Today I had the pleasure of meeting Peter McCabe on Twitter. As it turns out, we were both simultaneously inflamed by a discussion of the Syrian crisis that was taking place on The Andrew Marr Show this morning – but for very different reasons! We ended up debating the virtues or otherwise of Western intervention in foreign affairs for much of the day.
I am of the view that the West has a responsibility to combat tyranny wherever it feasibly can, even if this involves the use of military action, assuming it appears reasonable to imagine it will improve the situation and set that particular country on the long path towards peace, freedom of speech, the emancipation of women and all the rest of it. I also think in many cases it is essential for our own long term security. I hope I am not misrepresenting Peter when I say that he is of the view that military intervention is never justified and can only ever hope to make a situation worse.
This is of course a common disagreement, raging not just between the left and the right of the political spectrum but also within their own camps. I consider myself very much of the left and share it’s commonly held views on almost everything.
Whilst the restriction of 140 characters hardly inspires flamboyant prose, and does tend to lend itself to defending an attack without leaving room to fully clarify one’s true position, I think we both did quite well to cover many of the key aspects of this philosophical question. Here is our debate (which I publish with Peter’s permission) – please do go to my contact page and let me know what you think either of us got right or wrong on this most critical of issues…
At this point we both agreed that we wanted to watch the football, and had in any case probably exhausted whatever we could reasonably hope to communicate via this particular media.