Some wise words from Vince Cable on Syria
With so much complexity and confusion, the public debate should be characterised by humility and open-mindedness. That is what makes so unforgivable the crude and abusive campaigning. There is no room in civilised discourse for the Internet trolls and the thuggish activists threatening MPs who voted for air strikes or accusing them of murdering babies. No less disreputable is the attempt by David Cameron to smear those who oppose strikes, even in his own party, as “terrorist sympathisers”. Shrill self-righteousness is a poor substitute for the moral high ground.
So, what should the sceptic do who is unimpressed by simplistic and emotive calls to arms or to militant pacifism? It is very tempting to say ‘no’ and to say it is all a terrible mess which we should try to steer clear of. Having voted against the Iraq War, with my Lib Dem colleagues, I can see worrying parallels in the lack of strategic clarity and the potential for blundering into a Middle Eastern swamp with no obvious exit. I find that most of my friends and party supporters assume that my party would automatically repeat its opposition.
But there are some big differences from the Iraq war. There is no question, here, of defying international law. This is not about regime change (indeed we are now de facto allies of the awful Assad regime). Saddam, however odious, was not attacking us. And we are not on the coat tails of a crass, ideologically driven, US administration. On the contrary, the Obama administration has shown admirable restraint and a marked reluctance to extend its military role.
The whole quite lengthy post is well worth a read. For such a complex shades-of-grey lesser-of-two-evils situation. those people who are so morally certain are quite frightening. I do wonder how much their bluster and aggressive dismissal of alternative viewpoints is a cover for their own doubts.