Sunday, September 01, 2013

Little England

So Great Britain has decided not to support military intervention against Syria for using chemical weapons against its own civilians. PM David Cameron, whose Conservative-Liberal coalition Government was divided on the issue, took the question to Parliament, that was called into session four days early, and was defeated in the vote. He has stated that he will abide by this decision.

He lost because of two things, first the memory of the Iraqi intervention that led to an unpopular war in which many British soldiers died and second the fact that there has been no unequivocal finding that proves that the regime forces carried out the chemical weapons attack on Aug 21 and the lack of a unanimous UN Security Council resolution supporting intervention. Of course, it can be argued that the so-called 'deception' by PM Tony Blair at the time of the Iraqi conflict over the so-called WMD in Iraq was not an intentional deception, and this time noone doubts that the Syrian Govt. does have a chemical weapons arsenal. Also, Russia and China have taken a stand in support of their ally Pres. Assad, for their own national interests, that include economic ties with Iran. And so the chance of any international agreement is nil, and so to rely on such proof and such an agreement is essentially to decide not to intervene.

In this context, not to decide is to decide, and Great Britain has shown itself to be unable to play its accustomed role in the world. The fact that the PM could not persuade his colleagues and the Labor opposition to vote for intervention in support of US Pres. Obama, indicates a change in the world order. Britain has been retracting from its former larger role in the world since WWII and this is the final straw. Long gone are the days of Maggie Thatcher and the Falklands intervention, gone are the actions of Britain in support of the US in Afghanistan and Iraq. The US can no longer rely on its former strongest ally for more than moral support in the world.

Who benefits from this decision? Certainly not the people or the opposition in Syria, but Pres. Assad benefits, he can look forward to a lessened attack if any should come from the US. Now the Congress will have to look carefully at Pres. Obama's plans and may also decide that they don't want to be dragged into another Mid-East Arab conflict. The anti-war coalition may think that they are preventing war by this negative act, but what they are doing is condemning the Syrians to futher suffering. It may be a harbinger that the West is in decline and that the probability of any future interventions is greatly reduced. The Arab world is in turmoil, but the causes and interests of the West are not critically at stake (the US and others have enough oil), and this retraction of intervention may be a sign that the people of the Western democracies have had enough of the Arabs and are prepared to let them fight it out among themselves. Let Syria burn, let Egypt boil!


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