...a blog by Richard Flowers

Monday, September 07, 2015

Day 5364: Lines in the Air, Lines in the Sand


I was going to review the Doctor Who story "Mummy on the Orient Express" today. I was going to make a joke about "a shambling creature trapped by its history into perpetuating a war that ought to have been long forgotten and now just murdering by-standers…"

Unfortunately, this ISN'T the plot of "Mummy on the Orient Express" but the Prime Minister's announcement to the Commons of a drone strike in Syria.

I'm very concerned that the British Prime Minister appears to have secretly ordered the de facto invasion of Syrian airspace to carry out extrajudicial execution of British citizens.

Back at the start of the long summer break, the Tories were making noises about getting into more macho posturing, with Mr Cameron claiming he would personally "wipe out the caliphate". Total nonsense.

Keen to take part in more American-led adventurism, the now-Lib Dem free Tory government wanted to extend the air force mission against Islamic State from its current remit of assisting the Iraqi government forces (legally justified by the invitation of the recognised government of Iraq) across the border into Syria (not remotely legally justified, and probably not a hope of getting the UN mandate that might make it so). The reasoning of the Defence Secretary being: "well IS don't recognise the border; it's just a line in the air".

That "line in the air" is of course the difference between International Law and a bunch of terrorists. And the British Government is saying that it wants to cross to the other side.

Just where are those lines anyway?

To be pedantic, it is true that the House of Commons has not said that British forces should not be deployed against Islamic State in Syria. But that's because it hasn't been asked.

The question two years ago was whether to attack the Syrian government (against whom IS were fighting even then – so we'd have been inadvertently intervening on IS side. Which is one of the reasons that we didn't.).

For the moment, the Government is maintaining the position that Islamic State is not a "State". (Also that it's not Islamic, but that's neither here nor there at the moment.) As such, they need to remember that that makes Syria the state that they would be invading, and that the House of Commons has very much said they are not to do.

The history of our non-involvement in the Syrian civil war is a murky one, largely because Ed Miliband tried to exaggerate his own influence by claiming to have stopped it. Actually, both Coalition and Labour put motions to the Commons that would have theoretically authorised military intervention (with caveats, including aforementioned UN mandate), but they unwittingly cancelled each other out. This however suited the mood of the country, tired of spending "blood and treasure" on pointlessly sticking our oar into situations that we only seemed to make worse.

Spectacularly, David Cameron appears to have found a way to make it worse anyway, by lobbing high ordinance into a territory from which millions are already fleeing for their lives.

And in related news, 20,000 refugees over five years is PATHETIC. Germany has already taken four times as many just this year. And George Osborne is robbing the international aid budget to pay for it.

Shameful. Utterly shameful.


Edited to add: it gets worse!

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