Can we remodel the Middle East?

 

          The US and UK government passion to intervene in the Middle East was spurred by the murderous  events of 9/11. The US decided to hunt down their enemies, concentrating on Afghanistan. It was only much later that they realised their main adversary had moved to Pakistan.

           A theory sprung up from neo Con circles that NATO could influence the Middle East for the better, toppling a bad regime here, supporting rebels there, to nudge or force more Middle Eastern countries to adopt western style democratic governments. Mr Bush was keen on this approach, persuading many in the UK establishment including Mr Blair to back him. The UK, ever mindful of the need for the “special relationship” with the US, went along with these developments.

           The arrival of President Obama in office promised something different.  He announced his wish to change the US position and image in the world. He said he would close down Guantanamo Bay, as a symbol of what for some had gone wrong with the west’s wish to export its values. Instead Mr Obama increased the forces in Afghanistan and kept Guantanamo open. He did, however, show a marked reluctance to get involved in Libya, is stalling over Syria, and has now set a timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan.

            The west has discovered that aiding and stabilising democratic regimes in various Middle Eastern countries is difficult. The Syria case has also brought the west into confrontation with Russia, who backs the Assad regime.  The west would be wise to withdraw from Afghanistan and return to diplomacy, trade and cultural links. There is no evidence that further m ilitary interventions can create happy and stable countries by the use of force from without.  It is difficult to see how the UK’s national interest would be served by intervention in Syria.

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59 Comments

  1. lifelogic
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 5:58 am | Permalink

    Indeed a return to diplomacy, trade and cultural links.

    Meanwhile have new increased five fold higher bribes to communities to encourage them accept absurd wind farm projects. Bribing them with their own money, money stolen from everyone’s taxes and energy bills.

    So these expensive white elephants will cost even more it seems. Just kill all the subsidy now and see if any at all are worth building. I note that Micheal Fallon, the minister for energy has an MA in classics and ancient history, so perhaps he has not realised that their are now far better, cheaper and less environmentally damaging ways to produce energy than wind. Can we please get some decent, honest, impartial engineers making the decisions and get rid of these quack green priests.

    • lifelogic
      Posted June 6, 2013 at 6:19 am | Permalink

      I see that Albert Edwards of Societe Generale called George Osborne’s proposed Help to Buy scheme, “an unusually misguided piece of government interference in the housing market”. “I believe it truly is a moronic policy, that stands head and shoulders above most of the stupid economic policies I have seen implemented during my 30 years in this business,” Even Sir Mervyn King joining in a a critic.

      What is needed is more supply, easier planning, less stamp duty and taxes, functional banks and fewer daft building regulations.

      • Bob
        Posted June 6, 2013 at 7:34 am | Permalink

        @lifelogic
        “an unusually misguided piece of government interference in the housing market…I believe it truly is a moronic policy, that stands head and shoulders above most of the stupid economic policies I have seen implemented during my 30 years in this business”

        Sums it up rather well.

        Ian Cowie in the DT comments “If Help to Buy ends up helping foreign home-buyers push house prices even further into the stratosphere, he won’t be the only one crying “shame”. But the law of unintended consequences is particularly prone to afflict Budget gimmicks. It will be interesting to see if Treasury wonks rewriting the Finance Bill now can manage to dig the Chancellor out of this hole.”

        • Mike Wilson
          Posted June 6, 2013 at 9:07 am | Permalink

          If I earn £500 a week (average wage) and have to spend £1000 a month to rent a 3 bed house for my wife and 2 children to live in – after other bills, I don’t have much money left to spend. So I can’t create demand in the economy.

          I don’t know when the idiots in parliament are going to understand this – HIGH HOUSE PRICES ARE KILLING THE ECONOMY. People don’t have money to spend because they spend so much on rent and mortgages. It’s not rocket science. Yet this government is carrying on where Gordon Brown (‘I will not allow a house price boom to put at risk the sustainability of the recovery’) left off.

          Just imagine a fantasy world. Let’s say house prices are half what they are now. Mortgages and rent are half what they are now. People have lots of disposable income and spend their money. There are lots of jobs and everyone is happy.

          Apart from parasitic bankers of course. They have only been allowed to create half as much money out of thin air and are only getting half the interest.

          We have the economics of a lunatic asylum at work. And politicians who encourage it.

