Also, Island Dweller writes in to...dunno...something about Syria and his Esteemed Associate.
Most illustrious majesty:If only Europe was better run, they too could derive some energy independence and make the Middle East unimportant; heck, the Middle East could become solely Chinas problem. Lets ask the Uighurs and Tibetans how well that works out for their clients.
ID and EA (hey, there's an acronym for you - IDEA!) have reviewed your last posted missive re: Syria with some interest, as it is a subject we discuss with some regularity. We believe there is one other factor to be considered and, oddly enough, it has nothing to do with stability and in fact argues against it.
Syria is very much a client state of Iran. Hezbollah (they may call themselves "Lebanese," but rest assured they are Iranian in all but name) is in Syria in force, whether by active or reluctant consent from Assad. They have brought with them a massive arsenal of short- and medium-range rockets for use against Israel. Who knows what kind of warheads are on those missiles? We can venture a pretty accurate guess by saying that in turn has something to do with Saddam Hussein's WMDs, that went to Syria via truck convoy just prior to Gulf War II. At any rate, the Russians have cynically but realistically figured out it's in their interest to keep Assad in power, or at least fighting to retain it, rather than foster something new.
Containable internal unrest and instability in Syria means continued relative peace in the neighborhood as everyone inside Syria is busy killing each other - not Israelis, Turks, Iraqis, Lebanese, or any other nationality - including Russia's neighbors. A peaceful Syria with Assad in power means, however, Hezbollah shooting at Israel and other nations sooner rather than later. We agree with Dr. J - with only one exception, there are no good guys or bad guys in the Middle East - there are just "guys." Intervention in Syria is not worth the bones of one British grenadier - or Marine or soldier, either. Energy independence can't come too soon.
ID & EA
Obviously, you and Esteemed Associate are right on this one: the problem with Syria may not be Syria as much as everybody else there. But evidently you are right; let us continue to stay away for as long as we can.