It seems that to be considered a player in international affairs just now you need to have, and be prepared to use against innocents, chemical weapons. These, let us not forget, are weapons of mass destruction.
So the decision to go ahead and join the USA and France in coalition to take punitive action against the Assad regime seems legitimate enough. Legitimate in its aims, because – in a rare moment of clarity, Trump correctly labelled Assad a monster. But potentially illegitimate in its mode, since the decision was taken without the debate or decision of parliament.
And why should this matter to us? Paveways, enormously expensive though they are, allow British service personnel a certain distance away from being killed or maimed; we’ve lost more RAF aircrew from the Red Arrows in the last 10 years in training and displays than we have aircrew in combat.
But we should be concerned because when the air war doesn’t provide the return that government decides is necessary – and this might not be military, for all we know it could be PR, favours with foreign governments or God knows what, there will be boots on the ground. Again.
And while military action is supported unanimously in government and policy is decided and stuck to overnight, we know that the boots on the ground will potentially be fighting Friday’s decision ten years from now.
For in this age of hybrid warfare, where strength is projected abroad by all and any measure – including social media and the spreading of falsehoods such as the UK orchestrated the Douma atrocity, we can be reasonably certain that the sight of British lawyers victimising their own troops will not have gone unnoticed. In fact, destabilising armed forces morale by pursuing soldiers for events that never happened, for ten whole years, looks a pretty good tactic. Who is to say that the (hypothetical) Afghan/Iraqi/Syrian civil rights group championing its citizens’ rights isn’t funded by a foreign power?
@BrianWoodMC superbly apt book “Double Crossed”, the publishing date revealed this past week, details just what happens when successive governments will fight for everything, but their own troops.
So, while we listen to arguments about the action being “morally right”, let’s consider what part of the action is morally right, for whom, and for how long this extends.