U.K.’s Syria Vote Could Lead to Different Kind of Regime Change

While trying to help stall Bashar Assad, it's David Cameron who stands to lose power

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Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

Anti-war protesters gather on College Green outside the Houses of Parliament on Aug. 29, 2013 in London.

As the U.S. administration rushes to assess the damage and disruption caused by Britain’s unexpected punitive strike on its plans for Syria, officials might consider the fate of the man who yesterday failed to deliver parliamentary backing for U.K. involvement in a U.S. military intervention. Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron had been careful ahead of last night’s House of Commons vote to make clear that the ambitions of any such intervention would be limited. Neither Britain nor the U.S. sought regime change. Regime change may yet result from his botched maneuver, however, as Britons question his leadership.

In the hours since Cameron’s 285-272 defeat on a motion calling for “a strong humanitarian response … [that] may, if necessary, require military action,” his critics have queued up to excoriate his lax party and coalition management (39 of his Conservative colleagues and Liberal Democrat partners voted against the motion). There are no modern precedents for a British premier ceding control of foreign and military policy to the opposition, and only one war in the lifetime of most MPs — Vietnam — saw the U.S. acting without British support. In 2010, ahead of his first official trip to Washington as U.K. leader, Cameron told TIME that the Anglo-American bond wasn’t just “special.” It was, he said, “an essential relationship.”

That relationship has traveled a bumpy road in a recalibrated world in which neither the U.S. nor the U.K. are quite as important as once they were, to each other or in general. Still, nothing has shaken the alliance with quite such elementary force as the events of the past 24 hours. U.S. plans had been formulated in the confident expectation that Cameron could deliver what he promised — not just military assistance but, more importantly, political cover for an air strike. “In contact between the White House and Downing Street overnight there’s been a lot of understanding,” U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne told the BBC’s Today Programme, and that’s likely true. The Obama administration knows what it is to be thwarted by a legislative body and will treat any future promises from Cameron with caution. Meanwhile French President François Hollande is staking his claim to being America’s special friend in Europe. In an interview this morning with Le Monde, Hollande said the British no-vote would not change the French position and indicated that he would be discussing the exact details of that position in a call with President Obama later today.

Also speaking on the Today Programme, Lord Ashdown, the former Liberal Democrat leader who also served as High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, expressed shame at Britain’s volte face. “MPs were cheering last night,” he said. “Let’s recognise who will be cheering this morning.” His list included Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose support for Bashar Assad has undermined diplomatic efforts towards a Syrian solution. Top of Ashdown’s list is Assad himself.

That view was given a sectarian slant by senior government figures in a flurry of verbal attacks on Labour leader Ed Miliband. His decision to martial Labour against the government’s Syria policy first forced Cameron to retreat from the government’s original plan to ask the House of Commons for immediate backing for a military intervention, and then imposed defeat on Cameron’s watered down motion requesting such backing only “in principle.” Downing Street Communications Director Craig Oliver and Secretary of State for Defence Philip Hammond accused Miliband of giving “succor” to Assad. Labour has demanded an apology.

The Westminster consensus is that Miliband has emerged from the rubble a winner. His cautious position, rejecting immediate intervention in favor of renewed diplomatic efforts, appears to enjoy the support of a majority of Britons. He has shown himself to be no Tony Blair. Memories of Britain’s role in Iraq still distorts the political discourse in the U.K. and especially in Labour ranks.

Insider accounts of Miliband’s decision-making process suggest he stumbled into his final stance. He is no Tony Blair — and that may come back to haunt him. So too might his apparent willingness to sacrifice relations with Washington for political advantage back home.

The real truth is that there are no winners in this messy, tragic situation, only degrees of loss.

22 comments
rivers
rivers

if american can confirm the evidence of the chemical weapon usage, then there will be an logic right to take punishment. think about it , which will lead to huge crash, a lot of refugee, long time conflict in this region. who will pay for the money to rebuild the Syria, who will response to infrastructure unavailable, there will be long time to construct Syria. citizens will suffer from the battle,houses destroyed, even risk their life. once again, the normal people only want peace, we are all babies of god, hope to be more quick to squeeze the chaos and battle in Syria. 

