It might be the difference between styles of Government but who is leading the West to War: David Cameron or Barack Obama? The UK seems to be doing the running when it comes to putting all the legal ducks in a row before launching the Tomahawks at Damascus from underneath and on the Mediterranean Sea.
It does demonstrate – despite swingeing Defence cuts – Great Britain still punches above its weight when it comes to military affairs. Of course, there is no doubt the UK could not commit to an attack on Syria without US backing for both military and political reasons but still it will be Great Britain blowing up millions of pounds on Assad’s Command and Control bases along with the US arsenal. French President Francois Hollande is jumping up and down a lot but is he planning on adding to the firepower?
On the issue of legal and political cover, if the debacle over the lies told by Bliar’s Government over the existence of WMD in Iraq had never happened ten years ago, the US (yes, even under Obama) and the UK would have already have intervened to stop Assad killing his own people and may have introduced a no-fly zone for good measure. Because, let’s be frank, enough innocent people have died already in Syria – the images of children crying in pain after being gassed in the middle of night and finding their parents and siblings dead in their beds is – without doubt – against international law. Have a read of the Geneva Protocol – it’s been wrong, funnily enough, to gas your own people for nearly ninety years.
Mad dog dictators who deploy chemical weapons on civilian populations need to be punished. International law allows this (see Geneva Protocol (again) and the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention). Now, when we are talking about Heads of State who are enacting barbaric acts on fellow human beings on a massive scale, we don’t just say “tut tut, don’t do that again” or go and arrest the guy (although that may be how Assad ends up). Civilised countries with sufficient military and political clout have a duty to punish and disable these Heads of State. That means hurting his military power and means of inflicting heinous acts on noncombatants: Command and Control centres, airfields, fuel dumps etc.
Tomorrow there will be a vote in the House of Commons, in all likelihood to seek approval for a military strike on Syria. MPs need to show leadership. This is difficult for them to do, especially for the 2010 intake whom many seem to have come into politics to act as glorified social workers rather than statesmen and women. The Labour Party will no doubt take any political opportunity that comes their way tomorrow – considering the mess they made over Iraq, which indirectly allowed Assad to gas his own people not once but three times in the last few months, nothing would surprise me.
It might be fun for David Cameron to lose his vote but it would be quite appalling to put domestic politics before the lives of Syrian children tomorrow.
Enough is enough. It’s time to put Assad back in his box.