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Syria and Obama


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#221 John Drake

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 10:51 AM

Seriously?  Coalition of the killing?  Are we the evil ones?  I think you've been reading too much propaganda.  We've just let a criminal nation of genocidal nutters get away with breaking one of the world's biggest modern taboos.  Yay.  Well done UK.  What an achievement.  Put it on the nation's CV.

 

I'll ask yet again, as I have many times already and gone unanswered:  For those of you gloating that we're now doing nothing, where's the line that someone must cross before we, Britain, intervene? 

 

More chemical strikes?  Unlikely as we've just proven we're pathetically weak when it comes to enforcing one of the last great taboos.

 

Biological weapons?  These are truly scary things but if we can't get off our lazy first world flabby bums to stop chemical weapons then we're not going to do it for them.

 

Nukes?  Nope.  Not going near those.  Scary people with nukes should be appeased at all costs.

 

What if someone attacks one of our NATO allies and they invoke the treaty?  What about an example of Syria bombing Turkey with chemical weapons because they allowed the US to overfly their territory.  Do we sit back and say yet again "not our problem"?

 

This defeat in Parliament and the gloating that's going on around it is a shameful indictment about modern Britain and how we can't see beyond the idiocy of Iraq to a truly horrific incident of global importance that we, as one of the few countries in the world with capacity and capability to deal with it, should be stepping up to the plate.

 

I'll expand on that point.  US, Russia, France, China, UK.  Those are the 5 nations that have the capacity and capability to launch reprisals against another criminal nation without aid from another source and expect to succeed.  There are a few other countries who could do so if they banded together but they'd be doing so from a position of weakness.  Admittedly, Syria is a big nut and it'd cost us severely in terms of money and available military capacity to do so but we'd still be able to flatten many of their serious military bases away from civilian areas without too much trouble and with only a low chance of loss of British military lives.  Now, we should consider dropping ourselves out of that top 5, forget those two aircraft carriers we're building that are purely for projecting power.  Just think of the money we could save, we could drop our military to about 50,000 soldiers and still have more than enough for our isolationist defence!

 

This Parliament would quite probably have voted to stay neutral in 1939.  After all, that nice Mr Hitler kept telling us that he wanted to be our friend and he genuinely tried to keep us out of it.

 

I had pledged to stay out of this thread, but as someone who hoped Parliament would vote 'no' yesterday and who is pleased that was the outcome, I cannot accept the argument being put forward now that the result represents weakness on Britain's part.

 

Far from it. It demonstrates that we still live in a genuine functioning democracy, not a dictatorship, where our leaders can be held to account by our elected representatives and not take military action without public approval or consent.

 

The government made its case, and it lost the vote, because its case wasn't strong or convincing enough.

 

Military strikes against Syria are not a simple case of black and white, good versus evil, right versus wrong, with a clean, clinical and quick result guaranteed, as its advocates seem to want to pretend. If it were, there would be no doubt that Parliament would have supported the government in sufficient numbers yesterday.

 

Voting against unilateral action does not mean Britain is somehow endorsing or ignoring the use of chemical weapons. It shows that Britain's Parliament understood that unilateral action is not the way forward, does not command public support and the case is unproven that it would achieve anything other than making the situation a whole lot worse in Syria and beyond.

 

It isn't gloating to be relieved that our country has not been allowed to drag itself into a further military conflict we cannot win.

 

This is not 1939. Britain is no longer a global Empire, nor can it be the world's policeman working alone or by always doing the bidding of the USA. We remain a permanent member of the UN Security Council and we should be using that position to argue for unified - not unilateral - action to rid the world of the scourge of chemical weapons. Syria may have used them, but other countries will continue producing them regardless of any action that is taken in Syria. Countries that we would never in a million years countenance attacking militarily because of the consequences that would unfold.

 

This is not appeasement. It is modern reality.


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#222 walter sobchak

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 10:54 AM

Seriously? Coalition of the killing? Are we the evil ones? I think you've been reading too much propaganda. We've just let a criminal nation of genocidal nutters get away with breaking one of the world's biggest modern taboos. Yay. Well done UK. What an achievement. Put it on the nation's CV.

I'll ask yet again, as I have many times already and gone unanswered: For those of you gloating that we're now doing nothing, where's the line that someone must cross before we, Britain, intervene?