JoePhillipsLCSW
JoePhillipsLCSW

Think about it. A dictator killed some of his civilians so the plan is to punish the dictator by killing some more of his civilians. The strike won't get the dictator. And then the dictator will try and claim the moral high ground by playing the victim. When you don't use "boots on the ground" civilian casualties go up. Drones can't distinguish solders from children. Drones reduce casualties for the attackers at the expense of "collateral damage." The only way to get the dictator is to declare war, invade with "boots on the ground," and arrest the guy. Are we willing to do that? What is all this spin about the morality of NOT striking. Two wrongs do not make a right. 

arvay
arvay like.author.displayName 1 Like

"The real truth is that there are no winners in this messy, tragic situation, only degrees of loss."

Absurd.

The winners are:

The US, which has received its first major NO in its constant, consistent and nut-job idea that it needs to police the world. The arrogant president can fire off his "Goldilocks" missiles, but the will of the American people has been well expressed -- by British citizens.

Britain, which ceases to be a Poodle State, willing to send its citizens off to fight for delusional imperatives imposed by America

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23259865

Our military is enduring the same kinds of morale breakdowns. 

This is a historic, major crack in "Western" unity -- a long overdue development.

reely translated "Western Unity" has meant the imposition of US direction  on the subservient. Less noticed, Germany will abstain from Obama's madness as well. The a-hole French president, whose idea of educational reform is to end homework -- is on board.  He may be the next clown to be discarded.

Britain may also lose its "austerity" government and stop punishing its middle class for the robberies committed by its financial parasites. Next on the agenda -- breaking the financial grip the US exercises on the world, with the ability to halt or damage other nations' economies.

Brics anyone?

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324463604579040742992443078.html

It's over, buckaroos! OVER.

arvay
arvay

Raised middle finger to paywalls: here 's the WSJ article text

NEW DELHI—The Brics bloc of emerging nations have broadly agreed on the capital structure of a proposed bank, a senior Indian official said, a step that will likely speed up the group's efforts to set up a joint institution to counter the influence developed countries exert over the global economy.

Officials from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa have agreed to set up the bank with a total capital of $50 billion, shared equally among them, the Indian government official told The Wall Street Journal Wednesday.

This decision, which the official said was taken at a meeting in New Delhi in the first week of August, means the nations will have equal control over the proposed bank. This will likely end disagreements over funding and management of the bank as China had earlier proposed a $100 billion capital and sought a bigger share.

Other key issues, such as on proposals within the group to offer a stake to developed nations like the U.S., need further discussion, the Indian official said. The group is considering offering a stake of 40% to 45% to non-Brics countries, the official added.

Having developed economies as shareholders would help the bank get a higher credit rating and enable it to raise cheaper funds from the market. Ratings of Brics countries vary from barely investment grade for India, Brazil, Russia and South Africa to exceptionally good rating for China.

The bloc has yet to make a decision on where the bank would be based, the official said.

These issues are likely to be discussed when the finance ministers of the group meet on the sidelines of the annual meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Washington between Oct. 11 and 13, the official said.

The proposal to set up the bank was initially made at a Brics summit in March 2012, which adopted a resolution to explore the possibility of an institution to mobilize funds for infrastructure development within the group and in other emerging markets. The group hopes such a bank could offer an alternative to the U.S.-dominated World Bank.

At their meeting in Durban, South Africa, in March this year, the Brics heads of state approved the proposal. But they also indicated differences over issues such as funding and management.

The finance ministers of the five nations are now expected to finalize a road map on setting up of the bank before the next summit in March 2014 in Brazil.

The Brics members' slow march toward establishing their own bank illustrates their struggle to move past populist rhetoric to true cooperation between sometimes adversarial nations. Each country is eager to reap the benefits of a larger trade group—and all are fearful of being flooded with products from the others, particularly China.

