The legality of military action


              This week the Speaker made clear that Parliament would have a vote on a substantive motion before arming the rebels in Syria or otherwise changing policy towards the Syrian conflict. The Foreign Secretary was present when the Speaker confirmed this and did not challenge it. It is agreed that Parliament if it wishes can insist on debating and voting on military engagements undertaken by the UK, as has always been the case in effect.

               I think this makes the government coming forward with proposals to intervene militarily in Syria unlikely, all the time Labour remains opposed. It does not mean, however, that any military action that could be undertaken were Labour to change its mind  following a Parliamentary vote is necessarily legal under international law.

             In the case of Syria we know that Russia would veto any move by the Security Council to approve NATO military intervention. This means that anything we do would lack the legal cover of UN approval. We also know that NATO intervention would not be at the request of the Syrian government or other legal authority in Syria. It would therefore pose all sorts of legal issues about our right to use force and the consequences of using force.

               This I suspect means the UK is not even contemplating sending troops in to intervene in the civil war. What would their rules of engagement be? What would the legal advice be concerning who they were allowed to kill and in what circumstances?

              The issue of arming the rebels also poses moral and legal issues. This country would take great exception to any outside power sending weapons into our country to arm people who feel they have a grievance or strong disagreement with the government. We would point out that we are a democracy with legal rights for minorities and the ability of them to find redress.

              Those who favour sending arms to Syria rightly point out that the  Assad regime is murderous towards its own citizens, claiming this gives us the right to arm the citizens against the state. However, as Syrian experts tell us, the rebel forces comprise  a wide spectrum of people and institutions. Many of them do not wish to create a liberal democracy where minorities are respected. What if our arming of moderates allowed extremists to grab more complex weaponry? What if the people we are arming committed a massacre inadvertently or deliberately? There would be a moral case against the UK government if arming certain people made the situation worse. There could also possibly be a legal case if weapons supplied got into the wrong hands one way or another.


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  1. Jerry
    Posted June 20, 2013 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    Once again Mr Redwood is trying to deflect from what the Government (parties) can do, forget what Labour might do in a month of Sundays (they do not hold enough votes to force anything through the House), what if the parties within the government or their traditional supporters such as certain NI parties change their minds, what if the LDs/NI parties -or at least enough of them- decide that military intervention is required, are there enough Tories willing to vote down the government should Labour sit on their hands (or not bother retuning from recess, should parliament be recalled)?

    It is becoming very obvious that the Tories are now running very scared of Labour, rather than explain/defend his own parties policies Mr Redwood has, judged from the last week or so of his blogs, decided that attack is the best form of defence, attempting to tell us what Labour may or may not do rather than what the government -in the shape of senior Tory politicains in the cabinet- are doing or will do.

    Reply Not so. I am explaining the reality where no party has a majority. 81 Conservatives are against intervention in Syria, as are the Labour party, so that’s a majority.

    • Jerry
      Posted June 20, 2013 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      I might just clarify that when I said “military intervention” I meant in any form, from sending arms through to a full Iraq style intervention (in fact ever sending non-lethal ‘communication’ equipment and the like, if likely to have been used militarily by the anti Assad forces, should have been subject to parliamentary approval first).

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted June 20, 2013 at 11:07 am | Permalink

      Jerry you wrote: “It is becoming very obvious that the Tories are now running very scared of Labour, rather than explain/defend his own parties policies Mr Redwood has, judged from the last week or so of his blogs, decided that attack is the best form of defence,…”

      As the BBC reported recently:
      “David Cameron’s campaign strategist (Lynton Crosby) has told backbench Tory MPs to step up their attacks on Labour.”

      Reply Here I was agreeing with Labour over not intervening in Syria!

      • Jerry
        Posted June 20, 2013 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

        @JR reply: With respect John you are all but using this to attack what the Labour party is or is not doing, you could have debated the issue of arming the Syrian opposition without mentioning the Labour party once – in fact it would be possible to debate this issues without naming any UK political party, even more so if there is the claimed cross party support.

        Reply NO, I cannot. The whole issue is who has the majority on the issue of Syria, so Labour’s stance matters. I am not atacking Labour on this issue!

