Much debate has gone on among people who self-identify as libertarians about the correct response to the horror in Syria. I made my position clear, and have done so for a while, that military intervention – if properly deployed and policed – would be a far better alternative than gutless international censure or inaction. Despite the defeat of the Government’s plans for intervention (as well as the Opposition’s amendment), I persist in this view.
When I criticise “Randian selfishness” in my piece for Trending Central (syndicated from my earlier column in The Libertarian), I mean the cult of personal obsession which is apparent in many on the nominal ‘Right’. This is where people appear value the contents of their wallets more than the lives of Syrian civilians. Sadly, this is often allied with petty nationalism or even casual racism – whereby Arabs killing other Arabs is seen as not warranting the cost of a single British Pound.
People like this do exist, and my use of the term does not necessarily denote the most fervent of the lady’s disciples. Instead I intend to describe the attitude of callousness over the fate of the Middle East, simply for narrow financial reasons. This apparent national attitude of not caring for the freedom of people across the world is deeply worrying to me; as I believe that we should do what we can to oppose the enemies of freedom around the world. It is clear that Bashar al-Assad is a great enemy of liberty, and so must be opposed.
I also despise the liberal use of platitudinous rhetoric by isolationists, such as the absurd suggestion that everyone who thinks it might be a good idea to remove evil, murdering despots has to fight on the front line to be given any credibility. The utterances: “armchair general” and “why don’t you go and fight it yourself?” (sometimes accompanied by an “eh?” for emphasis) are both marks of the IT literate moron.
Often, the excuse for not acting is a desire to see “proof” of Syrian government involvement in chemical weapon strikes. This is pure procrastination. Not only is there pretty conclusive proof of the matter, courtesy of the JIC’s report, this is nicely corroborated by the intercepted phone calls which US agents say ‘prove’ that Assad’s cronies perpetrated this monstrous deed.
However, even if this is not enough, we have a hell of a lot of evidence to suggest that the Assad has played a not insignificant role in killing many thousands during the actual war. To me, the chemical weapons are a side show: they only demonstrate the baseness of Assad and his cabal, and the levels to which their underlings stoop in their defence of this barbaric enemy of freedom and democracy.
The debate itself was curious. Despite Cameron’s watered-down motion, and the skill and care which went into his own case, he still lost. A fragile coalition behaved like a single party with a huge majority. His overconfidence in pulling the House back from the recess, and the weakness of the Prime Minister’s message – with endless caveats and considerations – did not win it for him.
For, as I had predicted, Cameron lost the vote. By a tiny number of MPs, but lose the vote he did. His more vulnerable Members, perhaps cowed by the spectacle of Ukip encroaching on the popular isolationist positions, did not vote for his motion. We just cannot expect the British people to care about the outside world anymore: that is the UKIP effect.
According to Trending Central, within minutes of the defeat, senior Tories began briefing with words to the effect of: “Ed Miliband will forever be remembered as the politician that effectively allowed Assad to continue slaughtering the Syrian people”. I happen to agree.
Politicians in general did not come out of this debate looking anything other than selfish, duplicitous and petty. Nigel Farage’s pathetic milking of the terrible result did not show him to be a statesman. It only confirmed the true decrepitude of his morality, and the childish nature of his politics.
Cameron did not come out looking good either. It is a rum state of affairs where a sitting Prime Minister can claim to care about the children of Syria, and then just back down when threatened by a forth-party joker. If this motion had passed, or Cameron had used Royal Prerogative, I’d have written here about his brave pursuit of principle and freedom over temporary popularity. Now, however, he just looks weak.
Ed Miliband had his amendment rejected too, and was by no means the victor of the debate. But a reductionist and confrontational media needed to portray his feeble actions as a success to shape their narrative the next morning. He will get much undeserved praise from those who think themselves “anti-war” over the next few weeks.
In summary, then: British Parliamentary democracy has shown itself to be self-absorbed and un-internationalist. I sincerely hope that France and the US are not affected by the terrible failings of Britain. Go it alone, I say, and bring vile monster Assad to Justice: The International Criminal Court or a bullet to the brain. I’m really not that fussed.