Religious wars?


The outbreak of religious war in Iraq should not lead to UK or US military intervention. Many people living in  the west are unaware of the issues in dispute between Sunni and Shia Muslims, and are not on either side. We are not well briefed over the theological. social and political differences, which clearly mean a lot to those involved.

When Western Europe lived through its own religious wars, with Catholic fighting Protestant, issues of national identity and borders came up in the conflicts, just as the religious wars in the modern Middle East also pose these secular issues and power struggles. The revolt of the Netherlands against Spanish rule was both a religious battle, and a quest for national identity and self government. It was good that Islamic armies and navies stayed at home and did not come to Western Europe to help one side or the other or impose their view of the right answer on the warring factions. If they had tried to intervene there might have been more deaths and a more complex struggle.

In today’s complicated world the great western powers do have duties as members of the UN. Where the international community thinks international law has been breached by one side in the dispute and not the other, and where they think their military intervention could put right the wrong, then there is a case for doing so. The liberation of Kuwait is a good recent case. Most in the Arab world thought the liberation of Kuwait was a just cause. Kuwait herself wanted military assistance. The west was able to do it quickly and successfully.

The internal wars in modern Syria and Iraq, part religious, part power struggles, do not pose the same straightforward moral issues. Nor is their the same opportunity for western military might to enforce a new and better solution at an acceptable cost in human life and destruction of property. The government of Iraq can ask for  military help, and it may be that technical advice or supplies of equipment are possible and permissible. Going further would be unwise. The West has taken sides, backing the government in Iraq  but against the government in Syria. It has wisely fallen short of backing the opposition in Syria, given the varied nature of that opposition and the difficulty of knowing how stable government could emerge from the violent overthrow of an unpleasant regime. Sometimes the west has to accept there should be limits to its interventions.

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  1. zorro
    Posted June 14, 2014 at 5:54 am | Permalink

    I agree with your proposition that UK troops should not be involved (let’s hope special forces are not already involved…) and that these countries should be allowed to find their own way. You bring up the elephant in the room as to why they should support the Iraqi government but not the Syrian government. The answer to that question lies behind US/UK international strategy which outwardly would seem to have been a disaster as it has turned each country it has intervened in or ‘encouraged’ the opposition has led to unstable chaos…… But may I humbly submit that this may have been the intention all along… bring chaos to the Middle East and later bring some order after conflict….. Who could possibly benefit from this situation?

    Isn’t it strange how these ‘Islamic militants’ (ironically called ‘ISIS’) never seem to attack Israel and seem to destabilise Israel’s competitors, and attack moderate Sunnis or Shias. Why is it that the Western Powers through their proxies Saudi Arabia, Qatar et al have been giving sustenance to these opposition movements in the Middle East?… Or is it really that strange?


    • zorro
      Posted June 14, 2014 at 6:06 am | Permalink

      Doesn’t say much for US training or military equipment that 30,000 Iraqi troops are supposed to have melted away or allow themselves to be killed by 800 troops oops sorry I meant ‘Islamic militants’ and all that US provided hardware and doubtless a large quantity of US dollars stored in a bank vault have fallen into their hands……. You see my problem is that this is happening far too often…. US military equipment falling into the wrong hands…… Does anyone really believe that this scenario is credible?

      When we know who are really controlling and bankrolling these ‘Islamic militants’ we will know who will really be benefitting from the chaos….. Just out of interest, will these ‘Islamic militants’ be fighting the Iranians soon?


      • Hope
        Posted June 14, 2014 at 7:13 am | Permalink

        Normally I would agree with with JR. However this cannot be the case. The US and UK created the instability by illegally deposing of Sadam for regime change sake without any national security interest or noble cause. Therefore the two countries unfortunately have a responsibility. The US and UK as occupying powers had a legal duty to make sure the country was left in a fit state. They failed. This mess was the creation of the Blair /Bush pact.

        Libya is in a mess and do not expect it to change any time soon. We are told by commentators the country does not control its borders. Cameron followed his mentor Balir by going further than the UN remit to commit regime change. He destabilised the country and should be held to account. If he was allowed he would have down the same to Syria. We cannot look on and say nothing to do with me gov.

