Tuesday thoughts: Trevor Colman MEP
SYRIA dominates everything at the moment. The human suffering, on both sides, is beyond imagination and must cease as soon as possible. I hold no brief for either side in that dreadful conflict but this is how I see it.
President Obama is facing a crisis. Suddenly, only France stands alongside him, supporting US military intervention in Syria. If I were the US President, the gurning face of Monsieur Hollande peering out at me from the world's newspapers, would fill me with dismay. There is a slightly ridiculous feel to this partnership as if it has all come about accidentally. I get the impression neither partner would be disappointed if the other had second thoughts.
But it's not just abroad that Obama has problems. Domestically he is desperate for support. Democrats and Republicans alike are scurrying to microphones to shore up a foreign policy that is looking decidedly rickety. The old call to arms sounds careworn and shallow and appears to be more about protecting the well-being of American politicians than a genuine humanitarian initiative .
The vote in the US Congress in support of the President is by no means a done deal and, unfortunately for him, there is suddenly another important forum in the land, social media. Already, because of it, an electronic community has been created openly expressing public distaste for the proposed action. Members of Congress will disregard their virtual electorates at their peril. Deals done behind closed doors and a belief in the existence of an unbiased media are fast becoming things of the past. Informed cynicism is alive and well. The people now have a voice and they want it heard – or else.
On this side of the Atlantic a similar situation pertains. David Cameron recalls Parliament in order to rush through support for military intervention in Syria. One senses the urgency of the re-call was in response to determined prodding in the rear from elsewhere. Completely contrary to the views of the majority of people in this country Cameron (Blair-like) and his docile Foreign Secretary seek approval for a course of action that could well result in this country soon being at war in the Middle East. The House of Commons, representing the electorate, rightly rejects this possibility.
I rejoice in the fact that both Obama and Cameron are confounded. What possible benefit would it be to the poor souls (on both sides) suffering in Syria were we to off-load a clutch of tomahawk missiles from the skies above their land?
The answer surely lies with the United Nations and, if boots are required on the ground, they should be wearing blue helmets. The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, should be knocking heads together and making that forum function more effectively. If he can't, move over and let's have someone who can.
In the meantime we have a lame duck President and dead duck Prime Minister.
For once democracy works.
Trevor Colman is UKIP MEP for the South West, which covers Bristol