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Landis: Britain's Airstrikes Could Be Sign Of Changing European Attitudes Toward Syria

British protesters gather for a sit-in in London's Parliament Square Dec. 1, 2015 ahead of a vote to authorize increased military intervention in Syria.
Allsdare Hickson
FLickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
British protesters gather for a sit-in in London's Parliament Square Tuesday ahead of a vote to authorize increased military intervention in Syria.

On Wednesday, bombs began falling in Syria hours after Britain’s Parliament voted overwhelmingly to approve airstrikes against ISIS militants in the country.

The 320-211 vote followed hours of debate, and could be a sign Europeans are starting to coalesce around a common goal of defeating radical Islamic militants in the wake of last month’s terrorist attacks in Paris, and security concerns in Brussels.

Syria Comment blogger Joshua Landis, who’s also the director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, told KGOU’s World Views the attacks in Paris changed the European community’s thinking about how to respond to ISIS.

“Previously, people had thought, 'Well, ISIS is just there to build a state in the middle of the Middle East.’,” Landis said. “But now it's quite clear that everybody is in peril by this group, and they've got to get serious about it.”

But how serious is the real question, and Germany could follow Britain’s lead as the refugee crisis compels more European countries to become involved in Syria. Landis says that’s causing domestic political tension in the United States, because the U.S. wants to both destroy ISIS, and overturn the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

“[Republican presidential candidate and Texas U.S. Sen] Ted Cruz just came out and said Obama's wrong to overturn ISIS, that we need our dictators, and it's because of this regime change in Libya, Syria, other places, Yemen, that ISIS and extremists are spreading, and that dictators are a bulwark against the spread,” Landis said. “So more Europeans are beginning to take that line. The British and the French were talking about working with the Russians and Assad's army. So there seems to be a creeping change here.”

Landis says the argument is gaining steam that the stability that comes from having a dictator in power is better than the instability that comes with promoting democracy in the region, and the possibility of regime change.

KGOU and World Views rely on voluntary contributions from readers and listeners to further its mission of public service with internationally focused reporting for Oklahoma and beyond. To contribute to our efforts, make your donation online, or contact our Membership department.

Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
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