The UK has always proclaimed its readiness to promote peaceful development of all nations in the world. However, sometimes countries tend to use force to help some nations to overcome certain issues. This is the case with Iraq and Syria as these countries were invaded by international troops that aimed at restoring peace in the countries and help the citizens to develop democratic societies.1 The UK position has evoked a heated debate in the world as well as in the country. Some people argue that the use of force is inappropriate and harmful for the United Kingdom. However, a deeper analysis shows that participation in the campaigns in Iraq and Syria is consistent with the norms of the international law and it helps the country to pursue its national interests associated with national security.
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It is necessary to note that the UK has been long seen as a strategic partner of the USA especially when it comes to issues of international security.2 Tony Blair and now David Cameron advocate the use of force in countries where people may suffer from crimes of the corrupted ruling elites that also threaten the global security. For instance, it was suspected that Iraq was working on development of the nuclear weapon.
At present, there are fears that extremists in Syria may obtain access to chemical weapon. Clearly, these are vivid threats that are regarded by governmental agencies aimed at struggling against terrorism. Thus, David Cameron established National Security Council that addresses various issues associated with national security (ranging from environmental concerns to the struggle against terrorism).3
As has been mentioned above, there have been many opponents to the invasion into Syria and Iraq.4 These people argue that there are only assumptions as to the existence of the chemical weapons in Syria and there is only a hypothetical possibility that extremists can take control over this type of weapons. Opponents of the UK participation in any military campaigns in Syria note that just as in the case of Iraq, any country (as well as every nation) has the right to develop in its own way without any intrusion from the outside. Some critics of the use of force note that this violates the international law and various conventions.
Nonetheless, UK’s position is consistent with the international law. Thus, Chapter VII of the Charter prohibits the use of force but there are some exceptions. The right of countries to use force to defend themselves (in terms of individual or collective self-defence) or to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe. In the case of Syria, both points are applicable. People of Syria have to live in inhumane conditions. At that, there is a threat of the use of the chemical weapon, which can lead to casualties in any part of the world. Finally, it has been acknowledged that Syria and Iraq have become a training base for extremists and terrorists who join terrorist groups in these countries and then go back to their home countries where they may organise terroristic groups or join criminal groups.
In conclusion, it is necessary to note that the use of force advocated by the UK is a way to secure this country’s national interests and prevent possible damage and casualties within the United Kingdom as well as in other countries of the world. Some people still talk about non-interference but this policy can make the UK vulnerable, as terroristic threat is real.
The United Kingdom has been advocating the use of force in Iraq and Syria, as the two nations need international support to overcome issues that are also associated with international security. The invasion in Iraq was quite controversial as the suspicion as to the nuclear weapon in the country turned out to be groundless. The outcome of the invasion was the overthrow of the rule of Saddam Hussein, which was another goal of the use of force as the regime of this ruler supported terrorism in the region and could threaten the global security. The debate on the use of force in Syria often involves references to the war in Iraq.
The UK Prime Minister David Cameron stresses that the country possesses chemical weapons and since there is political and social instability in Syria, extremist and terrorist groups can get hold of this type of weapons. This is a real threat that can undermine the global security. More so, there is another vivid reason to use the force in Syria. The country has become one of the centres of preparation of extremists and terrorists.
People from different countries join various terrorist organisations. Isis is one of the most dangerous terrorist organisations in the world and many Europeans as well as people living in the Middle East become members of this organisation. Europeans who took part in military conflicts on the side of Isis are likely to return home. It will be difficult or nearly impossible for them to adapt to the life in their home country due to traumas (both psychological and physical) they got in Syria. They will inevitably join terrorist or criminal organisations that will threaten citizens of the UK.
In conclusion, it is necessary to note that the UK’s participation in the invasion in Iraq and Syria are justified as the country wants to strengthen its national security.
Any issue concerning the national security leads to a lasting debate in the UK. Many British people are preoccupied with their security but they often oppose additional expenditures on the military and, especially, the use of force in other countries. The government of the country holds another position and tends to advocate active participation in some military campaigns in other countries.5 The invasion in Iraq and Syria can be regarded as an example of such policy. The UK government justifies its position by focusing on certain principles of the international law as well as the threat posed by existence of mass destruction weapons and activities of terrorist and extremist groups in these countries.
First, it is necessary to note that the Charter of the UN Security Council prohibits any use of force in any country. Nevertheless, it is possible to identify, at least, two exceptions to this prohibition. Thus, in Article 51 of the Charter, it is stated that “force may be used in the exercise of the right of individual and collective self-defence”.6 Besides, although the Charter is quite ambiguous in some parts, it is also possible to illicit another exception. Hence, it is possible to utilise force to prevent humanitarian catastrophe in a region. Reportedly, the regimes in Iraq and Syria implemented policies that led to social instability and impoverishment of the population of these countries. Therefore, the use of force (advocated by the UK) is quite justified by the norms of the international law and principles of the UN Security Council.