        As we now see with the EU arrest warrant opt in by Cameron, you cannot believe a word he says. Hannah’s article claims there can be no renegotiation ,no need to wait, so let us have our EU referendum now.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted June 14, 2014 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

          I agree fully and thank goodness Cameron was at least held back from his warmongering in Syria by the few sensible Tories, where did Cameron get his Compass was it Oxford PPE. It seems always to be 180 degree out.

      • forthurst
        Posted June 14, 2014 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

        Saddam’s army including his officer corps and the Baath party: have they gone away? If so, where? Perhaps some Iraqis remember, especially the Sunnis, that although a brutal dictatorship under Saddam, Iraq like Syria, was a secular state where having the wrong religion was not sufficent evidence of itself to support a beheading. The ‘west’ have been deliberately stirring up sectarian violence and Islamic extremism in order to permanently weaken ME Islamic nations (apart from the good guys, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States).

        We need an independent foreign policy, independent of the neocon loons that have taken over the Pentagon and the State dept that are promoting wars in the ME and operating through the EU and NATO to destabilise Eastern Europe which is why delegating our foreign policy to the unelected and unremarkable Baroness Ashton and the rest of the Brussels menagerie is extremely dangerous and could lead easily to a serious conflict into which we would be drawn. The only way to achieve an independent foreign policy is to leave the EU forthwith by voting out all the Europhiles in parliament.

  2. Richard1
    Posted June 14, 2014 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    It is very extraordinary quite how badly the UK govt, particularly Labour, but unfortunately to some extent this govt with its attempted intervention in Syria, has misjudged foreign policy and our national interest and the interests of our allies in recent years. Same for the US. Supporting the US in retaliating for 9/11 was entirely right. The invasion of Iraq was entirely wrong since it was carried out on a false prospectus. When is the Chilcott report coming? Iraq was the biggest disaster in British foreign policy since WW2, we need to understand exactly what went wrong. The hubristic mission creep in Afghanistan after 2006 has also been an unmitigated disaster (‘maybe not a shot will be fired’ said the foolish Labour defence Secretary).

    Perhaps its best our Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary have spent this week socializing with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, but it creates quite an image of the reduced relevance of the UK govt. By the way, terrible as rape in war is – it’s almost as bad as killing- isn’t the real problem war itself? Is the aim to have an international agreement where eg Al Quaeda, the Syrian police or ISIS will agree not to use rape, just kill people normally, and will that then be counted a success? (Or have I missed something?)

    • zorro
      Posted June 14, 2014 at 7:30 am | Permalink

      Depending on your point of view they have been extremely incompetent or extremely competent in their policy aims. You have to know what their policy is to be sure of that….


    • Anonymous
      Posted June 14, 2014 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      Of course it shouldn’t matter the type of suffering in war, Richard. Rape provides a niche where Angelina Jolie can posture.

      Yet another actor/singer telling the world how things should be done – and a second generation, not very good, door-opened-by-daddy actor at that.

    • lojolondon
      Posted June 14, 2014 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      ‘Rape in war’ is a total red herring. It is one of the things that happens in some situations, for example, it is known that some commanders ‘give’ the women of a conquered village to their troops as a reward and motivation for winning. We can all agree it is wrong, but politicians, from Obama and Hague, down to the Brangelinas and the MSM spend their days going on about it when they have zero influence so it is pure hot air at this stage, and it distracts us from the worse things that are happening.
      Example Boko Haram, there is so much focus (allegedly) over 200 missing Christian school girls, yet the thousands of villagers, male and female, young to old, murdered by Boko Haram every week get no more than a mention. How ridiculous is that?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted June 14, 2014 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

        Of course it is appalling, but war and exploding people is even more appalling. It is of course a red herring and PR stunt in the typical Cameron mode with celebrities attached too.

      • Bazman
        Posted June 14, 2014 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

        ‘So much focus (allegedly)’? Got that right very little was reported. Imagine if 200 European schoolgirls had been kidnapped? 24 hour rolling coverage in your world would have been just propaganda? Deluded is word I shale be using quite often in my posts as most of you are on this site.

