The real winners and losers from Britain's Syria vote
All the world's dictators will rejoice at parliament's refusal to act over chemical attacks in Syria. Those who plan to acquire and use WMD will also be celebrating
The sight of the blundering, opportunistic buffoon that is Britain's Leader of the Opposition celebrating the Prime Minister's "humiliation" in the vote on Syria on Thursday evening will make Syria's Bashar Al-Assad as delighted as it made us sick.
And the fake indignation of Labour officials aside, the unshakeable fact is that Ed Miliband has indeed given Assad succour and he has helped send a message to oppressive regimes and terror groups alike that the use of chemical and other weapons of mass destruction is something that Britain just doesn't much care about.
The reality is that international affairs do not conform to the primary school picnic rules of engagement that some people appear to believe they do. Votes like this send messages and help set precedents. There are winners and losers with every move that you make.
Of course, if Barack Obama goes it alone, the consequences of the vote will fall much harder on Britain's reputation than on international security.
But, in order to concentrate minds, here is a brief breakdown of some of the key winners and losers from Parliament's decision, as things stand right now.
1. Bashar Al-Assad
2. Bashar Al-Assad's strongest supporters
3. Those of Bashar Al-Assad's strongest supporters who used chemical weapons against civilians and plan to do so again
4. Dictatorships and terror groups across the world (Iran, North Korea and al Qaeda for example) who plan one day to acquire and/or possibly use WMD
5. Dictatorships (Russia and China chief among them) who oppose the West as a matter of course and accept no burden of responsibility whatsoever for good international governance and long term peace and security.
1. Syrian civilians who are today at greater risk of being burned alive and gassed by Bashar Al-Assad
2. Civilians in the wider world who face a greater risk of having WMD used against them because Bashar Al-Assad has been allowed to get away with using chemical weapons with impunity
3. Civilians in Britain who are part of that wider world and risk suffering like everyone else now that the British parliament has made it just a little bit easier to use chemical weapons and get away with it
4. The Western world as a whole which looks as disunited as it ever has, and which more than at any other time in decades seems to come down to America alone
5. Britain in particular, which has rarely looked weaker or more irresponsible and isolationist.
You will notice that we have not bothered including David Cameron or Ed Miliband on either side of the above divide. That's partly because the significance of parliament's folly far outweighs the fate of any particular politicians, however senior. Only in the most trivial and superficial sense does Cameron emerge as a loser and Miliband a victor.
Indeed, one of the most remarkable aspects of this whole sorry affair is that Ed Miliband -- who would certainly have voted exactly the other way if the opinion polls had been different -- still looks like a loser, and that is because his opportunism looks so blatant, which it is.
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