Our Fishing Industry
April 11, 2018
The New Turner Free School
April 25, 2018

Last weekend British forces, acting alongside our American and French
allies, completed a series of surgical missile strikes against
military targets of the regime of President Assad of Syria. This
action was taken in response to an attack by the forces by the Syrian
government on the city of Douma, to the north east of the capital
Damascus, which is believed to have killed at least 70 people.
According to medical staff who attended the victims of the attack,
including many women and children, it is believed that they had been
exposed to chlorine gas and the sarin nerve agent.

President Assad’s actions are a clear breach of the international
convention against the use of chemical weapons. If we failed to
respond to this, we are sending him a clear message that breaking
international law in this way, and murdering his own people using
chemical weapons, will receive no response from the Western powers.
Such a response would be highly dangerous, and could no doubt
encourage Assad to authorise further attacks such as these. It is
sometimes tempting to believe that non-intervention in situations like
this in the middle east, means that nothing will happen. That is not
the case. A lack of action can in fact encourage others to commit
further atrocities.

The use of our armed forces is never a decision that should be taken
lightly. Some have argued that this shouldn’t have been made without
the support of a resolution passed by the United Nations. However,
Russia, President Assad’s close ally, as a permanent member of the UN
Security Council, vetoed a motion calling for action against Syria. If
we did nothing as a result of this motion failing, we would be
effectively giving President Putin a veto against any action being
taken against the Assad regime that he supports. Where the Syrian
government has committed a clear breach of international law, we have
the grounds to respond.

Others have made the case that the Prime Minister should not have
authorised the use of our military forces in this attack without the
support of a motion being passed by the UK parliament. Here I believe
we have to draw the distinction between a one off surgical strike
against military targets, in response to a serious contravention of
international law, and making the decision to go to war. A decision to
support the attack last weekend, clearly has to be made at speed,
before President Assad, in anticipation of it, has the time to move
and hide the military hardware we might be looking to destroy. I
believe that the Prime Minister and the Cabinet, acting based on
British intelligence and security advice that cannot always be made
public, should have the right to authorise one off actions like this.
However, a decision by the government to enter into an open ended
conflict, that could involve British military action in a concerted
campaign lasting months or even years, should require the approval of
parliament.

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