There may, after all, be an overwhelming argument for bombing in Syria, but there are three reasons (at least) why it makes sense to stay sceptical. My test of the present effectiveness of the House of Commons as an institution is about how long it manages to stay sceptical, and to think clearly. We have never depended on the independence of our MPs as much as we do now.
Here are my three reasons to keep an open mind about Cameron's bombing plans:
1. He is actually planning to intervene on a different side. Despite the rhetoric of going back to the Commons for a second time to ask for permission to bomb, the commentators seem willing to forget that - last time - the idea was actually to bomb on behalf of the other side. The plan then was to bomb Assad's government forces. Now the plan is to bomb their enemies. Who will it be next time? Has anyone ever actually thought through this conflict clearly?
2. He says our allies are asking us to intervene. This might be an argument, but it isn't a sufficient one - it is the argument which convinced Tony Blair to intervene in Iraq on a disastrous project. In fact, I suspect this would remain Cameron's argument even if the bombing was counter-productive, was known to be counter-productive, and would never be anything else,
3. We need to act; this is action - it isn't a convincing argument. Yet that is the one that Cameron wielded today. It makes no sense by itself, and when a prime minister falls back on that kind of logic, you begin to wonder if any thinking is going on at all.
It may be that the conclusion is that we should intervene in Syria, but the fact that our allies are asking us to do so is not an argument. It is just evidence that Cameron has caught Tony Blair-Disease: an inability to distinguish between British interests and what our most powerful ally happens to want at any one time.
What would be a strategy to defeat IS and to build peace in the middle east? Is the UK government up to the task of thinking for itself? Is there a strategy that, rather than buggins turn to bomb, might stand some chance of making a difference? I think we should be told.
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