The warmongers will play along with commonsense for a while but eventually come back onto their original course
My MP Henry Bellingham has replied promptlyto a letter on 26 August about the US and UK’s eagerness to “jump the gun” on Syria. This was before the famous vote in Parliament and while media headlines were screaming: “Britain is planning to join forces with America and launch military action against Syria within days in response to the gas attack believed to have been carried out by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces against his own people…”
I put it to Mr Bellingham that there was no incontrovertible evidence, nothing that justified an armed response, only a “belief” when reason pointed the finger elsewhere.
“Will the British people and their Parliament be consulted before fateful action is taken?” I asked after hearing that prime minister David Cameron reserved the ability to take action very swiftly if needed. That trigger-happy duo, Cameron and Hague, were always straining at the leash. “Why not wait for proof?” I wanted to know. “Anyone with a slightest knowledge of the Middle East and the Tory leadership’s affiliations can easily join the dots. And the picture formed is not a pretty one.
“What is the Party doing, please, to rein in its dangerous loons before it’s too late?”
Here is Mr Bellingham’s response.
The vote took place in the House of Commons last Thursday, and as a result the Prime Minister has made it clear that he will obviously respect the view of the House, which in turn reflects the view of the country.…
My own view is that Bashar al-Assad has almost certainly committed appalling crimes against humanity which are completely in breach of the Geneva Convention and the treaties on chemical weapons. Almost a hundred years ago, the whole world came together and said that the use of chemical weapons was morally indefensible and completely wrong. The chemical weapons attack in Damascus that caused the deaths of hundreds of people, including children, was both abhorrent and a war crime. However, it has not yet been proven beyond all doubt that it was indeed the President himself who authorised the attack. Whilst it does look most likely that it was regime forces that carried out the attack, I do believe that it is important to await further intelligence evidence, as well as the UN Inspector’s Report.
Now what we have is a truly tragic civil war, and whilst some argue that we should at least be trying to do something, such as arm the rebels, or retaliate against the President for the use of chemical weapons, I do believe that the crucial question is, what would actually be achieved by army intervention? First of all, the Opposition are completely split and the rebels have fractured into many different factions. If the West did try and arm them, is there not a danger that some arms would get into the hands of extremists such as Al Qaeda – and then even be used against western countries? Unlike Libya, there is no coherent opposition which would have a good chance of toppling the regime if a no-fly zone was imposed and the regime’s military degraded.
My own view is that it is essential that every possible effort is now made to bring about a political solution. We need more engagement by the UN. For example, what on earth happened to the UN Peace Initiative? We need Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States to really engage as well as obviously Turkey and Russia. It is only through negotiations that some form of settlement can be reached, and my hope is that after last Thursday’s vote, renewed efforts will be made in this direction.
In the meantime, we also have an appalling humanitarian crisis and tragedy, but I can assure you that Britain is doing what we can to play a part in relieving this suffering both through direct aid, plus also through putting extra help into some of the international NGOs. The UN estimates that over 100,000 people have now died and over 4.25 million have fled their homes inside Syria. Refugee numbers in neighbouring countries are now close to 2 million, which also creates pressures on host communities.
The UK’s commitment of £348 million is the largest single funding ever made by the UK in response to a humanitarian disaster. This reflects the size of the crisis – and the scale of the suffering. It is a signal of just how serious this Government is about doing everything we can to alleviate the suffering.We know that thanks to the UK, over 285,000 people a month are getting food. Our support is helping to get water for almost 1 million people and almost 300,000 medical consultations, helping people across Syria and in neighbouring countries.
I immediately felt another “Dear Henry…” coming on.
I’m relieved to hear that you personally believe we ought to wait for further intelligence evidence, as well as the UN Inspector’s Report. That is of course the very least one should do BEFORE mobilising forces to deliver punitive death and destruction on another people. Threatening military strikes in these circumstances against any city, let alone one as ancient and important as Damascus, is a cheap terror tactic. Yet Messrs Cameron and Hague were happy to allow themselves to be bounced into attack mode prematurely, their unseemly haste to land the world in more trouble showing that they and their advisers had learned nothing from the criminal debacle of the Iraq war…
The Russian suggestion that Syria turn over its chemical weapons to international inspection ought to have been the first among the diplomatic priorities. But should Syria be expected to give up her chemical weapons (if any) without the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia surrendering theirs?… Israel has not ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention while the other two have a record of abusing and violating weapons treaties. The US in particular has been dragging its feet over the disposal and destruction of its own stockpile…
Thankfully the public pressure that forced Cameron to ‘cool it’ gave a clear warning that Western civil society has become exasperated with the international political elite, who blatantly pursue their own agenda with no regard to the harm they do. The knock-on effect from our Parliament’s decision has already begun. I’ll wager that Obama/Kerry/Cameron/Hague will play along for a little while but eventually come back on their original course to inflict still more bloodshed and chaos on the region.
As to the UK government doing what it can to alleviate the suffering, making free with public funds to provide aid in the horrendous aftermath of Western inspired wars is no answer, any more than the decades of squandering hard-pressed taxpayers’ money on subsidising Israel’s evil occupation and war crimes against the Palestinians – still permitted to this very day without threats of punitive strikes against Tel Aviv – could ever be justified.
Whether you agree with it or not, please watch this short video http://youtu.be/5rrQAY6gEJA ‘Another War for Israel‘, and share it with your government colleagues.
Lesson from the past: “When a minister sets himself above the laws…”
Mr Bellingham is an Old Etonian and former barrister. He is said to be a direct descendent of John Bellingham, who assassinated prime minister Spencer Perceval in 1812 following a shipping insurance dispute and his wrongful imprisonment in Russia. Perceval refused Bellingham’s petitions for compensation because Britain had broken off diplomatic relations with Russia.
He waited in the lobby of House of Commons and when Perceval appeared Bellingham shot him with a .50 calibre pistol he had concealed in a special coat pocket.
In his defence he told the court: “Recollect that my family was ruined and myself destroyed, merely because it was Mr Perceval’s pleasure that justice should not be granted; sheltering himself behind the imagined security of his station, and trampling upon law and right in the belief that no retribution could reach him. I demand only my right, and not a favour; I demand what is the birthright and privilege of every Englishman. Gentlemen, when a minister sets himself above the laws, as Mr Perceval did, he does it as his own personal risk. If this were not so, the mere will of the minister would become the law, and what would then become of your liberties? I trust that this serious lesson will operate as a warning to all future ministers…” He was hanged.
A Frenchman witnessing the execution wrote: “God bless you! You have rendered an important service to your country, you have taught ministers that they should do justice, and grant audience when it is asked of them.”
Those were the days, what-what?
Stuart Littlewood worked on jet fighters in the RAF then pursued a career in industrial marketing.
More recently he worked as a freelance and with innovation consultancies. Psychology degree Exeter University, Member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. Served as a Cambridgeshire county councilor 1993-97 and on the Police Authority. Associate of the Royal Photographic Society. Since retiring has been a newspaper columnist and produced two photo-documentary books. He is a regular contributor to a number of internet news magazines.
Stuart’s book Radio Free Palestine, with Foreword by Jeff Halper, tells the plight of the Palestinians under brutal occupation. It can now be read on the internet by visiting RadioFreePalestine.org.uk.