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.