I thank isles MP Alistair Carmichael for his email of today. I am taking the liberty of responding with an “open letter”.
You say that UN resolution 2249 gives a legal basis for bombing ISIL.
The resolution: “Calls upon member states that have the capacity to do so to take all necessary measures, in compliance with international law, in particular with the United Nations Charter, as well as international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law, on the territory under the control of ISIL … and to eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Iraq and Syria.” (my italics).
The question is what is necessary? The logic that you seem to be following is that because we have the capacity to bomb, as do other countries who are presently bombing in Syria, then it’s necessary for us to do so as well. (You will of course be aware that the UK is already taking action in the skies over Syria by collecting aerial surveillance intelligence.)
The argument that because we are bombing in Iraq, with some military success, it is illogical not to do so in Syria, is flawed because the military situation on the ground is entirely different. And of course, unlike in Iraq, we have not been asked to intervene in Syria by any government in Syria.
You then conflate bombing ISIL with bringing the Syrian civil war to an end.
You say that: “Whatever decision the Commons takes today will have consequences. Be in no doubt, however, that failing to act will also have consequences. The civil war that has killed thousands and which has seen unprecedented numbers of people displaced from their homes and come to Europe as refugees will continue.”
It is just as likely to continue if we do not “fail to act” in this manner.
Finally, and most remarkably, you say this: “To shrug our shoulders and refuse that opportunity [to act] because it is too difficult or should be left to others is to cheapen the compassion of that response and determination to help [refugees].”
I just don’t see the logic in this. It could just as well be argued that bombing cheapens compassion.
Having admitted that you have wrestled with your conscience over this, and saying you respect those who have reached different conclusions, how can you then dismiss them as shrugging their shoulders?
Even at this late hour I beg you to reconsider your support for the UK government’s motion.