What does the Syria vote say?

138

Last nights Government defeat in Parliament over intervention in Syria was a significant moment.

On one side is the argument that;

It has stained the government for trying to pass such a motion in the first place.

Can we really continue to be governed by a coalition who cannot pass such a simple statement through the house or a Prime minister who is so naïve that he would attempt to do so in the first place without absolute 100% knowledge that such a thing would pass.

We are stained by an opposition who it now seems are trying to score political points over the entire thing.

This failure is likely to send two messages.

It shows the USA that we cannot be relied upon. This motion is likely to put severe pressure on Obama to go to congress where he is likely to suffer the same fate with the Republicans keen to score any political points they can.

Second, it is giving a green light to Assad to continue using his chemical weapons as he will soon be clear there is nothing the west can do against him.

The UK will no be in permanent decline because we are not willing to ‘do the right thing’, welcome to isolationism.

On the other hand;

Democracy and the primacy of Parliament has been restored, the country and its elected representatives were heard by the executive. David Cameron deserves much credit for following through on promises made at the election and in the Coalition Agreement to allow Parliament a say on such matters.

This pause may well send a message to the Middle East that your problems are yours to sort out and the West has become wary of intervening in conflicts where both sides hate us.

UK public opinion has placed the UK’s national interest above that of other nations and decided that it does not want to fight Al Qaida in one country and aid them (however indirectly) another.

Any strain on US-UK relationships will be short lived and let’s not forget, the UK is an independent nation that has enjoyed little support from the US regarding the Falkland Islands or Gibraltar. Relationships are a two way deal.

The UK has now cast off the pretension that it needs to be involved in every third world and Middle East conflict, welcome to a more realistic foreign policy

 

 

This is a joint post between TD and Martin

 

 

 

 

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Tim
Tim

Apparently it’s the first time since 1782 that the government has been defeated about military action…

rsdecarr
rsdecarr

I personally think it shows that the “New World Order”, personified by the people the Prime Minister – who’s multi-million dollar yacht he was on during the early moments of this crisis – consorts —that they have at least some real, intelligent human beings left that to deal with in their quest to rule the world. I suppose that mish-mash of a sentence doesn’t help the cause of being intelligent, but I’ll leave it. The people are overwhelmingly against all of this meddling in foreign countries. President Obama is emboldened to those very people that push agendas like this attack, as is your prime minister. Let’s not mistake this as a humanitarian mission. There are many more, far worse atrocities going on every day. It is the corporate strings of the “New World Order” pushing this action, It is only a short setback to them. They will continue their quest to conquer any country they cannot control. I, by the way, am an extremely patriotic American – a product of many generations of career military parents. I only believe that the “New World Order” being propagated by big corporations has completely destroyed the principals our country were founded upon, which by the way is an inkling of the history of your great country. I am very proud of the British people for taking a strong stand. It is indictive of the centuries of experience and knowledge of the British people.

rsdecarr
rsdecarr

What I find very enlightening is that when you Google Syria most of the results are about the price of petroleum and the effect on the markets. War is seldom about principals, but is usually about the almighty dollar.

Phil

It’s shows one major lesson. Too fast. Too rash. Not DC but Obama. It’s pretty obvious DC was working to Obamas timetable otherwise why try and rush it? He’ll be kicking himself that he didn’t take more time over this. As much as I can’t stand the idiot Milliband he had something of a point when he said there shouldn’t be an artificial timetable. Why Obama decided to move at such pace I don’t know. Seems to me we have all the time in the world to have struck him. I know they want to link the retaliation with the act but you just give a press statement to do that.

Too much too fast and now Labour can conveniently forget their motion got hammered too and crow and score cheap points.

The plus side is our political institutions are working even if I vehemently disagree with the decision.

Lindermyer
Lindermyer

Except the bill wasn’t really defeated, Milliband wants to vote on it again, so basically labour will vote yes next time and the no vote was just petty party politics.
Not Cameron’s fault (this time) that a certain group would rather be popular and vote gather than honestly discuss the matter in hand.
regards

martin

@ rsdecarr

TD is suppose to be a site for informed debate not talk of giant Alien Lizards ruling the earth in a global conspiracy.

@ Lindermyer

I agree Miliband shares a lot of the blame. But Cameron is the PM. How did the vote go this badly. Why was there even a vote? Why could he just not tell the USA that we could not go until there was more evidence next week and that if they wanted to go it alone they could and he would support it in the UN etc.

I think it just goes to show that he in incapable of the office he has been vested with. It’s dangerous for us to have such ineffective inexperienced people running the country. This will cause major damage to our relations with the USA.

Labour did try to pass a motion asking for “compelling evidence” so why not just support this motion. The government has claimed compelling evidence already in hand so why not show it.

rsdecarr
rsdecarr

I agree. We are at the same point in this country. The administration supposedly has undeniable evidence, yet they will not release it.

rsdecarr
rsdecarr

BTW. I appreciate your letting me comment here. I don’t intend to bring large conspiracy theories to what should be an intelligent conversation. I merely wish to point out that there are other agendas going on here.

Fatman
Fatman

TD
Well let’s think about the long term implications. Is it necessarily such a bad thing if the US realises with a start that it cannot rely automatically upon the UK? For far too long there has been assumption that UK interests are exactly the same as those of the US (and let’s remember that the protection of Israel features heavily in American thinking, certainly in this case). They are not. Britain has been taken for granted, often disparaged in private and then received no real benefits for having national spent blood and treasure. If the US wants future UK support it will have to work to get it, instead of expecting us to be the trained poodle. Just like France and other key US allies who take a more critical stance. In the very long term we should in any case be considering whether disengagement from the US political and military machine is in our best interests. A decision not to replace Trident would go a long way down this track. How about an M51 purchase instead?

Secondly, have we not realised by now that interfering uninvited in civil wars with inadequate military power (thank you to Mr Cameron for SDSR), lack of achievable objectives, and a clearly defined exit strategy is the way to become embroiled in perpetual war, much as predicted by Orwell in ‘1984’? The Assad use of chemical agents is dreadful, but the arrival of a few dozen cruise missiles will not stop the war continuing or topple his regime. Only a full-scale military intervention can do that – Iraq II anyone?

Strategically it would have been better to have passively supported the dreadful President Assad in suppressing the uprising. After all Syria represents a modernistic form of Islam and Assad has protected Christian and other minorities. Kicking him out to make way for AQ, the Moslem Brotherhood, etc, is not in the West’s long term strategic interest, no matter how awful the Ba’athist regime may be. Emotional over-reactions and handwringing sentimentality (as exhibited by some of your more gung-ho contributors yesterday) are no substitute for proper analysis and clear realpolitik thinking. On that basis the UK would be naive to get involved in yet another ME conflict to help cover President Obama’s political back. If Cameron has been very foolish, so has the President with his red line in the sand argument.

Finally, I agree with your views on Cameron’s future. He can no longer be taken seriously as a statesman and and should have gone straight to Buckingham Palace to tender his resignation. His lack of credibility will seriously damage the UK’s ability to deal with other countries. The government has clearly lost the ability to make decisions on war and peace and the bar will be set very high in future by Parliament. In military terms, Cameron failed to prepare the battlefield and did not conduct a proper intelligence assessment of the views of MPs and he should have not walked into such a stunning defeat. After all, it was Cameron who recalled Parliament, when he might have got away with using the Royal Prerogative. As an ex-PR man he assumed he could do a Blair and glibly talk his way through, despite the lack of solid arguments suggesting success was achievable. Moreover, he was extremely stupid at the end of the debate when he ruled out any action at all. The Commons just asked him to put matters on hold and produce a better case, yet he unnecessarily made a binding statement of no future involvement. The man’s a fool.

The dark stain lying behind all this is the ghost of the loathsome Tony Blair, a creature who has poisoned the well of public belief to such an extent that I suspect it will be another 20 years before the UK parliament and public feel that they can believe anything governments say about international affairs. This really is a seminal moment in British foreign policy.

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix

“It shows the USA that we cannot be relied upon.”

I am sympathetic to the thrust of this view, but the yanks need to understand that this represents the best chance for us remaining a good ally in future.

As I am happy for Britain to be an effective international actor, an “A” power as a German paper recently described it, I’d prefer we were more decisive in enacting the governments will on Syria. However we live in a different world now.
We’ve fended off the pacifism the has infected the continent admirably, but Iraq at the same time as the sandpit threatened to wreck this rearguard action.
I see parliamentary control of war as being the best mechanism we have to ensure an active foreign policy in future, in the face of the rising tide of callous apathy of many of our neighbours.
I would happily see the PM retain this power, but that I fear would only be a faster route to Belgium!

I havehad this argument here in the past, they arguing that the Chatham house poll is of no matter. Watch and learn!

Bob
Bob

It shows that the defeatist, inward looking, self-deprecating, self-loathing state that Britain has put itself in has reached a new low.

We are militarily weak and economically declining because we choose to be, not because it is destiny.

The Other Chris

Political Point Scoring.

Sums yesterday’s Parliament up completely.

a
a

We are stained by an opposition who it now seems are trying to score political points over the entire thing.

I was certainly shocked – shocked! – to realise that politicians might be trying to bring politics into the House of Commons. Have they no decency, sir?

Observer
Observer

martin, peace, peace. :)

Personally, I think that this voting is not really significant, but just time buying. For one, there is no UN report yet which they need to justify intervention, and for another, there is another vote coming along, this time after the UN report, so even if this vote was a yes, unless you kick off a strike in the next 2 days, the next vote will still be the deciding one. My observation is that this is simply to pacify the “We must act now!!” faction to show that something is being done, even if that something is just debate and simulated deep thinking while waiting for the real bullet, the UN report, to arrive.

rsdecarr, it’s always safe to talk about the “New World Order” without specifics isn’t it? Because without specifics, you can make any claim you want. Can you specify the specific list of companies in your “New World Order”, as I am having a hard time believing that all companies in the world are in on this, even the little ma and pa shop near my house. But who knows, maybe that old man just has a very good disguise and is really the comptroller of global oil shipping?

