I listened carefully to the Parliamentary debate on Wednesday that ended with a majority of MPs voting to escalate military action against Daesh in Syria. Both your correspondent Tom Tugendhat MP (Conservative) (Letters, 4 Dec.) and Hilary Benn MP (Labour) made powerful, but, in my opinion, wrongheaded speeches in that debate.
Mr Tugendhat’s compounded his belligerent speech as an ex-soldier, with his assertion in his letter in support of his call to arms: ”I know I am right!”
This kind of unqualified certainty is both worrying and dangerous in our elected representatives in Parliament, and indeed in a soldier, albeit with an OBE for his military service.
Mr Benn, meanwhile, said in the Parliamentary debate
“Of course we should take action—there is no contradiction between the two—to cut off Daesh’s support in the form of money, fighters and weapons, of course we should give humanitarian aid, of course we should offer shelter to more refugees, including in this country, and yes, we should commit to play our full part in helping to rebuild Syria when the war is over.”
However, he made no suggestions as to how the financial or logistical support for ISIS should be stopped, despite being in charge of Labour’s diplomatic policy.
I would feel more comfortable if, however compellingly soaring his rhetoric, Mr Benn were to use some of the skills expected of a political purveyor of foreign affairs, which is diplomacy.