Why I am supporting the extension of military action against ISIL/Daesh to Syria

Photo of the Palace of Westminster by DiliffIn a previous article, I said I would decide whether to support the Government in extending military action against ISIL/Daesh into Syria once I had seen the motion.

The motion is here and it is as follows (layout and emphasis my own):

That this House

  • notes that ISIL poses a direct threat to the United Kingdom;
  • welcomes United Nations Security Council Resolution 2249 which determines that ISIL constitutes an ‘unprecedented threat to international peace and security‘ and calls on states to take ‘all necessary measures‘ to prevent terrorist acts by ISIL and to ‘eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Iraq and Syria‘;
  • further notes the clear legal basis to defend the UK and our allies in accordance with the UN Charter;
  • notes that military action against ISIL is only one component of a broader strategy to bring peace and stability to Syria;
  • welcomes the renewed impetus behind the Vienna talks on a ceasefire and political settlement;
  • welcomes the Government’s continuing commitment to providing humanitarian support to Syrian refugees;
  • underlines the importance of planning for post-conflict stabilisation and reconstruction in Syria;
  • welcomes the Government’s continued determination to cut ISIL’s sources of finance, fighters and weapons;
  • notes the requests from France, the US and regional allies for UK military assistance;
  • acknowledges the importance of seeking to avoid civilian casualties, using the UK’s particular capabilities;
  • notes the Government will not deploy UK troops in ground combat operations;
  • welcomes the Government’s commitment to provide quarterly progress reports to the House;
  • and accordingly supports Her Majesty’s Government in taking military action, specifically airstrikes, exclusively against ISIL in Syria;
  • and offers its wholehearted support to Her Majesty’s Armed Forces.

In that motion and in the Prime Minister’s Memorandum to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, the Government has answered my objections.

Following attacks in Paris, Tunisia and elsewhere, UK military action against ISIL/Daesh is clearly in the just cause of defence against an enemy with whom there can be no negotiation. Daesh is a clear and present danger to British people at home and abroad. There is to be no attack on the Syrian government and no attempt to remove its institutions. We will attack our enemies ISIL/Daesh exclusively, in an extension of a current operation in Iraq.

Moreover, there is a comprehensive strategy to defeat ISIL/Daesh and strive towards peace in Syria by political means: extended airstrikes are just one component. The Prime Minister’s memorandum sets out that strategy. In particular, Daesh must be denied access to finance, weapons and resources. Diplomatic efforts among members of the Coalition and with Russia especially must and should ensure we do not stumble into conflict amongst allies.

I have carefully considered the many serious arguments for and against further action put forward by my constituents and in debate. On fears of retaliation, we already face a severe risk of terrorist attack from Daesh. On escalation, the proposal is to extend an existing operation, not enter into a general war and the wording of the motion is tightly drafted to exclude ground troops and attacks on other parties beyond Daesh. In Iraq, we are advised the RAF has caused no civilian casualties when fighting Daesh.

My instincts are profoundly anti-war. I voted against the previous proposition on Syria. I did not support the proposal on Iraq. I supported the action in Libya on the basis of UN consent and the “responsibility to protect”. I desire peace but I accept my responsibility to use force in defence.

Today, our country and our allies face a severe risk from a barbaric enemy against whom the only answer is lethal force. We must reply to that threat with courage through diplomatic, political and military means. In all the circumstances, I will give the Government my consent to fight Daesh in Syria in addition to Iraq.

The men and women of the Royal Air Force have my wholehearted support.

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Comments & Responses

5 Responses so far.

  1. lee humphrey says:

    well done – our forefathers didn’t worry about retaliation – but did what’s was right and standing up for good and justice, time we started the same.

  2. A kaplan says:

    It is very unfortunate that a man with prolibertarian views so easily was dragged into a war. I read your motivation , and from my perspective it is not convincing. 1. UN is irrelevant, its decision should not have priority to the opinion of british people. 2. There is no proven evidence that Daash poses direct threat to the british people. 3. Government did not formulate clear and achievable aims – iraadicate Daash is not possible using limited capabilities of RAF, therefore this action will not achieve desired results. 4. Actually, the real aims of the government is quite clear – to play a “global” game to decide a future fate of Syria. Let me remind you of Britain played a similar game in 1917 and 1945. Is anyone satisfied with outcomes? The sad results are such that Britain is blamed by all inolved parties – Syrian, Jordan, Israeli, Egyptian and so on. Despite the fact that Britain had UN mandat, local population despised Britain as agressors and ocupants. 5. The decission gives moral support to tyrant like Putin for their actions. Reminds me of cosequences of Churchill support to Stalin. 6. How we can trust a man which equated the opposition to war to terrorist sympatisers. Will he act to arrest us?