More chemical strikes? Unlikely as we've just proven we're pathetically weak when it comes to enforcing one of the last great taboos.

Biological weapons? These are truly scary things but if we can't get off our lazy first world flabby bums to stop chemical weapons then we're not going to do it for them.

Nukes? Nope. Not going near those. Scary people with nukes should be appeased at all costs.

What if someone attacks one of our NATO allies and they invoke the treaty? What about an example of Syria bombing Turkey with chemical weapons because they allowed the US to overfly their territory. Do we sit back and say yet again "not our problem"?

This defeat in Parliament and the gloating that's going on around it is a shameful indictment about modern Britain and how we can't see beyond the idiocy of Iraq to a truly horrific incident of global importance that we, as one of the few countries in the world with capacity and capability to deal with it, should be stepping up to the plate.

I'll expand on that point. US, Russia, France, China, UK. Those are the 5 nations that have the capacity and capability to launch reprisals against another criminal nation without aid from another source and expect to succeed. There are a few other countries who could do so if they banded together but they'd be doing so from a position of weakness. Admittedly, Syria is a big nut and it'd cost us severely in terms of money and available military capacity to do so but we'd still be able to flatten many of their serious military bases away from civilian areas without too much trouble and with only a low chance of loss of British military lives. Now, we should consider dropping ourselves out of that top 5, forget those two aircraft carriers we're building that are purely for projecting power. Just think of the money we could save, we could drop our military to about 50,000 soldiers and still have more than enough for our isolationist defence!

This Parliament would quite probably have voted to stay neutral in 1939. After all, that nice Mr Hitler kept telling us that he wanted to be our friend and he genuinely tried to keep us out of it.

1. Wheres the evidence that it was Assad who used chemical weapons?
2. Who made Britain the policeman of the world?
3. Britain should only go to war if another nation attacks us or declares war on us.
4. The UK isn't the superpower we once were, we are bankrupt and our military is a shadow of its former self.
5. Unintended consequences, attacking Syria would be even more catastrophic than Iraq as Iraq was isolated, it didn't have any allies and it didn't have an army, airforce or air defence capabilities. Unlike Syria that has an airforce, army, air defence capabilities and major regional allies in Iran and Hezbollah and super power allies in Russia and china.
This conflict could really spiral out of control with all the actors involved and have a major affect on not just our economy but the global economy with rising oil prices.

Edited by walter sobchak, 30 August 2013 - 10:59 AM.


#223 chuffer

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 11:00 AM

 

This is not 1939. Britain is no longer a global Empire, nor can it be the world's policeman working alone or by always doing the bidding of the USA.

 

I agree....and we certainly can't pick and choose when to intervene.......we're seemingly quite content to watch innocent lives being lost in Egypt for example - is an innocent life lost due to shelling/bulldozing any less worthy than a life lost due to Sarin/Napalm? We've stood by and watched almost 100,000 Syrians be killed up to now but heaven forbid that the "red line" of chemical weapons has now been crossed......the big hoo-har is now really about our appearance of impotence to the outside world



#224 ckn

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 11:08 AM

I had pledged to stay out of this thread, but as someone who hoped Parliament would vote 'no' yesterday and who is pleased that was the outcome, I cannot accept the argument being put forward now that the result represents weakness on Britain's part.

 

Far from it. It demonstrates that we still live in a genuine functioning democracy, not a dictatorship, where our leaders can be held to account by our elected representatives and not take military action without public approval or consent.

 

The government made its case, and it lost the vote, because its case wasn't strong or convincing enough.

 

Military strikes against Syria are not a simple case of black and white, good versus evil, right versus wrong, with a clean, clinical and quick result guaranteed, as its advocates seem to want to pretend. If it were, there would be no doubt that Parliament would have supported the government in sufficient numbers yesterday.

 

Voting against unilateral action does not mean Britain is somehow endorsing or ignoring the use of chemical weapons. It shows that Britain's Parliament understood that unilateral action is not the way forward, does not command public support and the case is unproven that it would achieve anything other than making the situation a whole lot worse in Syria and beyond.

 

It isn't gloating to be relieved that our country has not been allowed to drag itself into a further military conflict we cannot win.

