Today we can all celebrate an historic vote in the British Parliament rejecting a motion authorising the British government conduct a military strike on Syria.
The main credit should go to the British people, who have overwhelmingly rejected military action. A Daily Express poll showed only 8% of Britons supported a strike, and 41% were against even if the strike was endorsed by the UN.
It now looks possible that public opinion in America and elsewhere will stymie a US-led strike. Key Arab countries, like Egypt and Lebanon, are strongly against a strike. And it isn’t popular in Europe, with most Germans, for example, opposing military intervention.
Respected British journalist Robert Fisk went out on a limb yesterday calling such a strike “the stupidest Western war in the history of the modern world”.
To his credit, British PM David Cameron has responded to the Commons vote in a democratic fashion, acknowledging that “the British Parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action. I get that and the government will act accordingly.”
The British decision now puts pressure on New Zealand politicians to oppose any US-led strike, and I’m sure such a stance would be backed by New Zealanders.
Yes, the world is horrified by the apparent use of chemical weapons in Syria, and wants a strong international response against the Assad regime (or whoever it was) from the world community. But outside military intervention, whether it be air strikes or boots on the ground, will not help matters. It will only exacerbate the war and more innocent people will die.
Yes, the UN should play its part, but not by endorsing air strikes. The UN’s role is to do everything possible to get the Syrian parties together to work out a new governing structure and bring an end to the killing.