And so, a pointless war against Syria has been averted - for now. Not that you would think it as BBC News has been in overdrive since Thursday's vote. Bulletins jammed with Syrian war porn - classy. But at least some of the media have been doing a proper job at holding the government to account. Step forward The Daily Record yesterday and The Indy this morning. Unsurprisingly, given successive governments' predilection to sell weapons and weaponisable components to any tinpot dictator that can stump up the readies, so it appears our Conservative-led Coalition government - the administration that has not only led the charge for war with Syria, but has been pressuring Obama to let the missiles fly - previously approved the export of "dual use" chemicals to the regime that are essential components in the manufacture of nerve agents. These exports were to take place 10 months into the civil war. I say "were" because by chance they were never delivered.
As this falls under the auspices of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, cuddly old Vince Cable - Iraq peacenik turned Syria warhawk - has some explaining to do. Here's some questions that need answers:
1. What was the extent of the Business Secretary's knowledge of this particular deal?
2. Given that the Syrian revolution had, by this point, fallen into bloody civil war, knowing that the Assad regime is a de facto absolutist monarchy with a grim record, that it has chemical weapon manufacturing capabilities and, then, with its back to the wall a clear motive for using them, why was the deal approved?
3. From the perspective of the Foreign Office, the Syrian regime and its regional geopolitical objectives conflict with those of Britain, its regional allies and those of the United States. So why did BIS approve export licenses for chemicals that could, and in all likelihood, would be added to the Assad regime's arsenal, thereby undermining Whitehall's policy preferences for the region? Was no interdepartmental advice sought - damning in and of itself - or was the export of nerve gas ingredients not considered relevant?