are killed across the world on a daily basis. It's a fact of life, as harsh as it is to acknowledge. Armed conflict will occur across the world until the end of the human race. It doesn't mean we have to pick sides and indulge in it every time it does occur, and it doesn't mean it's our problem because we have lots of expensive explodey things and a superior set of morals.

> A choice must still be made.  A) Do nothing - sit back and let them all fight it out until either they are all dead (improbable both sides will die off evenly) or one side wins and slaughters/enslaves the other - hopefully the side that wins has a similar set of morals to our own (lest we run out of oil!) or B) we intervene.

Question: would you be happy sending your (hypothetical?) son - Pte. Stew - off to his death in Syria? Would you believe that the cause is just enough for your son's death to be warranted and justified in his hypothetical role in the Armed Forces?

> The question really is - are we going to do something about before it gets out of hand or will we let it fester a bit longer and get involved only when they chemical bomb a few more children/schools/hospitals?

And in the event we get involved and actively contribute to it getting out of hand? Still justified?

> How many children do think is the right amount to die before UK getting involved is appropriately justified?

How many children will end up dead as a result of our keenness to get involved?

General Sir Rupert Smith writes very well on the subject in The Utility of Force. We see time and time again that military interention takes a direction we don't expect at the outset because there's a vacuum between the defined military objective (which will involve killing people or destroying things, because at the heart of it that's exactly what the military does), and the political objective that this use of force is meant to achieve. The Troubles had us deploy armed soldiers in a a civil situation with poorly defined military objectives and with a severely curtailed ability to deploy the tools that the military use to achieve objectives - murder and destruction. Iraq left us in a similar position in the wake of the initial successful invasion.

Since the end of the Cold War, force has been used time and again, yet failed to achieve the results we expected: it has been misapplied, whilst in other cases leaders have shrunk from applying it because they could not see its utility. All the while they have intended to achieve a decisive victory which would resolve the problem they faced, usually political.

Until someone can make a concrete argument for how murder and destruction will achieve the immediate political aim of a stable Syria and the more idealistic aim of peace in the middle east, I will refuse to be swayed that our involvement in the conflict is justified. Our politicians regularly fail to grasp how military intervention will achieve the aims they hope to achieve, and I wouldn't trust our government to deploy the Boy Scouts to an old people's home, let alone a few thousand men whose purpose is to kill and destroy to a country where we have no clearly defined goal.

And pretending that firing off a few Brimstone missiles in the general direction of the 'bad guys' a la Operation Shader will have any real impact is fallacy, in my opinion.

 

tom_in_edinburgh - on 11 Apr 2018
In reply to tripehound:

I don't think Putin is stupid, I think he is calculating and ruthless.

After oil/gas one of Russia's major export industries is military equipment and conflicts like Syria serve as advertising for its capabilities.

I would not be surprised if Putin was intentionally goading Trump into an air strike to create circumstances where the modern Russian anti-aircraft systems installed in Syria can be tested against US stealth fighters in a limited engagement.    If they manage to shoot down an F22 or F35 or even a substantial number of cruise missiles it's going to be a propaganda coup and very good for business.  Even if they don't they will learn a lot from trying.   

I think the debate about whether the UK should get involved in airstrikes on Syria should be thinking a lot more about whether we have the capability to do it without losing a lot of planes if the Russians turn on their surface to air missiles or scramble their fighters.  At the moment there seems to be a lazy assumption that it will be like attacking ISIS and nobody is going to shoot back effectively.  The story is that the Israelis fired 8 missiles from F15s over Lebanon at a Syrian airbase a few days ago and 5 of the missiles got shot down.   The Israelis have the same missiles as the US.  Also they were clearly keeping the F15s outside Syrian airspace.

Yanis Nayu - on 11 Apr 2018
In reply to girlymonkey:

Agreed. 

Eric9Points - on 11 Apr 2018
In reply to tripehound:

Why not ask a more challenging question. What should Trump or Putin be doing?

If I was Trump I'd be tempted to target Assad and his government. If they weren't wiped out it would certainly get their attention and it's the kind of behaviour Putin understands and respects. Either that or walk away.

what the hex on 11 Apr 2018
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> I would not be surprised if Putin was intentionally goading Trump into an air strike to create circumstances where the modern Russian anti-aircraft systems installed in Syria can be tested against US stealth fighters in a limited engagement.    If they manage to shoot down an F22 or F35 or even a substantial number of cruise missiles it's going to be a propaganda coup and very good for business.  Even if they don't they will learn a lot from trying.   

If this is true, what a cynical and depraved world we live in.

 

RomTheBear on 12 Apr 2018
In reply to Eric9Points:

> Why not ask a more challenging question. What should Trump or Putin be doing?

> If I was Trump I'd be tempted to target Assad and his government. If they weren't wiped out it would certainly get their attention and it's the kind of behaviour Putin understands and respects. Either that or walk away.

Bashar the c**nt and his minions are probably confined in their luxury super bunker under heavily populated areas so probably untouchable for now.

It seems we are just reacting to events, completely powerless. 

Post edited at 10:25
1
David Riley - on 12 Apr 2018

Presumably Putin wants conflict to end as soon as possible. He must know about chemical weapons use, and maybe encouraged.  All options are bad for him. The best is deny it and hope to get the job done.  If the Syrian army is damaged it will take longer. That, and other possibilities are difficult for him back home.

Russia is no match for the US except militarily.

 

Eric9Points - on 12 Apr 2018
In reply to RomTheBear:

Well yes, probably but you never know.

I don't see another way of making any difference. Attacking an airfield again will just have the same effect as it did last time, very little, but with the added danger of kicking off a conflict between the US and Russia.

It would seem silly to risk WWIII for the sake of an empty gesture.

wercat on 12 Apr 2018
In reply to Eric9Points:

Russian supplied missiles might knock down missiles and hit their launch platforms but they would definitely be Syrian operated unless you could prove otherwise in the fog of disinformation war

GrahamD - on 12 Apr 2018
In reply to tripehound:

Yes its amazing how we keep electing muppets to positions of power.  The Russians might have slightly more excuse 

winhill - on 13 Apr 2018
In reply to teh_mark:

> I can't help but feel we're currently reaping a crop we started sowing over a century ago in the middle east. There's no easy solution.

There's an unhealthy sense of post-colonial guilt here that is almost entirely undeserved.

The Turks were quite happy about Sykes-Picot, the Saudis pleased too.

It was the Hashemites who were unhappy but they were just a bunch of dreamers.

The Arab Revolt wasn't a revolt at all, it was a mercenary war, Ottoman Arabs outnumbered them by 50 to 1! And they need paying millions of pounds just to fight.

Sykes-Picot actually followed, almost exactly, the old Ottoman border lines, no-one was too bothered about large tracts of sand.

The Hashemites could have had more but they were demanding everything when it was obvious that they didn't have the capability to hold that much land, hence the agreement with Saud.

The Arabs/Muslims who complain about SP are just trying to blame someone else for their own failures, we can ignore them to a large extent.

In Iraq (which again the Hashemites coveted but couldn't hold) we have the identical exact same battle cry from the Shias of the Sadr militia as from the Sunnis in ISIS, No Foreign Troops on Muslim Soil.

Because, of course, the problem is the Outsider, not the divisions within the Muslim world.


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