'Syria is not the same as Iraq' - editorial comment
TWICE anti-war protesters have taken to the streets in Stroud to proclaim their opposition to military intervention in Syria.
Within 24-hours of their first protest, the Government ruled out British involvement in the conflict.
That decision would undoubtedly have delighted the protesters and the 75 per cent of the British public who opposed the use of force.
However, one can't help but feel that the public's hostility to military strikes obscures the complexity of the debate around intervention and was more a reflection of the poisonous legacy of Iraq than the situation at hand in Syria.
Iraq, which will continue to cast a long shadow over British foreign policy for years to come, was a disaster and there are many lessons to be learned from it.
But it is a mistake to view Syria solely through the prism of that debacle. Syria is a different story - it is in the midst of a brutal civil war and there are ongoing atrocities being committed by both sides.
MP Neil Carmichael voted with the Government because he quite rightly believes it is wrong for Britain to stand idly by while a country uses chemical weapons against its own people.
However, the arguments made by protesters about the dangers of escalation were equally compelling and it is not obvious that any intervention would in fact alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people.
The war in Syria is as complex as it is appalling. Britain will now play no role in military action but that doesn't mean we, as citizens, have to turn a blind eye to Assad's oppression.
Anyone can donate to the charities helping Syrian refugees. At the end of the day, perhaps that is the best 'humanitarian intervention' we can honestly make.
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