Last night's remarkable scenes at Westminster will make precious little difference to the people of Syria. Cruise missiles will still fall on some carefully selected military sites in the coming days - the only difference will be that none of them will be British. The key question remains what it was before David Cameron's dramatic defeat in the House of Commons: what is the best policy to adopt in the light of the ever-increasing horror of the war in Syria?
There is no ultimate victory in any of this. Why? - Here are two out of many reasons: First, because the effects of punishment on other peoples' behaviour are unpredictable in comparison to the effects of reward. This is why smacking kids is much less effective at shaping their behaviour than rewarding them.
On the one hand, the British public, clearly sceptical of intervention in Syria, had their voices heard. Last night was, however, also a profoundly bitter moment because of what it says to the world about the morality of the British people. Is it not ironic and tragic to be celebrating the triumph of democracy and freedom of speech through ignoring the cries of the Syrian people for exactly the same rights?
The point is not just that missile strikes won't prevent Assad from carrying out attacks with chemical weapons, nor will they help bring the Syrian conflict to a much-needed close, but that our political leaders in the west occupy very little moral high ground when it comes to condemning the use of such horrific weapons.
I've discovered that a driving holiday in rural central France with intermittent internet access is not the best way to hear that Parliament has been imminently recalled, or the best place from which to act on the information. Result? The logistics of getting back in time have beaten me and I'll still be on the road back to the UK when Parliament meets on Thursday.