        • Jerry
          Posted June 20, 2013 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

          @JR Reply: You might not be attacking Labour but you are attempting to pass the buck onto them, at this rate it might be better for the Tories to enter coalition with Milliband rather than Clegg!…

          But if opposition votes are so important why not mention the SNP, PC, the various NI parties, even the one Green MP, why single out the Labour party for mention -once again? Why not target your fellow Tory MPs [1] who seemingly are going to vote to send arms to the Syrian opposition, after all if the Government had a majority on their own side the opposition could not affect the outcome either way. – sorry but your reply simply doesn’t stack up.

          [1] I can’t see (m)any LDs acting as Hawks

          reply: It’s about numbers! If Labour take a line it only takes less than 100 Conservatives to vote with them for there to be a majority.That’s not true of the other parties in the House. Conservatives in government have to vote with Mr Cameron.

          • Jerry
            Posted June 21, 2013 at 5:55 am | Permalink

            @JR reply: Indeed it is about numbers, about the government being persuaded to do the right thing, thus if more Tory MPs would join with people like you then Cameron would have to see sense and you would not have to pin your hopes on the Labour party. More to the point, if in the main it is Labour MPs who are seen as “Doing the right thing” then the electorate may just decide that they might as well have a Labour government back in 2015!

            I stand by my comment that you are passing the buck on to Labour whilst letting your fellow Tory MPs off the hook…

            Reply On the contrary. We know at least 81 Conservative MPs will vote against arming the rebels, and probably many more.

          • Jerry
            Posted June 21, 2013 at 6:48 am | Permalink

            @JR reply: That is 81 Conservative MPs out of 300 or so, this is my point, a majority of over 200 who seem to be acting like Hawks…

            Syria is going to do for Cameron what Iraq did for Blair and in the long term it will do for the Conservative Party too – unless sanity breaks out on the Tory benches.

            Reply There is no evidence that the 200 are hawks wanting to arm Syria. They are awaiting events and may follow Mr Hague’s proposals.

          • Jerry
            Posted June 21, 2013 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

            @JR reply: Well that last reply has me lost, I’m tempted to ask were the problem is if Tory MPs are going to vote NOT to get involved! Thanks for the replies but I suspect we are in a circular argument here due to a misunderstanding (most likely on my side), I won’t take any more of your time on this John, Cheers.

    • Jerry
      Posted June 20, 2013 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      @JR reply: Indeed, and glad to hear that there is sanity on the government benches, but my point was that if the government wasn’t split it wouldn’t matter what labour do – it’s what having a majority means…

  2. Roy Grainger
    Posted June 20, 2013 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    The Speaker may have suggested there should be no UK military intervention in Syria without a Commons vote but Mr Cameron has made it abundantly clear that he reserves the right to do exactly that – as we have seen before a general “promise” from him to hold a vote on something is no such thing.

    It is interesting how suddenly the G8 is apparently an organisation which can decide on such matters, as if having a lot of money somehow gives you the right to define the moral high ground. I would suggest the UK step back and let the EU (ha ha), the UN or (some hope) the Arab League decide what if anything to do and then support (or otherwise) their decision based on a Commons vote – that should ensure we end up doing nothing.

    Reply The Speaker summed up the view of the Commons that we will hjave a debate and vote prior to deciding on arming rebels. If the government ignored this they could find a motion tabled and vote lost on this issue.

    • Jerry
      Posted June 20, 2013 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

      @JR reply: Would that not amount to a virtual Vote of Confidence though, and if so how likely would anyone on the government benches actually vote to censure the government, with all the risks such a vote might bring?

    • Chris
      Posted June 21, 2013 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

      This issue of whether there would be a vote was asked at Q Time last night, and it was very interesting that both Boris and Tessa Jowell both agreed emphatically that there would be a vote, attempting to reassure the questioner. However, I understand that Cameron has already said that he does not need to put it to the House necessarily, and I fear that if he decided to arm the rebels he may well use the justification that he did not have time to consult the House in order to effect this.

      Reply M r Hague on behalf of the government accepted the Speaker’s summing up this week that there would have to be a debate and vote in favour before arming the rebels.

  3. Denis Cooper
    Posted June 20, 2013 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    I wouldn’t worry too much about so-called “international law”.

