Friday, 20 April 2018

Bombing Syria: before we forget.

 The furore of the bombing of Syria in response to Assad's alleged use of chemical w4epons has already faded from the media and they and we  moved on to the cruel, unnecessary and probably illegal treatment of the Windrush children.

However, there are two crucial points which should go on record before they fade from the memory.

First, Mrs May, who makes much of being the daughter of a Christian vicar and her regular church attendances, brazenly tells us that it was not possible to recall and consult parliament about the bombing becasue "speed [was] essential."

This is obvious nonsense: indeed, since we are not in parliament, we can call it a blatant lie.  The alleged use use of  chemical weapons by the Syrian government was already a week old, "surprise" was not an element in the West's decision since President Trump had already Tweeted as to what he would do.

So Mrs May's government decided, for whatever reason (fear of losing the vote?) to ignore our sovereign parliament and recently developing convention, and "do their own thing."

So much for "taking back control."

Secondly Mrs May claimed that this trilateral military attack by the West's most powerful nation and its two acolytes was perfectly legal.without the consent of  the United nations.

As I understand it the relevant international agreements are:

  •   Article 2(4) of the UN Charter, which  says: ”All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence  of any sate.”  
  • Article 2(5) which states:“All Members shall give the United Nations every assistance in any action it takes in accordance with the present Charter”
  •  Article 7(42):“Should the Security Council consider that measures provided for in Article 41 would be inadequate or have proved to be inadequate, it may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security.
  • Article 51 ":Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security."

The first three all relate to collective action approved by UN members or the Security Council.  The fourth make the exception for a country to take independent action for self defence in the case of an armed attack.

 There was and is no credible possibility that the Syrian government is about to attack the UK, (or the US. or France, for that matter.)

So we are complicit in an illegal act of war.

 That we are so complicit on the coat-tails of a leader as capricious as President Trump makes the action not only illegal but incredibly foolish.

 Maybe international law should be different, but be we have  to work with it as it is and not what we should like it to be.  (I would like to see the UN reformed and brought up to date, and  all the world's armed forces under its control  to work as an armed international police force )

As far as domestic politics are concerned (and this could be what is uppermost in Mrs May's mind) our government has been incredibly lucky.  For once the precision bombing does not seem to have killed any Syrians, especially,for media purposes, women or children.  Nor, fortunately, do we appear to have killed any Russians.

So the government's domestic position has been strengthened.  

"They" have got away with it, but "not in my name" and, I suspect, only for a while.

Sadly nothing in this betrayal of the rule of law has done anything to improve the lot of the Syrian people, or bring bring the war to an end.

The one comforting piece of information which has come out of this incident is that the US and Russian military high commands have a hotline to inform each other of what their hung-ho political master are about to order, so that each side can take precautions to avoid any unintended clashes.  Thank goodness someone is acting with a bit of sense,

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