Such was the question from a Facebook friend yesterday, to which I replied:
I assume we are talking about the latest air strikes here. “The West” is about 50 countries. They haven’t intervened militarily in Iraq. The USA has. NATO hasn’t. The EU hasn’t. The UN hasn’t. The UK is just helping with food drops, but it does that in Syria also. The UK has poured a great deal of aid into Syria.
So the question isn’t for “the West”, it is for Barack Obama and perhaps also for George W Bush and his psychiatrist, as Dubya started the whole sordid mess and created a sort of US obligation in Iraq. There are also clearer targets in Iraq, whereas Syria is a total mess in military terms. It is one thing supporting a sovereign government, as in Iraq. It would be an entirely different matter to intervene militarily in Syria where we would be opposing the sovereign government in favour of a very complex and often dodgy collection of rebel groups.
We intervened in such a way in Libya against a sovereign government and in favour of rebel groups, and look where that got us – the country is now on the verge of total breakdown.
I think it is counter-productive most if the time to intervene militarily in the Middle East. It probably just delays things reaching a natural equilibrium.
But, bear in mind that there are various forms of military untervention, including peace-keeping and peace-making, all of which can be justified in certain circumstances.