    On the domestic plane worry about our national law, which really exists as law and so is fundamental to the stability and health and progress and prosperity of our society, and on the international plane worry about how the governments of other important sovereign states might react to the actions of the British government, but don’t try to dress the latter up as a matter of “law” superior to our national law.

  4. lifelogic
    Posted June 20, 2013 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    Indeed there is no reason to suppose that any (and especially any half hearted arms supply) intervention is likely to improve the final outcome in Syria let alone be legal. Perhaps if we saw Blair’s legal advice documents on the legality of the Iraq war and all the related papers (including the details of Blair’s conversations with Bush and the cabinet minutes) we might know how they might approach these issue. Any how on earth government came to such dreadful decisions in the past.

  5. Richard1
    Posted June 20, 2013 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    We have done our bit (and more) in Iraq and Afghanistan. If its right and sensible to arm the rebels in Syria, then let other countries which have not participated in these wars as the UK has, as well as the rich countries in the region, supply the arms. Our govt should focus on getting our troops out of Afghanistan and getting the UK economy moving. We need a long holiday from international posturing by UK Govt ministers.

  6. MajorFrustration
    Posted June 20, 2013 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    This should be a no brainer – leave the Arab world to deal with this; after all, its not as though there are no issues in this country that our politicians could turn their attention to.
    But given that we are controlled/influenced by the EU and that the remaining Parliamentary authority has been sub contracted to a range of inept commissions and Quangos what else is there for MPs to do other than strut the world stage and seek to risk the lives of our armed forces.

  7. lifelogic
    Posted June 20, 2013 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Off topic I see that Ed Davey is still making absurd speeches in Brussels, is he actually so deluded as to actually believe this stuff? Why, on earth, does Cameron still allow Davey to hold any position in government whatsoever?

    • Jerry
      Posted June 20, 2013 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      @Lifelogic: Because europhobes and eurosceptics [1] prevented Mr Cameron and the Tories from winning a majority in 2010, thus the government contains europhiles – it could have been worse though, the whole government could have been made up of europhile Labour/LibDems! 🙁

      [1] whilst, of course, as has become the norm, failing to get even one of their own candidates elected

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted June 20, 2013 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

        Cameron prevented himself getting a majority in 2010, with help from his colleagues, Osborne more than any others. It should have been more or less a walkover for the Tory party, not a hung Parliament. But some suspect that Cameron was looking forward to forming a coalition with the LibDems and set out to throw the election with that in mind.

        Reply Not so. You may think he had a better strategy than he followed but he was trying to win.He felt he needed votes that went to the Lib Dems, who in those days polled strongly, unlike UKIP at that time.

        • Brian Tomkinson
          Posted June 20, 2013 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

          Reply to reply,
          You may be correct but Cameron certainly shows greater enthusiasm towards his LibDem colleagues than to his own party and its erstwhile supporters.

        • lifelogic
          Posted June 20, 2013 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

          Cameron simply gave away the last sitting duck, election by:
          1. ratting on the cast iron referendum
          2. giving Clegg equal tv billing and
          3. putting a lefty, high tax, big state, lefty, pro EU, tax borrow and waste, expensive quack energy agenda to the country.
          4. Promoting the wrong people.

          The election was thrown away by Cameron’s poor judgement and lack of a working compass. He has no chance what so ever at the next one, after his abysmal performance on the economy and his further ratting on IHT, the EU and countless other mistakes like Lord Patten, Huhne, Davey ………….. He will be third largest party in the EU elections. Even a deal with UKIP will not be enough I suspect.

          I see Cameron’s (in three letters) N…. H… S….. seems to be even more dire than I thought it was. Reading all the dreadful reports today.

        • lifelogic
          Posted June 20, 2013 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

          “a better strategy than he followed” it would have been hard to find a worse strategy. Ratting, even before the election on the treaty referendum pushing Clegg into the limelight and pushing big state quack greenery and the absurdly run in three letters NHS.

        • Jerry
          Posted June 20, 2013 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

          @Denis Cooper: “It should have been more or less a walkover for the Tory party

          That was my point! It would have been had it not been for UKIP, talk about the eurosceptic vote cutting their own noses off, all UKIP achieved is a possibly even more europhile government than Blair/Brown had…

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted June 21, 2013 at 6:55 am | Permalink

            Believe it or not the Tory party has no God-given right to receive votes; if it fails to appeal to voters then then it is those voters who have the right, maybe even to some extent the duty, to transfer their support to other candidates.