 

This is not 1939. Britain is no longer a global Empire, nor can it be the world's policeman working alone or by always doing the bidding of the USA. We remain a permanent member of the UN Security Council and we should be using that position to argue for unified - not unilateral - action to rid the world of the scourge of chemical weapons. Syria may have used them, but other countries will continue producing them regardless of any action that is taken in Syria. Countries that we would never in a million years countenance attacking militarily because of the consequences that would unfold.

 

This is not appeasement. It is modern reality.

I'll make this my last post on this subject...  Really, I give up.

 

What do you expect the security council to do?  They'll never allow action for the purely selfish reasons put forward by GeordieSaint a few pages ago.  Narrow, selfish needs will allow anything.  Assad will get off without even a bollocking from the UN.  There may be a statement of regret at best.

 

You'll never get rid of chemical weapons, Pandora's Box is long since opened, destroyed and put in the recycle bin on that subject.  They're easy to make.  Someone with A-Level Chemistry should be able to make a simple chemical weapon that could easily kill a number of people even without a dispersal system.  What we can do is make them prohibitively dangerous to use.  If the US now refuses to act then we've just said that we no longer care if anyone uses them.

 

Here's a link to the text of the government motion voted against last night (PDF).  What's objectionable about that?  It's about as soft and un-warlike as you can get.  It wasn't a vote for war, it was a vote that we'll wait for the UN to do something and if they don't then we'll reconsider our options.  Surely that'd give us a point of strength in our negotiations at the security council and in dialogue with Assad.  We've thrown away our only real bargaining point and are now bystanders at best.  Now, that's weakness.


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#225 walter sobchak

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 11:10 AM

I agree....and we certainly can't pick and choose when to intervene.......we're seemingly quite content to watch innocent lives being lost in Egypt for example - is an innocent life lost due to shelling/bulldozing any less worthy than a life lost due to Sarin/Napalm? We've stood by and watched almost 100,000 Syrians be killed up to now but heaven forbid that the "red line" of chemical weapons has now been crossed......the big hoo-har is now really about our appearance of impotence to the outside world


Exactly, the hypocrisy of the US and UK is sickening. We support the military coup and slaughter in Egypt, stand by and do nothing and even veto or abstain from any UN resolutions as Israel uses chemical weapons in gaza and we even give aid and political support to the Syrian "rebels" who cut the heads off Christians and massacre Kurds.

#226 archibald

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 11:12 AM

I agree....and we certainly can't pick and choose when to intervene.......we're seemingly quite content to watch innocent lives being lost in Egypt for example - is an innocent life lost due to shelling/bulldozing any less worthy than a life lost due to Sarin/Napalm? We've stood by and watched almost 100,000 Syrians be killed up to now but heaven forbid that the "red line" of chemical weapons has now been crossed......the big hoo-har is now really about our appearance of impotence to the outside world


Actually, we can pick and choose.

#227 Griff9of13

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 11:14 AM

I have some severe misgivings about this whole thing, and fear we may be drawn into one more conflict with much more far reaching consequences than are immediately apparent.
 
I’m struggling to understand is why did Assad wait until the day the UN weapons inspectors arrived in Damascus to launch this attack? Either he’s an idiot, or he’s deliberately goading the west into launching an attack on Syria in some sort of misguided effort to boost his own domestic position. The other alternatives are:
 
The rebels launched the attack, but do they have the capability?
Some other third party launched the attack as some sort of false flag strategy. 
 
Do we know who the victims were exactly? Were they rebel forces or sympathisers? People loyal to Assad? Or just complete innocent’s with no great leaning either way?

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#228 chuffer

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 11:18 AM

Actually, we can pick and choose.

 

Of course we can and do but my point is that we should not.......we're either 100% world police or we're not.......I'd prefer to be the latter



#229 archibald

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 11:20 AM

We remain a permanent member of the UN Security Council and we should be using that position to argue for unified - not unilateral - action to rid the world of the scourge of chemical weapons. Syria may have used them, but other countries will continue producing them regardless of any action that is taken in Syria. Countries that we would never in a million years countenance attacking militarily because of the consequences that would unfold.

And when Assad points and laughs when we suggest he should give them up what then? A strongly worded fax?

The manufacturers of these have been laughing all the way to the bank, selling them safe in the knowledge that no-one would dare use them or there'd be consequences, now, they'll probably put their prices up.

