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Back Trump in Syria

By D. J. Webb

The Trump victory represents a considerable opportunity for the UK. The future of our country outside the European Union depends on forging other trading links and a new international relations policy. Just as the Brexit outlook was looking awkwardly bleak, Trump won the US presidential election, making it likely that the path towards a new trade relationship with the US could be relatively smooth. We are no longer at the back of Barack Obama’s queue.

Strangely enough, however, the May administration appears to be intent on throwing away the new opportunities. Not only did she foolishly insult one candidate in the US presidential election, assuming that Hillary Clinton would win. Now she is intent in telling the US that the neo-conservative foreign policy must be maintained. My guess is that Mr Trump will tell Mistress May where to get off.

It was reported in The Telegraph that our government will use the “lame duck” period before Mr Trump’s inauguration to tell him that he must oppose Russia and seek to overthrow the administration of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

Neo-conservatives often argue a humanitarian argument for toppling Assad. However, around 60% of the population lives in areas controlled by the government, making the simplest humanitarian solution to the crisis a victory for Assad. Toppling Assad and allowing the war to spread to large populated areas including Damascus would lead to much greater bloodshed. The British polling organisation ORB found in 2015 that 73% of those in government-controlled areas supported the Assad government (see table 4). It would be very simplistic for people living in the UK to argue that civil war should be expanded to all areas, but clearly those living in Damascus and elsewhere don’t agree. Support for the government is as high as 81% in Damascus. It is odd that anyone would think that those living in currently stable areas should seek the creation of a political and military vacuum in Syria.

The Telegraph reports:

The Sunday Telegraph understands that Britain will spend the next two months trying to convince Mr Trump’s team of the need to remove President Assad. The issue will be the “number one” priority.

Given that libertarians have an interest in the success of Brexit, I would argue that libertarians should favour US-Russian co-operation in Syria in a way that would allow a quick resolution of the war in Assad’s favour. We have far too much of this stomping on the world stage: we are only a middling power, and should be seeking a much more transactional relationship with all players. Although the May government is an improvement on the Cameron administration, it seems to be on the verge of committing a huge blunder in its foreign policy. It would make much more sense for Mistress May to fall in behind Mr Trump. We don’t have any interests in Syria, and certainly should not be seeking to expand the civil war in Syria. To fall out with Mr Trump over Syria policy is diametrically against our country’s national interest.

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