Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Friday, 30 August 2013
The Mother of Parliaments versus the Mother of All Wars
As I'm sure you already know, the British Parliament just about managed to prevent the government from bombing Syria yesterday, by a slim margin of votes. I expect that the dissenters were more upset about being called back from their Summer holiday than they were about spending a few billion pounds on cruise-missiles, but maybe we should give them the benefit of the doubt.
Former soldier and former M.P., (now Lord) Paddy Ashdown has been running around saying he has never been so ashamed to be British before in his life, but I expect that the experience of having to stand by as an armed UN officer and impotently watch the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia may have turned his head, both against the United Nations and the international 'isolationists'. There again, the tipping-point may have been when he was caught knocking off a Parliamentary Advisor a few years ago (allegedly). All those late nights in the office away from home, bring a danger of a different kind to a retired soldier, and anyone who has witnessed death at such close quarters will always be driven to celebrate life to the fullest extent possible.
This little British vote-loss has had a bigger effect on Washington than any other in the entire history of our 'special relationship' with the U.S., and now President Obama has to face the Senate without little old England standing right behind him for back-up. Parliament has - at last - packed a punch precisely because it has pulled a punch, and the biggest winner (if you discount a few hundred thousand Syrian civilians) is the Leader of our Opposition, who has - by default - turned himself into a figure of authority who has a bigger say in Foreign Policy than the Leader himself.
It is truly heart-rending to hear Syrian civilian women cry and beg for help to save her family and country from Assad and his murderers, but the only reason that we do is because of modern technology - this sort of thing has been going on for thousands of years, but now it is also modern technology which enables us to bomb a country from the safety of our own air-conditioned office at home, then go back to our own families after a hard day's work at the computer monitor.
It has to be remembered that some companies make a huge amount of money from cruise missiles and drones, and they just love conflicts like this. I wonder what the shelf-life of a Tomahawk missile is? Does the high-explosive start to sweat and become unstable if it is not ignited within a certain period of time?
This 'isolationist' slur began when America refused to get involved with what it saw as a European war to be fought by the Europeans themselves, but that was before they fully realised what was going on in concentration camps and before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour. Recognition of World War status was granted very shortly afterwards, and without America and Russia, Hitler would probably - no definitely - have won.
I don't think it is 'isolationist' to worry about setting Russia and China onto a collision-course with the USA over a bloody squabble which - at the moment - is roughly contained within the borders of Syria, even if the squabble (as all civil wars do) kills as many civilians as soldiers. Yes, there is a difference between a child dying by hot metal and a child dying by gas poisoning, but chucking more hot metal in from the outside is hardly going to help the child.
A woman from Slough ('Come friendly bombs...') who likes analogies said on the radio this morning, "If you see two people fighting in the street, you don't just go up and knife one of them to stop the fight. You try to break it up by peaceful means, don't you?"