As for info flow, remember, we post comments maybe once per hour or so. Markets tick every second with money made or lost in seconds as well, is it any surprise there is a demand for minute by minute information and hence the huge amount of dataflow?

As for “Big Companies” that you obviously dislike, they are not some “God Corporation” or “Corporation To Rule Them All” (COTRTA), the larger companies have been hurt badly by the US economic mess, remember, even Chrysler and General Motors, the US mainstays, filed for bankruptcy. What really screwed the people AND companies over is Congressional shortsightedness. They wanted “Homes for Everyone!!”, while a good intention, totally overlooked sustainability, so they threw more and more money via Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into unrecoverable loans and basically pissed away the US savings. Congress gave them a free rein and they brought down the global economy with it.

Total idiots, didn’t history with the Dutch East Indies company teach them that tossing out money and inflating share prices don’t work in the medium or long term?

If you really want to blame someone, don’t look at the companies, they took severe damage from the mess too. You want to blame anyone, look at the Senators you guys voted into power. And yes, I blame the US government for the mess. Lack of oversight and too short term ideal based planning instead of practical based ones, along with too many contradictory voices to make firm decisions. Or in short, the idiots are running the madhouse. It would be a comedy if the madhouse did not have so many people’s livelihoods in their hands. With that, it’s a tragedy.

HurstLlama
HurstLlama

A couple of people have mentioned that there will be another vote next week. After last night there will not be. Cameron has accepted that his idea for action is stone dead.

a
a

“What really screwed the people AND companies over is Congressional shortsightedness. They wanted “Homes for Everyone!!”, while a good intention, totally overlooked sustainability, so they threw more and more money via Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into unrecoverable loans and basically pissed away the US savings.”

This isn’t actually true but I think that a long explanation of why it isn’t would be slightly off topic for a defence site.

martin

@ TD – Thanks always good to have a balanced view :-)

a
a

I mean, seriously, what is the opposition supposed to have done to avoid “staining” the house of commons? Voted for a policy they didn’t agree with? Voted against it but not said anything in debate? Voted against it while making vigorous statements saying that Cameron is a world-class statesman on the same level as Churchill and Pitt? Abstained?
When the government proposes a policy that the opposition think is boneheaded, their job is to vote against it and point out publicly how boneheaded it is. If anything, that job is even more important when the policy in question involves military force.

Mark
Mark

It says the “people” don’t want uk military intervention of any kind. As we head into sdsr2015 there questions of why spend 34b pounds and have significant expeditionary capability when the uk people don’t want it.

The uk and us have been guardians of western peace and security for longer than most of us have been alive we have had access to more intel, more program’s and theyve helped us preserve more capability than any other country as a result I wonder how much of that will continue in the future when it is clear for all to see that all parliament have done is say here’s one for Iraq.

Observer
Observer

a is right on that point, if it is boneheaded, it is the job of people in the government to point it out, even the party in power’s backbenchers if you recall. It’s either this or sell out on their principles. And you seriously do not want an unprincipled Parliament. Just because they disagree with you does not mean they are evil, just that they may look at things differently or are working on a different cost/benefit scale than you.

a, about the Federal Banks, did you mean the part where they in reality are not Federal backed organizations and only historically originated from a Government program dating from the Great Depression?

martin

I am not upset specifically about the UK not going to war, until recently I was against any form of intervention. I am still other than the fact that I think a small cruise missile strike should be launched to serve as a warning against future use of chemical weapons.

What I am dreadfully upset about is the fact this vote was called in the first place and lost. There was only three men required to make this decision and its obvious none of the three have control over their perspective parties. As Tim points out this was the first time the government has lost such a vote since 1782.

Its not a triumph of parliament or democracy but a national embarrassment. If Parliament was not prepared to accept the vote the government should never have called it in the first place.

Its easy to say that relations with the USA won’t be affected in the long term but lets not forget it is Britain and France who have been leading calls for action and the USA who has been the moderator. Cameron has been talking his mouth off and now he has been caught out with no ability to support US action. The USA’s credibility is now on the line and much of the reason is Cammeron. While this won’t signal the End of US and UK cooperation its another nail placed firmly in the coffin by Cameron that we did not need.

It’s time for the guy to go as he is now a national security threat in his own right.

Observer
Observer

I fail to see the point in calling for this either, save to stave the impatience of a small fraction and faction advocating for immediate action.

It was a bit pointless, and gave every impression of jumping the gun and kangaroo courting. No surprise it got shot down.

Phil

TD your case is compelling. But it implies this outcome was the result of some sort of coherent pathway. What actually seems to have happened is a rush job, a double cross by Ed and a refusal by Parliament to be bound before the UN report was made. I think if he had waited he’d have won. There was no real predestination, more a comedy of errors. I do agree that there was no need to rush this and Obama and Dave are undermining and undermined their case by moving ahead to fast and being parsimonious with sensitive intelligence. Why the fuck wasn’t the info in Obamas brief on the JIC report for a start.

I’d have hit the roof of DC had tried to bypass Parliament so there’s a very big silver lining. It’s damaged him badly though.

Lindermyer
Lindermyer

@A

Except that Milliband and co don’t disagree with taking action (if justified) after the report is produced, the no vote was simply to delay the decision until after the report is published. That is simply petty politicking to pander to the masses.

If Milliband (and Labour) truly disagreed with taking action, I would accept their position, agree or disagree I would not name call over their principles.

The above isn’t principles its called being a … (insert selected word).

regards

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones

Well I see a number of ramifications from yesterdays vote.
(Full disclosure – I was supportive of the Governments line)
Constitutionally the Royal prerogative to declare war is dead and buried but is mortally wounded. The Government will be expected to ask the Commons permission before military action.

I don’t usually mention politics on this site but I shall make an exception.

Labour are the big winners from last nights vote. Ignore the fact their motion was little different from the Governments and was defeated – they will be seen as stopping the country rushing into war. This will counter the burden of Iraq and they will now be the reasonable peace not war party. Many activists who had left over Iraq may return, and many Lib Dem supporters who joined after the coalition formed will likely stay put.

The Liberal Democrats will be the opposite – Labour will portray them as warmongers, at least locally, and many who joined over the opposition to the Iraq war may leave; more likely Clegg will face a leadership challenge – already there is talk of needing new leadership and not just from the usual suspects.

Cameron’s position is badly weakened. I don’t know if that was a calculation of the Tory rebels (I haven’t yet checked to see how much overlap there is with the awkward gang) but he may well face a leadership challenge before the election, rather than after it if he had lost.

Strategy wise, I’m afraid @Jedibeeftrix the Chatham House survey is no longer valid. The HoC has set a new precedent of listening to the public before Government and party and the public don’t want war, or much to do with foreigners. I hope the vote signifies a more realistic appraisal of our capabilities and cutting our cloth to match, etc, but think it represents a new mood of isolationism and withdrawing to our little island. Personally I think this is a huge mistake but hey…

steve taylor
steve taylor

Barry like all failed politicians is looking for a distraction; something to avert the American people’s gaze away from domestic concerns. Picking another war in another Middle East hole after 2 really not successful similar ventures that have cost trillions and far too many American lives isn’t probably the best way to go. You have to differentiate between the POTUS and the USA. We are still friends of the USA; still their closest ally. You don’t support true friends by following them off a cliff. Parliament has probably done the US its greatest favour since they decided to tax tea. In my view the Obama White House has peddled an overt anti-UK bias since coming into office and probably this vote has served to wake them up. Pissing on your friend’s feet and then expecting them to support you come what may smacks of immaturity that typifies Obama White House’s modus operandi. Canada skipped a war. Germany won’t be on the gunline. These are the states with who many here compare us perhaps it is our turn to sit one out? Some the guff here that has been written about chemical weapons shows me that some don’t have the depth of knowledge or thinking they appeared to have. Truly embarrassed by some of you. Honestly what in the end matters is whether the deaths were necessary, they seldom are, and not the method of killing. Gas is pernicious and vile. It certainly isn’t a higher form of killing. But to be outraged by the deaths of few hundred when thousands and thousands die each year because of violence is sentimental sensationalist stupidity.

I am sure our 2 TLAMs won’t be missed. Honest.

mickp
mickp

The vote went the right way at this time based on the evidence available. I can’t believe, with the Iraq experience that DC could expect it to walk through without full independent evidence. He was equally wrong to rule action completely off the table. If the attacks continue and real evidence is forthcoming, the mood may and probably should change. Equally I cannot understand how Obama is on the verge of doing a Bush on Iraq, completely contrary to the basis on which he was elected.

If there is real evidence of a regime repeatedly using Chem weapons on the doorstep of Europe then I think it is morally right that we should be part of a coalition based action to stop their use. The action should be limited to that – if we can’t realisitcally destroy the weapons themselves then the action should be directed at the chain of command that deploys them. It should be a clear and discrete mandate – no arming of rebels, no boots on ground (other than perhaps SF), no nation building.

All the other stuff should be left to regional players if they want to get involved

The other brutal fact of this is that if we were involved militarily, it would be a mere token for this type of operation – a handful on TLAMS and Stormshadow perhaps whereas the US could probably deploy over 100 TLAMs without much effort. Picture a situation the other way round where the UK (or Europe) wants to act but US congress votes the US out – could we do it without the US? I would like to see much more focus in SDSR on day one door kicking ability and long range strike than FRES and other enduring land operation stuff.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones

@ Lindermyer – I believe the phrase used was “copper bottomed sh*t”, which has become my phrase of the week…

mikezeroone

“I am sure our 2 TLAMs won’t be missed. Honest.”

Indeed; all this hype for a very small UK contribution, Akrotiri would have been more useful to the US than a couple of TLAM’s with faded ‘fly navy’ stickers on the side; but with Turkey there, we shan’t be missed.

