This was a couple of weeks back, but ties nicely into the current, frustrated state of the UK's Surely bombs will resolve (whatever) war enthusiasts.
Ever since the current round of Syria talks in Geneva began, my Twitter timeline has been filled with harrumphs and wails and complaints - Oh, why are we so weak and ineffectual? I'm sick and tired of us sitting on our hands and doing nothing while Assad massacres his people. We will regret our weak, do-nothing attitude in future, because doing nothing encourages jihadists and is effectively pro-Assad. Oh, the Horror, the Horror.
This holds good if you view our fruity little trans-Atlantic Anglo bloc as basically benign, scanning the globe for ways to help suffering humanity, rather than an entirely amoral system of urges and impulses sniffing out profit and loss in every conflict and upheaval.
Well, let's unpick the Why Are We So Indifferent analysis of the situation a bit and try to address a few of the complexities here...
Why are "we"
First up and most obvious, let's just note that "we" never take any type of military action, in Syria or anywhere else. "The President of the United States" will do something or nothing, but "we" - you, me and Sunny himself, good reader - aren't going to be included in any email trails on the matter. Our opinions carry no weight whatsoever.
Furthermore, however "we" feel about the ongoing bloodbath in Syria, "we" absolutely are not going to spend any time at all garrotting Allawites in a trench outside Homs. "We" are writing things on the internet, rather than eviscerating militiamen with a bayonet.
Why are "we" so weak and ineffectual
This one, premised upon the idea that since the US & UK haven't, I don't know, carpet-bombed Damascus to blazing rubble or napalmed a few loyalist villages, they must somehow be cringing in moist-trousered terror because of the Iraq catastrophe or something.
Well, no. Britain's Libya adventure post-dated the Iraq debacle, and only thirteen MPs voted against that little jaunt, so I doubt the UK's martial spirit is quite so wrinkled and flaccid as some would have us believe.
I suggest that at every stage in the emerging Syrian disaster, both Britain and the Americans have done precisely what they intended to do, no more or less, and that they still retain the capacity to obliterate almost every human being in the loyalist zones in a few days... And choose, from free will, not to do so.
I'm sick and tired of us sitting on our hands
This one seems to be universal - "We" are doing nothing about Syria, alas and alack.
And yet in reality, Britain and the US have been involved from the start, encouraging this faction and prodding this country here, laying down the law to that faction and nation there, and generally handing out advice and armaments on a whim.
The US has been loudly signalling from the start that it won't accept any outcome short of the Assads stepping down, terms which - in an amazing coincidence - are utterly unacceptable to the regime. It's also been encouraging the rebels throughout, organising meetings and dishing out kit; denouncing the Russians, Chinese and Iranians in fiery tones and generally waving its dick around like it had a big stake in the outcome. Which it kind of does, but not in the way that most folk would think.
So again, no. Barack Obama is the most powerful human being on Earth. If he was nursing a raging war-boner for Assad, literally nothing could've prevented him from kicking arse and taking names with the world's most terrifying arsenal.
Despite all the horrified gasps over Labour's vote against "limited strikes", do you really think that one politician politely asking for some semblance of a plan would've derailed the invasion of Iraq, or even slowed our Gee-Whizz regime-change scam in Libya? I'm guessing no, not at all.
"We" are doing exactly what "we" always intended to do - trying to feed and tamp the conflict as necessary, and making a big fucking song and dance about how very moral we are while doing it. Remember however that nothing these people have done in the last decade suggests that they're moral at all - it suggests they're entirely amoral and pragmatic, willing to accept all manner of enormities for future benefit.
Could "we" have done anything else? Yes, but it's not the type of action that arouses the passions of war-wailers.
"We" could've been honest with the Syrian rebels from the start and said look guys, we sympathise, but we have no intention of seriously helping you out if you can't win, and since you obviously can't, you might as well ask for peace on the best terms that you can get before the place gets too badly bashed up.
But we didn't. Why?
We will regret our weak, do-nothing attitude in future
No, we probably won't, unless you imagine that humanitarianism is a primary concern.
You really can't miss the huge, region-wide war that's going on across the Middle East - at brass tacks, a great Sunni vs Shia barney with all manner of national, political and religious aspects. The US is broadly on the Sunnis' side, while Iran are the big hitters among the Shi'ites. The Assads aren't Shi'ites, but they have long been in bed with the Iranians.
So here are the three possible outcomes from Syria for the US & UK in the long-term:
1) Knock-out victory for the rebels. This is the ideal result for the US, since it removes a major Iranian ally and empowers the Americans' allies, like e.g. Saudi Arabia. Oh, and like, democracy and all that shit that we care a lot about, as well.
2) Knock-out victory for Assad. This is the least desireable outcome but it still isn't that bad for the US because, even though the Iranians might regain some small portion of their lost prestige, the Assads still end up ruling a devastated, viciously fractious nation that can't even help itself, never mind its neighbours.
3) The current situation. Interminable war with no clear victory, endless gore and terrifying extremism. Still perfectly acceptable to the US and way better than an Assad victory, since it's brutally grinding down almost all of their regional enemies - Iran, Assad, Hezbollah etc - and it's also keeping their allies focused on a pleasingly distant threat.
Straight up readers, I'm telling you that the US and the UK were holding out for 1) and when they couldn't get that, were happy to accept 3) in the hope of forever staving off 2)*.
Barring an utterly unexpected outcome, Syria is a no-lose situation from a western perspective, which is why the only issue to spring from the war that really, really riles up the Tories is the possibility that all those crazy British jihadis might come home fired up to deliver the wrath of Allah to the Home Counties.
You remember what President Obama said on the campaign trail, right? He said he'd fight America's wars smarter and better, which is why he loves drone strikes so much - neat, quiet and far from the cameras.
Syria is just about the opposite, with one distinct difference from the Iraq war - the brutality of it is no skin off America's nose, and it's chewing up Shi'ites like crazy just as effectively as it's obliterating Syrian civilians. Think of it as Iran's Iraq, if you will - after all, if our demented sojourn in Mesopotamia effectively handed the keys to Baghdad to Tehran, then this is payback time.
Which brings us to
The Horror, The Horror
And this is where things get sticky. All those dead civvies look bad on TV, so appropriate noises need to be made - banging shoes on desks at Russia in the UN; bewailing the horrror, and threatening limited missile strikes which inconveniently never get the chance to explode. Tsch, such a shame, we tried so hard, but what are we going to do?
What Barry O is going to do is the same as what he's done throughout, and what he's always intended to do - sit back and watch the fun without getting any blood on his shoes.
As war fans are always fond of saying, not intervening has consequences as well. Take a look at our recent adventures and I find it hard to see what's going on in Syria that we didn't blithely sit through for most of a decade next door.
Readers, you might think this analysis is cynical, even nihilistic... But on the very day that Tony Blair announces that the Egyptian generals staged a military intervention to save democracy via overthrowing democracy by force and shooting hundreds of its supporters, I suggest that this isn't nearly cynical enough.
*You can reverse all this for Russia and China, although they have different but similar priorities. Everyone is lying, folks.