THE EDITOR'S CHAIR: We must not become a ‘do nothing’ nation over Syria
THE fall-out and recriminations from last week’s Commons vote on military action in Syria are likely to dominate political debate for some time to come.
Those who voted against Britain taking part in any action against the Assad regime - including all Gwent’s MPs - say we have learned the lessons of Iraq and that Britain can no longer afford to be the world’s policeman.
Those who were defeated in their support of military strikes believe Britain’s place in the world order has been irreparably damaged by the vote and that we should be ashamed of effectively standing by while atrocities are being committed.
In my view, what really happened last week amounted to a dreadful misreading of parliamentary and public opinion by the prime minister.
David Cameron rushed into a Commons vote - complete with a three-line whip - when he had no need to do so.
The result was he ended up looking weak and out of touch.
Mr Cameron would have been far better to wait for the United Nations inspectors to complete their work at the site of the alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria.
He would have been better to wait until they had delivered their verdict on what had happened and who was responsible for it.
He would have been better to wait until compelling evidence was available and then to put that to the vote in the Commons.
The prime minister may not have got a different result but at least MPs would have been voting with better information and, perhaps, the view of the UN having been determined.
Instead it looked as though Mr Cameron was so desperate to be seen to be supporting the Americans that he rushed into a decision-making process that has now tied his hands.
I have to say Ed Miliband did not come out of last week’s process smelling of roses.
He looked like a man making political capital out of the suffering of others and that is no way to win general support at the next election.
Let us not forget that the government motion was changed at the last minute because of pressure from Mr Miliband and that the Labour leader’s own amendment was defeated heavily as well.
There were no winners from last week’s vote.
What happens now is difficult to determine.
There will undoubtedly be some form of US-led military strike against the Assad regime.
Britain will play no part in that and Mr Cameron appears to be repositioning the country as the leader of the humanitarian effort in Syria.
The civil war in Syria is complicated with many of the anti-Assad factions no friends of the West.
But there will come a time when more clear-cut crimes are perpetrated against a people.
And what do we do then?
The mistakes of Iraq are fresh in all British politicians’ minds, particularly on the Labour benches.
But we should never forget that evil prospers when good men do nothing.
Last week’s vote should not mean Britain becomes a ‘do nothing’ nation on the world stage.
Letters page is forum for debate
A READER'S letter we published criticising the effect of Newport County AFC's tenancy at Rodney Parade on traditional rugby fans sparked outrage among the football club's supporters.
Many came to our website to respond to the letter writer, who labelled football supporters as 'yobs' (though he has since backtracked on that in a subsequent letter). Some attacked me for allowing the letter to be published in the first place.
The Argus letters page - like letters pages in all newspapers - is a forum for debate and for readers to express their opinions.
Providing letters stay within the usual boundaries of decency and legality - and meet our word limits - they will be published.
Just because we publish a letter does not mean we agree with its contents.
It should not come as a surprise to anyone that I disagree with every word of the letter in question. But we live in a democracy. The letter writer has every right to express his opinion.
The Argus is a huge supporter, and a commercial partner, of Newport County. But we are not a club fanzine.
If we decided not to print letters critical of the club or its supporters (of which I am one), or letters that I didn't agree with, we would be in a sorry state indeed.
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