Not surprised really. Lets see how next week goes re the UN report, its going to be interesting seeing where Obama – and the French – goes with this.

steve taylor
steve taylor

@ Swimming Trunks

My phrase of the week is,

Culture eats strategy for breakfast.

Should be the motto of the MoD.

martin

@ Swimming Trunks
“but think it represents a new mood of isolationism and withdrawing to our little island. Personally I think this is a huge mistake but hey…”
Agreed, I doubt the defence budget will survive this unscathed. It is likely to be a major consideration of SDSR 2015.

@ X
“Barry like all failed politicians is looking for a distraction; something to avert the American people’s gaze away from domestic concerns.”

Only the US economy is going from strength to strength and “Barry” has done everything he can to stay out thus far. I’m sure he is the last person who wants military intervention.

martin

@ Mike

“I am sure our 2 TLAMs won’t be missed. Honest.”

Those two TLAM’s represent alot more than two missiles. The difficulty for the US now will be that no one else can even provide a single TLAM and this action can only be seen as unilateral without UK involvement. CAmeron has been pushing for this for some time and now when its time to put it on the line he fails. He should have shut his mouth from the start. Now that he has done this he must go.

steve taylor
steve taylor

@ Martin

No. Obamacare. Debt. The NSA scandal. Benghazi. Sequestration. Immigration. Domestically the US isn’t doing too good.

As for TLAM. Go look how many the US fire off at the start of these ventures. It isn’t about missile numbers or missile types. It is about our percentage of the total effort which is very small. I strongly suspect that Akrotiri will be used by the US in secret if they need it.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom

My thinking right now is that Miliband may well support action next week, the shadow defence secretary was still talking about another vote, DC ruling it out is a mistake. Don’t forget if Labour had got their amendment they would of backed the motion and it would of passed easily, and there was very little difference in that amendment. I would be interested to see what happens next after the UN report, if Miliband is then convinced will he criticise the government for now not taking action, when he is the one who forced that.

Observer
Observer

x, I thought cell culture ate agar for breakfast? :P

I won’t call the US economy as strength to strength, but it is on the upturn. I’ll call it sick but getting better. Worth tossing a few coins into that pot if you can spare it. Will be good in the long term.

Anyway, Sunday is only 2 days away. Surely we can wait that long and not “pull a Cameron”. :)

mikezeroone

@ Martin

I am aware of the political and signal TLAM’s give, however – in a purely military light, as x has pointed out, it is a small contribution which can be easily replaced by another US asset being temporarily moved, and I feel your just looking at the Naval picture, the USAF could double – or even more – the number of missile strikes by flying out of Turkey …who seems to be rather quiet about the subject; but unlike Jordon, has not closed the door to the option.

Of course, after the weekend/next week we may join in again, or Obama may stand down (unlikely as this seems to be rolling).

Dave Haine
Dave Haine

I’m not sure that last nights vote is the disaster that others want to portray it as-
defeat for the government? Yeah, whatever… triumph for democracy I’d call it- OK, call-me-dave lost, but our elected representatives voted after a debate. Democracy, in action. The party whip system has been responsible for an awful lot of very, very crap decisions that have done our country some harm, not least of which most of our elected representatives have become clones of the ‘great leader’ slavishly following the party line, rather than being sensible, thinking, ethical people who make a considered decision, based on facts, and for the good of the whole country.

Will Barack be pissed? Only publicly, really I think he’ll be rather relieved, ‘cos it’ll give him a chance to slow it down a little…which may stop a repeat of the ever-decreasing circle debacle of GW2, where we ended up going to war on the flimsiest evidence, without sensible war aims, post war strategies, force levels and without an obvious succession.

Besides, what options do we have? Chucking a few Tomahawks at Syria…no-fly zone?…bombing raids? At what target(s)? What’ll be the aim?

I’m not against intervention, I just want it to be well thought out, with sensible objectives, sufficient resources, and a strategy for after. Otherwise all we’re doing is giving al-quada another country to play with.

steve taylor
steve taylor

@ TD

No

Dave Haine
Dave Haine

Another thought…thatcher refused to get involved in Reagans air strike on Libya, apart from allowing them to op out of USAF bases in the UK. And wasn’t there another Op where the US flew out of bases in the US because the HM government of the day wouldn’t get involved…

Neither of those seem to have affected our relationship with the US…

martin

@ Engineer Tom
“My thinking right now is that Miliband may well support action next week, the shadow defence secretary was still talking about another vote, DC ruling it out is a mistake”
It’s another political error by DC, He has just given an interview to sky ruling out any British military action ever. But he says he will continue to apply maximum pressure on Syria. My question is how do you apply maximum pressure with out at least the threat of military consequences.

At least the Russians are happy.

@ TD
“So does this make us Fish and Chip Eating Surrender Monkeys now then?”
Worse, we talked the entire thing up and pulled out at the last minute. Obama is in an incredibly difficult position as he has drawn a line in the sand( not unreasonably) and the regime has crossed it at least twice. Now is only real ally who I am sure has been pushing him to this point and backed away at the last minute. What does he do.

It seems that a lot of this pressure to move quickly was as a result of the G20 summit in Russia next week and wanting to get the bombing out of the way before that. At the very least the UK, France and USA should cancel their attendance at the summit as a punishment to Russia for its support of the regime. It would also take away any artificial timetable for action.

Observer
Observer

Just read a report, Assad’s commanders have evacuated in anticipation of the raids. Apparently they were already pulling out 48 hour ago and working on skeleton staff, but the total evacuation is complete by today. They are just dispersing though, not relocating, rebel activity on the roads still making it too dangerous to move equipment about too much without taking losses.

Not that it comes as a surprise of course.

martin, my read on Russia is that they are just indifferent. They already pulled out their non-essential staff from Syria last week.

martin

I still can’t believe call me Dave has ruled out any military action ever. So there is now nothing the regime can do to warrant a response, shelling Turkey or mass use of VX nothing will get us to move.

Not only was he wrong in calling the vote to early he has now reacted in a way that backs us into a corner.

Mark
Mark

Martin

What do you expect him to say. The motion voted against by the House of Commons last night means he could say nothing else. Sadly we now live in a country that says its acceptable to use WMD to suppress opposition within a country.

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix

Let us not forget Vietnam.

martin

@ Mark

I would expect him to resign, If failing that shut his mouth and wait until the evidence is out next week and have another vote.

Observer
Observer

Now now Mark, it’s hardly as bad as giving carte blanche to nerve gas everything, it just means that the UK is refraining from taking action “at this time”, not voting to repeal the Geneva Protocol.

Jedi, Vietnam?

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix

@ martin – “Agreed, I doubt the defence budget will survive this unscathed. It is likely to be a major consideration of SDSR 2015.”

Why?

This was going to happen eventually, Cameron had promised it since 2006.
I’d argue that increased parliamentary legitimacy will do more good for the publics acceptance of elective war than any negative arising from the PM’s loss of face yesterday.

steve taylor
steve taylor

@ Mark

Look Margery what if those pictures of gassed dead Syrian children were pictures of dead Syrian children who had been killed by HE? Lots of blood and missing body parts. Would you still be outraged? Or would it be it is only HE than God it wasn’t gas? How about if they had been bayoneted? The fact that nobody can give an accurate figure of casualties should be a red flag. The figures range from 300 to 1500. How many times over recent decades have we seen groups in the ME use “Pallywood” style propaganda to garner Western support? How often do the chattering classes fall for that crap? I would humbly suggest that what you are saying is that the price of TLAM is the price of clearing out conscious. If not you would be advocating boots on the ground. Picking sides. Us and them. What a supercilious arrogant position to take. When the opposition wins in Syria will you be jumping and down when the innocents who are in the Assad camp are lined up against the wall to be shot, raped, and mutilated? It is a shitty dirty war. All civil wars are dirty shitty wars. Taking sides for unproven sensationalism reasons is a low.

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix

@ observer – time marched past my comment, was a reply to davidhaine above.

John Hartley
John Hartley

Quite enjoying my new status as a tea drinking surrender monkey.
Couple of points. Some pinprick missile strike out of outrage over chemical weapons is pointless & likely to make matters worse.
We either do nothing or assemble a full scale 1991 style international army to invade with overwhelming force. Or plan C, accept partition of Syria with Russian peacekeeping troops in the Alawite/Christian/Kurd side, & Saudi peacekeepers on the Sunni side of the partition.
A limited US strike has been costed at $608 million. Had Britain joined in, we would have probably spent 10% of that, so £40 million. Perhaps we should spend that £40 million on Tomahawk stocks, so that when we do have to step in somewhere, we have something to use. Or you could use it towards missing weapons on T45/Typhoon. Or a missing bit of UK infrastructure such as a dual carriageway bypass for a village that still has a major A-road running through it.

Observer
Observer

To be fair, the US handled Vietnam while the UK was securing the peninsula further down. Malayan Emergency. They sure did a better job of Malaya than the US did in Vietnam though.

steve taylor
steve taylor

@ Jedibeeftrix

What do you mean Vietnam?

martin

Says a lot about the Tory party with 30 of their MP’s vote against the government and even 2 Ministers miss the vote “accidentally” and there are no consequences. Could you see Thatcher allowing that.

Mark
Mark

Martin

That’s what he asked for last night he wasn’t given it. I don’t think he should resign I think he should call a general election. He had the evidence the country doesn’t trust the western establishment. Nothing about last night was about Syria or the facts about chemical weapon use. It was all about Iraq, settling political scores and making a point about cuts.

Observer

Sorry I disagree its exactly the message we have sent.

Tubby
Tubby

Re: “I still can’t believe call me Dave has ruled out any military action ever. So there is now nothing the regime can do to warrant a response, shelling Turkey or mass use of VX nothing will get us to move.”

