Something remarkable happened in London yesterday. Members of Parliament prevented Prime Minister Cameron from joining in a U.S.-led attack on Syria. For the first time since Vietnam, the British government, reflecting the views of the British people, is refusing to be led into war by the United States.
Prime Minister David Cameron says “I get it.” The British don’t want to attack Syria which means he just can’t do it,
This is huge.
But even more huge is the precedent it sets for Iran. If a relatively small action in the Middle East is rejected out of fear of a larger entanglement, what are the chances that the British people can be led into an infinitely larger war in Iran? And what are the chances that the British government will even try?
This rising up against another Middle East war will also make it impossible for President Obama to drag America into a war with Iran. Yes, the Israel lobby, the defense contractors and the neocons will try, but no politician can afford to ignore strong opposition from the public, especially now that the Brits have shown the way.
The British “no” could not have been sustained if many Conservatives had not joined with Labor to reject war. That phenomenon will likely also be replicated here. The neocon hold on the Republicans seems to be loosening, with Rand Paul leading the way. Add some Republicans to grassroots Democratic opposition to war and there is no majority for war.
The one difference between the U.S. and U.K. is that our politicians are bought off with campaign contributions from the pro-war crowd. But that will not work if it is clear that the public as a whole says “no” to war and makes Congress feel the heat (the way Labor chief Ed Miliband felt it and was forced to change his position).
Something is happening. I don’t want to be overly optimistic but, to me, it looks like the war party will not get the war it craves with Iran. The Syrian attack will happen, with or without the Brits, but it will not be followed by war with Iran. The neocons better enjoy Syria; there will be no Iran sequel.