In the last two years since David Cameron first recalled Parliament to debate military intervention in Syria, there does not appear to have been any progress made by our Government in its strategy for addressing the crisis between President Assad and his opponents including IS. The crisis is deep and complex and there are no easy solutions, however it is far from clear what has happened in those two years that would justify a second vote on the idea that the only solution is to drop and propel even more munitions into a nation that is already being torn apart by those used by Assad and IS along with the opponents to Assad who are not allied with IS. The recent explicit involvement by Russia in Syria and particularly their activities overflying Turkish Airspace and threatening Turkish aircraft is indicative that whatever we have been doing for the last 2 years that we need to do a great deal more. The last TV interview with Dennis Healey before his death 3 days ago included a comment that “Dropping Bombs creates more enemies than friends”. It is unlikely that Michael Fallon watched the interview as he was being interviewed himself by Total Politics magazine at a fringe meeting as part of the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester. According to the article
“He also told how he is building the case among MPs for bombing jihadists in Syria – and refused to rule out a Commons vote before Christmas. The Defence Secretary has been meeting Tory and Labour MPs in recent weeks as David Cameron wants their consent to extend RAF bombing missions. He suggested that many Tory and Labour MPs now supported air strikes in Syria.”
The idea that our Defence Secretary has been using his time to build up a case for military intervention in a region that is already on fire with the bombs and bullets from Russia and elsewhere shows just how depressingly unsuited Michael Fallon is to his job. There are of course still people who believe that we can bomb our way into a peace for other people. Surely the tragic murder of MSF medics and their patients in Afghanistan over the weekend by the USA Airforce illustrates only too well that bombs should be a matter of last and final resort. We need our diplomats and our Defence Ministry to be banging on the door of the Russian and UN Offices to ensure that we begin to end the suffering, not winsomely persuading MPs to vote in a different manner to how they voted in 2013.