Why, if I was an MP, I would vote against this unnecessary motion

I find myself very disturbed by the reaction of the government to the recent use of chemical weapons in Syria. I can’t see what the motion, that parliament is to debate and vote on, is for. Except perhaps to make it harder for MPs to vote against a motion to actually launch military strikes later.

I honestly don’t know if military strikes would be a good or bad thing but I can’t help thinking that we are being railroaded. Surely if some kind of intervention is to be made it can be more genuinely “humanitarian” that missile strikes!

Below is the text of the Government’s motion about Syria and chemical weapons with my comments after each paragraph.

This House:

  • Deplores the use of chemical weapons in Syria on 21 August 2013 by the Assad regime, which caused hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries of Syrian civilians;
    • We all deplore the use of chemical weapons but the evidence that the rest of this sentence is true has not been made public
  • Recalls the importance of upholding the worldwide prohibition on the use of chemical weapons under international law;
    • Fair enough, but see later comments about “the principle of humanitarian intervention”
  • Agrees that a strong humanitarian response is required from the international community and that this may, if necessary, require military action that is legal, proportionate and focused on savings lives by preventing and deterring further use of Syria’s chemical weapons;
    • Can military action ever really be a humanitarian response?
  • Notes the failure of the United Nations Security Council over the last two years to take united action in response to the Syrian crisis;
    • Fair enough
  • Notes that the use of chemical weapons is a war crime under customary law and a crime against humanity – and that the principle of humanitarian intervention provides a sound legal basis for taking action;
    • Many would dispute this but the reason for this will be clear later
  • Notes the wide international support for such a response, including the statement from the Arab League on 27 August which calls on the international community, represented in the United Nations Security Council, to “overcome internal disagreements and take action against those who committed this crime, for which the Syrian regime is responsible”;
    • The Arab League wanting the UN to do something is NOT widespread support for non-UN military action
  • Believes, in spite of the difficulties at the United Nations, that a United Nations process must be followed as far as possible to ensure the maximum legitimacy for any such action;
    • But we know there won’t be a UN resolution – that’s the reason for the bit about the “principle of humanitarian intervention” earlier
  • Therefore welcomes the work of the United Nations investigating team currently in Damascus. Whilst noting that the team’s mandate is to confirm whether chemical weapons were used and not to apportion blame, agrees that the United Nations Secretary General should ensure a briefing to the United Nations Security Council immediately upon the completion of the team’s initial mission;
    • But we aren’t going to wait to hear from them before we vote on this motion
  • Believes that the United Nations Security Council must have the opportunity immediately to consider that briefing and that every effort should be made to secure a Security Council Resolution backing military action before any such action is taken. Before any direct British involvement in such action a further vote of the House of Commons will take place.
    • But we aren’t going to wait to hear from them before we vote on this motion
  • Notes that this motion relates solely to efforts to alleviate humanitarian suffering by deterring use of chemical weapons and does not sanction any action in Syria with wider objectives.
    • So, so long as the regime continues to slaughter people with conventional weapons that’s fine. We only care about the emotive use of chemicals.

I’m not sure if this vote will be “whipped” but if it is then I have a message for MPs

Please think for yourself – don’t pave the way for killing people just to protect your political career.

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