Wednesday, December 2, 2015

where's Congress?

The British parliament tonight voted 397-223 to authorize British airstrikes against ISIL in Syria. Seven Tories voted against the proposal; 67 Labour members voted for, despite the opposition of their leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

The text is here: “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 .”

I would note that the US Congress has so far failed to vote a specific measure authorizing, opposing, or limiting similar U.S. operations. The administration sent its proposed language last February. Several members have offered alternatives. So far, no action. Congress is abdicating its war powers.

PS: The House of Commons earlier -- in Sept. 2014 -- approved airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq. And Britain doesn't even have a written constitution giving parliament the power to declare war.

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