Friday, 30 August 2013


Yesterday, David Cameron lost a vote in parliament to take military action in Syria. Aside from the pleasure in him getting defeated, I think this is a good decision, but a very difficult one.

One the one hand, the fact that I oppose military action is NOT because I think what is happening in Syria is trivial and minor. The increasing violence is appalling, the use of chemical weapons in clear breach of international agreements is a disgrace. To oppose military action does not mean support of the regimes  actions.

Action is needed of some sort, although exactly what I do not know - I am not an expert of the situation or the politics or options. Assad needs to be stopped in his assaults on his own people, and the region needs to return to the uneasy peace that is more normal for the area. To argue that those who oppose military action do not care about the violence, or support Assad, is naive in the least, and offensive in the main.

What is means is that people oppose military action in Syria. No more and no less. What it means is that people are fed up with interfering in other sovereign states, assuming that the only solution to violence is more violence. What is more, people are tired of the politicising of war.

The other hand is that action - critical action - is needed to change the situation. Claiming that we abhor the violent actions of others, and yet our response is itself violent is not giving the right message.

I do not doubt that other nations - the USA in particular - will still consider taking action. I think they are mistaken, but I am also glad that my democratically elected leaders have made a decision in line with what I believe the majority of the opinion in the UK think. That is the democratic process in action.

David Cameron seems to find the democratic process a problem. What he needs to do is work to find a different approach and resolution to the problems. Not to ignore them, but not to assume that the options are "bomb them" and "ignore them". There are other options.

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