David Millband overreaches in the Caucasus

David Milliband is playing a dangerous game. His visit to Ukraine and his support for places close to the Russian border is a further incitement of Russia, without the force to back up the position he is setting out. He comes across as a boy cold warrior without weapons, playing with fire in a part of the world he understands but dimly. Maybe he is still planning his first cabinet, and too distracted by the slow collapse of the government he represents to do the homework he needs to do to understand the world of the Caucasus.

He has chosen the weakest and worst of all the possible responses to the ill judged Georgian adventure and the unacceptable Russian invasion. He has decided to talk tough and act weakly. What we need is a proper analysis of the problem, and longer term measures to rebuild the UK’s strength – and the strength of our Western allies – before presuming to dictate to Russia things we cannot control. How does he think the UK can guarantee the independence of all the states clustered near the Russian frontier? Does he understand why the West’s actions in encouraging and recognising an independent Kosovo have been seen by Russia as a green light to supporting independent states out of Georgia’s regions?

How can he belong to a government which set up a Scottish Parliament which now wants a vote on Scottish independence, and yet argue that people should not be allowed to change their states if they wish? He is muddled on self determination and how you redraw Europe’s borders. Apparently what is allowed in Kosovo is not allowed elsewhere. Time to do some reading and thinking, Mr Milliband, before putting your foot in it again.

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8 Comments

  1. Posted August 27, 2008 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    The Scottish Parliament does not want a vote on independence. The Scottish Government might do, but Parliament has not been asked for its views.

    Reply: The SNP and Labour both say they want a vote on independence, and between them they have enough votes in Parliament. I appreciate they disagree about when.

    • Posted August 27, 2008 at 9:53 am | Permalink

      That is a good point I had forgotten about 'Wendy's wobbles'. Perhaps the new Scottish Labour leader will take a different view. Who knows.

  2. tim holden
    Posted August 27, 2008 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    David Milliband has achieved the remarkable feat of appearing to be more deluded than Gordon Brown. The Russians must tremble in their boots when Milliband tells them that their behaviour is "unacceptable". The sheer poverty of Labour's first XI is advertised in his sneaky nonentity.

  3. ++++++++++DBC Reed
    Posted August 27, 2008 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    I agree with nearly all of this.This is a first.

  4. Stuart Fairney
    Posted August 27, 2008 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    He rather came across, to me anyway, as someone demanding a sort of "Polish guarantee" a la Chamberlain without realising what happened when that particular bluff was called.

    What would Milli do now if Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine? Stamp his feet and say that was double unacceptable perhaps?

    A poor, poor foreign secretary indeed.

  5. mikestallard
    Posted August 27, 2008 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    How much leeway does Mr Brown allow his cabinet ministers?
    I suspect none at all.
    Meanwhile he himself is in hiding, saying nothing, doing nothing, not leading, not making any contribution to what could well be a crisis leading to a World War.
    Poor little Mr Miliband! If he does anything, says anything, it will be seen as a bid for leadership; if he says nothing, all hell could break loose!
    Ouch!

  6. DBC Reed
    Posted August 28, 2008 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    It may be that Brown has encouraged Miliband to take centre stage so as to make him look the bigger fool when the Russians treat him with contempt , so ending his leadership bid.

  7. Posted August 28, 2008 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    Mr Redwood, this is like looking at my own thoughts in a mirror !
    Why on earth is that man trapsing about an ex-soviet country which has absolutely not one thing to do with us except to provide us with powder burns ?

    Two issues here :

    One – He splits the European Alliance by a visit which the EU President should have attended ( if at all ), which it wasn't because all he did was to make a public display of weakness and inflamatory utterances which as you say a schoolboy would have known not to do.

    Two – Russia is a master chess player in these matters.
    That is not to say we are not good chess players, but it leaves me wondering about whether this "young lad" knows the game at all, for again even the most rudimentary chess player would know never to make a move to antagonise an opponent which has a board full of pieces when you only have a couple of pawns to defend a queen.

    This issue has made me furious to be frank about it because not one of those "leaders of the fine democracy we're supposed to be living in" have said one word of sorrow or sympathy for the people of South Ossetia, and every one of them has ran off at the mouth before seeing or hearing all the evidence.
    They single mindedly jumped to defend Georgia, a non-allied country ( ex-soviet and an obvious warmonger president otherwise he'd not be inviting me and my fellow men to go fight the Russian's ), and Miliband is like a complete fool. No I take that back, he IS a complete fool to make threats and accusations of aggression to and against Russia.

    I know I don't need to remind anyone here but I'll say my bit anyway. Russia is now a Democratic Republic and is to all intents and purposes a NEW country with a very old name.
    It is full to the brim with political giants ( and of course some clowns but they are everywhere ). It has a very fine Constitution, unlike the one we don't have. It has many levels of democratic accountability – which we don't have, and it makes it's decision from the centre instead of from America – which we don't do.

    I believe we should quickly adopt the European Union to an Alliance of sovereign nations. ( Not a play of words as I have thought much about it unlike those who occupy the seats of "power" there which actually possesses little actual authority ) – that's one thing we do have in common with Europe and it strikes me as being starkly different to the USA and Russia which obviously do have the authority we don't have and Miliband can in no way express on our behalf.

    I'm also mindful of where David Cameron still stands on this matter because his visit was just as ridiculously biased and jumping to the wrong conclusion ? – I'm not only angry about it but I'm also highly offended by these two men at the moment and I've waited a week for David cameron to utter some sense on the issue ( where's William Hague ) ?

    Forget Miliband, he's an idiot and should STILL be at school but most certainly not anywhere near our foreign policy issues.

    Please will you do something about our country Mr Redwood.
    How about setting fire to something but not literally of course ?
    I know that's what I feel like.

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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