    • APL
      Posted June 15, 2014 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      Richard1: “The invasion of Iraq was entirely wrong since it was carried out on a false prospectus.”

      The invasion of Iraq in response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait was justified. It should have been prosecuted to the fullest extent at the time. Due to our lily livered spineless politicians the job was only half done, exposing the Iraqi Marsh Arabs to persecution by Hussain.

      The second attempt to finish the job, was not.

      Good to see the peace envoy to the Middle East has a clear conscience.

      etc ed

  3. Old Albion
    Posted June 14, 2014 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    I would hope Western governments have seen enough death and destruction aided, abetted and promoted by their intereference in conflicts that are none of our business.
    Iraq and Afghanistan were two conflicts we should never have become involved in. They are (not were) wars that cannot be won. Syria will be the same.
    Sadly the madness of religion will continue to drive the violence until humans face the truth.

    • acorn
      Posted June 14, 2014 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      Wiki reckons the US has been, or still is, involved in 124 wars / conflicts etc, since 1775. Nobody knows how many joint CIA / Mossad Black Ops / False Flag / Regime Change by manufactured insurgencies there have been so far. A lot of people are still to write the books about them. Anyway, what’s that got to do with the price of oil?

      The US only spent $650 billion on its military last year; eleven times more than the UK did. Still as Brookings put it; “With the collapse of the USSR and the end of the Warsaw Pact, the United States took the lead in establishing a new international political order in Europe. The rallying cry was “a Europe whole and free.” The Iron Curtain separating West and East would be torn down, and the former Soviet republics and satellite nations of Eastern Europe “would be transformed into Western-style market democracies as quickly as possible”. As such, they could be incorporated into the new international order under the United States.” I say let’s call it the EU for short.

      Well, that has backfired in the Ukraine and the Ruskies can see the US digging trenches on its post cold war borders, disguised by NATO badges, Velcro-ed to US uniforms. Meanwhile, the Middle East / North Africa “would be transformed into Western-style market democracies as quickly as possible” plan, ain’t turned out so well. I can’t decide which of my late mum’s expressions fits best. Bull in a China Shop or Three-year-old with a machine gun.

      The western world’s most dangerous organisation, the US Congress, wants to revive the “cold war” and stick it to Putin as the international bad boy of today. Don’t let them use the EU to do it in Ukraine.

  4. JimS
    Posted June 14, 2014 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    Many people living in the West are aware that our political ‘leaders’ have openly connived in importing these religious differences into the West.


  5. Lifelogic
    Posted June 14, 2014 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    Clearly the UK should only be involved in wars where we can win the war, win the peace, where there are real dangers to the UK of non intervention and we are certain that the outcome will be far, far better than non intervention.

    Blairs wars on a lie, failed on all of these counts. Why on earth did he do it? How is Chilcot, how many more years must we wait.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted June 14, 2014 at 7:32 am | Permalink

      Irrational belief systems (including the Ed Davey green crap ones) should not really to be encouraged or indoctrinated in young minds, certainly not with tax payers money, it is immoral and hugely harmful in the main.

      • Bazman
        Posted June 14, 2014 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

        Green crap. Yeah right. Like riding a bike causes more caviare and steaks to be eaten leading to more pollution and more calories to be consumed to maintain the energy required to propel the bike? Maybe you could tell us how the often overweight poor are able to afford all this expensive food? Will it be food banks handing out free vintage wines and salmon being the cause?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted June 14, 2014 at 7:44 am | Permalink

      I usually find the honours list rather depressing, the usual time servers, political toe the line disasters, hangers on, pop stars, half bit actors driving Prius cars and pushing their lefty right on drivel.

      Today however, at fist glance, it looks rather better and weightier than usual. Still countless engineers, scientists, business people and medical experts missing from it.

  6. Cheshire Girl
    Posted June 14, 2014 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    Personally I think Iraq has a cheek to ask us and the USA for any more assistance. Have we not done enough! So many lives lost and so much money spent on trying to help them. There seems to be an ‘uprising’ every other month now , and our Goverment can’t wait to be the first to jump in with promises of assistance and ‘resources’ even though we are told daily of how much debt we are in. It almost seems to be a popularity contest of who can be first. The people who pay for this (the taxpayers ) are never consulted. Can we not keep our noses out just for once!

