Bomb first, discuss later. Such is Theresa May’s new interpretation of the British constitution, which she presented in Monday’s parliamentary session. That which is not written comes in handy in times like these.
May arrived at Parliament to give account of her decision Saturday to join Strangelove Trump and Macron in the demonstrative (read: useless) bombing of Assad’s chemical weapons stocks. The bombing, which threatens to be the first of many, was authorized while parliamentarians were still on Easter break and was met with a flood of criticism, including from May’s own party. She has undone her own efforts to hide, if not to outright deny, the embarrassing fact that she actually serves Donald Trump, the gunslinger.
With the flat schoolgirl diligence that distinguishes her, May repeated ad nauseum that the legal basis for the intervention was “humanitarian” — an amoral stamp with which the democratic West labels the thousands of bombs dropped in the Middle East (like in Kosovo!). Negotiation is out of the question, of course, “repeatedly thwarted,” May said, by the Russian veto.
“This is not about intervening in a civil war. It is not about regime change,” she said. “And while this action is specifically about deterring the Syrian regime, it will also send a clear signal to anyone else who believes they can use chemical weapons with impunity.”
Finally, the credibility of the entire operation crumbled in the name of secrecy: She could not present her evidence justifying the intervention to the Parliament because it was confidential, May said.
We are not acting in our national interest, other than taking orders from the United States, responded the un-British Corbyn.
How far we are from the days when the leader of the opposition, Blair, drooled at the sight of an arsenal even more than his Tory opponent. In an unpardonably civil and subdued manner, Corbyn disputed the legal basis of the intervention and argued there is a need for a law, the War Powers Act, which would oblige Parliament to be consulted in decisions of a military nature. The prime minister must answer to the legislature and not the whims of an American president (implicitly referring to an editorial by Polly Toynbee in The Guardian, which accused her of the same thing).
The strongest argument Corbyn offered was to mention the British arms sales to the Saudis, responsible for the huge humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen. Thus, he illuminated the two-faced moral system of the May government. Why, he asked, do we not intervene there unilaterally?