Why I voted against military intervention in Syria

2 September, 2013 2 Comments

It is probably the most important decision an MP will ever make. Should we take our country to war? It clearly has massive implications not only for those on the ground in the country under attack but also for the safety of our own military personnel and ultimately our own people.

There is no denying that the situation in Syria is absolutely horrific. Civilians are suffering almost daily atrocities. It is one of the worst humanitarian disasters, with around two million refugees. The use of chemical weapons on a civilian population has been terrifying.

But I am not convinced that going in unilaterally and launching a military attack would have been the right approach. Is it up to us to act as global police, without international agreement?

How could we take this course of action when it was certainly not obvious that bombing Syria would have prevented further use of chemical weapons or made life better for its people? Our action could have made things considerably worse, especially if we killed civilians ourselves. And there was always the risk that Britain’s involvement could lead to retaliatory action on the ground. That’s why I voted against the military intervention, to stop this happening.

I was pleased that both the government motion and the very similar Labour alternative failed. Both of them led on a path that would lead to military intervention without international approval, and both were dangerous. Both David Cameron and Ed Miliband treated the UN as a sideshow, making the same mistake that Tony Blair and Labour made over the Iraq war.

The most important thing now is that Britain puts every possible effort into diplomatic attempts to end the civil war and, in particular, the use of chemical weapons. Bombing Syria is not the answer – ending the conflict is the way to go.

 

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