For those of you who without video or who may not understand Scottish accents:
Does he agree with me that any reckless or irresponsible action could lead to full war in that area? We have to understand from previous conflicts that war is not some sort of hokey-cokey concept; once you’re in, you’re in.
First, Sheridan understands that the UK’s use of force to impose its will is war, no matter how brief or limited the strikes may be or even if the government rebrands the term “war.”
Second, he understands that wars do not occur in some sort of vacuum. With UK intervention in the Syrian Civil War, there could be intervention from a host of other countries.
Third, he understands wars are easy to start, but difficult to end. Given the unchanging nature of war—danger, exertion, uncertainty, and chance—even the smallest of wars can expand into the deadliest. As Clausewitz tells us,
It follows that war is dependent on the interplay of possibilities and probabilities, of good and bad luck, conditions in which strictly logical reasoning often plays no part at all and is always, apt to be a most unsuitable and awkward intellectual tool. (pg. 580-581)
In making his point, Clausewitz goes on to ask “would Prussia in 1792 have dared to invade France with 70,000 men if she had had an inkling that the repercussions in case of failure would be strong enough to overthrow the old European balance of power?”
More recently for our time, we can ask if those who started World War II, Korea, Vietnam, or Iraq expected the resulting magnitude. The answer is certainly not.
Sheridan’s point is quite simply that the UK (or whoever) cannot expect to start a short war without any consequences. History, especially recently, is replete with long, destructive wars that began as limited ones.