Am I the only one who thinks last night vote, while wonderfully democratic actually increases the risk of Assad doing something that drags us into a full scale war? Take Martin’s example above, what if emboldened by the UK backing down, Assad decides to bomb or gas one of the refugee camps just inside the Turkish border, killing Turkish aid workers? Presumably Turkey could and would invoke Article 5 of the NATO treaty, and I for one cannot see us sitting it out just because parliament voted no to military action against Assad.

I think we are going to look back on yesterday’s vote as one of those turning points in history.

Lindermyer
Lindermyer

Does the report detail how many of those civilians were male aged between 16 and 60 and carrying Kalashnikovs and mortar rounds.

I’m always sceptical of reports like this, if we take this sort of thing at face value, then in the 30yrs of the troubles, Iraq and Afghanistan the British army hasn’t shot anything but an innocent bystander since 1945.
(Listening to some of the Rhetoric regarding those Islands, gives the same impression).

Regards cynically

Tubby
Tubby

Had a quick afterthought

If US/Turkey/France launch attacks against the Assad regime, and Syria and/or Iran (or their proxies) retaliate, what are the chances that they will avoid retaliating against the UK just because we sat out the strikes?

Craig
Craig

“As we head into sdsr2015 there questions of why spend 34b pounds and have significant expeditionary capability when the uk people don’t want it.”

“I doubt the defence budget will survive this unscathed. It is likely to be a major consideration of SDSR 2015.”

Who says the British public don’t want a significant expeditionary capability to protect BRITISH interests? It does not automatically follow that because we have an expeditionary capability, we must get involved in every little conflict going. There are no absolutes

We are deluding ourselves if we think a short, sharp intervention will change anything or lead to anything other than us being dragged ever deeper into the quagmire for years to come. The utter inability of most commentators on the matter to define a realistic goal, let alone how that goal would be achieved without far, far greater use of force than currently envisaged.

The two sides are in a fight to the death. Neither will have any compunction in throwing everything into the fight when their backs are against the wall. What difference does Obama lobbing a few Tomahawks at you make when you’re about to be overrun by the opposition anyway? Lest we forget, during the Cold War we all considered the use of nuclear weapons abhorrent yet they formed a core part of the NATO battle plan – not just as a deterrent but an actual tactical use on the battlefield.

Nobody seems to consider the impact of another intervention on SDSR 2015. There is no magic pot of gold at the end of the rainbow to fund this. We have a government committed to deficit reduction (not like they have any choice in the matter anyway). Nor will any government ever cut health, education or pensions spending for an unpopular war. It will be the defence budget that ultimately pays and thus it will be good-bye to even more capabilities. Furthermore why would the UK public trust any government with such capabilities when Governments repeatedly use it in wars the public dislike?

That is the real argument. Forget chemical weapons. Why should the United Kingdom sacrifice ever more blood and treasure merely to further harm our own interests?

It all smacks of little boys wanting to play with their “toys”. The use of the military force should be restricted to safeguarding what we (not a few government ministers) would all recognise as British interests and where there is a reasonable prospect of achieving a clear aim. We teach our officers Principles of War for a reason.

Observer
Observer

Sorry Mark, but I for one missed the message. I represent an external party, literally, and I don’t get any message that UK non-intervention is a sign for mass CW usage. Even if the US were to decline intervention, all others would see is Syria avoiding a pasting by a hair’s breath, not a VX all you can use buffet.

If I were really mean, I’ll phrase it as nothing that the US or UK does or does not do in Syria is going to affect the world balance much. Those who are inclined to use CW will still be inclined to use it, those that does not, will not. It is not the US or UN that is keeping Middle Eastern countries from using CW en mass, it is the fear that if they do it, their neighbors will return the favor.

JohnR
JohnR

At the end of the day, I suspect Cameron isn’t all that upset in private about losing the vote and ruling out military action. He’s a politician as much as, if not more than Milliband.

He avoids a messy, expensive, unpopular war while holding the moral high ground. Come the election, just screen a few shots of a poor Syrian and blame the Opposition for tying his hands behind his back.

Indeed considering it was Labour calling for Parliament to be recalled as much as anyone and the number of Tory rebels/absentees, it could all just be a deliberate setup to kill off any prospect of getting involved. Look a bit weak now but avoid [I]being[/I] even weaker when it matters at election time while turning the tables on the Opposition.

Who knows, even Obama might be thankful for having an excuse. Remember, he never said that the crossing the redline meant getting involved – merely that it would change his “calculus”. Perfectly possible to still arrive at the conclusion that getting involved is still not justifiable.

Mark
Mark

I will post one last thing on this topic. People here obviously haven’t read what was asked for and rejected last night in the commons here’s what it said in full

This house
Deplores the use of chemical weapons in Syria on 21 August 2013 by the Assad regime, which caused hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries of Syrian civilians;
Recalls the importance of upholding the worldwide prohibition on the use of chemical weapons under international law;
Agrees that a strong humanitarian response is required from the international community and that this may, if necessary, require military action that is legal, proportionate and focused on savings lives by preventing and deterring further use of Syria’s chemical weapons;
Notes the failure of the United Nations Security Council over the last two years to take united action in response to the Syrian crisis;
Notes that the use of chemical weapons is a war crime under customary law and a crime against humanity – and that the principle of humanitarian intervention provides a sound legal basis for taking action;
Notes the wide international support for such a response, including the statement from the Arab League on 27 August which calls on the international community, represented in the United Nations Security Council, to “overcome internal disagreements and take action against those who committed this crime, for which the Syrian regime is responsible”;
Believes, in spite of the difficulties at the United Nations, that a United Nations process must be followed as far as possible to ensure the maximum legitimacy for any such action;
Therefore welcomes the work of the United Nations investigating team currently in Damascus. Whilst noting that the team’s mandate is to confirm whether chemical weapons were used and not to apportion blame, agrees that the United Nations Secretary General should ensure a briefing to the United Nations Security Council immediately upon the completion of the team’s initial mission;
Believes that the United Nations Security Council must have the opportunity immediately to consider that briefing and that every effort should be made to secure a Security Council Resolution backing military action before any such action is taken. Before any direct British involvement in such action a further vote of the House of Commons will take place.
Notes that this motion relates solely to efforts to alleviate humanitarian suffering by deterring use of chemical weapons and does not sanction any action in Syria with wider objectives.

Chris
Chris

Referring back to Bob’s referenced JIC memo: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/235094/Jp_115_JD_PM_Syria_Reported_Chemical_Weapon_Use_with_annex.pdf – it stated according to the intelligence community they thought it probable CW were deployed 14 times before (just not publicized to the same degree). Does that mean 14 times before we signalled our acquiescence over use of CW? Why does the 15th occasion become a massive issue when the previous 14 were largely ignored? Why now are we in the UK complicit in their use where over the past 12 months or more we weren’t?

Perhaps image is really important – more than policies and laws and standards? That’s very depressing. Last night Parliament gave the PM a bloody nose (I suspect) both for overstretching his democratic authority and for the opposition sport of party political point winning. Again, I suspect the PM’s eagerness to act was partly to support our traditional allies, and partly because he chose to act with his heart and not his head – rushing to ‘do something’ rather than taking the proper path through all the government departments for their rock solid advice first. What I don’t think was involved was some ulterior motive, like to increase international tough-kid kudos or to advance his political image within the UK. A mistake, an embarrassment, less well thought through than we’d expect from a Prime Minister, yes. Something underhand for personal gain? I don’t think so.

For the sake of the country as a whole I hope the PM and Government will pick themselves up, dust themselves off and set to work to find appropriate action to take by other means that signals the use of chemical agents cannot be acceptable.

There’s a word. Signal. Its been used by almost every talking head who’s had the opportunity to opine on the Syrian issue. Not taking military action would ‘signal’ WMD are just fine. Sending a handful of Tomahawks over the Syrian coast would ‘signal’ our commitment to the UK/US Special Relationship. Signal. Maybe I’m just old & grumpy (no comments thank you) but I didn’t think the point of the Armed Forces was to act as a glorified Powerpoint presentation for the purpose of informing the world what the government of the day likes or doesn’t about other nations. When we marched to the trenches a hundred years ago it wasn’t to signal that we disliked the Kaiser’s invasion, it was to fight to regain the territory for France and Belgium. We didn’t use the combined Allied military to signal that Reichskanzler Hitler was not a very nice fellow, they fought to defeat and eradicate the Nazi war machine. The Task Force didn’t sail for the Falklands to signal we were really quite cross with Argentina’s Junta, but to kick the invaders out. Where did that all change?

If all we were to do was ‘signal’ our displeasure at the use of chemical agents in Syria, I don’t doubt there are other ways of doing so. I’m pretty sure neither the Assad regime nor the rebel factions are taking signals at the moment, but hey. I will admit, while accepting that a stand against CW use is necessary, I couldn’t see how adding half a dozen missile delivered warheads into a country already suffering constant bombardment by their own hands wouldn’t just be lost in the noise. Especially since the consensus here was that they wouldn’t really achieve any substantial military objectives. And while there do seem to be those that hold the belief a country can be bombed to peace and prosperity, that’s not something I find easy to agree, and in any case it would take more than a few RN cruise missiles to have any effect. Military action to achieve military objectives against a strategy guided by policy at government level – that is understandable. Using the military for a bit of a diplomatic tantrum is not.

The Other Chris

@Mark

If only some MP’s had read it too.

a
a

I wonder what the Arab League is going to do now? Answer: nothing.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-23886605

“The Arab League has not discussed military action in Syria, its Secretary General Nabil el-Arabi has told the BBC.
“Maybe it is in our minds that someone would do that but we would like the Security Council to take charge,” Mr el-Arabi said.”

Which basically means nothing, as the Russians and Chinese will presumably block anything coming to the UNSC.

a) there may be something amiss when we are supposed to go further in protecting Arab lives than the Arabs themselves are prepared to do

b) now that military action has been ruled out, can we talk about using the money that it would have cost us for a massive increase in our support for the UNHCR’s Syrian refugee relief efforts (currently significantly underfunded)? The UK has given $4 million so far this year which is pathetic (the US has given $288m). We’ve just saved $40m by not firing TLAMs at Syria; I know a good place to spend it. Might be a good idea if there were a lot of tents and rice sacks and medical clinics in the Jordanian desert marked “A GIFT FROM THE PEOPLE OF BRITAIN” in large, friendly letters…

The Other Chris

When was military action ruled out?