    • A different Simon
      Posted June 14, 2014 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      “Personally I think Iraq has a cheek to ask us and the USA for any more assistance. Have we not done enough! So many lives lost and so much money spent on trying to help them. ”

      Sorry but I feel it is necessary to invoke Poe’s Law :-

      “without a clear indication of the author’s intent, it is difficult or impossible to tell the difference between an expression of sincere extremism and a parody of extremism”

    • Bazman
      Posted June 14, 2014 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

      Why not let the free market sell them arms until there is a victor who we can then attack as being undemocratic like Saudi Arabia is and then start the process again after rebuilding their country using their oil revenues to do this? Simples.

    • Mark B
      Posted June 15, 2014 at 4:54 am | Permalink

      “Have we not done enough!’

      I’d say we have done too much. And all for the wrong reasons. Hence the result.

      With every passing day, I despise the last Labour Government and its personnel more, and more.

      How anybody can vote for those kind of people, is beyond me.

  7. John E
    Posted June 14, 2014 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    You don’t mention OIL in your piece. Clearly we have a vital interest in protecting the flow to our refineries.

    I wish I understood more of what is happening – the news reports tell us little beyond the immediate headlines. I have a feeling we are in the middle of a switch of sides – or at least no longer opposing Iran as we did?

  8. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted June 14, 2014 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    The Sunnis have now gone pan-National, unifying their forces in Iraq and Syria and asserting that they constitute a single Sunni nation. They regard both Shias and Awalites as heretics.

    These forces are bankrolled by the Saudi Government and encouraged by the Grand Iman in Mecca. So if we want to get involved and stop these forces, it is clear what we must do. America does not and will not have the stomach for it.

    Two thoughts for you:
    (1) If a tree rots from the top, why not prune it at the top?
    (2) Is there ANY benefit from ANY organised religion ANY HERE?

    Recommended reading: ‘Tale of a Tub’ by Jonathan Swift

    • John Chaytor
      Posted June 14, 2014 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

      “The Sunnis have now gone pan-National”

      Or, as Iraq is just a 20th century construct created by the UK and France, you could argue that they are re-asserting their original “nation”.

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted June 16, 2014 at 8:55 am | Permalink

        I’ve worked in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Dubai and Bahrain. I can assure you that the phrase ‘The Arab Nation’ is used to refer to the cultural features that Arabs share because of their ancestry, not because of any aspiration to form a federal state.

        The United Arab Emirates is a loose Union with a common currency, but it is based on close family ties between the plutocrats governing these Gulf states.

  9. John Wrake
    Posted June 14, 2014 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Old Albion at6:17

    Don’t look now, but your prejudice is showing!

    There has been nothing ‘religious’ about the interference of our government in Middle Eastern conflicts which has made the situation worse and it seems to be attempting the same in Ukraine.

    It used to be said that successful foreign policy consisted of speaking softly and carrying a big stick. Current activity consists of shouting the odds and threatening the listeners while reducing the stick to a twig.

    As for the religious aspect, lumping all religions together only portrays a lack of knowledge and the noise of an axe being ground.

    John Wrake.

  10. Alan Wheatley
    Posted June 14, 2014 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    I agree with this well-balanced evaluation.

    We can learn from past events. If we had backed rather than abandoned the Shah, the modern history of Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and some other countries could have turned out far better; for them and for us.

  11. Kenneth
    Posted June 14, 2014 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    For centuries we have interfered in other cultures, either militarily or through coercion.

    Our clumsy interference upsets delicate tribal and regional balances that form a web of power with established pecking orders.

    For example, by empowering a central government with artificial borders set decades or centuries before, we are overriding internal leaders and groups of people.

    This sows the seeds of decades of conflict.

    Even now we see plenty of people, mainly on the left, who insist that girls must attend school in cultures where this practice is alien to many in that region.