          • zorro
            Posted June 6, 2013 at 9:54 am | Permalink

            Absolutely

            zorro

          • Electro-Kevin
            Posted June 6, 2013 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

            High house prices (and tax) are driving away skilled young people too.

            Of four youngsters I know of recently trained by the NHS at huge expense to all (two doctors, two nurses) none remain in this country.

          • matthu
            Posted June 6, 2013 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

            The issue of concern is probably the large number of home owners whose mortgages are nearing the end of their lives and whose endowments are not going to meet the outstanding liabilities.

            So if house prices are depressed, we have a problem of repossessions, enforced bankruptcies, mortgage banks having to write off bad loans etc. etc.

            If house prices are higher, everyone shares a little pain but possibly we avert an immediate return to a banking crisis?

          • lifelogic
            Posted June 6, 2013 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

            Yes but the landlord is probably not making much at all if anything. They have to buy the house at perhaps £170,000, pay 1% stamp duty, legals, mortgage fees and the likes. He will probably have to pay at least 3.5% to borrow any money for this purchase + fees and is only getting a return of perhaps 5% in rent – after he has paid for insurance, agency fees, absurd government certificates, the deposit protection scheme, repairs, voids, tenants who trash the place then vanish, or just stop paying (and you have the court fees and a slow daft court process to go through) perhaps even less.

            If you want houses to rent you have to pay the going rate.
            Or you have to increase the supply by lowering the build costs, increased greatly by daft government regulations, planning laws and utility monopoly rip off’s.

        • lifelogic
          Posted June 6, 2013 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

          “I believe it truly is a moronic policy, that stands head and shoulders above most of the stupid economic policies I have seen implemented during my 30 years in this business”

          Perhaps not as bad as Major’s ERM, the EURO, giving Clegg equal TV billing or joining the “Common Market” but certainly mad.

      • Gary
        Posted June 6, 2013 at 7:54 am | Permalink

        The business of Big Govt is indeed Big Business. It enriches an assortment of leeches and insiders and ruins the rest of us. It is the most lucrative business and it won’t be given up under any circumstances, except ala France 1789.

        • lifelogic
          Posted June 6, 2013 at 9:16 am | Permalink

          Indeed it will not be given up easily that is for sure. Certainly not with, tax borrow and waste, Cameron. Osborne and Clegg nor with Ed Miliband and Balls in 2015 – the voices of the state sector unions.

          • Bazman
            Posted June 8, 2013 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

            Lack of tax on big business and the rich is part of the problem. Freeloaders contributing little, but using our infrastructure and services. Rules for these Tolls need to be changed and enforced. Cannot or will not pay then leave? Let others who will provide these services. Low taxes in Russia and all these wealth creators are coming here with their wealth? Have think why..

      • Disaffected
        Posted June 6, 2013 at 9:35 am | Permalink

        The problems in Syria are religious based, perhaps Mr Cameron thinks he can change their religious beliefs on a social whim- why does he not start with introducing gay marriage.

        Sir Peter had it right on the money in parliament yesterday and, once again, Cameron was arrogant and dismissive.

      • Jerry
        Posted June 6, 2013 at 10:03 am | Permalink

        This might be my last comment on John’s website, why, because I’m starting to feel rather sorry for the workload we give him…

        For example this blog is about the Middle East yet Lifelogic has decided to take it way off topic and have a rant about the “Help to Buy” scheme. I know that most topics drift but not this far surely – a little bit of self moderation might help John out and might even help John keep this site open for such comments.

        • lifelogic
          Posted June 7, 2013 at 7:18 am | Permalink

          Sorry but it just seemed such an absurdly misguided scheme, even by this governments standards. Perhaps we need to make a contribution and pay for a moderator (and proof reader in my case).

      • waramess
        Posted June 6, 2013 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

        Lifelogic

        How about more financially sound demand to drive the supply?

      • Anonymous
        Posted June 6, 2013 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

        Lifelogic – In most areas excepting inner London there are plenty of houses for sale in estate agent windows (estate agents now outnumbering shops it would seem.) It is just that sellers have high expectations of their values.

        No shortage as such – just no incentive to move house at a value commensurate with local wages.

        This in large measure owing to govt sponsored BTL landlording making it difficult for those employed on average wages to compete with the unemployed. Is reducing benefits to a mere £35k pa (gross amount required if earned) going to be enough to make the situation better ?

