David Cameron’s defeat by MPs over his intent to bomb Syria is a welcome demonstration of the growing power of public opinion, and of common sense. It is right that the most important political decisions that a country’s leader can take, reflects the will of its people.
It was an extraordinary proposition anyway that with 90% of Britons opposed to military intervention as well as the UN and many MPs, and without definitive evidence of who was responsible for the latest chemical attack nor what would ensue from western involvement, the government would press ahead with a dangerous and hasty mission. It was thoughtless, and arrogant.
Good has come from the debate and outcome, however: after this precedent of MPs determining peace or war, not the Prime Minister, never again can a British leader take us into military action without the agreement of our parliamentary representatives; many of the speeches summarised the concerns and key issues excellently; the example of democracy at work has stimulated a demand for similar consideration by Congress; and it has weakened the arguments for western military involvement in a volatile region in the world. It has caused a pause for reflection.
Obama, signalling still his intention to punish Assad, looks isolated with only France for now prepared to support the US in military action, which in itself is unprecedented; if it goes ahead, the reaction in Syria and beyond will touch us all. Why throw a live grenade into a store full of explosives? There are other ways to help a country that suffers as Syria does, without a rush to war.