Tuesday 8 September 2015

If attacks on Syria are the right thing to do, why can't Cameron convince Parliament

The papers are full of the news this morning that David Cameron has authorised drone strikes on IS members in Syria. The Daily Express tells us that this particular bunch were making plans to kill the Queen.  I am deeply troubled by what Cameron has done. If there is a clear and present threat against the UK or the Queen, then why has Cameron been unable to secure Parliamentary approval to support action? I am deeply cynical about the claims by The Express that this ragtag mob in Syria were seriously planning to attack the Queen. Let's think about this logically. If you wanted to stage such an attack, how on earth could you do it whilst being based in Syria. If this mob were simply speaking to people in the UK and encouraging them, it is also pretty clear that the security services had a handle on the plot and were monitoring it. Surely this announcement has compromised this intelligence work and alerted every UK Jihadi, scheming with friends in Syria, that they need more secure communications paths. 

It is claimed that the attacks were based on intelligence briefings, that convinced the Prime Minister that these Jihadis were a threat. Some of us recall the intelligence briefings that were used as an excuse to launch the Iraq war. Do you remember the claims that Saddam Hussein could attack the UK within 45 minutes, or that he had a huge arsenal of chemical and biological weapons? Of course it was all a load of old cobblers. The basis for this attack sounds equally dodgy. The Guardian reports that the men had admitted to undercover reporters that they had advised other UK Jihadis on how to attack the armed forces day celebrations. However you look at it, these guys were not professional terrorists. Think back to the days of the IRA. They were a well organised group. Their active cells didn't go around boasting to journalists how they operated. Security operations against them spanned decades. Despite the carnage they wrought, the UK did not wage a campaign of targeted assassinations against them. There were two reasons, firstly because that would be illegal and secondly it is ineffective. If you kill the people you know, then it is far harder to find those you don't know.

Cameron knows this, which is why he isn't going down the route of getting legal sanction from Parliament. Given the Tories have an absolute majority, surely this indicates just how dodgy this action is. David Davis, not a lefty pacifist by any stretch of the imagination, called yesterday for a proper system of judicial oversight for such attacks. I am a big admirer of Davis when it comes to such matters. What he is saying is that if the UK wants to conduct such attacks, let's make sure they are done legally. We are not a barbaric rabble like IS. We have the rule of law and no one, not even the Prime Minister is allowed to kill anyone without legal sanction. I won't be mourning anyone who is a terrorist who gets blown up by a drone, however I do believe in the rule of law, therefore Cameron has to behave within it. The subtext from what David Davis is saying is that Camron hasn't and that is deeply worrying. Tony Blair will forvever be tainted by his behaviour over the Iraq war. He clearly mislead parliament, which I happen to believe is a crime. I sincerely hope Cameron chooses a different route. He must get Parliamentary sanction for any action, there must be judicial oversight and he must be honest with Parliament. If he can't do these three things, then not only is his chosen course wrong, it is also illegal. If he can't get approval when the Tories have a majority, doesn't that give some indication that a lot of people smell a very large rat?

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