The Daily Telegraph today gives an excellent run down on how Britain's position on Syria has changed over the past 10 months in terms of quotations from William Hague.
For example on February 13th, William Hague said
"I don't see the way forward in Syria as being Western boots on the
ground, in any form, including in peacekeeping form. I think they would need
to come from other countries, rather than Western nations."
I won't bore you with all the various statements by William Hague over the intervening months, as they are well covered in the Telegraph, but on Tuesday his week he said
"We are not excluding any option in the future
because ... the Syrian crisis is getting worse and worse all the time."
So we move from absolutely no intervention to "not excluding any option".
Similarly, the Military can't seem to make up its collective mind
On Sunday, the Telegraph reported that the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir David
Richards, claimed that
"Defence cuts have left the Armed Forces unable to carry out all the tasks that
ministers demand of them".
but it seems that he also said
"there are contingency plans in place for a “very
limited” response in the case of a worsening humanitarian situation in
Syria" and "The humanitarian situation this winter I think will deteriorate and that may
well provoke calls to intervene in a limited way".
The trouble, which neither William Hague or General Richards bother to point out, is that limited intervention in such a situation has proved totally impossible in the past. In a Civil War, anyone trying to intervene, even for humanitarian reasons, comes under attack from both sides, and the "limited intervention" soon becomes "full scale involvement".
All politicians seem to be blessed with a very short memory when it suits them, but I would remind them that we were supposed to have "limited involvement" in Afghanistan. This "limited involvement" has resulted, so far, in the deaths of 438 of our Servicemen with many times that number being crippled for life. It was to be the same in Iraq, limited involvement, we'll just get rid of Saddam and all will be well. Even in Libya, where we supported the rebels with air power, things have hardly turned out the way we would have wished.
I think that it was Otto von Bismark who when asked whether he learnt from his own mistakes, indicated that he preferred to learn from the mistakes of others. Our politicians and, regrettably, our military leaders don't seem to be capable of learning from anyone's mistakes, whether their own or anyone else's.
Then of course there is Iran, but let's not worry about that now, that's a subject for another day!
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