    We are still trying to impose our model on others without accepting that all cultures are different. Some would call this racism. I don’t believe that cultures in the West are in any way ‘superior’ to other cultures. However, I get that impression from those who want to impose our values on others, especially those on the left.

    The slaughter of innocents is tragic. However, every time we interfere we upset power balances sowing the seeds for yet more deaths.

    I think it is time we stopped interfering and accept other cultures for what they are. It may take decades but we may end up with a more peaceful world.

  12. Neil Craig
    Posted June 14, 2014 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    I do not think these are religious wars so much as wars in which ethnic divisions are shown by religion. Same in Northern Ireland.

    The Reformation religious wars were characterised by genuine arguments over transsubtantation, indulgences, the power of prayer, the doctrines of the Westminster Confession of Faith.

    Neither bin Laden nor any of his suicide bombers claim to have anything original to say about the nature of God – perhaps Saudi’s funding of wahabbists may be genuinely religiously motivated but that’s about it.

    Or the EU’s attempt to use trade agreements to enforce warming alarmism, can be counted as a religious “war by other means”.

  13. Atlas
    Posted June 14, 2014 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Oh dear, this seems like a re-run of the end of the Vietnam war which ended up with the Americans helecoptering out people from the roof of its Embassy in Saigon with the fall of the puppet government. All that loss of life for nothing.

  14. Bert Young
    Posted June 14, 2014 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Tribal conflict in the Middle East has existed for centuries and will not be cured by Western intervention . Our involvement should be limited to what happens within our own boundaries . History has shown that only very strong – dictator like – leadership can keep these tribal factions under control and they ought not to be judged by outside Western society and values. Shortly after the 1st World War my father was posted to Palestine as a young soldier ; the stories he told my sister and I later – when we were old enough to understand , were similar to the stories happening in this region today ! Nothing seems to have changed . Blair and Bush have a lot to answer for .

  15. Denis Cooper
    Posted June 14, 2014 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    I watched the TV reports trying to get it clear in my mind which were Sunnis and which were Shias but getting more confused when it was said that a Sunni tribal leader was willing to fight the Sunni Isis but only if he got help from the Iraqi government which is dominated by Shias.

    At least, I think that’s what it was; the historical difference between Sunnis and Shias is clear to me, but who is now taking what side and why seems to be a muddle.

    And I wondered why we should involve ourselves in something we may never be able to understand properly, unless our own national interests were being directly and seriously threatened.

  16. John Bracewell
    Posted June 14, 2014 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    What about the argument that allowing militant Islamists to prosper and gain a foothold in a failed state (this time, perhaps, Iraq) just like when Al Queda and the Taliban controlled Afghanistan and the subsequent export of terror to the West, not to mention the hike in oil prices that will become inevitable if ISIS eventually control Iraq’s oil production?
    Having caused to a large extent this military vacuum in Iraq, is the West not obliged to help? Will showing air supremacy not help to keep the terrorists in check?

    • John Chaytor
      Posted June 14, 2014 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

      “Will showing air supremacy not help to keep the terrorists in check?”


      When “the bad guys” can be in civilian areas and are almost indistinguishable from civilians. Especially when using a drone operated by a 20 year old in Ohio.

      Our government is responsible to protect its citizens from immediate and direct danger – using military force to do so only as a last resort.

      In my opinion, where we went wrong after 9/11 was to treat this threat as a war rather than a terrorist / criminal problem.

      If the trillion dollars spent on the wars had been directed towards counter terrorism we would not have ignited this mess in the middle east and would be safer as a result. (Oh, and 10s of thousands of UK and US families would not have lost a loved one in vain.)

      • John Bracewell
        Posted June 15, 2014 at 10:08 am | Permalink

        At some point the ‘bad guys’ as you style them have to advance to take more ground, that is the time to use force from the air, they are unlikely to slow themselves down by taking a civilian shield with them into battle.
        Your statement that you would not have started from this point by doing things differently in the past is a moot point. Whether you agreed or not, the West did create the military vacuum now showing in Iraq and you did not answer my question ‘what should be done now?’