          • Jerry
            Posted June 21, 2013 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

            @Denis Cooper: I couldn’t agree more with you, it just seem quite perverse that a europhobic party (UKIP) creates a situation were the otherwise majority eurosceptic party (Conservatives) had to enter a coalition with a very europhile party and thus the exact opposite to what they wanted.

        • Lindsay McDougall
          Posted June 22, 2013 at 2:03 am | Permalink

          Reply to reply. I am sure that you recognise the need to win back most of the 15% of the popular vote currently going to UKIP. However, there doesn’t appear to be any concept of winning these votes ON MERIT. The referendum promise may not be enough. As Lord Kalms has written, we need some meat put on the bones of the proposed new relationship with the EU. This must include red lines – minimum demands that must be met before the UK government can recommend a YES vote.

          Reply As far as I am concerned the main point about the new relationship must be that it is outside the current federalist and restraining Treaties, especially Lisbon, Nice and Amsterdam.

          • Jerry
            Posted June 22, 2013 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

            @Lindsay McDougall: But what if the Conservatives win 15% (+) of either the non-aligned floating vote or from the LDs and/or Labour, why do the Tories need to appease the policies of UKIP?

  8. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted June 20, 2013 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    JR: ” Those who favour sending arms to Syria rightly point out that the Assad regime is murderous towards its own citizens, claiming this gives us the right to arm the citizens against the state. ”
    The rebels are also murderous towards the citizens and what is being proposed isn’t arming the citizens but a disparate group of fighters including jihadists. Why is it always assumed that when these people move into an area by force that it is welcomed by those who live there? What gives them the right to takeover such areas other than brute force? Does it not follow that if a group of rebels takes over an area in any country any government would utilise its resources to expel them? Instead of encouraging these rebels to carry on fighteing the UK government should be seeking a cessation of violence and constitutional talks.

  9. Mike Stallard
    Posted June 20, 2013 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    What surprises me very much is the silence of Baroness Ashton, the High Representative of More Europe. I wonder what her plans are for a joint expedition into Syria? Syria, after all, is on the borders of Europe, just as Yugoslavia once was and there seems to be very much the same sort of ethnic/religious cleansing going on.

    Does anyone know what her policy is at the moment of international tension?

    As Europe is now a huge player in the world, like China or the USA and bigger even than Russia, is it great to be part of an organisation which brings world power status to our once proud Imperial nation. Look on other nations and tremble!

    • Alte Fritz
      Posted June 20, 2013 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      Look carefully and you’ll see Mr van Rompuy mounting an Arab stallion to ride into battle.

  10. Chris
    Posted June 20, 2013 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    I see that Cameron is emphasising the fact that he reserves the right to act without having a vote in the H of C. (I also find his claim about what Putin apparently agreed to scarcely credible).
    David Cameron has told MPs that the government will reserve the right to arm rebels in Syria without holding a vote in the House of Commons.
    He said it was essential to keep the “ability to take action very swiftly”.
    The prime minister also said Russia now agreed it was “necessary” and “right” that President Assad must be ousted before peace could be achieved…”

    Reply Parliament can have a debate and vote on any Opposition Day on this matter if Labour are against, so it be unwise of the government to proceed unless the Opposition agrees, as many Conservatives would vote against Syrian intervention if asked. If Mr Miliband agreed to action quickly then they would have the votes they need.

    • zorro
      Posted June 20, 2013 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

      Wriggly Cast Elasticism at its best…….I suspect that John knows what Cameron is cooking up…


  11. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted June 20, 2013 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Yes indeed .
    I thought you may write about the mansion house speeches.. wrong again. It was good to see Lord King talking with hope yet simulatanoeusly referring to audacious pessimism as being a healthy stance economically.

  12. Andy Baxter
    Posted June 20, 2013 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    “What if our arming of moderates allowed extremists to grab more complex weaponry?”

    How can anyone describe people who are willing to use violence instead of peaceful protest and alternative peaceful negotiation: against their legitimate government (whatever ones opinion is of it) never mind innocent non combatants caught in the inevitable crossfire as “moderates”?

