So Parliament is to debate if it should authorise the government to use the RAF to bomb ISIS in Syria. What we must keep in our mind is that we i.e. the British state must only act under the rule of law. While the UN resolution (SC 2249) last week makes military action more likely to be legal, the legality still depends upon the actions to be taken. Many argue that the UN security council resolution changes nothing, because it does not authorise the use of military force under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

Any actions need to remain an effective act of self-defence. This means it must diminish our opponent’s ability to mount operations in the UK or, possibly, against British Citizens, or disrupts imminent operations; in the latter case we should bear in mind that it would seem that the Paris attacks were planned in Brussels and the London attacks in 2005 were planned in West Yorkshire and I don’t think we’re planning to drop bombs there; I don’t see how bombing Syria can be an effective act of self defence.

We must also bear in mind that retaliation is illegal, regime change is illegal, acting in solidarity is illegal and assassination is illegal. Without knowledge of the target or targets, we cannot agree that any plan is legal and effective.

It is the legal need for action to be effective that leads to the question of ground forces, and the need for an end game that raises the question of Assad and his allies. This has the opportunity to go horribly wrong and the speed at which the Tories look to resort to military responses when Britain has always argued that terrorism is a criminal activity and that the Police & Courts must have primacy is a betrayal of the brave civilians that have defended our democracy in the past.

I am a long way from being convinced.


I made a storify to help me write this. You might like to check it out. Hitchens, Jenkins and Shrimsley, to whom I link are particularly erudite.

The picture is from flickr, CC BY-NC 2011 Defence Images.

Bombing Syria
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