The House of Commons is set to have an “emergency debate” on the declaration of a no-fly zone over Syria, specifically to “defend Aleppo from Russia”. The debate, called by Andrew Mitchell, will be over whether or not NATO planes should confront, and attack, Russian jets. Speaking on the BBC’s Today programme Mitchell said:
…what we do say is that the international community has an avowed responsibility to protect and that protection must be exerted. If that means confronting Russian air power defensively, on behalf of the innocent people on the ground who we are trying to protect, then we should do that.”
I think that Britain should explore with its allies how it would enforce a no-fly zone.”
Well, we can save Britain and her allies some time here, there’s nothing to “explore”. There is only one way to enforce a no-fly zone, and that is by shooting down any plane that violates it. There is literally no other action to be taken.
Curiously, when the Today host John Humphrys pointed out – very reasonably – that this is tantamount to declaration of war, Mitchell disagreed:
It’s not a declaration of war against Russia but it is an absolute declaration that we will seek to protect the innocent victims of these war crimes.”
….without any reference to that fact that, from Russia’s POV, it would DEFINITELY be an act of war.
This debate is, at best, some ridiculous macho-posturing from an idiot who wants to be seen as “tough”, and at worst an indication that the British political class are literally, totally divorced from reality. Either way it is a highly dangerous situation, because whatever the intentions of Mitchell and the Commons at large, there’s no telling how or when the lunatics in the Pentagon will pick up this ball and run with it. There are crazy hawks in Washington who genuinely want a war with Russia, and it is the responsibility of all people with any sense to box in this element and limit their opportunities to incite chaos.
If nothing else the debate is the first real test of Jeremy Corbyn since his re-election as Labour leader. Will he stand up to the increasingly bizarre and dangerous view of the Syrian conflict being presented in the Western press? Or will he vacillate and equivocate in the worst traditions of Britain’s soft-left non-opposition?
Watch this space.