The loosely knit Brics group, whose members are heterogeneous in character, is taking time to sort out the differences as each wants to safeguard its commercial interest, said B.B.L. Madhukar, secretary-general of the Brics Chamber of Commerce & Industry, an industry lobby group.

The five nations are also exploring currency swaps to trade more freely within the group without the need to convert earnings and investments into U.S. dollars, the standard conduit of global trade.

The Brics bloc represents 43% of the world's population, and according to CUTS International, accounts for a quarter of the global economy.

The group was set up in 2006 as BRIC, a term coined by Goldman Sachs. South Africa joined the group in 2010, giving it the current acronym.

bojimbo26
bojimbo26

Mr Cameron is PM in name only . His only way to run the country is into the dungheep . ALL the main political partys in the UK lost the plot many years ago . And yes , I am a UK citizen .

Tai0484
Tai0484

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DonGreer
DonGreer

Oh David. You have to be one of the weakest PM's the UK has had in a long time. Stop playing poodle to the US (and yes I am American). You will never build a strong country by doing this, or gain the respect of your people. AND get your country out of the EU before you lose your country, and your rights (as American states have now done) forever. Central big power historically never works! Be brave! Be bold! Be British! Stand behind your country, and look to your Commonwealth for MONEY. You have a fortune there. You don't need the EU! They suck off you!

CeltDarnell
CeltDarnell

I'm willing to bet Cameron will still be PM in 2015 when Obama steps down. Any takers?

DavidSpencer
DavidSpencer


Two cheers for gassing children!

Three cheers for dictators everywhere! 

And another mug of Guinness for Parliament! 

DonGreer
DonGreer

@DavidSpencer Lies -  and you are gullible to media propaganda. When there is no proof, or proof is "created" wise up.

brianbenjamin
brianbenjamin

question to all who are interested, where did syria get the weaponized chemicals, and scientific expertise to creat this deadly gas,  MY answer is simple, the C.B.N. weapons that the allies couldn't find in Iraq, including the notorious  British trained female, 'Dr Death' who speilized in CB. weapons,  were tranferred to syria, in the 3 weeks it took to get troops into northern Iraq, because the moslem-turks, refused to allow American troops to pass thrugh turkey, into northern Iraq. and get these weapons in a pincer movement as origonally planned,  and THAT is were these deadly weapons came from last week. WHAT other Iraqi 'goodies' are in syria,   do YOU have any idea, what about all the 'serious-reporters' and their glib assessments doing a bit of 'proper' reporting for a change.

brianbenjamin
brianbenjamin

There people, in the media, who have very short memories,   This ETHNIC president, when first elected, went out of his way, to offend and insult ALL america's traditional allies,  and went bending his knee, and appologising for being an AMERICAN, to all the moslem-dictators tyrants around the world,  and NOW he comes cap in hand, wanting the traditional British support, to attack a regime, that many of us are pleased to see killing each other, in Syria, they are ALL barbarians, they danced and celebrated in the streets of thee moslem world, when 3,000+ non-moslems  were murdered by moslems, on 9/11/2001,  Let them get on with it,

blah9999
blah9999

@brianbenjamin Your gut instinct reaction to 9/11 is basically "kill all the Muslims" because of the acts of crazy extremists. If that is supposed to be logical, then what is your gut instinct reaction to white supremacist Timothy McVeigh's Oklahoma City building bombing? He staunchly asserted that he was white, just like Al Qaeda asserted that they were Muslim. So should everyone have got up and desired to "kill all white people" because of what McVeigh did?

DonGreer
DonGreer

@blah9999 @brianbenjamin Hmm, wouldn't surprise me if you are another self-hating white by the way you are hyper-focused on this. Like self-hating Jews...self-hating whites are a disgrace. A tragic by-product of an educational indoctrination gone terribly wrong. Another issue we need to fix for the next generation.

blah9999
blah9999

I am not a self-hating white because I don't care what biological adaptation my skin and facial structure has taken in response to generations before me living in a certain environment. Multiculturalism, monoculturalism, they are all nonsense. White people have backstabbed and cheated each other for centuries just as others have. White rich people and black rich people created the crisis that your country has faced for years with impoverished blacks as slaves being forced into a continent not of their will to work. And yet, stupid white supremacists fly the Confederate battle flag, the symbol of the people who were too lazy to do hard work and whose ancestors brought in black slaves in the first place.

