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Military ethicist argues why we should stay out of Syria

A University of Portsmouth lecturer who specialises in the ethics of war and military intervention has had an article about why the West should stay out of Syria published on independent news and commentary website ‘The Conversation’.

Dr Peter Lee

Dr Peter Lee is a former RAF chaplain turned academic who lectures in military and leadership ethics at the Portsmouth Business School. He argues that an emotional knee-jerk reaction to Syria must be resisted by the West in general, and the UK and US in particular.

He said: “Unfortunately, we do not yet know definitively who released the chemicals in the area of Ghouta outside Damascus – and we need to be very sure before escalating a war and making things worse for the innocent we might hope to protect. It was probably Assad’s government’s forces but we need to consider what Hague rejects as the “vanishingly small” possibility that it was done by elements of the Syrian opposition.”

Dr Lee argues that precious little can be done that can ensure a positive outcome.

“Negative outcomes are easier to guarantee,” he said. “An early reprisal attack against the Syrian regime or other opposition group, which later turns out not to have fired chemical weapons, would be humiliating for the West. It will not hasten the end of hostilities, merely prolong the enmity of the protagonists. Such an intervention will not go unnoticed by potential insurgent groups in other fragile states, fuelling future uprisings for the international community to resolve.

“If by some miracle an aerial bombardment of Syria brought all contending parties to their senses and to the negotiating table, the West would not be thanked with a flowering of universal suffrage, human rights and individual freedoms in that benighted land. Iraq, Libya and Egypt should have taught us that while Western weaponry is welcome when it comes to removing tyrants, Western political ideology is not.”

Click here for the full article published on ‘The Conversation’, an independent source of online news written by the academic and research community.

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