#230 chuffer

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 11:21 AM

well the US has to increase its revenue somehow



#231 archibald

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 11:23 AM

Of course we can and do but my point is that we should not.......we're either 100% world police or we're not.......I'd prefer to be the latter

Fine, so what else are we pulling the drawbridge up from? Aid? Trade?

We're not the world police, but we have our own self interests we want to protect.

#232 gingerjon

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 11:24 AM

Fine, so what else are we pulling the drawbridge up from? Aid? Trade?

We're not the world police, but we have our own self interests we want to protect.

 

And what self interests are protected in Syria?


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#233 chuffer

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 11:26 AM

Obama's ego



#234 walter sobchak

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 11:33 AM

And what self interests are protected in Syria?


Helping Israel? Hurting Iran and Hezbollah?

#235 archibald

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 11:34 AM

And what self interests are protected in Syria?

The non use of chemical weapons. Or is it in our interests that others use them?

#236 gingerjon

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 11:35 AM

The non use of chemical weapons. Or is it in our interests that others use them?

 

So if, theoretically, the rebels had used them would we be bombing the rebels?


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#237 John Drake

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 11:35 AM

Here's a link to the text of the government motion voted against last night (PDF).  What's objectionable about that?  It's about as soft and un-warlike as you can get.  It wasn't a vote for war, it was a vote that we'll wait for the UN to do something and if they don't then we'll reconsider our options.  Surely that'd give us a point of strength in our negotiations at the security council and in dialogue with Assad.  We've thrown away our only real bargaining point and are now bystanders at best.  Now, that's weakness.

 

Well, it starts...

 

"This House Deplores the use of chemical weapons in Syria on 21 August 2013 by the Assad regime,"

 

... and thus presents as fact something which has yet to be proven. It is widely assumed, yes, but proven, no (like it was widely assumed Saddam Hussein had WMDs, until it was proven he didn't, by which time it was too late to undo the action that had already been taken on the back of false evidence).

 

It is badly worded from the start and full of caveats and get out clauses. The failure here is on the part of the government to make its case successfully, not on Parliament in refusing to acquiesce to it. Look at the list of MPs who voted against it. They are not all a bunch of appeasers or peaceniks whose views should be dismissed lightly.

 

Like it or not, yesterday's vote in Parliament actually reflected the will of the British people, while the government itself seriously misread it.

 

For me, the bottom line is this: the unilateral military action being proposed had the potential to make matters worse, much worse, rather than achieving its intended aims - however noble those aims might have been - and no one has yet been able to present any kind of factual case for it, beyond 'something must be done'. That's not good enough.


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#238 ckn

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 11:43 AM

Do we know who the victims were exactly? Were they rebel forces or sympathisers? People loyal to Assad? Or just complete innocent’s with no great leaning either way?

 

I'll break my refusal to post for this one as it's nothing to do with the vote or action.

 

The answer is the same as with virtually all other wars:  Innocent people who really don't care who is in charge as long as they get to keep living their lives.  Such is the tragedy of war.

 

A story for you that highlights why I'm a thorough pacifist these days*.  After the first gulf war ground war finished, those of us not permanently attached to military units were sent on other duties, mainly in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.  I spent two weeks guarding a Swedish field hospital just outside of Riyadh where they sent all the seriously injured and dying PoWs, my role was meant to be guarding the nursing staff from the patients but the patients were generally too ill to move.  I remember one conversation with an Iraqi Captain who was dying, half his skull missing and not much more the doctors could do but keep him fed on morphine.  He was a civilian before the war, quite an intelligent guy with better English than most people in the British Army, he was forcibly conscripted, given a rifle and uniform and allowed to fire 5 rounds in training before he was given Captain's rank and sent to an understrength regiment to be in charge of their supplies.  He didn't want to be there, he just wanted to have his family life back and pretend the war didn't exist.  His injuries obviously affected his perception of how ill he was as he spent a good bit of time talking about how much he was looking forward to going home and seeing his wife again, maybe take some time off from work and visit his family that he'd not seen in a long time.  He died the next day with a picture of his wife in his hand.

