If anyone offers advice about Syria 2015, I suggest these simple tests:
- What advice did they give about Iraq 2003, and what do they think now about how that one worked out?
- Is there any reason to believe that they know anything about the subject?
- Does the advice make any kind of sense?
Let me apply these criteria to myself. in reverse order:
My advice, for what it’s worth, which is not much: Undecided on bombing in Syria. Before you kill a lot of bystanders and piss off a lot of the people that you eventually need to have on your side, it would be good to have a plan that shows that this will actually help any. Precedent is not good. Daesh oil sales, arms purchases, and sources of finance may be the best targets, and vulnerable to non-military attack.
I have no special knowledge of the subject.
I applauded the decision of Bush Sr. in 1991 not to march on Baghdad, not having any idea what the Alliance would do when it got there. I agreed with the American Chemical Society in 2002 that the evidence available for the claims of Iraqi WMD* (remember them?) was totally unsatisfactory, but that Saddam Hussein should be compelled to accept unfettered inspection. I completely opposed the decision to go to war after he had done exactly that, and quickly realised that the occupation was a disaster, but how great a disaster, in terms of the death toll in the Insurgency, subsequent internal breakdown, and the emergence of Daesh, I totally failed to foresee.
*There weren’t any, nor any short-term capacity to produce them.