An email exchange I have had this morning with Richard has generated the neatest summary of issues surrounding the proposed Syria intervention. In a nutshell…
The government (Cameron, Hague and Clegg in particular) feel that, because the reported chemical attack in Damascus was so horrible (it was) something should be done about it (desirable, but there are many options). But they then divorced action from outcome and fixed upon a single option – military action. But military action should only be deployed to achieve a known or predictable effect – and the effect was, by common acceptance on both sides of the argument, unknown.
What we saw yesterday and what was narrowly defeated in Parliament, was the government simply wanting to express moral outrage… by shooting off missiles in a howl of rage, triggered by something by which they were hugely offended, with no idea of the likely effects, and most importantly, with no certainty of it having a humanitarian effect.
This is the politics of the playground, not the actions of cogent and rational adults in positions of responsibility. Opposing the intervention on that basis was the right course of action. However there still needs to be a focus on humanitarian relief for those who are being caught up and affected by the fighting.