Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The British Are Not Coming!

There once was a country called Britain,
Run by corrupt politicians,
The people said "What?"
"Let's be rid of the lot!"
And rose up in revolution.

In August 2013 we watched an historic event, one that most Americans may have missed or failed to see the significance of.

President Obama wanted to take military action against the Syrian government, and Prime Minister Cameron agreed. But the British public, those who pay the wages of the elected officials in Parliament, had a totally different idea.

Already much older and wiser after Iraq and Afghanistan they, by a unanimous informal poll .. said, "No thank you." And everyone knew that they meant it.

The British Parliament & The House Of Lords debated.. the Church of England become involved. 

What was missed in all the newspapers and editorials on "this side of the pond"  was that, the British people had spoken.  With a 200 year history of allowing their government to invade other nations against the will of the people.. the citizens said, "enough."

There was political wrangling a plenty after the vote. The war horses felt betrayed, one cabinet member said  "We might as well turn all our embassies into car showrooms.” There was suggestions that the British had turned isolationist.  

But Conservative backbencher Douglas Carswell summed it up perfectly when he said:  "These figures show that the wisdom of the British people is superior to that of the Whitehall elite."

In times when we often wonder if the elected officials ever hear our voices, or would ever represent those who voted for them, the British people showed us how Democratic process works when the people stand up and say, "No, thank you!"

Perhaps practicing saying "no" is a valuable lesson in today's world.  



In the Lords Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is speaking now.

He says he has some experience in the region, "partly from this role that I have".

International law is based on the Christian theory of just war, he says.

He says he agrees that there is just as much risk in inaction as in action. But there are intermediate steps between being in barracks and opening fire. Just war theory says you should only go to war when all alternatives have been tried, because at that point the consequences are out of your hands.

Military intervention would be "deeply unjust" if it diminished the prospects of peace and reconciliation in Syria. (Speaking in the Lords, he implied strongly that it would have this effect.)

Here are some more extracts from George Galloway's speech earlier. I've taken the quotes from the Press Association. (By Galloway standards, it was relatively low-octane, but it was still one of the highlights of the debate.)

The Syrian rebels definitely had sarin gas because they were caught with it by the Turkish government as referred to by the former government minister opposite [David Davis - see 6.37pm].

The truth is this - the Syrian rebels have got plenty of access to sarin. It's not rocket science - a group of Shinto-obscurantists in Japan, living on Mount Fuji, poisoned the Tokyo underground with sarin gas less than 20 years ago. You don't have to be Einstein to have your hands on sarin gas or the means to distribute it ...

Only 11% of the public, according to the Daily Telegraph this morning, support Britain becoming involved in a war in Syria. Can ever a British government have imagined sending its men and women to war with the support of just 11% in public opinion?

First, that there is no compelling evidence, to use the leader of the opposition's words, that the Assad regime is responsible for this crime yet. Not that they are not bad enough to do it. Everybody knows they are bad enough to do it. The question is, are they mad enough to do it?

To launch a chemical weapons attack in Damascus on the very day that a United Nations chemical weapons inspection team arrives in Damascus must be a new definition of madness. And of course if he is that mad, how mad is he going to be once we've launched a blizzard of Tomahawk cruise missiles upon his country?

Now the military..

In the Lords Lord Dannatt, the former head of the army (and at one time an adviser to David Cameron) has said that servicemen and women should not be forced to fight a campaign without public support.

It's been very interesting this week what has been happening in our country. The drums of war were banging very loudly two or three days ago. The people didn't like it. The dialogue, the debate has changed. In the House of Commons the debate has been considering a different motion to the one that was probably intended. Looking for more time, looking for a second debate, looking for second vote.

The drum beat has got quieter and that's really, really important. And why I say it's really important is because the people who have to carry out the military actions that we might or might not require are the soldiers, sailors and airmen of our armed forces. And they are not some kind of elite that are kept in a box that are just wheeled out when needed. They are citizens like you and me. And they are citizens who absolutely have to know that what they are being asked to do is what the country wants them to do, what the country believes is right.

We don't govern by consensus but we are a democracy, and the people have a very important voice in this and I'm delighted that the drumbeat and the drums have become more muffled.

And as far as intervention in Syria is concerned I do not support intervention in any shape or form at this time. Circumstances might change.

What a HUGE victory for democratic process that day was..

Twitter was going wild

JamesLyons @MirrorJames

Rolled over by Ed M and defeated anyway. Cameron's taunts of 'weak, weak, weak' against Lab leader must be ringing in his ears.
4:34 PM - 29 Aug 2013

James Forsyth @JGForsyth

Cameron accepts defeat, it's all off. Huge humiliation for the PM. No10 expected to win this vote

Daniel Hannan ✔ @DanHannanMEP

Dignified, decent, democratic response by the PM. A truly stunning shift in power from executive to legislature.

Mark D'Arcy @DArcyTiP

Wow! Parliament has taken war powers. No PM can now launch military action without MPs consent. V big constitutional moment.

Paul Goodman @PaulGoodmanCH

1) With some 30 Labour MPs absent, it was Tory ones that sunk Cameron this evening. Wounding blow to his authority.

2) Breach with America finally comes when a Conservative Prime Minister is in Downing Street - and one on good terms with President.

3) Big implications for British foreign policy: is it now in effect isolationist?

James Forsyth @JGForsyth

Result today a huge embarrassment to Cameron. Up until this vote, he’d had a very good summer. Politics is now turned upside down
4:37 PM - 29 Aug 2013

Owen Jones @OwenJones84

Worth pointing out how historic this is. British has been subservient to US foreign policy since Suez in 1956. A big moment.
4:38 PM - 29 Aug 2013

Philip Cowley @philipjcowley

Not seen division lists, but that gvt rebellion must be bigger than the one that brought down Chamberlain in 1940.

The British were OUT. The people had spoken!

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