  17. Max Dunbar
    Posted June 14, 2014 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    My understanding is that the source of the conflict between Shia and Sunni is a disagreement over the succession to the Prophet. One faction believed that it should continue through the blood line, as with royalty, and the other believed that a quorum of elders should decide who to appoint as leader. The passage of time has no doubt blurred and distorted the feud and must be part of the fascinating and bloody history of the people of that region.
    As you quite rightly say, the religious wars of the west that continued unabated until the 18th century bear a striking similarity to those that rage in the Middle East, and elsewhere, today. Our churches are now viewed as benign influences for good, but always lurking in the bowels of religion is the virus of extremism and ‘no quarter given or taken’. It remains to be seen whether Christianity, or a faction of it, will once again rise in militant form in the West and do battle with the ancient enemy.

  18. lojolondon
    Posted June 14, 2014 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    John, I wonder if you can advise me about this latest war in Iran, and the difference to Syria, which escapes me.
    Syria – a terrorist organisation attacks the undemocratic regime, the west is fully on the side of the terrorists (prevented by a democratic vote in Westminster).
    Iran – a terrorist organisation attacks the undemocratic regime, the west is fully on the side of the incumbent.
    I am obviously missing something here – cynically I believe it may be that we take the same side as the Saudis or some other such influence that I am unaware of?

    • Bazman
      Posted June 14, 2014 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

      Quite simple lojo old bean, even for you. It is impossible to tell who is the good guy and who is the bad as they often one and the same and certainly not ‘chaps’. Toodle pip.

    • Bazman
      Posted June 15, 2014 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

      A lot of these religious wars are bases on ignorance and when the right, such as yourself, embraces ignorance as a virtue they are the same as the people they are fighting against. Wise up if you can.

  19. Graham
    Posted June 14, 2014 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    We should save our resources and cash so that we can be ready for when the excitement starts here – can’ t be too far away !!

    • Bazman
      Posted June 14, 2014 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

      The cost of living crisis must be getting bad for some. Zero hours contracts , sky high rents rising food, travel and utility costs. Something has to give. No wonder Boris wants water cannons to protect the London elite from peasants on less than 250k a year. Let them eat credit.

      • Edward2
        Posted June 14, 2014 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

        Sounds like you work for Oxham with your copied rent a quote there Baz.
        You missed out the falling unemployment, rising economic growth, low interest rates, rising property prices, continued low inflation, increasing Government spending, increasing income tax revenues since rates were reduced (especially from the richest), increased minimum wage rate, stock market at a high and the increased point at which low earners start to pay tax.

        • Bazman
          Posted June 15, 2014 at 8:28 am | Permalink

          All evidence in the real world points to rising living costs with wages failing to keep up for the average person. Nothing to do with Oxfam or apologist nonsense from people like yourself.

          • Edward2
            Posted June 15, 2014 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

            Rubbish left wing propaganda.
            Standards of living are rising again after the great recession caused by 13 years of Labour’s total mismanagement of the economy.

          • Bazman
            Posted June 16, 2014 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

            Tell that to the population. They will laugh in your face and quite rightly to Tory Boy.

          • Edward2
            Posted June 17, 2014 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

            Just look at the office for national statistics figures and see I am right.
            Just a descent to petty abuse whenever you are proved wrong.

          • Bazman
            Posted June 18, 2014 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

            As I said. Ask anyone who works for a living. Apologist nonsense.

          • Bazman
            Posted June 18, 2014 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

            You need to look on the high street at the amount of payday loan companies, pawnbrokers and the massive rise in methods of mining and exploiting the poor that bushiness has developed with the recession.

    • Excalibur
      Posted June 15, 2014 at 12:28 am | Permalink

      I suggested this in my post, Graham, but it was apparently too hot for John to handle. Has no one read Melanie Philips’s, ‘Londonistan’ ?

  20. formula57
    Posted June 14, 2014 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Have we not all be told to believe Iraq is a better place – thanks to the actions of Blair and Bush? Surely now shorn of weapons of mass destruction and relieved of Saddam, all is well, no? Lessons should have been learnt and we should do as you propose.

    Let us hope the government does not in this circumstance require saving by Parliament as it did over intervention in Syria. (And where are the lessons Chilcot is supposed to deliver to help in just this type of situation?)

