Tag Archives: syria air strikes 2018

Airstrikes Alone Will Not Solve the Syrian Crisis

Given the last two decades of failed interventions it is easy to understand why the majority of Britain is opposed to the recent intervention in Syria.

As liberals we must do all we can, as internationalists, to maintain peace around the globe. But also as liberals we cannot allow such abhorrent crimes to continue to be committed by the Assad regime. The silence of our inaction would have been deafening; five years of ignoring the conflict has led us to where we are today.

The scars of the Libyan intervention are still in the recent memories of the West, and conflict still plagues the nation, but our failures there cannot deter us from upholding our moral commitment to prevent war crimes and holding those who commit them to account. The Pro-Assad propaganda, backed by Russia and elements of the Labour party, are toxic: they stand in the way of any meaningful resolution in Syria, and more civilians will die if their interpretation of the war enters the mainstream of political thought.

We must look to our past if we are to make sure that we leave Syria a better place than it is now. The airstrikes are a short term solution, but they are only limiting Assad’s ability to launch another chemical attack, a noble cause but not a path to peace.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 17 Comments

Why is a parliamentary vote on military action necessary?

I have just come back from a wonderful week in the Highlands with only intermittent connection to the internet. The apologetic note from the housekeeper of our rented holiday cottage saying that the wifi was out of action was unexpected but very welcome. It was incredibly restorative to have a few days when the only thing I had to worry about (and this is not insignificant, I have to say) was the incredibly dim pheasants with no instinct of self preservation whatsoever that would blithely wander into the path of the car on the single track road to the cottage. Seriously, one of the little beasts held me up for three full minutes last night as my dinner was getting cold. Oh, and there was the irony of finding that Scottish Water, who have been delaying my commute with their roadworks in Edinburgh for nigh on half a year were also digging up the village on my twice daily route to the beach. The delays were substantially less, though.

My very grateful thanks and promises of beer and wine at a later date are due to Paul and Mary who kept the site going through mine and Kirsten’s absence this week.

Since we’ve been away, the horrific chemical attack in Syria has shocked, if not surprised, the world. When something like that happens, it’s so important to respond in a careful and considered way, with a proper plan that has the support of key international allies and, in our case, parliamentary approval. I know that we technically don’t have to have a parliamentary vote, but it sends a much stronger message if action is taken with the consent of a majority of members of Parliament. It lends a legitimacy to the proceedings.

Any Government sending our people into active service should have the democratic scrutiny of Parliament behind it. We live in a parliamentary democracy and the government shouldn’t avoid its responsibilities in that regard.

I am still not entirely sure whether I support the attack in principle. Of course anyone who gases their own people needs to be stopped and, frankly, sitting round a table and asking Assad nicely not to do it probably isn’t going to cut it. I think there is an argument for taking out the capability to produce and use these awful weapons. However, you have to be very sure that you aren’t going to make the situation worse for the people who live there.

Vince Cable’s statesmanlike approach to these issues has made me wish he were making the decisions rather than May and certainly the ever volatile Donald Trump. He has been reasonable, asking for evidence, a plan and a parliamentary vote and he’s been explaining today why he thinks that is so important:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 18 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 19th Jan - 11:17pm
    I entirely agree with all your points here, Denis. Well argued.
  • User AvatarAndrew 19th Jan - 10:06pm
    If Richard North's analysis is correct (http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=87491) our continued membership of UNECE is probably just as important: http://www.unece.org/info/ece-homepage.html The basic argument is that the EU...
  • User AvatarBrian Ellis 19th Jan - 10:04pm
    Any review of the 2019 election result should also consider the 2015 and 2017 results. The major collapse occurred in 2015 we start with that....
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 19th Jan - 8:33pm
    Talking about changing voter behaviour, I just loved this James Cleverly comment today linking democracy with the unelected Upper Chamber. "The government is examining whether...
  • User AvatarDavid Warren 19th Jan - 8:22pm
    Thanks for this Alex. I am hoping Elizabeth Warren wins the nomination and goes onto be elected President.
  • User AvatarMichael Beckett 19th Jan - 8:13pm
    So no cheap sock puppet manipulating public perception and no automated bots or those that don't care enough about their digital identity to reveal it....