Make no mistake: no Western nation wants to put boots on the ground inside Syria. Risks would be high, costs immense, and logistics complex. The question, however, is whether there is any choice.
On the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, it’s crucial to remember the peril of granting terror a safe-haven.
In 2011, a small intervention might have prevented Syria’s descent into hell. Ignore a Stage I cancer, however, and it metathesises to Stage IV.
Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad sparked the conflict, but Islamic State (IS) now fuels it.
Diplomacy won’t resolve the problem, because its roots are more ideological than based in local grievances.
After all, if extremism’s motivation was rooted in sectarianism in Baghdad or Damascus, then why IS success in the Sinai or Libya?
Europe now faces a refugee crisis unseen since World War II. Back then, the solution was to defeat extremism, not allow it to be an engine for endless sorrow.
The anti-Isis coalition has committed itself to destroying Islamic State (IS), a goal which is essential to the long-term safety and stability of the Middle East. But placing our own troops on the ground is a mistake.
IS feeds off the widespread sentiment that the region has been oppressed, occupied and dictated to by the West for over 100 years. Boots on the ground would only reinforce that notion again.
It does not help defeat IS, it merely creates an incubator for the next generation of radicals that will emerge the moment the West removes its troops from the region.
In short, this is a war that cannot be won by the West and its soldiers.
IS must be faced by the collective will of regional states first and foremost, otherwise the underlying reason for its continued existence will remain.
If we go in now, we’ll have to stay for years, and have to keep returning, which will ultimately solve nothing.