Thursday, 12 September 2013

A Few Good Men (and Women)

It is said that the beating of a butterfly's wings on one side of the planet can cause a tsunami on the other side. We have always been somewhat dubious of this factoid. However we can now say that the stance taken by those LibDem MPs who broke ranks with the government's rush to war in Syria can now be seen, in their own way, to have directly derailed the bombing and now we have the Syrian regime (supposedly) agreeing to yield up its chemical weapons:

The deed is not yet done but when it is, will we harvest the bouquets for having taken this stance? Probably not because some of our MPs (most prominently led by Nick Clegg) decided to vote for precipitate bombing instead, obviously fired not by bellicose intentions but by real concerns about the heinous Assad regime. 

The lesson here is not that bombing brutal dictators is wrong but rather that ALMOST ALWAYS playing follow the leader with the US is a bad idea. It could almost be a policy that whatever the US recommends as the "only way to go" is the wrong way and thus to be eschewed.

The action of our "dissident" MPs is not some spurious connection.... it is a clear path of cause and effect..

  • The motion for immediate bombing was defeated (if our MPs had gone with Cameron and the war party it would have succeeded)

  • The US was then put into a spin. Instead of going ahead and bombing byitself (with France) it took recourse to Congress. Then doubting that Congress would necessarily rubber stamp the rush to bomb, the US then vacillated. 

  • The G20 meeting that was predicted to be a blizzard of frosty relations but ended up with some frowns exchanged and Putin responding to Kerry's off-the-cuff musings with a positive proposal for surrendering chemical weapons.

Now here we are.. with the weapons in question supposedly going to be turned over (and that then may be another saga).

It is absolutely certain that if our MPs had not voted with Labour then bombs would have rained down the weekend before last and the train of events that led to the alternative outcome achieved today would not have occurred.

It is poignant to recall that if Archduke Franz Ferdinand's driver hadn't taken a wrong turn in Sarajevo on that June day in 1914 then World War I (at least in the form it took) would never have occurred. Our "dissident" MPs took the right turn on the 30th of August and cooler heads prevailed.

For the record, those who voted against:

Gordon Birtwistle (Burnley)

Michael Crockart (Edinburgh West)

Andrew George (St Ives)

Julian Huppert (Cambridge)

Dan Rogerson (Cornwall North)

Andrew Stunell (Hazel Grove)

Ian Swales (Redcar)

Sarah Teather (Brent Central)

Roger Williams (Brecon and Radnorshire)

Paul Burstow (Sutton and Cheam) voted in both lobbies, a technical abstention.

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