Great things are happening in the UK. The economy is turning around, immigration and the deficit are being reduced by a third and most significantly the dependence culture of the welfare state is being changed in favour of a culture of work. This encouraging and welcome trend towards works and away from dependence is summarised very well in this August 16th article from the Daily Express http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/422605/Official-figures-show-radical-reforms-to-Britain-s-welfare-system-are-working. Of all the encouraging statistics that have resulted from the government’s radical welfare reform mentioned in the article, the most encouraging is the fact in 2010 the number of households with adults that had never worked was 3.9 million and today that number is 310,000. Work is good because it empowers people, gives them a sense of self-worth, and reduces the burden of the taxpayer for paying for idle people in favour of adding people who contribute to the tax rolls. The government, with its caps on welfare benefits, is making work pay. The government’s commitment to a hard working society, with its cuts in taxes and spending, is producing a healthier, more fiscally responsible United Kingdom unlike the bloated, sand castle economy of the over-spending, open borders years under New Labour.
Noting the progress however, I find the march to war in Syria unsettling and dangerous. Assad is an evil man, there is no doubt about it. He is gassing his people (probably with the very weapons we went to war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq over) and creating a blood bath in his nation that is a tragic as any conflict I can remember in my short time on this earth (25 years). However, I just cannot see any compelling reason the US and the UK should enter the war. In contrast, I believe there are three convincing reasons the UK should not enter a Syrian War.
1. The West’s objective is unclear and rebels don’t appear to share our interests. Earlier this year I shared an article from Boris Johnson that expressed his reasons for not wanting a war with Syria. The main reason he gave for avoiding the war was the often radical but truly unclear nature of the Syrian opposition. What is clear however, is that Al-Qa’ida has infiltrated the Syrian opposition, and can we in the western world really justify arming the very people that have launched terrorist attacks against us? http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/does-obama-know-hes-fighting-on-alqaidas-side-8786680.html. I also question what exactly we are going to bomb. If we are truly only trying to stop the chemical attacks but not give victory the rebels (as some people have claimed) how exactly is that possible to achieve? If we bomb their chemical arsenal does that not just release more dangerous chemicals into the air causing more casualties? If we don’t bomb the chemical weapon arsenal themselves would we have to put troops on the ground to capture the weapons? Do we know where the weapons are exactly? In the Iraq war our intelligence operation’s information appeared either inaccurate, unhelpful, or both. It just appears we are in the brink of entering another war with no exit strategy just like Afghanistan where our troops have been for over a decade.
2. The UK can’t afford another war. As I said at the beginning of the blog, great things are happening in the UK on the domestic front. And this change is happening because of fiscal restraint and responsibility. This fiscal responsibility project will be shattered if the UK enters another long war. If the government is truly committed to lower taxes and less benefit payments it cannot enter another war that is over a thousand miles from British shores and that could cost potentially billions of pounds. The government will lose credibility with the British people if it can tell a poor Briton that there benefits must be cut while at the same time paying for an expensive war. The recent string of tax cuts for Britons of all income levels (including taking many out of tax all together) and corporations are further likely to be at risk of being overturned, or the crushing national debt will have to be grown, if the war is prolonged and costly. Both options of raising taxes or more debt are unfair to the hardworking and sacrificing British people.
3. The US has become an abusive spouse to the UK that is owed neither obedience nor blind loyalty . It appears to me that the reason the US government is clamouring for war is because Obama drew a “red line” that he declared Syria cannot cross. The US is prepared to plunge its people and the people of its allies (the most powerful military power of its allies being the UK) into a Syrian civil war which neither the US nor the UK have interests, in order that Obama’s word does not lose international credibility. This is madness and not something the UK should join in. It is better that the President of the United States eat the words of his gaffe than our people suffer. Obama’s foreign policy is recklessness of the highest degree. He uses unmanned drones to kill terror targets regardless of whether the terror target is surrounded by his family. He uses the NSA to data mine not just his own people but of the information of people around the globe, including many of its allies. He has a “kill list” and now, he is about to launch into a war in order that his word is believed, no matter how foolish or ill-advised. And he has done all this without even once going to congress but operating through executive fiat. But what of the special relationship you ask? Does not Great Britain have an obligation to “stand by her man” in times they are acting up? My answer is no because the Obama administration has treated Great Britain with disdain. It was Obama who returned Blair’s Churchill bust gift his very first day in office. His administration has refused to recongnise British control over the Falklands or Gibraltar (where is the US demanding the Spanish quit their illegally intrusive border checks?), it sent no officials to the Thatcher funeral, and it has demanded the British remain in the EU. Haymaker, who writes here on My Telegraph, wrote a fantastic blog about the mistreatment of the UK by her supposed “best friend” the US which I recommend reading http://my.telegraph.co.uk/baytree/haymaker/3316/that-special-relationship-obama-style/. The US then has the audacity to demand Britain go to war for it again? The UK must say no.
I am not in favour of abandoning the “special relationship”. Quite the contrary, I want my country to be best friends forever (“bffs” as the expression is among the young American female population) with Great Britain. We’ve done great things together, not least among them bringing down Nazism, Communism and spreading global capitalism and democratic representation. But Britain cannot allow the US to arrogantly push it into a war that it does not need to cover their reckless leader’s ego. I hope the US one day has a President that truly values and appreciates the special relationship, but unfortunately Obama is not that President. Where is Britain to go though you then ask? Surely not the EU, an organisation run by bureaucrats that tries to control the everyday lives of ordinary Britons, so where? My answer (like with Syria) is similar to Boris Johnson’s: the Commonwealth. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10265619/The-Aussies-are-just-like-us-so-lets-stop-kicking-them-out.html. The Commonwealth shares with Great Britain history and values. The Queen heads the Commonwealth and there are many great and emerging powers in the Commonwealth, most notably India, Canada, Australia, Singapore and South Africa. The UK needs to advance its own interests, even if they are separate from the US and continental Europe. They need to make sure their already stretched military is not made to clean up messes not in their interest.
If the US and the EU know that Britain has their own interests and friends they will respect the UK, seek to do business that meets with Britain’s terms and the UK will not need to make decisions like they are having to make on Syria today. The government should continue the great work being done on the home front and let the US back up its president’s rash words if it really believes that it is worth a war. Parliament should vote no to war with Syria.