Dr John C Hulsman, a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and president of John C. Hulsman Enterprises, says Yes
Easily the two most dangerous words leading to foreign policy catastrophes are “do something”. This amounts to the vague – but powerful – feeling that immediate action is required to right wrongs, however worse such action often makes the situation.
It is hard to think of a clearer case for studied inaction than Syria. If Iraq (which we botched) is checkers, Syria is chess. Its ethno-religious make-up is infinitely more complex.
Even worse, three of the major political forces now fighting there are abominable; we should not be in the business of choosing between Isis, the Assad regime, and al-Qaeda (in the guise of the al-Nusra Front), anti-Western war criminals all.
Who is it we are intervening to help? How? What’s the strategy? What are the likely costs? Do we have the political will to see the plan through?
If there are not crystal clear answers to these basic questions, for God’s sake let’s avoid spawning another Isis as happened following Iraq.
Dr Alan Mendoza, executive director of the Henry Jackson Society, says No
There is no doubt that Syria is a complicated theatre of operations. But to suggest that we are underestimating the risk of involvement there is to do our military planners a great disservice.
A key lesson of our foreign interventions over the past 15 years has been to ensure risks like this are assessed and accounted for. In Syria, we are aware of the fractious situation on the ground between President Assad’s forces, Isis and other rebel groups.
We also know that Russian intervention has complicated matters by making accidental clashes between Nato and Russian forces possible.
But we cannot run and hide from this: we will be dragged into any escalation between Russia and Turkey through our Nato ties anyway.
It is a better strategy for us to make a stand now and choose the set of consequences that we will have to manage, rather than have them imposed upon us by others, as they inevitably will be otherwise.