From: Andrew Green
Sent: 27 August 2013 20:07
To: CATON, Martin
Dear Mr Caton
I find it hard to believe that the UK government is seriously intending to take part in a US-led military attack on Syria. It seems that nothing has been learned from the experience of invading Iraq. It cannot be right to support military intervention:
- unless the UN approves it is almost certainly illegal under international law
- UN inspectors have reached no objective judgement yet on who was responsible for the chemical attacks
- the objective of an attack seems vague and shifting: punishment? deterrent? assassination? destruction of government military capability? humanitarian relief?
- innocent people are almost certain to be the main victims; ‘well targeted’ attacks never turn out to be well enough targeted
- no thought seems to have been given to what steps should follow an initial attack
- as in Afghanistan in the 1990s the US and UK would be assisting violent Islamists who lead the internal opposition to Assad
- as in Iraq an initial attack may lead to a long and bloody engagement by the invaders
- Russia and China are against intervention, and relations with their governments may become strained or hostile
In short, military intervention is likely to make matters worse, not better.
I was dismayed to hear on Channel 4 News that Ed Miliband appears to be complacent in the government’s intention to attack. You were brave and principled enough to oppose the war in Iraq. Can we count on you as our representative to oppose military action by the UK in Syria in the parliamentary debate on Thursday?
With best wishes,
[30 August 2013]
Dear Mr. Green
House of Commons consideration of Government motion on British involvement in military action against Syria
Thank you for your recent e-mail urging me to oppose British involvement in any military action in response to the allegation that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons against its civilian population resulting in hundreds of deaths and many more injuries.
I believe those who argue that any action by other countries should only be considered if the UN sanctions it are right and, therefore, the Government’s proposal as outlined in the motion put before Parliament on Thursday was legally questionable.
However, perhaps more important, is an assessment of whether the type of attack the US and the UK were talking about would achieve its objective of deterring further use of chemical weapons or would trigger reactions in Syria and the wider Middle East region that would escalate what is already a humanitarian tragedy. I think rational analysis leads to the conclusion that the risks are far too great.
For those reasons and others, some of which were raised in communications from constituents like you, I voted with the majority of the Members of the House of Commons against the motion.
I think Parliament did its job on Thursday night and am glad that the Government accepts the will of the House and, indeed, of the country.
There remains the real risk of the US and others launching missile attacks in the near future and there is a continued need for the international community to provide resources to help with the support for the refugees in Syria’s neighbouring countries.
Martin Caton MP