Edit: For example should France join the US in military strikes, our military treaty with France may obligate us to provide support.

Observer
Observer

” I’m pretty sure neither the Assad regime nor the rebel factions are taking signals at the moment.”

Well, you could try leaving them a note. :)

I say we wait for 2 days, then reconvene on Monday to determine if Assad needs to get his ears pinned back.

Frenchie
Frenchie

I don’t know if we are obliged to anything, but anyway we a few things to offer :-(

a
a

For example should France join the US in military strikes, our military treaty with France may obligate us to provide support.

I don’t think it will, having had a quick look at the coverage, but I could be wrong. It’s more about joint training, joint weapons development etc. There’s a Parliamentary briefing note which says:

“Support will be provided, as agreed on a case by case basis, to one Party when it is engaged on operations in which the other Party is not. The treaty makes it clear, however, that the control of each country’s Armed Forces, the decision to employ them and the use of force shall always remain a matter of national sovereignty (preamble and article 5).
“Therefore, were the UK to engage in unilateral action or in a Coalition of the willing in which France was not participating, support to UK operations would only be provided by France if it determined that it was in its interests to do so, and vice versa.”

Our other mutual defence treaty with France, the North Atlantic Treaty, would apply only in the event of an attack on French soil or on French forces in the Med. Frankly I think we’re more likely to get roped in via that one to help Turkey than to help France. Turkey’s already come under attack from Syria.

Enigma
Enigma

Although joining the discussion a little late today, I would like to offer my own view of last night’s defeat of the Governments motion on military action in Syria.

If, like me, you have found yourself bemoaning the state of the covenant between the UK and its military forces, then I would say that last night gave us something to cheer about. I think (finally!) that politicians are starting to properly realise the effects that past decisions has has both politically and financially on the well being of our armed forces. The disastrous outcomes of the SDSR at a time when casualties from engagement In Iraq and Afghanistan had seriously affected moral and capability were quite frankly a bridge too far.

One consequence of Afghanistan in particular is that there are not many parliamentary constituencies that have not been exposed to or been affected by the return of dead or seriously wounded service personnel. The effect has been to raise the level of consciousness about the reality of political decisions made in parliament. I have no doubt in my mind that last night vote was the first time that politicians have had to consider military intervention since we went to wain Afghanistan.

I believe that the vote in favour of non-intervention was a step toward rebuilding the military covenant and that should be welcomed by all. If it leaves us apart from one of key allies in the form of the US then I am equally heartened by this fact. I can recall that Tony Blair was overtly criticised for blindly following the US over Iraq and Afghanistan.; creating a difficulty in seeing where US foreign policy ended and UK policy began.

I know that my comments may throw up other points to debate, not least on how we should be responding to the humanitarian crisis in Syria. Is it now time for the emergence of more serious policy debate on how the foreign aid budget should be targeted through the Defence realm for just such crisis.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-21528464

I maintain that the UN is the best organisation for intervention in Syria, as it is capable o garnering direct contributions from Syria’s neighbours to resolve the internal strife and seek to secure non proliferation and or control of Syria’s CW stockpile as part of its peacekeeping mission. Indeed such a stance would be supported by two of the wests’ feircest critics, nameley Russia and China.

This viewpoint is consistent with those Conservative MP who voted against their own party last night and for that they should be applauded. The UK is part of the UN and is respectful of international treaties for a simple reason; No one country can police the world but it must be policed for the common good.

As for Bashar Al Assad, I have no doubt that the use of chemical weapons upon his own people will have done more to force regime change in Syria than any action that could or should be taken by the international community. The reality is that even his own supporters will now give him up if they believe that they may have a continuing role in governing a future Syria. It would be prudent for western governments to allow Syrian activists and those states who share a border with Syria to find a settlement, since they are most directly affected by this catastrophe.

For too long the perception of Middle Eastern states toward western superpowers is that they are ignorant of the ways of the Arab world and behave as if these are mere pawns in a game of Oil chess. We should start to support the working of the Arab league and also the UN by allowing them to be the instrument of change. If the UK wants to provide military support to give teeth to that work then we should be willing to do so in concert with and directed by those bodies.

Such a strategy would enable us firstly to build a more effective geo-political presence in the Middle East region; secondly, that it demonstrates we respect our partners in the region; thirdly, allows the UK to focus military assets toward humanitarian support and not have to adopt an offensive role.

Though I wholly accept that it may come to pass that UK offensive capability may be used in Syria, I would be more supportive of that intervention if it were in response to regional alliances requesting direct action. Budget restraints and denuded force capabilities no longer give us (the UK) the ability to campaign on an open ended basis. To do so without clear objectives with defined entry and exit strategies is reckless in the extreme. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-23877247

We will now have to wait and see what emerges but I do not think we should try and dissect what is otherwise a relatively positive step in the right direction.

Frenchie
Frenchie

I think if you don’t go in Syria, we will not go either, even if the French president did not need the advice of the National Assembly for intervene.

Phil

He avoids a messy, expensive, unpopular war while holding the moral high ground. Come the election, just screen a few shots of a poor Syrian and blame the Opposition for tying his hands behind his back.

But politics is more twisted. DC had the good sense and backbone to take this to Parliament. Even with a thin margin and even when it was obvious that a lot of the problems were about the timing of the vote he immediately conceded without a further murmur or even a hint of defiance. There was no question after he spoke that he was planning to be as resolute either way the vote went.

But apparently, listening to your Parliament and the public and asking an open and honest question, putting it to the vote and them immediately and without further ado accepting the choice of a democracy makes you weak and shows you have lost control.

What a load of total and utter bollocks. DC went about it wrong, but by God he’s taken his medicine and has been open and honest and sincere. He did what we all wanted him to do – listen – but the media brands him weak and Labour hasn’t got the good grace to keep their slavering gobs fucking shut on the matter. Gollum like they can’t resist the temptation to crow.

a
a

“I have no doubt that the use of chemical weapons upon his own people will have done more to force regime change in Syria than any action that could or should be taken by the international community.”

This is a good point… staying out rather than taking sides will allow more pressure to be put on Russia and eventually, possibly, Putin will cut Asad loose if he thinks the benefit of supporting him isn’t worth it in terms of what he’ll lose elsewhere in the region. Especially if any intervention is _not_ US-led, because Russia (and China) just don’t trust them post-Libya.
If the Arab League – or just the Egyptians or the Saudis – would step up here, it would solve a lot of problems.

a
a

TD: you don’t want much, do you? I was expecting that comment to finish “Discuss (15 marks)”.

Off the top of my head:

Democratic health – establishes a norm that the PM has to seek parliament’s approval before committing British forces. This is probably a good thing , but in most cases it wouldn’t matter; either the deployment would have general public support (as most wars that we’ve waged have had) or at least the whipping system would keep MPs in line (as with Iraq). This was a special case with a very weak PM (coalition government) and very unpopular deployment.

International prestige and influence – the value of not intervening in Syria is twofold, and the other fold is that we have retained significant option value. All those TLAMs and troops (and cash) that would have been committed are now not committed and available to be used elsewhere. And from being a solid constituency for the US, we are now a marginal one – and marginal seats get a lot more attention, because you could lose them.

Defence funding – this is really up to the government, isn’t it? I suppose they could decide to cut back intervention-type forces on the assumption that Parliament will never permit another intervention, but that would be an bad and unjustified assumption. I doubt that it will change the public’s views. If anything, an unpopular intervention might have created a public groundswell for defence cuts – “why should we pay for armed forces if they’re just going to do horrible stuff like this?”

Enigma
Enigma

@TD

I think would be inexcusable to “Forget the poor fuckers in Syria for a moment and be utterly selfish” even in the short term.

To do so would have major impact on exactly those points which you wish to debate further; all of it negative. As has been seen throughout the Syrian crisis, Syrian protestors have taken to the streets of the UK to demand action and intervention or protest anti western sentiments. The simple fact is that we live in a global community where extended families occupy a place in UK society as part of our cultural makeup.

It is what ‘Diversity’ is all about. To ignore that is fundamentally what has brought western foreign policy vis the Middle East into disrepute.

OK so DC did not carry his argument and lost the vote in parliament. Surely the fact that it could be debated and decided upon in a ‘free’ vote form is testament to the state of parliamentary democracy. Could you envisage a situation where the Army removes DC and takes control as per Morsi in Egypt ?

As for International Prestige, I think there is substantial credibility lent to the democratic process that we can appear to have differences which can be resolved through debate and reasoned discussion and not armed conflict. There is also a lot to be said for standing up and saying ‘No’ on the international stage. It shows strength of character and reason rather than subservience and trepidation.

If the UK is to hold it position on the world stage, then a pragmatic approach is sometimes able to achieve a solution where otherwise the threat or use of force engenders isolated positions with no way back. I think the idea of linking foreign aid to defence policy is a fundamental element of future defence policy.

The SDSR 2015 should be the starting point for addressing the policy debate and shaping this future. The QEC’s could have a role in providing a projected ‘base’ capability which utilises their size and capacity to deliver not just a war fighting platform but a floating staging post for humanitarian relief. Size matters in that capacity and would provide the UK with a solid capability.

As for relation with our allies and the wider world, it would be wrong not to be capable of rethinking our role in the world and, based on rational doctrines, promote that role to and through our international partners. Sometimes it is necessary to be bold and admit we must change, if that in itself allows others to recognise their own changing needs.

What is needed is a decision on whether the UK needs to or will carry through a military campaign of long duration in the future. If the answer is ‘yes’ then our force capability needs reflect that as a standalone entity. If the answer is a resounding ‘No’ then what is the most vital contribution that we can make to an alliance and scope our capabilities accordingly.

