Paul Austin Murphy:
The British government has said that it won’t work with President Bashar al-Assad in order to destroy the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq.
This is in response to the comments of the former head of the British Army, Lord Dannatt (along with former Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind), who recently advised some kind of alliance with Assad. And, as a military man, I suppose that Lord Dannatt may know what he’s talking about.
Nonetheless, since these suggestions seem to have arisen specifically in response to the beheading of the U.S. journalist James Foley, they may simply be knee-jerk reactions. After all, if it’s worth working with Assad now, surely it was worth working with him last week or even months ago. After all, IS have been carrying out large-scale killings and wreaking havoc in Syria and Iraq for up to four months now.
Despite Lord Dannatt’s words, the Foreign Secretary (during an interview on BBC Radio 4’s World at One) has said that cooperating with the Syrian regime would “poison” Britain’s endeavors in that part of the world. Philip Hammond said:
“We may very well find that we are fighting, on some occasions, the same people that he is but that doesn’t make us his ally.”
In other words, is our enemy’s enemy necessarily our friend? Well, no; not necessarily our friend. However, that doesn’t stop us from working with an enemy in order to defeat a worse enemy. In any case, working with someone doesn’t make that person our friend. Or, as Sir Rifkind put it, history has shown us that “sometimes you actually have to make an arrangement with some nasty people in order to get rid of some even nastier ones”.
Here we also face another classic philosophical question: Do the ends justify the means? More specifically, can working with a poisonous regime be justified if the end result is the destruction of an even more poisonous entity (in this case, the Islamic State)?
Of course if Britain were to work with Bashar Assad to defeat the Islamic State (IS), many people will be up in arms and start using the words “hypocrisy”, “double-standards” and whatnot. (Conspiracy-theory-based Trotskyist groups — such as the Assad-friendly Stop the War Coalition — would have a field day.) Yet if there were an alliance, it would simply be strategic, politically and militarily speaking. And strategy, or Realpolitik, is the stuff of politics.
Think about it.
We aligned with Stalin during World War II. Before that, the Nazis signed the 1939 nonaggression pact with the same man. And, as Leftists and Muslims are always telling me, the United States funded — and the CIA trained — the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan in the period before the rise of the Taliban.
Even the Liberal Democrats-Conservative Party coalition of 2010 was/is a strategic alliance of sorts. And up and down the country — as well as throughout the 20th century — MPs and councilors have allied with people of different political parties – sometimes with radically different parties.
YES. And with Putin as well.
I think the fact that so many of our political class wanted to arm the “heroes” as McCain called them, who now show their true colors as ISIS, and the chest beating about the gas attacks indicates those were false flag attacks by these same terrorists.
Assad is no boy scout, but he protected non-muslimes and was our allie in Desert Storm. Not everyone Russia supports should be reflexively seen as an enemy.
The problem with ”Red Lines” and such is that you end up painting yourself into a corner with them UNLESS you use them properly.
There is some evidence that the Turkish gov’t set Assad up by using chemical weapons inside Syria to make it look like Assad did it.
While Obama dithers, hoping ”the world” will get behind some plan to get rid of ISIS, the world’s various components each have their own agendas, many of which allow for ISIS to have free rein.
ISIS is the perfect scapegoat in places where Israel and Jews used to be.
Many countries NEED isis.
In a way, it looks like Obama also needs ISIS.
He certainly is dithering.
The Soviet Union (the one that murdered 30 million of its own citizens, invaded Finland and made WWII possible with a pact to divide up Poland after Germany invaded it… that Soviet Union) was an ally in WWII. Granted, not a trusted ally, but one that did the job of exacting severe damage on the Wermacht and helped Britain and the US defeat the Axis. When faced with an evil threat, we should utilize whatever assets are available. We don’t have to marry them.
Sometimes there’s something to be said in favor of the lesser evil. It’s a very complex problem, however. Assad is a friend of both Russia and Iran, and could come to have an increasingly worrisome relationship with North Korea. Does ISIS actually represent a bigger worry to us or to them?