11 Sep 2014

Syria airstrikes? Obama’s buddies rush for the exit…

When the leader of the free world, as pundits casually refer to Barack Obama in this town, declares his country is going to war, together with a broad coalition, you’d hope those coalition partners might be reliable.

At least for 24 hours.  Just to be polite.

But the rush for the exit door the morning after the president’s speech is a little uncomfortable, to say the least.

President Obama Works In The Oval Office Of White HouseThe Turks already say the Americans can’t use their bases to launch expanded airstrikes against Islamic State targets inside Syria.  The Germans are out.

But thankfully the iron-clad “special relationship” means Britain is absolutely, without a moment’s doubt… well, let’s consider what Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said in Berlin this morning.

He was asked, apparently very clearly, would the UK carry out airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria?

His reply?  “Let me be clear, Britain will not be taking part in any air strikes in Syria, I can be very clear about that.”

In fairly quick time after that, Downing Street corrected the foreign secretary, claiming he misspoke.  Of course, he meant the UK wouldn’t be a party to bombing the Syrian regime, rather than ruling out airstrikes in Syria.

Bear with me, but given the Scottish vote is only a moment away, and presumably any announcement sending Britain to war would potentially scare Scottish no voters into a yes camp, isn’t it feasible there might be political confusion over the best way to describe what British will do?  Or even political confusion over what Britain will do?

And can anyone explain to me why last night President Obama could only refer to that ‘broad coalition’ and not name a single member?

If the prospect of returning to fight the Islamic State in the Middle East is so toxic, then how is anyone going to get it done?

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