After UK intervention is voted down, only the French will ally with America?!

British PM David Cameron at the Commons, and anti-war protestors

The news overtook me as I was writing my earlier post about the possible blowback on Israel from an American and Allied attack on Syria. Overnight we learned that the House of Commons (the British Parliament) voted No and rejected PM David Cameron’s proposal for British intervention in Syria. Intra-party recriminations are high, as are cross-party protests, but for now it looks like the UK will not be joining the Americans in bombing Syria.

Incredibly, it looks like it is left to the French, of all nations, the people that some journalists called “cheese eating surrender monkeys” after their refusal to join the coalition to attack Iraq, to save the day for America.  The liberal-left French President Francois Hollande said that the UK vote does not change will to act on Syria:

Hollande told the daily Le Monde in an interview that he still supported taking “firm” punitive action over an attack he said had caused “irreparable” harm to the Syrian people and said he would work closely with France’s allies.

Asked if France could take action without Britain, Hollande replied: “Yes. Each country is sovereign to participate or not in an operation. That is valid for Britain as it is for France.”

[…]

Hollande is not constrained by the need for parliamentary approval of any move to intervene in Syria and could act, if he chose, before a parliamentary debate on the issue set for Wednesday.

Hollande told Le Monde that he would not take any decision to act unless the conditions were there to justify that.

“All the options are on the table. France wants action that is in proportion and firm against the Damascus regime,” he said.

“There are few countries that have the capacity to inflict a sanction by the appropriate means. France is one of them. We are ready. We will decide our position in close liaison with our allies.”

The Daily Telegraph has a good live round-up of the political and media reactions to the British No vote as well as to the various options left to Obama.

Meanwhile, possibly encourage by the West’s vacillation, the BBC is reporting of a napalm-like attack on a school in Syria. Once again, the implications are horrific:

A BBC team inside Syria filming for Panorama has witnessed the aftermath of a fresh horrific incident – an incendiary bomb dropped on to a school playground in the north of the country – which has left scores of children with napalm-like burns over their bodies.

Eyewitnesses describe a fighter jet dropping the device, a low explosion, followed by columns of fire and smoke.

Warning: the accompanying video has graphic images.

The West’s hesitation and wavering on attacking Syria has done more damage to its image and reputation than an actual attack will have done. Iran, Russia and China are watching the West’s reaction intently – and are probably laughing all the way to the bank.

And most probably it will be left to Israel to mop up the mes – and then get condemned for it – whichever way the West chooses in the end.

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28 Responses to After UK intervention is voted down, only the French will ally with America?!

  1. cba says:

    Trouble is, I truly don’t know what is for the best.

    Assad is foul, dangerous and murderous.

    The other side are foul, dangerous and murderous.

    There doesn’t seem to be any good answer here.

    (The only argument that might tip the scales for me is the extreme inadvisability of allowing a murderous dictator to blatantly thumb his nose at the international community by using poison gas after being warned it was a red line and then nothing being done to him.)

  2. Debby says:

    cba, I agree that I don’t see any good choice in this situation. However, I think that a ruling government should be held to a higher standard than the people. In my mind, it’s like a parent and child situation, because ultimately the parent wields more power (and responsibility) in the relationship. It is somewhat the same with governing powers. Assad is the leader of a nation, and he has a responsibility toward his people to deal with them justly. There is a line. I may not agree with how someone else deals with their child, but abuse is never acceptable. Assad has abused his people, and he demonstrates his willingness to be abusive toward others as well (most notably Israel). Since Assad has threatened Israel, I believe that Israel should have a strong say as to what response the UN, NATO, US or France might take, so that a response acceptable to all can be determined. However, to not respond to Assad is akin in my mind to knowing the neighbor child is being abused and turning a blind eye in response.

    • anneinpt says:

      That’s a very good analogy of yours Debby. It certainly clarifies the possible positions we could take. My only disagreement is about Israel. Even though israel is the one that has been threatened, I think we should stay right out of it. Otherwise it will turn into a “war for Israel” – Americans will be accused of “fighting for Israel” when it should be regarded as a war for human rights and a war against WMD.

      All Israel needs to do is prepare its defences (and offensive capabilities should they be necessary) and sit tight – and our diplomats should prepare the groundwork in the UN and with other governments so that we don’t get automatically condemned when or if we take defensive or pre-emptive action.

      • cba says:

        Anne, you know as well as I do that the “usual suspects” will blame Israel anyway.

