The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Jeremy Corbyn and the Syrian Bombing Vote

So, today there will be a vote in the UK House of Commons to determine whether the UK should bomb Syria.

The Conservatives and the Liberal-Democrats will vote yes. The SNP will vote no. And Corbyn has allowed Labour party members to vote according to their consciences.

This is a close vote, but even if every Labour party member voted no, the motion would fail.

Nonetheless, much of the media is blaming Corbyn for the possibility of bombing.

Seventy-five percent of Labour party members are against bombing Syria, and the logic on the side of not bombing Syria is strong; interventions in the Middle East since 9/11 have seen an inexorable rise in terrorism rather than a decrease.

But there is more to consider. Corbyn has always said he would bring more democracy to Labour, and this is in line with that promise. This is a case of one principle “no war” going against another principle “more democracy.”

Also, letting Labour MPs vote against bombing Syria, when the majority of Labour party members are for it, may be very smart politics. Smoke the pro-war MPs out, let them run up their flags, and when the time comes for candidate selection, well, everyone will know who is for war. The majority of voters selecting candidates are free to use the next election to ensure that Corbyn has a party of MPs who are anti-war. This gives him a much stronger hand.

The Labour party has been rife with backbiting since Corbyn won. The majority of MPs did not want him as leader, do not want him as leader, and have been doing what they can to weaken him.

Corbyn cannot deal with this alone. It must be dealt with by the membership, who must get rid of those members. Corbyn does have limited ability as leader to flush them out, but he can hardly refuse to sign nomination papers from 60 percent of MPs. They have to be sent packing by the membership.

So, if you are a British Labour member, remember who voted for war and turf them.

Correction: I had the math wrong on the vote. If every Labor member voted “nay,” it would not make a difference without a lot of Conservative members also voting against.

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  1. Tim

    “This is a close vote. If every Labour party member voted no, then the motion would fail”

    No, you have maths wrong:-

    Parliament has 650 members but speaker doesn’t vote so 325 a majority

    3 Parties committed to vote for bombing Tories (330), DUP (8) & Lib Dems (8) – UUP (2) will vote in favour too.

    348 votes – If half Lib Dems rebel then would take 20 Tory rebels to defeat it if all other parties solid. There are almost certainly not 20 Tory rebels and rather more Labour ones going other way whip or no whip.

    Sadly Cameron get to drop his bombs, only consolation is it unlikely to make any difference (UK planes bombing Syria will come from those bombing Iraq where will be replaced by americans currently bombing Syria).

    The likely failure of strategic style bombing (which has a century long history of failure) will no doubt lead to calls for ground forces (Cameron’s 70,000 being pulled out of his arse). That will be the crucial vote – and likely generate far more resistance

  2. Ian Welsh

    Corrected, I did indeed get the math wrong.

  3. S Brennan

    Thanks for the report Ian, I would have missed it.

  4. different clue

    The reason that Hollande and Cameron want EU planes in the Syrian airspace is to crowd the airspace with so many planes that Russia finds it hard to operate. And Russia is operating leGITimately in Syria because the legitimate government of Syria invited Russia in to help suppressing the Terrorist Rebellion.

    So what the Axis of Jihad wants is to create armed actions between Russian and EU planes in order to fabricate an excuse for invoking some kind of NATO “self defense” against Russia. They also want to extort Russia into stopping its aerial assistance to the SAR out of fear of such Russia-NATO conflict happening.

    The reason for this is that FranceGov and BritainGov are allied with the USGov in overtly, avowedly, and proudly supporting terrorist jihadi terrorism. “Attacking ISIS” is just their threadbare see-through cover for supporting the cannibal liver-eater headchopper rebellion against Assad. Pray the R + 6 can exterminate the rebellion ( and every individual rebel) before the Axis of Jihad can get Assad toppled and create a Jihadi Emirate in Syria.

    Every member of Parliament who votes to bomb Syria should know that eventually the public will understand that they are with the terrorists, and will be judged for their support for Axis of Jihad evildoers against Assad.

  5. Lisa

    As useless as the US is, has been and always will be at actual military oparations, it is #1 at subversion.

    The US owns the western political/financial/military/intelligence/national security/etc elites, not one of which would not betray and sell out their countries to the US.

    The poodles will not change, except as in how the US tells them how to change, until there is a massive clean out.

    You occasionally see signs of some independence (like Holande) then they are quickly brought into line.

