Syria: What is it that Cameron 'gets'?


"I get it" says the Prime Minister - but what exactly is it that he gets ?

First, that British public and parliamentary opinion simply does not have the stomach for another military intervention.

For months at home and abroad he has made the case that Syria risked not being another Iraq but another Bosnia - in other words a war that the West should be ashamed for not intervening in.

In theory he could have tried again even after last night's defeat but instead he's concluded that Parliament has given its final verdict on the issue.

He knows that defeat in a motion specifically authorising military action - which last night's did not - could be politically terminal, as against merely humiliating and wounding.

What Mr Cameron also gets is that there is now a significant section of his party so independent or so irreconcilable that they will vote against him whatever the consequences.

What's more, he understands - if he didn't before - that his opponent Ed Miliband can be politically ruthless.

What troubles the Prime Minister and those around him more, though, is the question of whether Britain has lost the appetite to be America's most reliable ally. The thought of America attacking Syria with French and not British support pains them.

George Osborne says it's time for some national soul searching. That's already begun inside Downing Street.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1612.


    As an expatriate Englishman I can see the situation from both sides of the pond. It is clear that the UK's MPs are scared stiff of a backlash from domestic terrorism - the men in balaclavas from South Leeds and elsewhere seem to have a stranglehold on UK foreign policy. To me, it suggests that terrorism (and the threat of it) works. Cameron gets this - he must have wept in private.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1611.

    There's also the danger that Syria could become another place where the US and Russia fight a old-style proxy fight, reviving the Cold War.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1610.

    At least the one military intervention that we did alone, without reference to the US - Sierra Leone - was a success. You did Somalia without us. Remind me how that finished?

    If the Special Relationship exists & is important (I believe it is) & is to be of value to us both & the, we are going to have to learn to do it without bombs & bullets.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1609.

    No1604 David
    'a nation in decline'
    Are you able to confirm that over 50% of US assets are now owned by China?
    What of the remainder are owned by Middle East Royalist Thugs?
    I travel to Luton, Birmingham, Leeds and Bradford often - can't remember seeing many balaclavas.
    Are US bankers still stealing the bailout money?
    Decline? you ought to know.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1608.

    One of the things I find interesting concerning Syria in the last week or so, listening to range of BBC R4 News & C.Affairs programmes, is how pro-war the BBC is. They are really pushing hard for action on this. I wonder why? I've never known anything like it before.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1607.

    @1604 DavidinUSA
    MP's weighing the options
    Do they listen to the debate in the commons and then make up their mind; do they listen to the whips and what they are told the party wants for them; do they listen to their constituents.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1606.

    No1602 David,
    'meaningful military action'
    What do you have in mind?
    Training of death squads,
    Murdering of priests,
    Bombing of 30 countries.
    Invading and stealing other nations resources.
    Support throughout the world for Royalist Thugs/Dictators.
    Establishing torture chambers - Guantanomo.
    Put your own house in order.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1605.

    he is PM of a culture in decline, with a parliament paralyzed by fear, without the stomach to engage in any meaningful military action.
    We've been bounced into a handful of conflicts over the last 20yrs, all but one of which have been chaotic & left more damage in their wake. Bit like the US. ;-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 1604.

    The UK parliament's decision against humanitarian-inspired action in Syria was made not by MPs entirely free to weigh the options. It was effectively made by the threats (real or imagined) of men in balaclavas in the slums of Leeds, Bradford, Birmingham and Luton.

    Out of England's ruins is emerging a new country - poor, fearful, impotent, in terminal decline. That's what Cameron " gets".

  • rate this

    Comment number 1603.

    US Secretary of State John Kerry: "We have signatures of Sarin in hair and blood samples, so the case is growing stronger by the day."
    We don't know - BBC did not include - who were donors of samples, where they were, what military incidents had occurred in their location, etc. There are people trying to bounce nations into action on very thin statements, like Hague on R4 lunchtime.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1602.

    Cameron understands that he is PM of a culture in decline, with a parliament paralyzed by fear, without the stomach to engage in any meaningful military action. Domestic and international enemies must be rubbing their hands in glee.

    And this is how post-imperial implosion looks...

  • rate this

    Comment number 1601.

    Three good reasons why Cameron lost the vote-what evidence was there, what case could he make for military action stopping this happening again, and how did this involve British interests?

    Not a lot he put forward on any of those fronts was convincing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1600.

    No1598 paul,
    It is sometimes best not to reply to 'thicko's', it only encourages them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1599.

    Something not quite right with all this
    Quite right. I suspect he asked some hard questions of his advisors who have been so certain about all sorts of things and suddenly found things are not so clear cut after all.

    Unlike other politicians, he's not keen to build a house on sand.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1598.

    Principles ?
    Miliband wasn't ruling out action he quite reasonably wanted evidence before launching missiles to god knows what effect, seems more principled than refusing to await the UN inspectors report and prejudging the situation.
    Dave knocked back that amendment in his rush to push the buttons.
    He might not be PM material but he's better principled than Fat Boy

  • rate this

    Comment number 1597.


    Cameron and Hague have been trying to manipulate Obama into military action for months,well before his red line was crossed.

    Cameron`s defeat is his alibi for inaction.He always was a reluctant warrior and has now delegated the decision to Congress.

    Russia and Iran stand to be winners,Syria too if talks begin.

    A statrue in Tehran to Cameron?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1596.

    Obama has stated he was backed in to a corner because Cameron had to have a vote on whether to support this issue, How can that possibly be the most powerful man in the world relying on a tiny little island for support. Something not quite right with all this, has he finally realised that his knee jerk reaction was totally over the top .Or has his rear end collapsed, or are they wrong again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1595.

    @1581 "Why don't Syria's neighbours do something?"
    Lebanon? - sending Hezbollah fighters already
    Iraq? - still fighting its own civil war
    Jordan? - small, weal & coping with Syria's refugees
    Iran? - involved already, pro-Assad
    Egypt? - busy with its own regime change
    Saudi? - arming the rebel jihadists
    Arab League? - divided as the UN

    Leaving Israel - no one wants Israeli interference.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1594.

    Nick -"What troubles the Prime Minister and those around him more, though, is the question of whether Britain has lost the appetite to be America's most reliable ally.The thought of America attacking Syria with French and not British support pains them".
    They should tune in to BBCs "Last Night of the Proms" - sing along heartily, if tearfully, with "Land of Hope & Glory" - and then get over it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1593.

    So the height of Milibands aspirations is to politically embarrass Cameron - even over the bodies of gassed children.

    What high principles that reveals. A prime Minister in waiting? God forbid.


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