UK SYRIA MILITARY VOTE – POLITICAL WEAKNESS AIDED BY MEDIA HYPE
By Howard Wheeldon, FRAeS, Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd.
02 Sep 13. Given the result of the Parliamentary vote with regard to potential military engagement in Syria last week I will begin by reminding of words said by a clergyman, the late William Ralph Inge, “it is useless for the sheep to pass resolutions in favor of vegetarianism, while the wolf remains of a different opinion”.
Failure by David Cameron to secure the vote to directly support the US with strictly limited military action is not the end of the issue. Given that President Obama has now also decided to seek a Congressional vote on the issue of potential military engagement in Syria I suspect that we will over the coming weeks witness a second vote taking place in the House of Commons – one that I suspect given more evidence of atrocities that have clearly been committed by the Syrian regime having been provided would receive a much greater level of all party support.
Looking back on the events of last week I believe that that Prime Minister, David Cameron had a right to believe the Coalition motion would and should have been endorsed. I take the view that much of the media hype that followed may be regarded as being at best naïve and at worst damaging let alone being intended to be a personal affront to those of us who believe in freedom and self determination and the PM himself. We may have no right in the west to determine the affairs of another nation state but we do have a right, a responsibility and an absolute duty of care to support those who are oppressed and to ensure that international law is fully observed. Yes, the United Nations is designed to play a crucial role in this and as a member of the Security Council Britain does still have a senior platform on which to cast its vote. But, as Syria and many other nations already know, UN diplomacy can be a slow and unwieldy process and all too rarely does it provide the right result.
The somewhat intense ‘one-sided’ media debate that followed in the UK this past few days appears to me to have as its sole aim the intention to further damage the discretion of the Prime Minister following his seemingly failed military intervention policy proposal. I am saddened by this and whilst those that argue a case that it might have been better to await receipt of the UN inspectors report and even for a formal vote to be taken by the Security Council has some resonance I for one believe Mr. Cameron was in all respects right to do what he did.
If there has been a profound degree of political weakness to be observed from the events in Parliament last week I suspect that blame lies predominantly in the hands of ill advised Tory MP’s who failed to back their leader. To walk on to the other side at a time when many in the international community and great many innocent and defenceless people living Syria looked to the US and its allies for support smacks of contempt.
As to the political capital that subsequent to last weeks’ House of Commons vote the Labour leadership has attempted to make all that I can say is ‘less said the better’. What we can be sure about is that on all side of the political fence and on all political benches there was observed last week political weakness in abundance. Equally true to say also that there was also to be observed far too much political judgment defined through and by media hype.
Intelligence they say is no barrier to stupidity but to have stayed silent until an eventual UN/Security Council response would have invited an equal display of media hype and contempt be heaped on David Cameron as has already be poured by his decision to call for a vote and support our US allies. Staying silent was certainly no answer and as another old saying reminds “silence is one of the hardest arguments to refute”. With memories of Iraq fresh in the mind and events moving at a pace the PM has little choice but to rec