Dave Haine
Dave Haine

@ jedibeeftrix- I was ignoring Vietnam, because as observer said you could argue that the Malaysian emergency was an aspect of the Vietnam war, insomuch as it was part of a Comintern campaign to extend Marxist/communist regime change (the so-called ‘domino’ theory). And the RAF were involved in Vietnam in the very early stages.

Turning to TD

Democratic health- +ve, in the short term…on a number of occasions I have noticed CMD’s willingness to follow democratic principles, rather than an enforced party whip (I have indicated my ‘distaste’ in a previous post, for the party whip system, where the vote is decided by threats, bullying and some cases physical ‘communication’ by the chief whip and his bulldogs).

International prestige- I think it’ll do us good- it’ll show that our government has to bow to parliament, and show that we can/will act independently of the US. Of course, the more totalitarian states will look in wonder, but they always did anyway. In any case, international prestige and influence at the highest level is more dependant on economic and military strength. Our economy is improving.

Defence funding- This is the $6m question…if you do a straw poll, you’ll find an awful lot of people place a good deal of importance on a strong military,navy and air force, you don’t find a lot of anti-carrier feeling…trident however, is a different matter. That being said, how that’ll translate to how the public votes is a unknown. With the amount of stuff in the popular press about poorly equipped soldiers, aircraft carriers without aircraft, generals saying we can’t cope etc, etc. I’m not sure that any further cuts would be a vote winner.

International relations with US, Europe and the Middle East- Barry has only talked about red lines, and taking action, who’s to say he doesn’t mean sanctions? The US will take this into account when they make their plans, I don’t think it’ll have much effect on our relationship. Europe on the other hand, will have a little shiver, what with the debate about our membership of the EU going on and Gib. What they could see is the UK being more willing to proceed on it’s own path, disregarding international connections and pursuing it’s own interests…and ensuring that we have sufficient forces to deal with a Gib problem, if required.
The middle east will breathe a little sigh of relief- we generally have reasonable relations with most ME countries, and this, in their eyes, measured and sensible approach, will do a lot to ease tensions, and allow them to continue to shop in London.

SDSR 2015 and the general election- I refer the honourable gentleman to my answer to defence funding.

@Mark- I presume you were quoting from Hansard, I have to say, nothing there prohibits CMD from coming again to the house with fresh evidence, and a new motion.

Overall, I hope this is going to make our elected representatives think long and hard about defence. Whilst we may be fighting an insurgency campaign right now- the possibility of a full on ‘hot’ war has increased, and we ought to think about how we approach and prepare for that prospect. It won’t be enough to say ‘The US/ NATO will help’…we will have to bring something to the party, and it will have to be more than one slightly reinforced army corps, one tactical air wing and one amphibious expeditionary force.

El Sid
El Sid

@Tim
Not quite 1782 – Lord Aberdeen’s defeat in the Crimean War vote of January 1855 is generally regarded as the last time a PM was outvoted over a war, in both cases they were about ending an existing war rather than opening a new front. In both cases the PM resigned soon after.

I think the thing that really stands out about last night is Cameron’s ineptness at managing his own party. He obviously thought it was just a question of making the motion vague enough, and relying on Miliband’s assurance that he would back him. He didn’t get the hint from 81 of his MPs sending a letter in June expressing reservations – that should have given the whips a hitlist to work on over the summer. He should have worked out that the experience/guilt of presiding over GW2 would have meant Miliband could expect a number of left-wing resignations if he voted yes (albeit inevitably it took a lot of dithering by Miliband to get to saying no) – but Cameron couldn’t even wargame what might happen in Westminster, it’s just as well he didn’t get the opportunity to predict what might happen in Syria.

Most obvious effect might be on the Typhoon sales to Saudi and the Gulf – Osborne is already indirectly calling Syria a trade issue rather than a dead-kiddies issue. The hard-pressed US defence industry has made >£10bn of FMS to Saudi in recent weeks, and it’s pretty clear that Saudi are pulling a lot of strings behind the scenes. I’d suggest disruption of the trade route through Suez is a non-zero probability – I wouldn’t want to take a CVN through there at the moment if I was the USN.

El Sid
El Sid

[previous comment has gone into the ether as spam?]

Just to add to that previous comment – most likely near-term effect might be on all those Typhoons we want to sell to the Gulf. It’s pretty clear that this is an issue that Saudi cares about much more than us or the US, they’ve been trying to get rid of the Assads for decades. One of the good things about the Assads is that they’ve always been very opposed to the Wahhabi nutjobs spreading propaganda in Syria, and Saudi seems to be playing a leading role behind the scenes. It seems a bit too good to be true that the hard-pressed US defence industry has signed >£10bn of FMS in the last few weeks.

The trade route through Suez must also be vulnerable to disruption – I wouldn’t fancy taking a CVN through there once the shooting starts.

Ace Rimmer

TD; I think it makes us ‘we’re on standby until someone shows us irrefutable evidnce of exactly who did what, monkeys’.

Reading the comments above of those for armed intervention, there is still no conclusive proof that it was the Assad regime that comitted the act, habeas corpus anyone? A court in the UK still requires a jury to find the defendent guilty ‘beyond all reasonable doubt’, why is that too hard for some people to swallow?

Bring me the evidence, and I’ll support action, its not that difficult.

a
a

“you could argue that the Malaysian emergency was an aspect of the Vietnam war, insomuch as it was part of a Comintern campaign to extend Marxist/communist regime change (the so-called ‘domino’ theory)”

you could equally well argue the other way. They don’t overlap very much – the Emergency was over in 1960 and the first US combat troops didn’t arrive in Vietnam until 1965. The Comintern, meanwhile, was disbanded in 1943, and the domino theory (which was nonsense anyway) conclusively disproved in 1975-6, when Thailand rudely refused to go Communist, as the theory predicted… in fact the Vietnamese Communists were fairly nationalist and had near zero interest in extending Communism to the rest of south-east Asia.

. And the RAF were involved in Vietnam in the very early stages.

Really? I did not know that. Details?

a
a

Whilst we may be fighting an insurgency campaign right now- the possibility of a full on ‘hot’ war has increased, and we ought to think about how we approach and prepare for that prospect. It won’t be enough to say ‘The US/ NATO will help’…we will have to bring something to the party, and it will have to be more than one slightly reinforced army corps, one tactical air wing and one amphibious expeditionary force.

That’s a fairly large hot war you’re talking about there. We haven’t brought a corps-level force to any conflict since 1945, as far as I am aware.

Observer
Observer

a, to be fair, that was with 20/20 hindsight on the Communists in Malaya. Everyone now knows that the hot fighting was over by then, but at that time, no one knew, so forces were kept up for a time. In fact, insurgent forces were around until a surrender was worked out in 1989, but it was pretty sad by then, only about 500 people for the whole of the Malayan peninsula. They were so focused on “the good fight” that economic progress had passed them by, so not only did they waste their lives for a lost cause, they ended up with nothing to show for it either.

a
a

Observer: all true, and good points, but the Emergency was over in 1960 – that’s when the state of emergency was revoked. There wasn’t much serious fighting after 1958 IIRC.

IXION

Personally a lot of this was brought on by Cameron.

David Davis said today that Cameron brought a rushed case with a poor argument to parliament without first locking down a majority and paid the democratic price.

AS for the UK I broke out the champagne and am starting reading Tin Tin and Agatha Christie coz Yippee we live in Belgium.

Despite that, the world continued to turn, the sun came up..

In short apart form a useful constitutional convention about not going of to war half arsed without a parliamentary majority, a little bit of reality broke out yesterday.

To answer TD’d questions

Democratic health: – Big tick, (but millipede is still a tosser who just lucked out this time)

Prestige: – Think this will take a while, the needle flips between everyone thinks we’re weak and kicks sand in our face (unlikely), or everyone thinks ‘ wow look at the size of their democracy we’re impressed’

Personally I recon no one will remember outside the UK in a year or 2’s time.

Defence – with any luck we can start scrapping the elephants now and stop waiving our intervention forces around’

European relations – doubt if anyone gives a toss.

US relations we a have been little more than a ‘useful idiot’ for them since the end of the cold war and our ‘guardian of the Atlantic ‘ role ended. Doubt that will change.

rsdecarr
rsdecarr
rsdecarr
rsdecarr

With so much still undetermined, parliaments vote may end up showing Britains wisdom and not it’s weakness.

WiseApe

“Quite enjoying my new status as a tea drinking surrender monkey.” – I take coffee. And it’s ape, not monkey. What exactly have we surrendered. I prefer to say we won back the right to determine our own foreign policy rather than being anyone’s poodle.

Why the rush to take action – can’t be because Obama is due to meet Putin in St. Petersburg at the G20 next week?

“…rather than being sensible, thinking, ethical people who make a considered decision …” – To a politician, of any stripe, ethics is a county in southern England.

Chris
Chris

rsdecarr – thanks for the link. Quietly ignoring that MintPressNews might have an agenda, the news that the rebels also have chemical agents pretty well backs up all the caution that has been advised on TD’s website. I happily repeat an earlier comment – first find out for definite who was culpable for the chemical weapon use, then decide the course of action. Why would you want to do anything else?

Mark
Mark

I think people should go a listen to what sec state Kerry just said

Observer
Observer

Could only get a synopsis report, the video stream is not working for me, but damn it, THIS was what was needed during the UK vote, Cameron messed up by half a day.

And if true, this is the evidence that is needed to justify action against Syria. Guess a bombing campaign is inevitable now.

Wonder how effective is napalm in denaturing CW? And I would hate to be the one trying to get authorization, especially if the ammo dump is in a civilian area. That is a UN violation itself or very close to one.

Dave Haine
Dave Haine

@a- you’re correct if you don’t include the French ‘phase’ of the Vietnam war- I did tho’.

