It looks as if the UK will be joining the US in bombing Syria.

The situation in Syria is unique, but in some ways familiar. Do they never learn? I remember all the arguments before, during and after the Iraq war. One question was ‘What are our aims: what do we hope to achieve?’ and another was ‘What do we do when we get there?’

Nobody answered either, because nobody had a plan. It was just assumed that something would turn up. It did. Trouble! And suffering. And finally ISIS.

What’s different in Syria this time?

Russia. The risk of escalation. That’s on top of the risks of making things even worse for the people of Syria and creating many more refugees. These are big risks.

Three Dice. How big a gamble are we about to make?

Three Dice. How big a gamble are we about to make?

Is it not time for someone to intervene in Syria?

What I think is stupid is the timing. Assad has nearly regained control of a large part of the country. This means the war could be over soon. OK so victory for Assad would not please everyone. What would? Who are the good guys? The rebels are made up of lots of groups including several kinds of Islamic extremists. Would the defeat of Assad lead to a new stable government with respect for human rights? Wouldn’t another civil war be more likely? Between the different factions? What if one group won. What would they do to the losers?

I didn’t mention that Assad and his supporters are members of a variety of Shiite Islam, whereas most of the other side are Sunnis It is the same issue in Yemen. Do we favour one type of Islam over another? Would a victory for the Sunnis be desirable?

The Risks of bombing Syria need assessing and managing!

What I am saying is that we need to have clear objectives and some assessment of the chances of achieving them before we intervene in Syria. As it is, there is a real risk of making things even worse, hard as it is to imagine.