If you have been following the situation in Syria, and what the western governments reckoned they should do about it, then it looked like we were heading straight into military involvement. Indeed, not much has changed overnight with regards to every other country, but the British parliament has gone and thrown a huge spanner in the works.
When asked about the principle of military action, they shocked the nation by rejecting it, although only by a small majority. Since David Cameron has stepped up the pressure on Syria lately, as well as attempting to stand beside the US as the reliable allies that the British are meant to be, this is a huge blow to his plans. What was meant to be an easy vote has turned into one of the biggest political upsets we have had for a few decades.
Cameron tried to be a strong a decisive leader, pushing for action and doing what he though was right, and then he was figuratively slapped in the face by a parliament that did not share his enthusiasm. To quote the BBC, this was a Prime Minister that tried to go against the grain, and it has backfired catastrophically.
So, what next, since our most democratic institution has rejected action?
Well, this probably won't stop the US doing what it wants, since they still have the capacity to project their military power across the globe without our help. If they want to bomb Syria, they don't need us beside them, although, since we are a member of the UN Security Council, and have military resources in that region, we would have been useful.
However, this could make things difficult for Barack Obama's plan to get America itself behind him. Since he is trying to get congressional support, the fact that congress's equivalent in Britain has just resoundingly rejected military action is likely not ease their worries. Dissent in the British parliament could inspire a much more dramatic dissent in the the US congress. Frankly, the special relationship between our nations could very easily end up in us mirroring each other, no matter how much Barack Obama wants to stop that happening.
The American's most loyal ally has decided not to jump to their side, and that could encourage America not to act at all. After all, Obama is still not sure whether military action is still the right course to take.
This also might be a good thing. The British government is determined to do something, but now that military action is off the table they are going to have to go about helping Syria in a very different way. That basically means putting extra effort in humanitarian aid and helping civilians and refugees. This is our opportunity to build on the work that we are already doing, and might be much more constructive than importing peace via missile strikes.
However, by possibly inspiring democratic dissent, and not taking our place in the probably attack on Syria, the British parliament may have made a mistake. We might have just lost our opportunity to help end this war, and even caused problems for others who were willing to. Since parliament was going to get a second vote before any action was actually made, it does seem strange that they chosen to veto the process as such an early stage.
This is something that has really rocked the boat and, despite my gut feeling to stay out of this, might have done some damage. Parliament probably should have waited until the second vote before vetoing, because then more facts would have been known, but it seems that they were never going to support action. Iraq, Afghanistan, an the millions who have died in middle eastern conflict weighed to heavily on their minds, and they chose the safe option.
I think we have made the right decision, but no one can tell the future. This might have no effect, or it might have a huge effect, which, in turn, could be good or bad, but right now the right thing has happened. Parliament stated its opinion, and the opinion of the British public, by saying that this is a time for more peace, not more conflict.
Lets just pray that they have made the right decision, and that they are given the wisdom that they need.