The UK government appears to have covered up unauthorized participation in airstrikes in Syria (not just Iraq where it was approved in September 2014).
It did so by assigning personnel to fly under the command and flag of other countries — reportedly most likely the United States, but possibly also Canada. (Canada began participating in “coalition” airstrikes in Syria this past spring.)
Supposedly it’s just routinely part of a longstanding (early Cold War era) program to embed UK military observers into allied military forces, but this seems like quite a stretch for the intentions of such programs.
The UK parliament made it pretty damn clear under the last term that they didn’t want a Syria bombing campaign, effectively establishing a precedent requiring parliament to sign off on future military actions. Prime Minister David Cameron does have a Conservative majority now (unlike in 2013 or last September), but he hasn’t asked the new term’s members yet. So it seems fairly illegal to deploy UK armed forces members to participate in combat missions in an active warzone,
– with a hostile government (with air defenses and aircraft it could potentially use),
– and no UN support,
– where parliament had explicitly refused to authorize their actions.
Or at least it seems fairly illegal for now. He is widely expected to seek a new vote in parliament on Syrian airstrikes several months from now.
Aircraft participating in U.S.-led coalition airstrike missions in Operation Inherent Resolve against ISIS. (Credit: Dept. of Defense via Wikimedia)
Pardon the Tory-friendly sourcing, but I stumbled across this news and was startled enough to remark upon it.
The Telegraph: “EU demands Britain joins Greek rescue fund”
Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission president, discards David Cameron’s deal that spares Britain from Eurozone bailouts
Is the European Commission entirely filled with fools? The Conservatives in Britain just got re-elected on a platform bragging about how they had legally firewalled UK from liability for eurozone bailouts (which makes sense since the UK isn’t part of the eurozone and doesn’t have any major connection to crises there), and they’ve got a difficult referendum coming up on whether or not to leave altogether.
EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker screwing over Prime Minister Cameron and using UK funds for bailouts (against the written agreement) is an excellent way to ensure the Conservative Party’s voting base goes very hard against continued EU membership, whether or not Cameron tries to campaign in favor of remaining inside the EU.
Posted by Bill on behalf of the team.
Topics: Marco Rubio’s close ties to billionaire Norman Braman; UK election results discussion. People: Bill, Nate. Produced: May 11th, 2015.
– Has presidential candidate and US Senator Marco Rubio crossed an ethics line with his billionaire patron, Norman Braman?
– What if anything does the 2015 UK election outcome mean for Labour’s future? Should US Democrats take any lessons one way or the other?
Episode 127 (49 min):
– Guardian: “2015 UK general election results in full”
– AFD: “Marco Rubio’s Miami Vice”
– NYT: “Billionaire Lifts Marco Rubio, Politically and Personally”
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Two fishing boats have been caught on presumed Russian submarines and nearly destroyed. The New York Times:
An 80-ton trawler that normally catches prawn in its nets, the Karen this time seemed to have ensnared a submarine. And, with the British Navy and NATO both denying involvement, suspicion has fallen on Russia, which since the conflict in Ukraine has been testing the response times of the alliance in the air and at sea. The episode, which nearly capsized the Karen, was the second of its kind in a month off the coast of Britain, and comes at a tense time in relations between London and Moscow.
Dick James, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Fish Producers Organization, said that the deep stretch of the Irish Sea where the Karen nearly capsized was so popular with submariners during the Cold War that it was nicknamed “submarine alley.”
At the time of the accident, the Karen was in international waters, halfway between the coast of Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man.
Being dragged by one wire, the Karen was just seconds from sinking, he said, and his crew would not have had time to grab life jackets.
UK party leaders making firm promises about coalition arrangements (or rejected arrangements) that they mathematically can’t possibly keep are one way voters lose all trust in their public officials. I get that they’re trying to discourage splinter/protest voting by taking a hard line without wiggle room before the election, but the math just isn’t there to be saying stuff like this, and at a certain point it’s just pure misrepresentation of reality.
Labour and Liberal Democrat leaders in the past couple weeks have been painting themselves into a corner on coalition promises, wherein they’ll either force a 2nd election or have to dynamite the corner to escape the foolish pre-election promises.
If the Labour Party will not make any kind of deal with the SNP (which is their latest position) and the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats won’t either, how exactly is anyone supposed to form a government? Excluding the fairly astronomically unlikely possibility of a Conservative-Labour grand coalition, no two parties (or even three!) will have enough seats for a majority without involving the SNP. Everyone will be 20-50 seats short.
Projected number of seats to each party and combinations of various parties via The Guardian. Click to enlarge.
Are you going to throw this over to Northern Ireland to pick the PM? (Is that really better than letting Scotland do it?) Are you going to force new elections? What’s the realistic game-plan here?
The campaign for the May 2015 general elections is officially under way now in the United Kingdom. And barring a huge swing between now and the election, the results are going to be chaos.
Below are the March 30th projections from The Guardian’s election center (updated daily at the link)
Labour are campaigning hard against the SNP (to try to regain marginally SNP-leaning constituencies in Scotland), but that will make it harder to work together after the election. Which is an important consideration, seeing as they’re basically the only two parties that will collectively have anywhere near a majority.
And the Lib Dems seem pretty averse to working with Labour and the SNP, but they can’t easily go back to the Conservatives either.
The Conservatives may well finish first but (under current polling) have basically no shot of leading a government anyway, even with UKIP and the Lib Dems and the DUP. I mean…unless they’re planning to go into coalition with Labour or the SNP, which is beyond unlikely.
So that means…a big swing in favor of either Labour or the Conservatives is probably the only thing now that can prevent a totally bananas outcome or an irredeemably hung parliament.
Remember the good old days of 2014, when Nigel Farage pretended UKIP wasn’t a racist party and insisted everyone should pretend along with him? Those days are over, per this very exhaustive column by an anti-discrimination campaigner, charting the slide over the past two years from running on British “sovereignty” (whatever that means) toward openly racist political campaigns:
When asked by a Channel 4 documentary if there should be a law against discrimination on the grounds of race or colour in a ‘Ukip Britain’, the Ukip leader replied emphatically: “No.” Despite some attempts at backtracking, he has maintained he would axe many of our race discrimination laws.
Then it just devolves from there.
I’d also observe however that Farage’s positions highlighted in the piece — anti-immigrant, race-baiting, opposing discrimination protection laws — are actually the same as those of mainstream Republican leadership thought here in the United States.
And UKIP, which this time around still aren’t expected to capture more than a handful of seats, is having a similar effect on the Conservative Party in Britain as the embedded Republican far-right has in the United States: dragging even the theoretically sane and non-bigoted people toward oblivion in an effort to stave off electoral demise and irrelevancy. It’s simply more noticeable in countries like the United Kingdom or the rest of the European Union when it’s a separate party articulating everything openly and proudly … and winning significant vote share and even seats.
I’m honestly not sure whether it’s more dangerous to have the crazy faction hiding inside the mainstream party or out in the open as a separate party in the legislative body. It’s actually probably easier to sideline and dismiss them when they operate as a separate party than when they’re skulking around the major center-right party’s inner workings.