 

I went from being a fairly gung-ho squaddie after that to holding a completely different attitude about war and having quite a serious distate for it.  The job of the strong should be to protect the weak.  If that means punitively smacking down a bully then so bloody well be it.  The 1990s were a military strong-point in this with our interventions in the Gulf and Bosnia.  We then back-slid by allowing the African civil war genocides and that, for me, is one of the main reasons why there are so many now, nations know they can do it with impunity.  War went quite quickly from being a battle between combatants to being one of mutual genocide.  If we don't do anything about Syria's flagrant abuse of chemical weapons then in the 2020s chemical weapons will be the government weapon of choice for genocide worldwide.  Stopping that for me is one reason why I'd be very happy to accept the short-term fallout of hitting them.

 

The BBC news crew who were on site last night in Syria when napalm or thermite was dropped from a jet onto a school just proves my point for me.  No-one really cares beyond maybe a second or two of horror, if that.  Children are innocents yet we've degraded ourselves so much as a world that we'll routinely treat this as "none of our business".  If I had my way we'd be back to cold war staffing and routinely being the world's policemen whenever the UN says that genocide is happening.

 

* Yes, you can be a pacifist and support military action, you choose the lesser of two evils.


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#239 archibald

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 11:46 AM

So if, theoretically, the rebels had used them would we be bombing the rebels?

Possibly. Though, if you've got chemical weapons, there's a fair chance you're not the rebels.

#240 Northern Sol

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 12:21 PM

I'll break my refusal to post for this one as it's nothing to do with the vote or action.

 

The answer is the same as with virtually all other wars:  Innocent people who really don't care who is in charge as long as they get to keep living their lives.  Such is the tragedy of war.

 

A story for you that highlights why I'm a thorough pacifist these days*.  After the first gulf war ground war finished, those of us not permanently attached to military units were sent on other duties, mainly in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.  I spent two weeks guarding a Swedish field hospital just outside of Riyadh where they sent all the seriously injured and dying PoWs, my role was meant to be guarding the nursing staff from the patients but the patients were generally too ill to move.  I remember one conversation with an Iraqi Captain who was dying, half his head skull missing and not much more the doctors could do but keep him fed on morphine.  He was a civilian before the war, quite an intelligent guy with better English than most people in the British Army, he was forcibly conscripted, given a rifle and uniform and allowed to fire 5 rounds in training before he was given Captain's rank and sent to an understrength regiment to be in charge of their supplies.  He didn't want to be there, he just wanted to have his family life back and pretend the war didn't exist.  His injuries obviously affected his perception of how ill he was as he spent a good bit of time talking about how much he was looking forward to going home and seeing his wife again, maybe take some time off from work and visit his family that he'd not seen in a long time.  He died the next day with a picture of his wife in his hand.

 

I went from being a fairly gung-ho squaddie after that to holding a completely different attitude about war and having quite a serious distate for it.  The job of the strong should be to protect the weak.  If that means punitively smacking down a bully then so bloody well be it.  The 1990s were a military strong-point in this with our interventions in the Gulf and Bosnia.  We then back-slid by allowing the African civil war genocides and that, for me, is one of the main reasons why there are so many now, nations know they can do it with impunity.  War went quite quickly from being a battle between combatants to being one of mutual genocide.  If we don't do anything about Syria's flagrant abuse of chemical weapons then in the 2020s chemical weapons will be the government weapon of choice for genocide worldwide.  Stopping that for me is one reason why I'd be very happy to accept the short-term fallout of hitting them.

 

The BBC news crew who were on site last night in Syria when napalm or thermite was dropped from a jet onto a school just proves my point for me.  No-one really cares beyond maybe a second or two of horror, if that.  Children are innocents yet we've degraded ourselves so much as a world that we'll routinely treat this as "none of our business".  If I had my way we'd be back to cold war staffing and routinely being the world's policemen whenever the UN says that genocide is happening.

 

* Yes, you can be a pacifist and support military action, you choose the lesser of two evils.

I remember Ian Hislop's point on Question Time many years ago about capital punishment. Executing the wrong people isn't a deterrent.

 

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=Es9XrKTTc_4

 

If we go in and slap down the Assad regime for their use of chemical weapons without any proof then it could be that we are punishing the wrong side. It's not impossible that the rebels are using chemicals to draw the West into the war. They are, after all, losing.

 

It does seem rather odd that Assad did not lose chemical weapons even when Russia Today was reporting that his defeat was inevitable (and they are 100% behind him) and yet when he is winning (and even the Western press acknowledge this) suddenly he crosses the one "red line" that is likely to draw intervention that could unseat him.






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