    The political class in this country and elsewhere in the so called “western democracies” truly do not live in the same world as we plebs…..insular, disconnected and so remote form day to day reality or common sense that, is it any wonder we plebs increasingly despise this ruling elite who have an ingrained sense of ‘divine right’ to order our lives.

    The propaganda spouted by the likes of William Hague, the BBC and others in promoting the ‘murderous’ image of Assad (whose regime, incidentally whatever its faults) protected minorities including Christians in a largely Muslim population, while at the same time progandising the so called ‘moderate’ somehow benevolent rebels as the prophets of oppressed love leading the Syrians to the sunlit promised land of milk and honey….. oh and world peace and love thy neighbour!

    This is a proxy war betwixt Sunni and Shia for dominance of one over the other, there’s no mileage for the UK in any active involvement in or support for either side in what is squaring up to be a very bloody sectarian war. The choice is between supporting Hezbollah and the (word left out ed) Mullahs of Iran, or Al Quada and the (word left out ed) Imams of Pakistan.

    This is a Shi’ite / Sunni war, not a proxy for East vs. West or communism vs. capitalism. This is Islam (fighting -ed) itself and we have no place morally, politically or any other “ally” reason to be involved.

    As in the Iran / Iraq war, the two sides will only have the will to stop fighting once a certain level of blood has been spilled; we’re nowhere near that point yet in Syria. Both sides still believe victory is possible and are negotiating for weapons, not peace. The best thing we can do is stand back and let them get on with it until they’re both exhausted, then step in as honest neutral brokers of peace and reconstruction.

    Reply Those who wish to arm the “moderates” point out that there are people being bombed and shelled in their towns by their government who have not themselves taken up arms and who do not have any weapons to fire back and who do not have the normal recourse to law or state protection.

    • forthurst
      Posted June 20, 2013 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

      Reply to Reply: Those who wish to arm the “moderates” point out that there are people being bombed and shelled in their towns by their government who have not themselves taken up arms.

      Extraordinarily specious argument: firstly it’s begging the question as moderate ‘al qaida’ is an oxymoron, second, the consequences of removing Assad would be a sectarian bloodbath with Christians the most at risk, third, we know perfectly well that those who wish to arm the ‘rebels’ are only concerned for the interests of one of Syria’s next door neighbours, not for humanitarian or for reasons of the British interest which manifestly does not exist: those people do not belong in any Conservative Party that wishes to win a general election.

    • zorro
      Posted June 20, 2013 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply – I suspect that citizens that were in the towns taken over by the rebels would like to leave, but are being stopped….most likely by the rebels.


  13. Alte Fritz
    Posted June 20, 2013 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    If a country must address a threat, direct or indirect, to is people, it must prepared to actual within or outside the law. Salus populi, suprema lex. In a case such as Syria, there is no threat, so there can be no justification for any intervention outside the law, and, politically and morally, perhaps not even then. Providing others with the means to age war is something to be done only with the greatest care and deliberation, and then only after taking the best possible advice. Of one thing we can be certain, if we send arms or intervene, we will earn no one’s thanks.

    Appropos Mr R’s remark about how we would feel, it still rankles that the USA did so little to stop its citizens providing the IRA with the means to wage a war of terror against the UK for so many years.

  14. ian wragg
    Posted June 20, 2013 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Cameron needs another war. After the Bliderberg jamboree we are now getting bombarded with what is the “right thing” according to saint Dave. Losing out on the EU/USA free trade agreement if we exit the EU which of course is no such thing. GM crops are good for the world even though they put all of agriculture in the hands of companies like Monsanto etc. and now arming Syria because his new bessy mate says so.
    We have no interest over there and should let whoever wins the civil war rule, providing only humanitarian aid.

  15. Bill
    Posted June 20, 2013 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Agree. How do we know that any new regime that comes to power in Syria will be better than the old one – especially if Iran is pulling strings behind the scenes?

    No one disputes that atrocities have been committed…but no one complained about Assad two or so years ago.

    • zorro
      Posted June 20, 2013 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, Syria was by far one of the more stable countries in the Middle East with a rich and interesting heritage….


  16. Peter Davies
    Posted June 20, 2013 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Surely we have enough knowledge of the different factions within Islam alone and the fact that there is no single coherent opposition in Syria to easily conclude that to arm them or intervene in any military way would be like pouring petrol on a fire.

