By Oliver Haiste
Just over two years ago in August 2013, the British parliament voted on whether to launch air strikes against Assad. Now they have decided to launch airstrikes against his jihadist opposition.
There is no clearer indication of how naive and inconsistent British (and Western foreign policy in general) has been over the Syrian civil war.
Of course, British and Western governments will not admit the unpalatable truth that Russian foreign policy has been correct all along. Nor will they admit that it was entirely predictable that Islamic radicalism would exponentially grow if secular leaders like Assad were weakened.
In the West, foreign policy is not dictated by what works, but what is fashionable amongst a domestic media and academic class dominated by liberal commentators.
During the 2011 Tunisian revolution, general liberal consensus was monopolised by the naive idea that all the 'Arab Spring' movements were a simple case of supporting Western style democracy against dictatorship.
In their rush to jump on the fashionable bandwagon, mainstream media commentators ignored the countless shouts of 'Allahu Akbar' that could be heard in the videos of uprisings in Libya and Syria. We were told by numerous 'experts' that this marked a new era of democracy in the Middle East fueled by the rise of Twitter and Facebook. The threat of Islamic radicalism was swept under the carpet in a wave of self-indulgent liberal euphoria.
The true nature of the West's commitment in Syria was recently revealed in Obama's remark to the UN that the argument that there are worse alternatives, is no reason to support dictators. In other words, the American feelgood factor is more important than what actually works. That cosy maxim has guided Western policy in the region for over a decade. It has been a disaster for both the secular part of the Arab population, but also for European security and social cohesion.
Large areas of Iraq are under 'Islamic State' control. There is anarchy in Libya allowing the populations of failed states in sub-Saharan Africa to head straight for the Mediterranean. Mass migration from both Africa and the Middle East will cause increasing ethnic conflict within Europe itself; as was just seen in Paris.
In all this mess, one notable world power has stood out against the fashionable consensus,in favour of pragmatism.
Russia has long accepted that the forcible toppling of Assad - which Britain has been inaccurately predicting for five years- is not a realistic path to peace.
If Western citizens really care about peace in the Middle East and really care about the effects on this crisis on Europe, they should hold their governments to account in elections. Russia isn't a threat to Europe; the consistent and demonstrably bad judgement of their liberal political parties is.
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