Imagine this alternate history. It's the early 1860's. Britain takes the side of the South in America's Civil War, saying it wants to protect the innocent women and children. But, knowing the British people would not stand for supporting slavery, the Prime Minisiter says he's NOT on the side of the slaveowners. He says he wants Southern Independence with non-slaveowners in charge and slavery abolished.
The Prime Minister sends arms at first, but not at all to the slaveowner-run Confederacy, no sir. Only to non-slaveowning rebels, and is SHOCKED when the Confederates get hold of them. Then he sends the British Navy to southern ports to break the Union blockade and "give food and aid to the innocent victims of the war."
What he doesn't say is that aiding any southerner will actually aid the Confederacy and prolong the war, leading to greater overall suffering for women and children.
What he doesn't say is that his strategy is utter nonsense. There are no non-slaveowners of any clout who would both fight the Union and the slaveowning class at the same time, because no one would be suicidal enough to commit treason against both sides.
What he doesn't say is that the South's free-trade policy, unfettered by tariffs imposed by Northern politicians, is favorable to British interests. Tariff-free British goods entering Southern ports would find their way to the North through smuggling across an unguardable North-South border. British goods may avoid Northern ports and their tariffs altogether.
The breakup of the Union would therefore cripple an emerging industrial power and potential military rival to Britain.
This of course, never happened. It couldn't have happened. British Imperial policy was often foolish and counterproductive, but the government was even then somewhat democratic and accountable to the people, They would have seen through the lies and recognized the obvious: the British, by supporting Southern independence, would be supporting slavery.
And because of that, no matter how ruthless and unconscionable Lincoln's butchery may be, it was against British interests to intervene.
Compare Britain's non-action in the Civil War to U.S. actions in Syria. Our "leaders" say "Assad must go" because he's a ruthless dictator who kills his own people (even though that's what happens in all civil wars). They say they want no-fly zones to give aid to the innocent victims. They say they arm and train Syrian moderates in Syria to overthrow Assad, Even though the bulk of rebel strength comes from ISIS and forces associated with Al Qaeda.
That is, our leaders claim there are moderates suicidal enough to commit "treason" against both Assad and ISIS!
What they don't say is that those moderates don't actually exist.
What they don't say is that the rights and freedoms of Christians, Jews, and the nonreligious were safer under Assad than they would be if rebels removed him.
What they don't say is that they want de facto American control of trade routes in the region and diminish China's economic influence.
What they don't say is that supporting the rebellion is to in fact help ISIS and Al Qaeda just as surely as British aid to the Confederacy would have helped the slaveowners.
What they don't say is that this is a proxy war with Russia and Putin, whom they claim is a "threat" in order to expand the Pentagon's budget with all the pork and cronyism that entails.
There is no reason to support Assad or excuse his actions.
But there's no excuse whatsoever for supporting the rebels.
What is our excuse for supporting politicians who continue this barbaric, insane policy that supports jihad?