  6. (Take time out from a life give exercise) We are about 20 to 25 years from a large blowup, until that time, the older generation will take what is given to them, until the younger generation is of voting age. at that point there will be a massive realization that the majority of the population is going to be bankrupt – rather than like the baby boom, getting a piece that will hold them on for life. there was a chance a while ago to break the cycle – but the people did not want to rock the boat.

    now, what are you going to do with this chance?

  7. Inverness

    Lisa, I’m curious as to why you feel Hollande has showed any kind of independence. He’s been involved in bombing campaigns, along with the US. Before Syria, he was involved in Mali. He’s a socialist in name, only. If there’s a poodle, it’s Hollande. I see little signs of the kind of French spirit we saw right after 9/11, which called out “la barbarie,” of attacking Iraq. Hollande, like Sarkozy, seems to march pretty comfortably in lockstep with the US.

  8. Lisa

    Inverness : The Mystral issue, where he vacillated for a bit before killing the sale and recent comments about actually working with Russia in Syria …before backtracking, no doubt after the phone call from the US Embassy came in.

    Like a little child trying show a little bit of indepences before the smack around the ear to bring them back in line.

  9. Jessica

    Following up on Stirling’s comment, an Italian friend told that things are quiet there because the current generation of parents have the funds to help their adult children get by but that in a generation, those being supported by their parents now will not have anything to support their own children with and then it will hit the fan.
    I suspect that this applies to some degree to other parts of Europe as well.

    Perhaps the missing piece is some widely-shared positive vision of what we want (as opposed to what we don’t want). Crudely speaking, the age of the Internet seems to be an age of fragmentation. It is not that we don’t have positive vision. It is that everyone has their own.

  10. Peter*


    I doubt that the French refusal to join the Iraq war coalition had much to do with ‘spirit’ more likely mundane economic interests prevailed. Besides some powerful Frogs were getting rich from the Oil for Food program and the French also know how to manufacture consent to show popular support.

    The public support they manufactured for the Libyan war shows how easily they could return to their historical Imperialist roots when their economic interests were again paramount. Hollande is no different than any other French Imperialist opportunist and they are playing a leading role in the forever WOT.

  11. Tom

    Britain voted for the strikes, apparently not learning a thing from previous wars.

    IS has already begun to be heavily more involved in Lebanon, is launching a new offensive in Libya as we speak, and now holds several passes and villages on both sides of the Af/Pak border.

    More intervention has simply expanded their sphere of operations where as if there was no intervention they would have just bloodied themselves and Iran mutually over Baghdad.

    Likewise AQ has grown massively, and now holds more ground in Yemen than it did in 2011 and is actively seeking to hold ground while its foes bankrupt themselves.

    As for the Taliban it too is rising again and expanding and taking villages in the Northeast that they never held back in 2001 before the US illegally invaded.

  12. EmilianoZ

    Jessica: Following up on Stirling’s comment, an Italian friend told that things are quiet there because the current generation of parents have the funds to help their adult children get by but that in a generation, those being supported by their parents now will not have anything to support their own children with and then it will hit the fan.

    They will inherit their parents’ assets. The case is similar in France. I know a few long time unemployed folks whose only prospects are to inherit their parents’ property. Because of the housing bubble the value is not bad at all. The problems are: it might take a long time, the inheritance tax and in some cases division with the siblings.

  13. Inverness

    Peter: let’s not forget that for Hollande, increasing the war effort is a political tool. He has been extremely unpopular at home, and faces all sorts of threats from the right, and has to think about the next elections. Both Sarkozy and Le Pen are pushing for war, so Hollande cannot risk looking “soft,” especially after an attack on their own soil. So yes, continuity with the old imperialistic story, but also political gain by wagging the dog.

  14. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    Global Plutocracy, and Uncle Sam–who is Darth Vader to Global Plutocracy’s Palpatine–and their local agent-states don’t really want ISIS & Co. to lose.

    Two articles from Counterpunch.

    Mike Whitney:

    Pepe Escobar:

  15. Peter*


    Hollande is certainly a political opportunist but he is not yet Emperor of France so these decisions reflect the approval of the French elite who his power emanates from.

    It is chilling how prescient OBL and now the Islamic State were in predicting the reactionary and authoritarian responses of Western elites in their homelands against their own people would be following these attacks. These reactions along with more and possibly a generation of bloodshed in the ME may help to bring Western Civilization crashing down upon their heads, if they still have them.

  16. Lisa

    Is anyone else getting the same feeling of the inevitability of nuclear war?

    There are to many crises all happening at once, beyond the capability of national and international states/organisations to cope.