I used ‘Comintern’ as a convenient term because they first espoused the theory of CRW (communist revolutionary warfare) back in the 30’s. Agreed that they ‘disbanded’ in 1943, but their successor the International Communist party didn’t seem much different to me. Both the initial stages of the Vietnam war and the Malayan emergency, were classic demonstrations of CRW, unfortunately in Vietnam, French misjudgements, led to the Viet Minh reaching the third phase very quickly, whilst British tactics and strategy retarded and obstructed the Marxists, enough for local democracy to embed.

As you rightly say the domino theory was discredited, but I did describe it as ‘so-called’ . I wonder if Thailand would have been quite successful at withstanding the pressure without US support and a strong monarchy, tho’. At the time, the theory seemed very appropriate, if you think of the number of south-east Asian countries that actually succumbed.

Actually, after reading my sources (J P Crosses ‘Jungle Warfare’), There were British forces in Vietnam as the French started their effort, but we pulled out fairly quickly.

The RAF involvement in Vietnam consisted of a flight of Beverley’s conducting low-level re-supply ops to special forces and recon units in Laos, early on in the US campaign, only for as long as it took the CIA to set up ‘Air America’ I suspect. This should be a matter of public record, because I saw an interview with one of the pilots on. The BBC’s ‘One Show’- which prompted me to look further.

Apologies for the use of ‘corps’ What’s the formation above a field division? I’m thinking along the lines of the British army deploying two divisions and a brigade in a hot war. I knew I should have wiki’ed but I’m on the iPad

McZ
McZ

In principle, the vote puts british foreign policy into the hands of Moscow. Very democratic. Milliband has more in common with Attlee than we might think.

If evidence against Assad suffices to make a statement, then doing nothing is no appropriate behavior, whatever arguments are on the table. Assad is neither a friend, nor a guarantee for stability. We have to accept, that far over a billion Muslims are cut from welfare and good governance. The uprising is broad and global, and we have nothing to offer but warm words, economic calamity and democratic moral standards, which are basically pointless.

Peace in our time, finally.

Repulse

I don’t have a problem in not riding on the US tails blindly into another conflict. However, these events are on our door step and once more we show we are not capable to do a damn thing about it. Strong leadership is required along with a recognition that the stability of this region does matter to the UK.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same

@McZ

Don’t be such a drama Queen. Cameron made it a mess of it, The UK intel statement was shocking and there is no public support. that hardly makes us Putins bosom buddies.

Repulse

Also, funny that the government is talking tough on Gibraltar today…

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23898581

I just hope the PM starts to take more of an informed interest into defence.

Phil

Also, funny that the government is talking tough on Gibraltar today…

We’re the drunk angry man now who needs a fight at the end of the night.

Time to mess up some midgets.

Observer
Observer

Run Phil run!!! :P

APATs, the intel statement would have been shocking if it had anything earthshaking and substantial, eg evidence that a third nation did the chemical attacks. All the JIC statement succeeded in being was a non-entity. As I pointed out to Bob, there was absolutely nothing substantial in it at all.

BTW, as I mentioned earlier, Russia airlifted all its citizens out last week, so it looks like they think that the bombing is a go.

Overseas
Overseas

Ignoring nonsense like rsdecarr… and Bob’s ‘defeatist, inward looking’ etc…

There is literally nothing to be gained by getting involved in a multi-sided conflict of which at least two are thought, alleged, suspected, to have used chemical weapons. Does UK PLC gain by intervention? What business opportunities can we get from sending a SSN off shore to launch a T’hawk or two? Nothing.

At no point can UK gain from getting involved in something that is far from a straight fight, which after its ‘conclusion’ (Assad win/lose) a low level civil war will be fought by regional players wanting a bigger people of the geopoltical pie. Look at Iraq. With or without UK/US intervention, Syria will be at war for years to come.

Our opportunity might be to sell arms to both sides in the hope of perpetuating the conflict. To make it clear, I couldn’t care a jot who lives and who doesn’t. Long may that continue. We have a chance to make a dollar to two on the side, so lets move our much vaunted diplomatic service into action and getting selling those weapons.

In the real world, bad things happen and our hope is that they don’t on our doorstep. A couple of thousand miles away? Sure, go nuts, gives us something to read in the mornings papers.

(TD: sub as you see fit, the last couple of para’s are touch and go to be fair…)

Observer
Observer

Well, I do care that he doesn’t misplace a few gallons of sarin. Who knows where it’ll end up. At least this will give Assad impetus to keep track of his stockpile.

Opinion3
Opinion3

My thoughts laid out as points

* Cruise missile strikes, whilst clearly war-like, have been used many times in the past to make a point. Perception is that a punitive strike will drag on with boots on the ground. I disagree and the reintroduction of punitive strikes is a good thing.

* The use of chemical weapons is a justifiable reason for such a strike. That said it isn’t a requirement, the red line was created without proper consideration of the consequences.

* The Obama administration, I agree has been harshly anti-British. This has been noted by the public, and has affected the mood.

* Obama is as dim as they come. This man accepted a Noble Peace Prize within six months of getting into office…… for what? (Although conventional wisdom has Bush as dim, the interesting documentatories portray him as decisive and extremely smart).

* I am not convinced we have the resources to help with the punishment. The constant cuts, not just the SDSR but decisions prior to that and two wars have taken their toll. We don’t have the money either.

* The rush, why call MPs from the holidays? was pointless. Greening is a waste of space, but I don’t get the rush …… now I know if it was left too long then it might clash with Putin was hosting his G8 meeting. That would be awkward.

* Labour scored a goal. Not sure if anyone has worked out whether it was in their goal or the Governments.

* The strategic importance of Syria is limited to crushing Iran’s ally. The problems that would result from a ‘rebel win’ would however cause us serious issues. There would be a proxy fight between the west and russia and possibly Iran to be their best friend.

* End of an empire – I find this line boring. Its true but Cameron and co probably don’t remember an empire so i don’t think they think there is a loss to get over.

* TB may deserve some criticism but he was a conviction politician. MT was too. Lacking conviction – Millband? or somewhere inbetween is terrible for the country.

* Displaying the evidence for the public is a good idea, but probably isn’t a reliable decisive way to do things. War by committee anyone?

* The French should take action using their carrier. This is see an end to the ridiculous idea of sharing assets. (Pooling is different and sort of ok)

* I still don’t see Assad’s motive for a chemical attack. There is a clear motive for the rebels, and they have been caputuring arms, depots and receiving converts.

Observer
Observer

” I still don’t see Assad’s motive for a chemical attack. There is a clear motive for the rebels, and they have been caputuring arms, depots and receiving converts.”

Well, that assumes a thought process was behind it at all. “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” It could simply have been Assad or one of his commanders having a temporary short circuit in the brain. Or that a local commander was under pressure and popped off one without checking with higher command too. Winning overall might not mean winning every local battle.

Z
Z

@Op3

re. “I still don’t see Assad’s motive for a chemical attack. There is a clear motive for the rebels, and they have been caputuring arms, depots and receiving converts.”

Even allowing for a pinch of salt for one source of info. > http://www.timesofisrael.com/israeli-intelligence-seen-as-central-to-us-case-against-syria/ my take on a possible explanation is that Assad has for some time already delegated operational approvals for the use of the Syrian chemical weapon stock to some of his commanders and and they have have utilising this in a limited and controlled fashion way to clear certain pockets of stubborn resistance to gain ground.

Were you surprised, as I was, that the JIC statement https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/235094/Jp_115_JD_PM_Syria_Reported_Chemical_Weapon_Use_with_annex.pdf claims that chemical weapons had been used as much as a minimum of 14 times before the 21st of August? I had heard about a few incidents where chemical weapon use had been claimed; but not as many as 14! I think I recall @TD highlighting one or two incidents here at the time those news stories came out.

So the Syrian regime had developed a procedure for utilising WMD on a small scale that had proved effective in clearing the rebels from certain places and this was by and large escaping the attention of the international news media. On the August 21st something probably went wrong operationally – not sure what – perhaps few too many CW shells were fired, perhaps there was sudden change in wind direction or perhaps there were more families living in the targeted area than anticipated but anyway it created mass casualties rather than the handfuls of victims from previous use. Anyway that’s my best guestimate of what happened given that both Assad Snr & Jnr had been continuing a program of building up a chemical weapon arsenal for years. The Syrian regime was just secretly utilising a weapon at hand to clear out entrenched pockets of resistance where HE shells alone were not doing the job.

Repulse

The UK no longer having an empire seems to be an excuse to do nothing and accept being insignificant in the world. The same people are probably those who would cross the street when they see someone is being beaten up or fail to discipline their children due to a fear it may stifle their creativity.

As I say, isolated TLAM strikes are more about making the US feel better about itself. More distance between us and the US may not be a bad thing as long as people see that it actually means we need to be more involved (in a broader sense than just militarily) in the world not less. In the past 50 years the UK in most cases have lazily been following the US.

Time to grow up my fellow brits and walk tall in the world – not as a self righteoys bully but as a nation that wants to engage and make a difference.

Opinion3
Opinion3

@Observer & @Z

On my comments about motive.

I don’t for one second think that the rebels or an outside ‘influencer’ attacked it’s own side with chemical weapons. This would rank as daft a conspiratorist theory as believing that Kennedy wasn’t shot and is alive and well living in the Cayman Islands.

I do however think the rebels could have, and do have a motive. Conspiracy theories take off in the Middle East with some weight behind them. They quickly gain momentum and that needs countering.

@Repulse

Agree. Although I worry about our capabilities and need to regroup and rebuild. Don’t start what you can’t finish and all that.

Chris
Chris

Op3 – ref “believing that Kennedy wasn’t shot and is alive and well living in the Cayman Islands” – but everyone knows that’s true! He’s been living with Marilyn Monroe just next door to Elvis Presley! Derrr!