    Outside providing emergency aid I really don’t see what we can do from the outside. ]

    This is an internal conflict and even if the current regime were to topple an alternative govt would more than likely be no better. Iraq hopefully will have taught the HOC that internal conflicts in the Middle East in particular are things we must stay out of – if the USA are unwise enough to get involved then we have to stand back like we did with Vietnam

  17. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted June 20, 2013 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    “The issue of arming the rebels also poses moral and legal issues.”

    Moral, yes, legal, no. It’s not a question of whether it’s legal, it’s a question of whether it’s wise. We certainly shouldn’t give arms away. But if we sell arms and gain export earnings, we will be taking advantage of people in desperate straits.

  18. Acorn
    Posted June 20, 2013 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    I assume we are backing the Sunni wing of Islam this time in Syria, being as Bashar al-Assad is an Alawite Shi’ah and Hezbollah is Shi’ah.

    I only ask cos we were against Saddam Hussein who was pro Sunni, and the Taliban who are a Sunni off-shoot; and, the Muslim Brotherhood who are basically Sunni. Muammar Gaddafi; Al-Qaeda, you guessed it Sunni. This is all about Iran ain’t it.

    • Gary
      Posted June 20, 2013 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

      “This is all about Iran
      ain’t it.”

      Exactly ! Flawless logic arriving at the only reasonable conclusion.

      It is reprehensible how they sell their murderous “interventions”. At least this one is not “for the women”.

  19. Chris
    Posted June 20, 2013 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    I see Tony Blair is giving his views:
    My immediate reaction was to wish that he, even at this late stage, could gain some wisdom and understanding of the enormous damage that his intervention in Iraq caused. I do not welcome his frequent outpourings in the press. He has had his day, and the UK has moved on from him.

    • lifelogic
      Posted June 20, 2013 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

      If the man had any decency whatsoever he would become a trappist monk or something. To go into such a pointless and counter productive losing war, on the basis of blatant lies and deceit, was an outrage.

  20. Bert Young
    Posted June 20, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    My fear is that Cameron will do whatever Obama wants him to , hence him reserving the right to intervene without the consent of the House . We have no right or justification to get ourselves involved in the Syrian mess ; Putin is right – let the matter be resolved by negotiation .

  21. Julian
    Posted June 20, 2013 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    NATO is separate from the UN so could act without the Security Council say so, albeit risking Russian wrath. Obviously, as you have stated many times, arming the so-called rebels would be totally illogical when many of them have declared support for al queda – unless it is part of a more subtle strategy we’re not being told about!

    • zorro
      Posted June 20, 2013 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

      Who set up Al Qaeda? Have you noticed the places where these ‘al Qaeda’ type fighters have been deployed over the years….?


  22. uanime5
    Posted June 20, 2013 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    It’s like they say. You can’t talk peace while be a major arms seller.

  23. Iain Gill
    Posted June 20, 2013 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    British Special Forces have been in combat somewhere or other pretty continuously for more than 40 years that I know. Plenty of pretty significant mini wars have been fought without parliament having the faintest idea it was going on until many years after the fact. All this nonsense about parliament having to approve it is clearly nonsense.

    Reply Not so. Parliament can decide anything it likes, and governments have to pay heed.

    • zorro
      Posted June 20, 2013 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, Parliament can even vote down a government……


      • Iain Gill
        Posted June 21, 2013 at 8:49 am | Permalink

        if they dont know about something, they are unlikely to kick a fuss up about it

  24. Neil Craig
    Posted June 21, 2013 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    Launching aggressive war is war crime – this was decided by the allied governments, including our own, at Nuremburg, and we imprisoned people for it.

    If Assad is not threatening to invade anybody attacking him is clearly aggressive.

    It is rather a shame that Britain for the last 23 years since we (intervened in-ed) Yugoslavia in the interests of people who (in some cases had behaved badly-ed), has decided that the rule of law doesn’t apply to us.

    It is not shameful but merely stupid that we have done so in support of no real British interest in Yugoslavia, Iraq or Libya. If we were going to do evil we might at least have profited from it.

    It is both shameful and stupid that in all these wars we have been bombing in support of Al Quaeda, an organisation which, if what politicians tell the British public is in any way true, is our mortal enemy and a terrorist organisation we oppose.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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