    The ongoing collapse of our economic systems and every growing poverty, leading to social system collapse. Resource (inc soil and water) depletion. Climate change. Multiple wars and/or war flashpoints (inc Japan coming back to its militaristic past).

    Our Govts are all responding the same way. Massively increased internal security (protection of the elites and suppression of the masses), external wars, maintaining as long as possible the failing economic system, not addressing in any way resource depletion (except to hand as much of them as possible to rentiers).

    External wars have always been as much for internal domestic reasons as for any perceived ‘national benefit’. More often than not used to (sort of) unify the country and suppress internal dissent.

    Each trendline, especially over Syria, if continued, means war with Russia and China by the US and NATO. And probably quite soon now.

    I see no sign of the trend changing, no slowing down of the trend line signalling an approach to an infection point. In fact the momentum towards war and the hardening of positions towards ‘no way out’ scenario seems to be increasing.

    The similarities to 1914 are chilling…

  17. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    The elites, and the political and economic systems which they control, would not survive nuclear war, either–so their self-interest lies in avoiding nuclear war.

    Perhaps that will save us.

  18. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    Let’s face it–if not for nuclear weapons, World War 3 would probably have happened already.

  19. Spinoza

    @Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    Unless, God forbid, the elites in the West think they could survive a nuclear exchange with Russia, the likely opponent in such a conflict. Arrogance and a near mystical faith in a rapid “first response” victory could well damn us all.

  20. Jeff Wegerson

    I’m not sensing nuclear war. I bet the military knows there is no winning and would step in with a coup. I think wimper rather than bang. I’m still cautiously (nievely?) optimistic that the continued erosion of dirty carbon by various clean energies also spells the erosion of carbon based politics. Without a market for oil the middle East becomes just another hard scrabble desert. I see Obama dragging his heels on anything big. As long as Russia keeps giving him outs he’ll keep taking them. Hillary though scares me. And Trump even more. The thing is anyone nominated by the Republicans or Democrats always has a real chance to win. So maybe not nuke war but I guess I have to concede permanent war. Yuck.

  21. Lisa

    Jeff Wegerson: dosagree with your logic, this is how I think the neo-cons think:

    (1) Russia will back down by a show of force.
    (2) After some conventional military (easy) wins by the west, they will back down.
    (3) After a real war begins, the west will win and the Russians back down as NATO forces get close to Moscow.
    (4) Tactical nuclear weapns will only affect Europe (who cares) and Russia.
    (5) The US AMD systems will work.
    (6) Only useless areas (ie anything not Washington or New York) will be hit in the US.

    In each step of the escalation the neo-cons thnk it will be ok for them and Russia will back down..

    What heppens if (and more likely) :
    (1) Russia will not back down.
    (2) Western conventional military forces get thumped by Russia (almost certain) .
    (3) Russia goes strategic nuclear real fast..possible.

    After all, the ‘first strike’ scenario favoours Russia right now and all it has to worry about is the US sub launched stuff. Can the S-400/500 sytems cope with them?

  22. V. Arnold

    @ Lisa

    NATO is already aware it will be no match for Russia and has said so.
    Putin is adamantly against first strike (strategic nukes) but has openly stated he will use tactical nukes if attacked. His strategic forces (reportably) are in a “launch on detection mode” of a U.S. launch; an extremely troubling scenario. You can thank Washington for that.
    The link below will tell you all you ever wanted to know about the S-400 Growler system.
    According to this report it can take out anything that flies down to the size of a football (American or European, I don’t know πŸ˜‰ ).

  23. V. Arnold

    Oops, S-300 is the Growler; S-400 is Triumf.

  24. Labour handily and by a big margin won the by-election that was supposed to show how damaging Corbyn was.

  25. V. Arnold

    @ Mandos

    Really? The fear mongering by the next English poodle, Cameron (Blair lite) harkened back to 2003. He got his bloody bombing!!!!
    Results count; philosophies just beeble on…

  26. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    Alas, Spinoza & Lisa may be making legitimate points.

    I am assuming that Our Masters are coldly calculating, rational criminals, and so will not risk their own power, their own wealth, and even their own lives in a nuclear conflict.

    If I am wrong, and they actually believe their own propaganda, as the Axis leaders came to do… πŸ™

  27. Peter*


    I grew up during the ’50s when there was real Nuke War paranoia and the real possibility of an exchange. Testing and research and common sense soon showed there was no possibility of either side ‘winning’ this kind of war and there would soon be no Western Civilization remaining to profit from rebuilding.

