Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 29 August 2013


The situation in Syria is dire. But we have to ask ourselves the question: should we intervene militarily?

This is a nasty and complex civil war, effectively between two sections of Islam, seeking to overthrow an oppressive regime. There is no appetite in the West either here in the UK or in the USA for us to intervene. Whatever enthusiasm existed in the past has been more than sated by the forays into Iraq and Afghanistan. In any event, it is not obvious how we could intervene successfully in such a messy situation. Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys? It is also hard to find strategic objectives to protect.

I can think of two, and they are far from compelling. The first is that it is not in our interests if a fanatical Islamist group were to take control of a country like Syria and start to spread their toxic beliefs and actions in the region and the wider world.

The second possible strategic issue involves Israel. If Syria were to become radicalised then Israel would be even more likely to be sucked into outright conflict with its neighbours. The USA would quickly become embroiled in such a conflict which could easily spiral out of hand.

But I would certainly not advocate the UK sending troops or planes on the strength of either of the above arguments.  My instincts are to do all we can to support the refugees and casualties through our aid effort but not to intervene militarily. I have received many e-mails from constituents all agreeing with this.

However, since clear evidence has now emerged of a significant chemical attack by Assad's regime against his own people, I can see the case for a limited response. These dreadful weapons have long been banned by the international law and for good reason since they are so indiscriminate and their effects are long lasting.

I would now, albeit reluctantly, support a swift and telling response from the international community by way of a missile attack on Assad's chemical capability. This could be done without putting our people in harm's way and discourage Assad from repeating the ghastly use of such weapons and deter other tin-pot dictators from following suit in the future.

But I am not prepared to support any other form of military intervention.

Once again the United Nations has shown itself to be ineffectual. If one of the Permanent Five on the Security Council does not support action, in this case Russia, then the organisation stumbles.

We are living in dangerous times.

posted by Gary @ 16:39