In a series of interviews with military commanders about the situation in Mosul and Aleppo, one unnamed British general suggested that letting people in foreign countries solve their own problems is the best course of action:
“Ask yourself the question,” said one British commander at Erbil, why ISIS was able to march into Iraq in the first place? It was because of Iraqi political divisions, he argued. “Would the political scene in Iraq look better if it had been a U.S. ground force that came in and militarily defeated Daesh, or do you think it would look worse? I’d suggest it would look a lot worse. And actually, by the [Iraqi] military defeating Daesh and having done a number of years to get Kurds and Iraqis, and for that matter some other local actors, involved in cooperating to achieve that military objective, you are better placed to win.”
The general’s comments begs interesting questions: at what point is military intervention in another country’s affairs warranted? Should we allow warring factions in distant lands to settle their own differences in the hopes that the resolution of the conflict will be more permanent? What if that resolution is repugnant to our our political mores or our beliefs regarding human rights? Would it be better to return asylum seekers to their own lands to force them to solve their own problems–or die trying?