    It is very sad day for Britain.

  3. Alison Hussey says:

    Dear Steve,

    I have appreciated your honesty and attitude but am disappointed by your vote and the overall outcome today.

    The threat to the UK now is now greater that we have gone to war than it was before.

    Of course ISIL have safe havens everywhere and all need to be eradicated but at what cost and to what effect? Do we know where they are?

    What is our “broader strategy to bring peace and stability to Syria”?

    What are our plans “for post-conflict stabilisation and reconstruction in Syria”

    What are the Government’s plans to cut ISIL’s sources of finance, fighters and weapons? How do we intend doing that? Who in the UN/NATO is providing them with finance and weapons and who is buying their oil?

    To say that this house “welcomes the Government’s continuing commitment to providing humanitarian support to Syrian refugees” is extraordinary when the Government have only no ‘continuing commitment’ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34839477 “The government has said 20,000 refugees will be resettled in the UK by 2020 – with 1,000 due to arrive by Christmas.” Let’s be clear here… that is 1000 out of 4 million refugees with a potential 19,000 more over 5 years, where are the other 3.8 million going?

    If we can’t even believe the most basic of statements how can we believe those that we have no power over or no access to real truth or facts?

    I would like to know what the UK’s “particular capabilities” to avoid civilian casualties are, can you expand? What do we have/know that the US who have so far spent 17 months at $11m per month bombing Syria not have/know?

    Quarterly progress reports? That is 3 months, 90 days… thousands can die or be displaced in 90 days.

    So there will be “airstrikes, exclusively against ISIL in Syria” no civilians will be hurt or killed? No airstrikes against ISIL fighters that have moved into Libya or anywhere else?

    I agree wholeheartedly with the government and the house that “Daesh is a clear and present danger to British people at home and abroad” and do not disagree that “our country and our allies face a severe risk from a barbaric enemy against whom the only answer is lethal force” I just do not see how bombing can be the only answer.

    Who are Daesh selling their oil to? Who is funding them? If we cut these ties that must dramatically reduce their efforts. We need to know these things.

    I’m sure it has been a long day so I shall sign off, i just wanted you to know that I appreciate you more than most considered long and hard but that at the end of the day, I feel the government has been less than open and that this could have a horrendous fallout the scope of which we may not understand for years to come.

    Kind regards


  4. Chester jones says:

    Mr Baker

    Please tell me why if the case for this war is so strong is a main piece of the strategy based on a lie, there are no 70000 moderate free Syrian army members there could only be the Syrian Revolutionary Command, please explain how these people are moderate or point me in the direction of who the 70000 moderate free Syrian army is? The Islamic front which one of the main groups in the revolutionary command state their opposition to Isis because “They killed the people of Islam and leave the idol worshippers” are we clear what that means?
    Can you qualify for exactly what your position and the governments position is with regards to the Kurdish people in Iraq, in Syria and in Turkey, is the plan to use them to do the dirty work and then hang them out to dry at the merciless hands of turkeys fascists?
    Can you tell me what is yours and the governments position with regards to the on-going weapons sales to gulf states who obviously do not share our fundamental values of democracy and human rights?
    Last night the RAF bombed oil fields in Syria, can you tell me how many jihadists and how many civilians work at these fields? If we made an estimate that 20 civilian workers were at the oil depot, each had 2 sons, how many jihadist does this make? The reasons given is to cut off their financing, can you tell me who is buying this oil? And where the money comes from and where it goes?
    Do you think I’m a terrorist sympasyther for believing that the motion passed doesn’t go anywhere near what is needed to defeat ISIS and because of that the government should have been forced to go away and rethink.
    Obviously my opinion that the strategy is wrong and doesn’t go anywhere near answering the points I would need addressed before military action is undertaken but I look forward to hearing your thoughts and hearing the Lear answers to the points I’ve made that helped you justify voting for the motion.

  5. Marlene Hufflett says:

    I very much support your actions in voting with the Government last night. Daesh must be stopped at all costs. My thoughts and prayers will be with the men and women of the RAF,who will have to carry out this task.

    Thank you for the good work you do for Wycombe, especially your support for Wycombe hospital. My husband, a cancer patient, has received the very best care in the excellent Urology Department.

    Carry on the good work.


    Marlene Hufflett