    The development of ABM systems and all the other supposedly defensive systems by both sides are political tools that never have and can never change the fact of MAD and both sides know this. Unless these systems are 100% effective they are useless and if only 10% of the warheads reach their targets the result is still MAD.

    The Russians are lucky they have the Nuke deterrent that is allowing Putin’s brinkmanship in Syria because they have no economy to support a old style set-piece war, cut off their oil/gas sales and they would collapse in chaos. This is not the old powerful USSR their GDP is less than Italy’s.

    Some people seem to get overexcited by Russia’s supposedly superior war machines and possible super weapons just as some people do about ours but we already have seen how easily one of their bombers was shot, like a duck, from the sky and their S300-400 systems are formidable but untested in actual combat where our F22’s are nearly invisible to their radars.

    I’m more worried about Russia giving S300’s to the deteriorating Syrian military who could shoot down a coalition F16 and inflame an already tense situation. Hopefully Putin has these nuts on a short leash.

  28. Lisa

    Ivory Bill Woodpecker: remember ’83? Out fearless leaders nearly got us all killed…and they didn’t realise it at the time. It took about a year before they woke up to how close it was…..

  29. Tom


    F-22’s stealth does not work due to the laws of thermodynamics and was designed to beat monkey model radars the US thought the Soviets had as they couldn’t access actual Soviet Gear.

    It wasn’t till the Iron Curtain came down that we got to test the M1A1s against T-72Ms used by East Germany. The mighty silver bullet bounced off the armor. Newer silver bullets had to be rushed to the Gulf before coalition forces could go toe-to-toe with Saddam’s tanks.

    Then Ukraine became independent and let us fire ordinance at their T-72As and Bs. All our rounds bounced off while the Soviet APFSDS ammo easily pierced the frontal armor of the Abrams. Problem was the Soviets would not use that primarily but tube launched top attack ATGMs that outranged the Abrams’ guns by triple the M1’s effective firing range. Also the T-72s weren’t the most advanced Soviet Tanks.

    In the Air, Warsaw Pact Pilots had Archer air-to-air systems that let them shoot off-boresight by 45 degrees which the US could not match till 2003 with the Aim-9X. Also Soviet Missiles outranged and outperformed ours and their radars easily detected stealth craft and as the Cold War wound down, the SR-71s found it near impossible to penetrate the USSR as the tracking systems had so improved that they would be subjected to all angles of attack if they tried.

    MANPADs were also superior and able to lockon from the front which Stinger couldn’t do till 2001.

    Soviet troops also had their own version of interceptor body armor a full 20 years before the US would begin issuing it in large numbers and Soviet troops had better marksmen training and tactical training as witnessed by its superior performance in Afghanistan where they were winning with far fewer causalities than the US suffered fighting North Vietnam till Gorbachev threw the USSR over the cliff and murdered it.

    Also ABMs work. Ballistic missiles are on ballistic tracks and don’t maneuver. All you have to do is put a missile on the same track as the warhead and let them collide. Since all Soviet SAMs could do that and they didn’t dismantle their air defense grid, they were totally immune to Ballistic Missile Attacks while the US wasn’t.

    The Soviet Military quite simply outclassed the NATO Military and does so even today via its successor Russia. Putin is not Gorbachev and unlike Economists, Putin knows real economics isn’t about GDP, but how you utilize your resources to squeeze maximum value.

  30. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    Asterisk Dude: “yadda yadda yadda DUDE, MURKAN WEAPONS ROCK!”

    Tom Bombadil: “natter natter natter NO, COMRADE, SOVIETSKY WEAPONSKY ROCKOVICH!”

    Boys and their toys… πŸ˜†

  31. Lisa

    Tom: “F-22’s stealth does not work …”. The F-22 does not work, it is a hanger queen.

    When its stealth coating works properly (not too fast, avoid rain, etc) it is pretty good in the X bands and, unlke the F-35, from nearly all aspects.

    It can be easily seen in the UHF and VHF realms and of course by IR sensors, especially frm the rear (naturally) . Visually, it is huge and easy to see.

    It is not that the F-22 is such a bad plane rather that it should have been a technology demonstrator, tested to death, then reworked into something more reliable, smaller, cheaper and hence more useful. The design as it stands should never have been brought into service.

    But the US military procurement system is so totally broken and so corrupt now in all branches that it is nearly impossible to create anything useful and get it into service.

