A rather rotund David Cameron, just back from enjoying a sunny summer vacation in Cornwall, chaired a meeting with the UK National Security Council Wednesday. Politicians must now feel that the action in Syria is a threat to our national security to call such a meeting? They still however claim they are acting honourably by contemplating air strikes on Syria following alleged chemical weapons attacks on civilians in Syria last week.
The aim will be limited air strikes to show Assad and the world a tough western stance and teach him a lesson. The lesson is "do as I say not as I do".
UK parliament is recalled and will sit Thursday. Although they are only returning days earlier than planned this will cost the British taxpayer dearly. Overpaid politicians will be able to make special expense claims for having their vacations disturbed. Some may choose an honourable approach and make no claims but don't hold your breath. (Parliament was recalled in August 2011 and you can check out the expense claims and costs here)
According to a BBC News report Cameron said the "world should not stand by" after the "unacceptable use" of chemical weapons by the Syrian government. "The emergency meeting agreed a recommendation to be considered by the cabinet on Thursday. Britain has also drafted a UN resolution authorising "necessary measures" to protect civilians. It was discussed at a UN Security Council meeting in New York. The resolution condemns the use of chemical weapons and demands that the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad cease to use such weapons."
UK foreign secretary, William Hague, appeared on TV news stating that Syria was the first country to use chemical weapons in the 21st century. We imagine he could not go back any further as they were mostly used by the USA in the last century in wars such as Vietnam.
Any military strike is bound to claim the lives of innocents either directly or indirectly and cause injuries. The west will call those people collateral damage. Easy words that trip of the tongue and sound better than the reality. Like saying "engagement" instead of "killing". The result is the same though.
The National Security Council, which includes the UK's military and security chiefs, "agreed unanimously" on a recommendation for Syria. The cabinet will debate this but if the vote in parliament is a free vote it will need a majority in favour for action to follow.
Tuesday Lord Dannatt, Tory, a former top brass in the UK military weighed in expressing his thoughts on any Syrian mission. The Guardian reports:
General Lord Dannatt, former head of the British army, and Lord West, former first sea lord, both warned of unintended consequences if, as seems increasingly likely, US forces launch missiles against President's Bashar al-Assad's military facilities in the coming days.
Those who think that military strikes are a done deal and widely favoured by those in power in the UK take note and heed the warnings.
Thursday Cameron will ask MP's to vote on his plans for Syria. The official opposition, Labour, may yet scupper Cameron's plans. According to a BBC report Wednesday:
The UK Labour Party says it will only support the prime minister if the UN can first consider a report from weapons inspectors currently investigating the alleged attack.
As a Labour supporter I hope it is a firm and indellible red-line. The US, France and some in the UK believe that conflict and military attacks are the only option. Labour could provide the voice of reason, if it is prepared to take a stand.
Yes the likes of Cameron will try to tug at heart strings detailing the plight of Syrians and the evils of Assad but who is responsible for Syrian suffering? Rebel forces running rampant in a country inflict suffering on civilians as much as a regime. Are foreigners in the thick of the civil war too?
Cameron of course may choose to ignore a parliamentary vote if it does not go his way. Fine if a military action against Syria turns out well; not so good if it escalates into another Libya, Iraq, Egypt and the like.
Related reading on TEK:
Syrian crisis opinion, one more blog for the NSA to read
British parliament recalled as warplanes sent to Cyprus