According to several articles in the Guardian, here and here and here, a number of Labour and Conservative MPs are arguing that Britain and other western nations should enforce a no-fly zone in Syria, even if the UN Security council vetoes the proposal. The two major advocates are Conservative Andrew Mitchell and Labour’s Jo Cox, but “at least fifty” Labour MPs, including shadow foreign secretary Hillary Benn, are said to be sympathetic.
Let’s be clear these stalwarts of democracy are suggesting British forces should – once again – break international law by entering Syrian air space without either Syrian invitation or a UN mandate. Nothing new there. But this time they are saying our forces should enforce a no-fly zone, which would mean engaging, and likely shooting down, Russian aircraft bombing ISIS and “non-ISIS terrorists.”
Of course the MPs themselves don’t put it quite that way. They waffle in Westminster-speak about “safe havens” (Newspeak for no-flyzones), “saving lives” (Newspeak for western bombing), and “protecting civilians from Assad and ISIS”.They resurrect weasel-worded and discredited claims about “Assad killing more civilians than ISIS”. But there is no question this is what they are actually advocating. Here’s what Jo Cox, says:
I don’t think we as a party should let China and Russia stop international action to save lives in Syria … Three times they have vetoed action in Syria and each time the crisis has escalated and escalated.
I always back UN action where we can find it but I do not think it should be a limit to our help. There have been multiple UN resolutions that say [to] Assad: stop killing indiscriminately your own citizens.
This is not about escalating a conflict directly to take on Russia. This is is about a deterrence effect to stop the Syrian regime targeting their own civilians.
Let’s not bother to ask why Jo thinks Russia is stopping “international action to save lives”, by doing the very same thing the west claims it has been doing for a year – viz bombing terrorists. Let’s not bother asking why Jo thinks western-imposed no-fly zones “save lives”, when the latest example she has is Libya. Let’s just focus on her claim that such a no-fly zone would not be “about escalating a conflict directly to take on Russia.”
if Jo really thinks enforcing an illegal no-fly zone in Syria would not be about “taking on Russia” then Jo – apologies for the directness – is an idiot. If she believes this, Jo is so naively under-informed about the Syrian situation, and what a no-fly zone means, she has no business entering the debate. Someone needs to take her aside urgently and tell her that if the west really were to try and “enforce a no-fly zone” in Syria right now they would be shooting down the Russian planes on their bombing runs. Because that is what “enforcing a no-fly zone means”.
Someone should explain to Jo that Moscow would probably view that as “taking them on”. Jo needs to be told that Moscow would likely see this as a declaration of war, as indeed it would be under international law. Jo needs to be told Russia would have no choice but to retaliate, and that soon after this happened there would be an exchange of nuclear ICBMs that wiped out the entire human race – including Jo and all her chums.
And all in defence of al Qaeda.
By and large Jo would probably not consider that a good outcome.
The likelihood is this is just about trying to embarrass Jeremy Corbyn, because he has principles and is therefore anathema to most of political careerists. They want to make Corbyn look “weak” on Syria. They are advocating lunatic hawkishness they know they’ll never be in a position to put into practice, simply as a tactic.
But that is not an excuse. It does’t make such posturing sane. It just makes it cynical as well as crazy. The “fifty Labour MPs” threatening to vote for military action in Syria, if they exists beyond the Guardian’s imagination, are still living in the Blair days. Back then, while the US empire was riding high, “New Labour” grew used to being handsomely rewarded for supporting genocidal war crimes. It was the kewl way to be. It got them shed loads of cash, seats at the high table, and total immunity from recrimination or justice.
It seems some of them haven’t picked up that things are changing. Even the President of the empire is backing off from the final lunacy of starting WW3 to defend terrorism. But some of those dumb, greedy little puppets in Westminster didn’t get the memo.
They need to be told, and soon. Before their ignorant posturing does accidentally kick off something that can’t be stopped.
Maybe our readers would like to contact the principle names and ask them directly if they approve shooting down Russian planes in order to enforce a no-fly zone in Syria. And while we’re about it, could they name those elusive “moderate rebels”; can they confirm they are talking about risking confrontation with Russia in defence of al Qaeda.
Contact information for those wanting to pursue the issues raised here:
We’d be interested to see any correspondence that ensues, so feel free to email anything you wish, or you can include us in tweets at @OffGuardian0