What I do know is that most people are pathological liars, deluded, or backstabbers, or all three. All that I care about is my preservation, my family's preservation, as well as my friends, and preserving all the petty alliances and agreements that people have to make to get by in fraudulent modern society. It's just a matter of playing the game, and it doesn't matter, human beings will soon be driven to extinction, we overdeveloped and overexploited resources, it's over, I just intend to live out my life and watch the world burn, while people like you on one side and people on other sides try to build your failed utopias - be they a white-only country like you obviously would like, multicultural, capitalist, socialist, etc. It's all nonsense to give people a sense of purpose.

blah9999
blah9999

@brianbenjamin You think your country led by NON-"ETHNIC" (a.k.a. white, straight, Christian) presidents is innocent of massacre? You think white people are innocent, superior? Do you think two World Wars in one century was a great example of Europeans getting along? Do you think Northern Ireland is a great example of white people all getting along? Europeans have become experts at killing each other for centuries with bloodthirsty totalitarian dictators and other non-uniformed tyrants wearing togas and later suits and ties. Multiple millions of people have died and persecuted in Europe in just one hundred years, and you consider that "civilized" while other murders are "barbarian"?

DonGreer
DonGreer

@blah9999 @brianbenjamin Stop making this a racial issue both of you (and adding "straight" and "Christian" is just over-the-top childish mud throwing blah9999 - because you are implying there is something wrong with being either which is twisted).There isn't one single race alive that hasn't committed autrocities they should be ashamed of, with the exception of maybe Tibet. This is WHY the pitch that multiculturalism enriches us is a bunch of bull! It creates tension and hate as one culture will always seek to dominate. Borders were created to keep peace, not the other way around. The mistake of the century was not respecting each other borders by allowing mass immigration into Westernized cultures, and disrespecting other borders by invasion through war. When will we ever learn from history that we need to stay within our own homelands, and work to improve upon our lots from within.

blah9999
blah9999

Of course it's not a racial issue, I'm just mocking the typical bigot answer to all life's problems which is "Oh my god, that person is abnormal, they are the cause of all our problems, we must purge them!". Multiculturalism, monoculturalism, I don't care, it all sounds to me like someone looking up their own ass. What's happening in Syria is just a power game between the US, Russia, and China, none of them could care less about the Syrians - they are just pawns in the game.


deconstructiva
deconstructiva

Thanks, Catherine. I'm cautious at a minimum about military action  (like that matters), but how hellbent is Cameron determined to take action? Can he invoke the royal prerogative, or does that rule no longer apply? If he wants to strike anyway and wishes to tell Parliament to sod off, does he have other options to do so (so we won't be surprised if he tries to bypass them)? I wonder also if France's growing support is also a tweak at the traditional British - French rivalry.

ChrisBrown
ChrisBrown

Cameron should be able to live this one down. What really worries him is the movement to take the UK out of the EU. He has already been forced to accept a referendum on UK membership. Quite a few are watching to see what the right wing isolationist party (UKIP) will do before the next election.

DonGreer
DonGreer

@ChrisBrown Unions become monsters out of control, and one can clearly see in the USA. We have moved so far away from our Constitution it's sick. Cameron should not worry about the movement to take the UK out of the EU. He should wholeheartedly support it as soon as possible. I believe in the future we will see much of the USA states breaking free of a central gov gone bad. You will lose all your rights, and your national identity. For an indigenous country like the UK, that is nothing short of cultural genocide. A plague of the 21st century. Don't let it happen to a country as beautiful and historical as yours. You are an indigenous people, with a culture and history as old as the wind! The UK is literally one of the greatest countries this world will ever see! You will lose all of this if you give up your right to govern yourselves. The EU will do this to you little by little. It's critical you get out!