        I’ve already seen comments on various sites (including the execrable CBC) to the effect of “if Israel wants a war, then let them send their own troops, we’re not dying for them” (like they ever have… ).

        • cba says:

          P.S. I just want to clarify that I DON’T want Israel to get involved in anything other than a humanitarian capacity (which should be limited to medical aid and NOT include allowing Syrians to be “reunited” to live with distant family members in Israel, as requested by one family recently).

        • anneinpt says:

          I know we will get blamed, and are already getting blamed. But our foreign service must get its act together and start a counter-offensive. It’s outrageous and absurd that we take this blame lying down, as if it’s not only expected, but reasonable. It isn’t and we must make the world realise it.

  3. NormanF says:

    Israel is not going to intervene unless it is attacked.

    There are no good guys in the Syrian conflict and Israel for good reason – is sitting it out.

  4. Debby says:

    NormanF, I think Israel has enough troubles from its neighbors without intervening in their internal issues and abuses. There are enough other powers on the international scene, that this crime should be able to be addressed without Israel participating in the intervention. However, since reprisal attacks are being threatened against Israel for other nation’s efforts, I think that the nations that are responding should give Israel the courtesy of allowing them to weigh in.

  5. peteca1 says:

    I looked at all the reader comments on Yahoo today. There was only ONE comment praising Obama and Hollande for getting involved – mine. Yes … mine.

    what is the world coming to?
    Assad’s henchmen (his crazy brother) are gassing families with sarin and letting them die like rats. It’s as bad as it gets. we have to draw a line at what is accetable behavior in the world. this place is a very good time to draw such a line.

    i would agree that the USA and France should not be the “world’s policemen”. But WHERE is the United Nations on all of this? On any important matter, they are nowhere to be found. Not even a statement condemning the sarin attack from the UN Security Council.

    The world is becoming a pitiful place. There is no moral compass left.

    Pete, USA

    • anneinpt says:

      Your are quite right Pete. The answer to your question is that the world is going to hell in a handbasket. A large part of the problem is political correctness. The civilized world can’t bear to be accused of racism, colonialism or imperialism, and intervening in another nation’s war, even in order to save innocent civilians or to prevent the use of WMD, is considered any one of those 3 ‘sins’.

      Of course intervening in Israel’s domestic affairs and condemning or banning settlements is considered perfectly proper. Don’t ask me what moral and/or legal gymnastics are used to justify the one intervention and not the other. Probably because there are Jews involved in the one and not the other.

      Another very large reason for this new isolationism is the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Both were started with very good intentions, and if the US and Allies had left both after toppling the dictators – Saddam Hussein in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan – without a ground invasion and occupation, the Allied casualty rate would have been far smaller and both wars would have been considered a success, similar to the first Gulf War and the Libyan intervention. (Not counting Benghazi of course). But since the Iraq and A’ghan wars have gone on for so long and are still ongoing without any decisive conclusion, they are now considered a massive failure, and this leads the American and British populations to be very wary of yet another war.

      If they could be persuaded that with Syria it would just be an aerial bombardment I think there would be more support. But no one trusts their governments any more.

      • Aridog says:

        President Obama said…

        “I want to reassure our allies and the people of Syria that what we are about to undertake, if we undertake it at all, will have no purpose or goal,”…

        Jay Carney, Presidential spokesman, said

        “Maybe we get in there, take a look around, and get out right away. But however long it takes, one thing will not change: this mission will have no point. The President is resolute about that.”

        Why on earth would anyone take President Obama and the US of A seriously after this announcement?

        Is it even possible for the US of A to be more infantile and deluded? To suggest you’d bomb people just as an exercise? You know, kill hundreds just to show we can?

        This sorry excuse for excrement we have as Presdient here has no value for life itself, or grasp of what war really is about, for him, it is all about him and how to manipulate a crisis to his advantage. When he fails at that, he delays and delays until he can assert: **At this point in time, what difference does it make? Time to move on, nothing more to see here.**

        He has done this every time he has been challenged and found wanting.

        This is a man who has never has his ass kicked. It shows.

        • anneinpt says:

          That’s absolutely unbelievable (in the rhetorical sense, not that I don’t believe you) what Carney said. How can anyone make such a ridiculous statement and not get called out on it? Whatever happened to diplomacy? Whatever happened to common sense for that matter? It would have been preferable for him to keep his mouth shut.

