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Not like Bosnia: A Syrian rebel wears the black flag of al-Qaeda on his sleeve

In the House of Commons, David Cameron has strongly defended his determination to arm the Syrian opposition by referring to Bosnia in the early 1990s:

"We were told taking action would have bad consequences, just as we hear now. But not taking action is a decision too. In Bosnia, it led to the slaughter of up to 200,000 people. It didn't stop the growth of extremism and radicalisation, it increased it."

Historical parallels are treacherous. One crisis is rarely like a recent previous one.  Moreover, to many people Mr Cameron sounded all too similar to Tony Blair on the eve of the Iraq war, whose unintended consequences are still with us. In the West and in the Middle East alike, opinion polls show large majorities against military involvement in Syria, directly or by proxy.

These majorities are correct. Taking sides in what has become an all-out civil war is always problematic. Supplying arms to rebels, who are divided, and over whom we have little influence and no control, is plainly irresponsible. Ignoring the consequences for non-Sunni minorities — not least the Christian minority — in Syria and the countries surrounding it of letting jihadist-led forces win is almost criminally culpable. And regarding the alleged use of some chemical weapons by agents of the Assad regime as an international casus belli, and so creating the conditions for such stockpiled weapons to pass into the hands of al-Qaeda-linked groups, suggests the strategy of the madhouse.

So why are the British and French governments so keen to charge into the Syrian minefield?

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