    • Disaffected
      Posted June 6, 2013 at 9:31 am | Permalink

      People in the middle ages recognised water power was more sustainable than wind. Then again, they did not have prime ministers who like to make bold statements to grab headlines and then do nothing or act with so much poor judgement it makes their qualifications in PPE appear worthless and them stupid.

      • uanime5
        Posted June 7, 2013 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

        People in the Middle Ages also realised that wind power was more prevalent that water power, which is why they built windmills where there were few rivers.

  2. Jerry
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 6:13 am | Permalink

    First rule; Sometimes better the devil you know than the devil(s) you don’t. Second rule; Allow self determination, only that way can there be proper stability, peace and progress. Third rule; The “West” (nor for that case, Russia) can’t all ways get their own way and sometimes it might have been better had they not. Apart from that I agree with everything you say.

  3. Andyvan
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    Western powers have been interfering in the Middle East since before the First World War with catastrophic results. The continuous fighting, strife and bloodshed is the direct result of us inventing states that took no account of ethnic divisions and tribal loyalties. We have an unbroken record of increasing hostilities and causing war with our continual power politicking and picking sides. How can anybody think that given the history of abject failure our supplying weapons to extremist groups that may well decide to use them against us is anything but a stupid idea? We have no legal or moral right whatsoever to play any part in the Middle East. In fact we should offer apologies and promises never to interfere again. Supplying arms would be a war crime, not something that normally concerns Western governments I know but do Dave and his chums really want to enter the same league as Blair, Bush and Obomber?

    • uanime5
      Posted June 6, 2013 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      Most of the fighting is due to Arabs opposing the dictatorships that rule them. I believe only the Kurds are trying to create their own state, while the Jews are trying to maintain theirs.

    • Robert Taggart
      Posted June 6, 2013 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

      Here, here, here.

  4. oldtimer
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    These interventions were, in part, the consequence of an arrogant mind set. Namely that it is up to the USA and/or the UK to dictate the form of government in another country, that military action is sure to produce a desired result and that the law of unintended consequences does not apply. This was most evident when the neo cons were in the ascendancy in the USA. They failed.

  5. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    What has happened to the Chilcot inquiry’s report? Have they run out of whitewash?

    • matthu
      Posted June 6, 2013 at 8:19 am | Permalink

      David Cameron is sitting on the evidence. If he had been in favour of releasing this evidence, it would have been by now.

      He prefers a situation where primeministerial correspondence can be eternally sequestered rather than risk releasing the evidence and forever having to watch what he puts / has already put in writing.

      • lifelogic
        Posted June 6, 2013 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

        Is that the position? I am sure Bliar will be very grateful.

  6. Gary
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    What did Syria, Iraq, libya and Iran have to do with 911 ? I was told all the hijackers were Saudi, but they are our allies !?

    The official narrative makes no sense.

    We have been involved in the region for over 100 years, we even created the artificial countries that did not exist prior to that. We secretly divvied up the region with Sykes-Picot , we over threw democratically elected Mossedgh to get their oil.

    The official narrative makes no sense.

    • lifelogic
      Posted June 6, 2013 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      “The official narrative makes no sense” – it rarely does, it is not intended to, it is just meant to influence the future, justify the past, retain power and mislead the voters. Most voters will not think or question it.

    • uanime5
      Posted June 6, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      What did Syria, Iraq, libya and Iran have to do with 911 ? I was told all the hijackers were Saudi, but they are our allies !?

      Afghanistan was attacked over 9/11 because the terrorist training camps were located there.

      Iraq was officially attacked because it had WMD but was probably invaded for oil and because the US didn’t like Saddam Hussain.

      In Libya and Syria rebels started attacking their Government and the UK chose to side with the rebels.

      Iran is hostile to the USA and may be involved in funding Jihadists.

      Just because most of the Hijackers came from Saudi Arabia doesn’t mean we should invade this country any more than we should invade the counties that the 7/7 bombers lived in.

      We have been involved in the region for over 100 years, we even created the artificial countries that did not exist prior to that.

      Arab source make it quite clear that most of these countries did exist in the past. While Lebanon and Jordan are new, Syria and Iraq have a long history. Though Syria was often part of Egypt, while Iraq was part of the two Iraqs (the other Iraq contained western Iran).

  7. Electro-Kevin
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    It has been awful to watch stable, largely peaceful and orderly countries with functioning infrastructure and commerce being reduced to rubble, dust, widespread terror and bloody chaos.