Repulse

@Opinion3

“Don’t start what you can’t finish” – agree of course and what I am not saying is the UK needs to be a military superpower. We are probably spending too little on defence, and more would allow us to provide more than an “insignificant token contribution” (as in Syria) when we chose to.

The key though is often soft power backed up by strength. Russia is the key to solving Syria, as soon as Assad loses their support he’s toast. Russia is rightfully fearful of the alternative and is chosing to side with the devil they know to maintain a strategic partnership in the region with their only military base in the Mediterranean. Start to address these concerns whilst making it clear to Russia that the status quo is not going to stick, and you have a way forward.

An alternative solution – Arrest Assad but keep the state apparatus in place and slowly introduce democracy asking Russia to take the lead. The destruction of WMD being a condition. Also, give Russia a 100 year lease on their naval base. Not perfect, but it’s the best of a bad bunch.

martin

“An alternative solution – Arrest Assad but keep the state apparatus in place and slowly introduce democracy asking Russia to take the lead. The destruction of WMD being a condition. Also, give Russia a 100 year lease on their naval base. Not perfect, but it’s the best of a bad bunch.”

Think the Russians would be dubious about the prospect for any future post Assad government to give them naval base rights.

The only way we are going to solve this is at the negotiation table. Russia is key to that and there current intransigent position is not helping matters. I think the case should be brought before the UN and show the evidence. Paint Russia out as the bad guys and boycott next weeks G20 summit in Russia. The US should also launch cruise missile strikes at the regime but make sure they are limited and not enough to topple him. Try to bring the moderate opposition together with the opposition and cut the Islamic factions out.

If he keeps using Chemical weapons there will be zero chance for peace.

We should also consider at least threatening a boycott of the Winter Olympics if the Russians don’t play ball. After spending $20 billion on it its likely to be a painful leaver for the west to use.

Simon257
Simon257

Just seen a report on Sky News. Looks like a Big Cabinet Reshuffle is going to happen next week!

McZ
McZ

@APATS
“that hardly makes us Putins bosom buddies.”

I was talking about this particular case, not in general. We have handed the decision to act to the UNSC, fully aware of Chinas and Russias veto powers. You cannot seriously tell me, you wasn’t aware of this serious flaw in international decision making.

So, what’s the bottom line?

Either we have accepted Syria to be within their sphere of power and hence their standards of human rights apply. In this case, there is nothing to even talk about, because Russia’s HR-record is a known quantity since Grosny.

Or we accept human rights as general like manifested in the UN Declaration, in full spirit of our heritage, where this declaration is actually based upon. Fully accepting while being no imperial power anymore, but the mother country of a Commonwealth of Nations exactly built on those principles and in fact nothing much more. Fully appreciating our role as one of the ten wealthiest nations on the planet.

I cannot help but thinking we have set a serious precedent, which will set the standard for the years to come.

To even think, keeping Assad in power has something beneficial to the UK is a serious misunderstanding of what is going on in the muslim world. In the first place, the impoverished and futureless middle classes are on the barricades and we fail to offer the support needed, while the muslim brotherhood, supplied by Saudi money, opens shops with subsidized food to feed the poor. What the hell is this DfID doing with its money??

@Opinion3
“The use of chemical weapons is a justifiable reason for such a strike.”

Strictly following UN logic, NO!

Z
Z

Looks like my earlier opinion (at 12:14 am above) as to what happened on August 21st was not too far off from the published US intelligence assessment > http://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/page/world/us-report-on-syrian-governments-use-of-chemical-weapons/425/

Would those coming up with speculative comments claiming that the rebels could have committed this particular war crime please point to some kind of evidence to support their claims – beyond statements from the Syrian regime.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same

@Observer

My use of the word shocking was meant to mean shocking as in bad, deficient etc. Looking back not the best choice given the context.

Chris
Chris

Z – keeping an open mind, I struggle to see any difference in the level of evidence against either party in this. On the BBC News website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-23909192 the same thought is repeated by their US correspondent. He writes “Although there is now more detail than we had before about the attack, there is no damning proof. Indeed, perhaps for understandable reasons, there is no proof at all – only assertions that we must take on trust.” Which is exactly the same assessment I reached having read through the public briefing note from US Gov’t: http://m.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/08/30/government-assessment-syrian-government-s-use-chemical-weapons-august-21. A lot of scene-setting facts, but all of those selected for inclusion being ones that support their later conclusion, followed by a set of woolly ‘we dismiss claims the rebels did it’ statements and only slightly less woolly ‘we conclude its highly likely Assad did it” ones. Proof there is not. And as I posted on the other current Syria thread (OLAAR) there have been statements from people who have spent time in country working on behalf of the UN to the effect that it was highly likely the rebels used Sarin back in May. Her report you will note in the US Gov’t assessment by its absence. I have no proof either way; I certainly cannot point to evidence either way. But I do get the whiff of bias in the current intelligence justifications for attribution of blame and that makes me suspicious and uneasy.

Observer
Observer

Z, you mistake the intent of the people who say the rebels may have done it, hell, I was even one of them. Their intent was not to assign blame to the rebels or deflect blame from Assad, their point was that making decisions without any evidence or evidence that simply amounts to someone else saying “trust me, I won’t lie to you” is not intelligent nor responsible. Verdict comes after evidence, a verdict that comes before evidence is called a mistrial.

It is our responsibility to make informed decisions, not have someone else make them for us, then follow blindly. Give us the information and let us draw our own conclusions, that is the mature way to go about it, not just hear someone scream “HE DID IT, HE DID IT” and follow the lynch mob.

Which is why I’m waiting with real interest to see if the UN report tallies with the US one.

Chris
Chris

Obs – thanks I wrote a reply to Z saying pretty much the same thing (but probably less concise) – evidence is lacking in all directions – but the TD Web-Yoda has stolen the post and eaten it. It may turn up at some point in the future… I detect bias in the published intel assessments and that isn’t comfortable.

Richard _L
Richard _L

Just a few thought on some of the previous comments here.

First, asking Russia to take the lead in introducing democracy to Syria? Are we talking about the same Russia here? I’m thinking of the intolerant, thuggish kleptocracy. Which one did you mean?

Second, would boycotting the Russian winter olympics really have any effect? It only cost $20 billion because Putin and other Russian have government officials pocketed most of that cash. I honestly don’t think that they will care if the event is boycotted and reduced sales of cuddly toy mascots fail to recoup the costs. They’ve already got what they wanted out of the olympics and they’re laughing all the way to their retirement dachas with it.

Third, I can’t believe that Cameron so swiftly ruled out any future military action so soon after the vote went against him. He looked like a fool for trying to rush the vote through quickly. Now he looks like a fool in a panic who’s needlessly backed himself into a corner. Why not just declare a pause for reflection and further debate until the UN WIs report is completed? What does Cameron do now if Syria launch an attack against Akrotiri in response to a US strike, disregarding the UK stance simply because it’s one of the few Western military targets close enough for Syria to strike back at?

Finally, has Tony Blair been interviewed anywhere in the last few days? I’d really like to hear what now he has to say about his role as the “boy who cried wolf” back in 2003 in light of the recent parliamentary vote.

Tim
Tim

The Falklands and Gibraltar? Are the Brits that butthurt over those two inconsequential islands that they would torpedo a matter in a region that really matters?

And the Republicans will, by and large, back the POTUS on Syria.

WiseApe

Gibraltar has become an island? That should ease the border hold ups then.

@Richard_L – Word just in from the saintly one – “Not my fault. That’ll be £100,000.”

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix

Tim, have you ever read any history?

Inconsequential is not a word I’d use to describe the Falklands, let alone gib!

Observer
Observer

Falklands, I would rate as fairly unimportant in world affairs if not for the Argentinian misstep. Gibraltar is a totally different kettle of fish. It’s a chokepoint to the Med, control it and you can lock people from that part of the world out of the Atlantic.

On the other hand, I’m not British, so no butthurt for me, but even then, I still can’t see how anyone could think that telling others “Don’t think, don’t look for evidence, just close your eyes and follow me!” is going to convince anyone to follow him, which was basically what Cameron did. As much as I view Russia and China with suspicion, this time, when they said that evidence was lacking, I had to agree. The JIC document might as well not have been printed at all, it was such a piece of “non-evidence” that they could have just saved the time and paper. At least that would have saved a few trees.

Frankly, if the US wanted UK help for this, they played their cards too close, and if it was the UK who never bothered to ask for intel release permission before playing to Parliament, then it is the fault of whoever never did their groundwork to ask the most basic questions. “What would convince the others that my motion is the right thing to do?”

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix

http://europeangeostrategy.ideasoneurope.eu/2013/09/01/syria-end-of-the-british-global-era/

“Secondly, other anti-interventionists argue – almost hysterically – that the parliamentarians’ vote is connected to a deeper malaise surrounding Britain’s global role; that the missionary fervour, which has frequently animated the British national psyche, has finally collapsed into a heap of ignominy. They welcome a reduction in the United Kingdom’s status towards a ‘normal’ central European country, which minds its own business and keeps itself to itself. Sadly for them, this is also humbug: like the French and Americans, the British remain very much a missionary democracy, with a powerful sense of national destiny, which encourages London towards intervention in other countries’ affairs.”

Dave Haine
Dave Haine

@jedibeeftrix- very illuminating, kinda had a gut feeling along those lines myself, nice to see it eruditely put.

On Syria specifically, i hope it means that we’ll actually release some evidence (I say we because it’s becoming more apparent that the UK is the main intel channel- which makes the JIC report even more inexplicable).

In a way the ‘no’ vote has been a good thing- it’s certainly encouraged debate about many things. Which we needed to do…

BTW I’m more of the opinion, that a tomahawk strike is not the solution anyway, I feel that we should bite the bullet and go for bringing down Assad, see my other posts on the olaar on my personal way forward view

Then SDSR 2015 Should be looking at more effective force levels and structures…maybe less emphasis on the traditional heavy army and more on expeditionary forces…perhaps more air mobile and more amphibious.

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