After months of uncertainty, David Cameron has offered his most detailed case yet for the UK to extend airstrikes from Iraq to Syria. He stands a good chance of exorcising the ghosts of August 2013. But how robust are his arguments?
The UK can do little to affect the Syrian civil war. But it is shoring up its interests on the periphery of the conflagration, reinforcing the UK’s military reorientation East of Suez. The question is whether, in light of Parliament’s vote last month, the Government now wants to say so.
Unlike France, Germany is the other major European power that has stopped short of military intervention in Syria. Nevertheless, the country has adopted a tough diplomatic posture towards Syria and could deploy militarily if there is an international mandate.
The death of six British servicemen, pushing British deaths in Afghanistan over 400, is a sober reminder that the Helmand campaign is still far from over. Leaders, both military and civilian, still have to overcome serious challenges if there is to be a peaceful transition in 2014.