  8. Alex
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    No, we can’t, and we shouldn’t.
    We should restrict ourselves to any vital short-term humanitarian interventions, like assisting the evacuation of civilians from potential slaughter, or dropping food supplies.
    We should support (non-militarily) any regimes that have been democratically elected or we believe are decent and have the support of the people.
    We should consider intervening in cases where a bully state invades a smaller one (a la Kuwait), if we have UN approval.
    And that’s it.

  9. David Hope
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    When Iraq went very wrong very early I put that down to the fact they dismantled the police force and left total disorder. There was no strategy for once they reached Baghdad. However Afghanistan seemed to show that even when things were done differently it can’t work.

    I think one of the big problems with these foreign interventions is that both the electorate and politicians know little of the areas. Both are easily influenced by whichever experts they happen to talk to or political pressure from leaders of other nations. I wouldn’t pretend to know anything about Syria before a few months ago.

    And yet, despite the massive lack of knowledge we go and engineer unbelievable change in these countries where in our own country simple changes to the NHS, childcare (or whatever change of the day you care to think of) is deemed to controversial. We really should think more of the sheer scale of what we are trying to do in these places – it looks a lot easier from a meeting over in the UK than it ever will be on the ground

    • Robert Christopher
      Posted June 6, 2013 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

      I think one of the big problems with these foreign interventions is that they involve foreigners and they just do not think like us.

      They cannot help it. It is just a fact of life. 🙂

  10. Martin
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Part of the trouble with British policy in the Middle East (and elsewhere) is the strange assumption that a society can go overnight from a medieval world of a powerful ruler and or a feudal/clan system to a modern democracy.

    It is a long history from the torture rack of Henry VIII’s time to the modern world.

    • uanime5
      Posted June 6, 2013 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

      In many European countries they did go from an absolute ruler to a democracy overnight; usually after a peasant’s revolt overthrew the king. Alas they often slid back into authoritarian rule.

  11. zorro
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    John, there is quite a lot of evidence that this new strategic approach to the Middle East had been planned well before 9/11……..I attach a Wikipedia reference on the ‘Project for a New American Century’ with the interesting concept of a galvanising ‘new Pearl Harbour’…http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_for_the_New_American_Century

    (etc ed)
    zorro

  12. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    It is sad when we recognise suffering and cannot do anything about it, yet diplomatically it is difficult to stand against Russia or intervene at all.
    I noticed the wind farms were generating quite a significant amount of electricity yesterday and the people who have gone to the expense of fixing solar panels to their roofs are certainly with this weather getting the benefits of cleaner electricity. Ancient geological history tells us that the earth was actively and ferociously volanic at one time ,spuing carbon and sulphur into the air. There was a massive greenhouse effect and the world was almost completely covered with water due to global warming. Trouble is man wasn’t around.

    • DennisA
      Posted June 6, 2013 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

      “the people….fixing solar panels to their roofs are certainly with this weather getting the benefits of cleaner electricity.”

      They are also gettting the benefits of feed in tariffs via the rest of us through our electricity bills. They get paid by us to supply electricity to themselves.

      Of course, it’s all “renewable” and after all the wind and the sun are free…..aren’t they?

  13. Atlas
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    John,

    Isn’t part of the problem the fact that in the late 19th and early 20th Century European Powers started to divide the Middle East into countries whose boundaries did not reflect the pre-existing tribal and religious domains? This process essentially completed after the fall of the Otterman Empire in 1918.

    • Robert Taggart
      Posted June 6, 2013 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      Here, here, here – again !

  14. Alte Fritz
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    No, we cannot.

  15. Neil Craig
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    We have spent something like £30 billion on “liberating” Afghanistan. That is the UK share which means WE spent that on liberating Helmand.

    That is what Pournelle suggested, in dollars not £s would, if spent on X-Prizes, have given us (ie the UK) commercial flights to orbit, a space industry, permanent Moonbase, the chance to send spacecraft to mine the asteroids and beyond and solar power satellites able to provide unl;imited power with essentially zero running costs.

    I am not convinced that Helmand province contains anything as valuable as that, or indeed anything at all that is worth the bones of a British grenadier.