    • Aridog says:

      peteca1 said …

      Assad’s henchmen (his crazy brother) are gassing families with sarin and letting them die like rats.

      I’m not saying this isn’t happening, but by whom is still unanswered. Would you please cite a credible source that it is unquestionably Assad’s forces and not the Rebels, This act didn’t seem to bother many folks here when Saddam Hussein was doing it to Iraqis and Kurds. We punked out on the road north from Kuwait, and took 10+ years to get back to finishing the job….poorly IMO.

      It’s as bad as it gets.

      No, no it is not as bad as it gets. It is going to get a lot worse. Soon. Who do you suggest should look up to US leadership after Egypt? Or Honduras years ago under this same administration of feckless eunuchs and idiots?

      You cite the United Nations. Tell me when and where the UN “peace-keepers” have ever been effective in their own right? 2006 perhaps along the northern Israeli border with Lebanon? Rwanda in 1994+? When? The UN is the main club for the idiots and feckless eunuchs I mentioned previously

  6. Elliott Alhadeff says:

    The on-going difficulty with the US’s Middle East Policy, of which Syria is only the most current symptom, is that it is purely reactive and is absent of any planning of actions to be taken under a variety of scenarios. Chemical weapons were known to be available and likely to be used. Obama’s “planning” was to issue a “red line.” With no understanding of its meaning, it amounts to a Crips response to the Bloods, only the Crips have some credibility and Obama had no clue of the consequences of his threat and now the chips are down, he has no idea what to do. His intransigence has identified him and this administration as utterly incompetent such that any affect of a response will be tainted with his reactionary policy and the adversary can safely predict any future confrontation will catch the US off guard and squandering for another embarrassing and ineffective ad-hoc response. Note: Israel’s red line threat has brought no attempts to challenge – Iran making it publicly clear that as it gets close to that line – it does not cross it.

    • anneinpt says:

      Good explanation Elliott and interesting points to ponder, especially re Israel and Iran. I hope you are right about Iran’s sense of reason. I sometimes wonder about the Mullah’s sanity.

  7. Earl says:

    As always in current FP, watch China’s response. Ie., permitting indifferently the mahdaviats and the Wahhabists/salafists to tear each other to pieces, only becoming engaged if energy supplies to the Middle Kingdom are threatened. Obama could learn a great deal from the Han Chinese; his ME FP has been unlettered and amateurish beyond measure.

    • anneinpt says:

      Good that you brought up China here. They are hovering in the background but making sure they are virtually unseen. It’s Russia that’s taking center stage vis-a-vis the Americans. I wonder what role the Chinese are playing in all this, besides just watching.

      And of course you’re perfectly right about Obama’s amateurism. And now that he’s trying to do the right thing it’s all rebounding in his face. I can’t help feeling a little bit sorry for him. Just a little bit.

      • Earl says:

        Reading of Putin’s calling out Obama’s “evidence” has been illustrative- Putin’s realpolitik honed by decades in the NKVD KGB as opposed the Nobel laureate’s slight few years in academia and community activism. ‘Tis truly risible.

        I believe that the Chinese are largely anodyne- playing their usual long game. Lending America the money to use its military capabilities to safeguard Chinese energy supplies. Even more risible…

        • anneinpt says:

          Who was it that Churchill described as a mystery wrapped in a riddle wrapped in an enigma? I think he meant the Russians but it could as easily have been the Chinese.

  8. Brian Goldfarb says:

    I have posted the following in the comments section of the next article down: I believe that it fits here just as well.

    Allow me to add the following from The Atlantic online edition: http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/08/a-very-wise-decision-by-obama/279245/. Yes, I know that The Atlantic is a liberal, pro-Obama journal (and may, for that reason, be rejected outright by some commenters here), but this doesn’t necessarily negate the reasoning and conclusions involved. I believe that they need careful reading and reasoned responses.

    While I, as UK voter, have never voted Conservative in my life, and, except under extreme conditions, never would, I’m by no means certain that the decision that the UK House of Commons took the other day is correct. I’ll go further: given Russia and China’s continued active support for Assad and Syria, my reasoned response is that the situation is analogous to that of the Spanish Civil War: the fascist dictatorships (Hitler & Mussolini) were actively supporting the Francoist fascists and the West stood by its policy of “non-intervention”, thereby condemning the Republic to defeat and 40 years of fascist dictatorship.

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