Weapons as a Threat
As far as particular threats posed by the regimes in Iraq and Syria are concerned, existence of weapons of mass destruction in the two countries can be regarded as a major one. When it comes to Iraq, the commission did not find proofs of the existence of the nuclear weapons in the country.7
Many critics of the invasion stress that the use of force was not justified or, at least, proportionate. It is necessary to add that there was another reason for the use of force associated with collective self-defence that will be discussed below. However, it has been found that there is chemical weapons in Syria.8 More so, due to social and political instability in the country and rapid empowerment of extremist and terrorist groups, there are high chances that the control over the weapon can be taken by these groups. Clearly, in this situation, countries can use the force to ensure their own security.
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Terrorism and Extremism
As has been mentioned above, the military campaigns were aimed at neutralising extremist and terrorist organisations that have been gaining power in Iraq and Syria. The two countries have become a favourable platform (or “finishing schools”) for training of terrorists and extremists who are ready to use military skills to pursue certain goals.9 These groups create tension in the Middle East. However, this is also a global threat as these combatants can easily access any country. It has been estimated that Isis (one of the most dangerous terroristic organisations in the world) includes over 25 thousand people from over 100 states.10
All these people (who have participated in military conflicts and are likely to be traumatised psychologically and physically) are returning to their home countries. They can start acting against the governments as well as against the citizens of their countries. They can join terrorist or criminal groups and undermine national security of European countries including the UK.
In conclusion, it is possible to note that the UK holds a strong position as to the use of force in Iraq and Syria. These two countries pose numerous threats to the global security, as there is no social/political stability. Extremist and terrorist groups can take control over chemical weapons that can be used against any country in the world. The growing power of Isis is also a significant threat as the organisation is especially active in Iraq and Syria, which are used as training platforms. Clearly, the UK wants to ensure its national security and, hence, it advocates the use of force in the two countries. It is also necessary to add that this position is favourable for the region as it can bring peace and stability to the two countries where humanitarian catastrophe affects the lives of millions of people.
Finally, the use of force is justified by the international law and the UN Security Council. Hence, it is possible to conclude that the United Kingdom advocates invasion in Iraq and Syria as it is one of the most effective ways to ensure global security and help people in the region to struggle against extremist and terrorist groups.
Associated Press, ‘Iraq and Syria Are ‘Finishing Schools’ for Foreign Extremists, Says UN Report‘, The Guardian, 2015. Web.
Bevanger, L., ‘UK’s Syria Stance Reminiscent of Iraq Invasion‘, Deutsche Welle, 2013. Web.
Blokker, N., ‘Outsourcing the Use of Force: Towards More Security Council Control of Authorized Operations’, in Weller, M. (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the Use of Force in International Law, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2015, pp. 202-227. Web.
‘National Security Strategy ‘Will Be Rushed‘, BBC, 2015. Web.
Saul, H., ‘Iraq Vote: Ed Milliband Calls for UN Resolution on Military Action Against ISIS in Syria‘, The Independent, 2015. Web.
Wood, M., ‘Self-Defence and Collective Security: Key Distinctions’, in Weller, M. (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the Use of Force in International Law, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2015, pp. 649-661. Web.
- N. Blokker, ‘Outsourcing the Use of Force: Towards More Security Council Control of Authorized Operations’, in M. Weller (ed.),The Oxford Handbook of the Use of Force in International Law, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2015, p. 210. Web.
- L. Bevanger, ‘UK’s Syria Stance Reminiscent of Iraq Invasion’, Deutsche Welle, 2013. Web.
- ‘National Security Strategy ‘Will Be Rushed’, BBC, 2015. Web.
- H. Saul, ‘Iraq Vote: Ed Milliband Calls for UN Resolution on Military Action Against ISIS in Syria’, The Independent, 2015. Web.
- L. Bevanger, ‘UK’s Syria Stance Reminiscent of Iraq Invasion’. Web.
- M. Wood, ‘Self-Defence and Collective Security: Key Distinctions’, in M. Weller (ed.),The Oxford Handbook of the Use of Force in International Law, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2015, p. 653. Web.
- L. Bevanger, ‘UK’s Syria Stance Reminiscent of Iraq Invasion’. Web.
- M. Wood, ‘Self-Defence and Collective Security: Key Distinctions’, p. 653. Web.
- Associated Press, ‘Iraq and Syria Are ‘Finishing Schools’ for Foreign Extremists, Says UN Report’, The Guardian, 2015. Web.
- Associated Press, ‘Iraq and Syria Are ‘Finishing Schools’ for Foreign Extremists, Says UN Report’. Web.