  16. Antisthenes
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    It is a strange paradox that the West for a period of time was behind the Middle East and Islam in particular in terms of knowledge and tolerance. Today that is no longer true the West spurted ahead and enjoyed the fruits of the reformation, renaissance and the enlightenment. Religion became less important and reason asserted itself in the form of more democracy and secular rather than religious ideology became the foundation of governance. Islam has yet to arrive even to the point that the West did with Martin Luther’s diet of Worms. So it is perhaps not surprising that displacing regimes in the Middle East does not benefit the peoples there as the mind set is still in many ways still medieval in nature. It does not benefit the West either to become embroiled there as it only feeds Islams already profound prejudices against the West. Of course there is always the problem of security of supply of oil to the West although now that is easing as more reserves are found in other regions it is becoming less so. The USA is due soon to become self sufficient in oil which will mean that they will turn their back on the Middle East all together so Europe will be left to their own devices.

    • uanime5
      Posted June 7, 2013 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      It is a strange paradox that the West for a period of time was behind the Middle East and Islam in particular in terms of knowledge and tolerance.

      Not really. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire much of Western Europe entered the Dark Ages due to the lack of central control. By contrast the Middle East benefited from Greek and Roman science, especial when the Muslims conquered parts of the Eastern Roman Empire. Muslims also benefited from Hindu maths when they conquered parts of India.

      Islam has yet to arrive even to the point that the West did with Martin Luther’s diet of Worms.

      Martin Luther’s opposition wasn’t to Christianity but to the Pope’s control of Christianity, specifically selling indulgences to raise money. As Islam no longer has an equivalent of the Pope and I don’t believe they ever sold indulgences it would not have been possible for Muslims to have a similar rebellion. Though at one point the Caliph fulfilled a similar religious role to the Pope the decline of the Caliphate and rise of independence of Islamic states meant there was little reason to rebel against the Caliph.

      Also the Diet of Worms was when the Holy Roman Empire declared Martin Luther a heretic and offered a reward to anyone who would capture him. They also banned his writings. So it’s not a good example of Christian enlightenment.

  17. Normandee
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    One thing that is unfailing is our inability to learn from previous mistakes, we still feel the repercussions from the Norman invasion in our benign hostility to the French. How we can still be interfering in middle eastern affairs considering the success rate so far is unbelievable. It has cost us lives and fortunes and has advanced civilisation not a jot, in fact it has taken civilisation back a few years in some places. We need to retrench at home for a while and seriously reconsider any “invitations to attend” in the future.

  18. uanime5
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    The US decided to hunt down their enemies, concentrating on Afghanistan. It was only much later that they realised their main adversary had moved to Pakistan.

    Well you can’t expect bin Laden to remain in Afghanistan for 10 years while the US army is looking for him. I believe he remained in Afghanistan during the initial fighting and was wounded in the arm.

    Instead Mr Obama increased the forces in Afghanistan and kept Guantanamo open.

    Increasing troops in Afghanistan was part of George W Bush’s surge plan regarding Afghanistan, so Obama was limited in what he could do regarding troop numbers.

    Guantanamo has proved difficult to close because no nation wants to accept the residents, including the USA and their home countries.

    The west would be wise to withdraw from Afghanistan and return to diplomacy, trade and cultural links.

    The west would be unwise to withdraw from Afghanistan if the lack of Western soldiers will turn it into another Somalia.

  19. Peter Davies
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    That’s correct. Countries in the west which have established functioning institutions have got to that point naturally, over time – hundreds of years.

    All of Europe was tribal until they eventually evolved into countries hence jagged borders (though in the case of the EU they are not real borders anymore) , what we have done in colonial times is carved up lands and drawn straight lines on maps then called them countries – we are now seeing some of the consequences.

    Indeed the Syria regime has its roots in French rule where the Alawites as a relatively small minority group were able to grab power. Countries which experience internal strife because they haven’t settled on their institutions will at some point in the future sort their problems out and settle on civil and institutional structures which suit them, we have to let them do this and stick to providing humanitarian assistance when needed and concentrate on fixing our own domestic problems of which there are plenty – and only intervene if there are direct threats to UK interests.

    On the subject of Islam (I’m not sure if this will get edited) I often wonder what sort of society would suit the Arab and Islamic world. In North Africa and many parts of the Middle they had the Arab Spring demanding democracy. However in the West there are (word left out ed) examples of people living there who hate their host countries, their institutions and their version of freedom and democracy which leads me to ask – what do they actually want?