    The US military has never mastered, heck even signed up to, 3rd gen warfare with the critical elements like Mission Command (though the Marines tried for awhile) . The Soviets, mastered that in their elite units many decades ago (not the mass conscripts though, but they were just to hold captured territory and ‘tidy up’).

    Want to see the difference? The Ukraine where the 3rd gen NovaRussia militias, massively outnumbered at first and with no air force, murdered the lumbering Kiev forces, trapping them again and again into lethal cauldrons.

    So US/NATO are really not very good, heck I’d put up the 1940 Wehrmacht up against them (with 1940s equipment) and have perfect confidence they would win before NATO finshed its first Powerpoint presentation. The parts of it that were once good, like the British Army have been ‘Americanised’ far too much and have lost much of their abilities.

  32. Peter*


    I won’t get into the Fantasy War trash talk because none of it can be proven without a conventional confrontation between the US and Russia which would instantly or very rapidly become a nuclear exchange. ABM’s certainly work to some degree but without the unattainable perfect coverage they are meaningless in a US/Russia exchange, at least to us regular folks who will do the dying, this is why the US systems are mostly aimed at rogue or accidental attacks which may be intercepted and they also scared the poop out of Putin so he kept their MIRVs to make them much less effective and expensive against his deterrent. The Russians do have a supposedly very effective ABM system to protect Moscow but it used Nukes to destroy our ICBM’s so the city may survive but the Muscovites will probably fry.

    The real present danger I see is from Putin giving the whacko Syrian military S300’s that can bring down Coalition F16’s which would produce a certain and deadly Coalition response which could lead to a direct confrontation between the US and Russia. The SAA Sarin attacks against their own citizens and a SAA General’s threat to bomb the French carrier among their other aberrant and reckless behavior sets them apart from the Russians and even the Iranians who seem to actually think before they act.

  33. Lisa

    P* (sigh) : “Putin giving the whacko Syrian military S300’s …”

    You will ignore this, of course, but for others reading: All the ‘coalition’ has to do is stay out of Syrian airspace then…easy eh. If they want to do it then they should negotiate with Syria.

    Look what part of that it is illegal do you not get? If it is not approved by the Syrian Govt or a UN resolution then it is illegal, and in fact an act of war.

    So many were all so supportive of the Turkish Govt shootdown of the Russian bomber, which Turkey’s own statement said was ‘only over it for 17 secs’.

    So US, etc, bombers flying over and actually bombing Syrian territory is just as wrong and the Syrian Govt has the perfect right (as established by Turkey) to shoot them down.

    Or do you believe in the “all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others” argument?

    As for “The SAA Sarin attacks against their own citizens “….that is an outright lie.

    It was debunked by Seymour Hersh ages ago and (leaked’)US intelligence showed they agreed it was a ‘false flag’ operation.

    As for the rest:

    P*’s your standard MO is to make incorrect statements and outrageous claims, then when they are contradicted you never reply to those.

    These statement are always pro IS/AN/jihadist in general, pro US/SA/etc and anti-Syrian, Russian and all the rest. We can add in stated misogyny too.

    Instead you then make whole new ‘incorrect statements and outrageous claims’. Rinse and repeat endlessly.

    This is sophistry in all its glory rather than any sort of reasoned, rational, logical or fact based debate.

  34. Peter*

    It’s impossible to have reasoned or fact based discussion with someone who depends on Fringe,Whacko& for their evidence and facts.

    You cite Sy Hersh as a reliable source but no one will print his whacko theories and stories anymore, supposedly related to him by his old CIA buddies, but some book club in the UK. Of course this is probably a sign of another conspiracy to bury the Truth.

    Repeating rumors about the Sarin attacks in Syria is hardly fact based. The proven facts are that the only one to possess or have the ability to produce Sarin in or near Syria was and still is Assad and the Russians verified this fact and helped to destroy his poison gas stockpiles.

    You and your ilk seem to trust any source, report or rumor that supports your storyline and no amount of fact, verified evidence or logic can break that desperate clinging to an illusion of knowledge.

    I don’t support anyone in this multifaceted conflict, except perhaps the Muslims, because its not my fight, culture or world and supporting some of the combatants is illegal. I do think I have the right to criticize and mock the world powers who are involved and the local, bloody, minority autocrat who started and is perpetuation much of the bloodshed.

  35. different clue

    One of the bloggers blogrolled in this blog is Pat Lang up above. He and his commenters have been discussing Syria for some time now. They went into some detail about the gas attack for some time and some comments during and well after. These posts and threads can be found under the title heading “Syria” on Pat Lang’s blog Sic Semper Tyrannis.

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