    • uanime5
      Posted June 7, 2013 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      All of Europe was tribal until they eventually evolved into countries hence jagged borders (though in the case of the EU they are not real borders anymore) , what we have done in colonial times is carved up lands and drawn straight lines on maps then called them countries – we are now seeing some of the consequences.

      Actually most modern eastern European countries were once part of the Prussian/German, Russian, French, Ottoman, or Austro-Hungarian empires. Most were created after WW1 when the Austro-Hungarian and German Empires were divided up to create new countries such as Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, and recreate older countries such as Poland. Many of these new countries collapsed after the fall of Communism.

      Also most Middle Eastern countries don’t have straight lines to divide them up, while nearly all states in the USA do.

      On the subject of Islam (I’m not sure if this will get edited) I often wonder what sort of society would suit the Arab and Islamic world.

      Depends on how religious the people are. A secular country such as Turkey is currently rioting against Government attempts to make the country more Islamic. Though I have little doubt that there are some Islamic countries where the people will object to the country becoming less Islamic.

      Also most Arab countries belong to the Arab League, which is similar to the EU.

  20. Antisthenes
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Extrapolating from my previous comment about security of supply of oil. We are now moving towards energy production from renewable sources and the same problem is now occurring. The eco-loons told us that renewable sources of energy would be a benefit in that it would create thousands of jobs (they appear not to know the difference between a benefit and a cost) which of course is correct but they are being created anywhere other than Europe. Notably China so security of supply is far from sure coupled with which a 30 billion annual cost to Europe for these insane energy policies is going to line the pockets of Johnny foreigner who are doing very little themselves reduce carbon emissions.

  21. Robert Taggart
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    We did remodel the Middle East – around one hundred years ago – and just look at the result !
    What Blighty needs now more than ever be another, albeit contrary, Balfour declaration – we wish to have nothing more to do with that regions politics, we promise nobody any favours and favour nobody when such matters come before the United Nations General Assembly or Security Council – now then, sort it out amongst yourselves !

  22. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    We should be using our right to supply arms to Syrian rebels as a bargaining chip to force Russia to reduce the scale of its arms to the Syrian government. Russia should be supplying neither sophisticated missiles nor chemical weapons to Assad.

    Given that both the Syrian government and its most likely replacement are obnoxious and dangerous, why is anybody supplying arms to either side? For profit?

  23. Mark B
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    I have to disagree with your first line of your post.

    In 1953 we supported, along with the CIA, a coup of the legitimate government of Iran. Had we not done so, and let things take their natural course, would we have the situation that we now find ourselves in ?

    We have always meddled in other peoples internal affairs. Especially when we have an interest, but our interest and activities have been far too disproportionate to be reasonably justified.

    I have said too you before. Syria is of no interest to the UK. It is NOT our fight. Best we avoid this one.

  24. Wokingham Mums
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    No, no and absolutely no.
    No arms to the rebels, we don’t know who they are. No interference, no troops, no weapons, No. It’s a middle East/arab tribal problem, if we interfere. It will backfire on us. Big time.

    Send aid, support the refugees but no arms and no military interference.
    There has to be a political solution. Syria and the Middle East must be allowed to sort themselves out and we must let them whether or not we like the way they do it or the outcome.

    If we do and there is a rally against, we who have never attended a protest rally in our lives will take our children and march on the streets of London and we will never vote Cameron or for anyone who supports this madness again.

    How would you vote John?

    Reply I am against intervention in Syria, as should be clear from what I have written!

  25. zorro
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps you should ask the following politicians (Kenneth Clarke, Peter Mandelson, Ed Balls, Gideon Osborne….or maybe Kissinger or Barroso) what the UK’s national interest in Syria is next Monday….when they’ve been told 🙂

    zorro

  26. Max Dunbar
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    The Russians like to know who they are dealing with. Democracies come and go. Democratic leaders come and go. You can never plan for the longer term. The Russians are not stupid and they are not soft.

  27. Duncan
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    John, no one I know would like us to get involved militarily in Syria. Is this govt. mad? What is the story behind this? Why do we want to get involved? Why? It certainly isn’t for altruistic reasons (as Cameron / Hague claim). Is it at the behest of the USA? or the Bilderberg group?

    This whole sorry episode – Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Syria …. – just makes a stronger case for recall and selection of MP candidates by primaries.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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