  21. Terry
    Posted June 14, 2014 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    It is plain to see that the Iraq war was a mistake. Mainly because we went in with all guns blazing but no specific plan of what to do, once it was over. However, those responsible have yet to admit that and apologise for the damage and deaths they caused.

    Saddam was a nasty piece of work but under his regime, Iraq was almost stable. and post Q8 it was no longer a problem for us. He had been taught a severe lesson – not to mess with his neighbours and controlled sanctions were the best way to keep him in place.

    Now there is anarchy and Iraq is in danger of becoming another Afghanistan. All those lives were sacrificed by the Western Allies to prevent such a happening and all of the $ Billions spent on propping up a dodgy government and useless army. At least the Sunnis and Shiites are now killing themselves and not the rest of the world. Yet.

    Isn’t it about time that the Arab league got into gear to sort out these problems that are caused by Muslims on Muslims? It has nothing to do with us Western Christians. So, why is it that although despising our ways, they always require our assistance to sort out their problems? I
    It’s time for the Arabs, themselves to take the lead for once.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted June 14, 2014 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

      We should think ourselves very lucky that those who wanted to carry on from Iraq and attack Iran didn’t get their way.

  22. Roger Farmer
    Posted June 14, 2014 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    When we blundered into Iraq the second time there was no thought about the political vacuum that would and did occur when we got rid of Saddam Hussein, loathsome creature that he was. No consideration was given to the immediate aftermath of the conflict. We gaily disbanded both the Iraqi police and military with the result that control of the country we had conquered was impossible and anarchy reigned. We then kidded ourselves that we could impose democracy and all would be well. The Arab world has no concept of democracy and we gave a get out of jail card to various warring factions. The naivety of Bush’s neo-cons beggars belief unless of course they had a vision of how much they could benefit financially. It would appear that they left behind a house of cards. Wise council failed to prevent Blair from being a bit player in the conflict. I was always led to believe that the Foreign Office understood the Arab world, but when you look at subsequent excursions into Libya, Afghanistan and almost Syria it is obvious that they have forgotten all they once knew. Face facts, the Arab world is a total factional shambles and has only enjoyed significance because of the oil it is sitting on, and the massive contracts it issues for defence toys that it is barely capable of operating.
    I would shy away from further involvement but I would not condemn the USA if they decide to help out from the air.
    The one aspect of it all that really concerns me is the number of jihadists that are flowing from the UK. All passports of same should be revoked giving them the opportunity to continue their lifestyle in an Arab country of their choice. There should be no place for them in the UK. However having just seen the on going fiasco at the Passport Office I doubt they would know who they were unless they arrived at Heathrow with a 30 calibre bandolier across their shoulders.

  23. Terry
    Posted June 14, 2014 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    So, what has happened to the UN Middle East Peace Envoy, Tony Blair? He is very conspicuous by his absence. Of course we know his expertise lies in ducking and diving but this is supposed to be his job, so where is he?

    Now, should he be unable to help, we must ask what is he actually there for and why, (words left out as he is not paid for this work ed) He should be another person declared redundant to British interests.

  24. Bill
    Posted June 14, 2014 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Democracy is intended to be a way of sharing power and ensuring contradictory points of view are taken into account. Though people complain of the alternating of Labour and Conservative governments since 1945, the process did at least ensure that each side felt its opinion would eventually be expressed in law and policy. Where two sides totally distrust each other, power sharing or power alternating becomes impossible.

    I agree that the post-Reformation wars of religion in Europe eventually made people sick of bloodshed and produced the fuzzy democracy we enjoy today. Germany, of course, eventually divided into Protestant and Roman Catholic regions and one would have thought that Sunni and Shiite believers could eventually work out something similar. I agree we would only want to intervene if we felt our own security was at risk.

  25. Demetrius
    Posted June 14, 2014 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Religious wars never really end. Sometimes they go quiet, sometimes they take a different form. But then they surface again and again.

  26. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted June 14, 2014 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    JR: “it has wisely fallen short of backing the opposition in Syria”
    In the case of your leader and bellicose Foreign Secretary, that wisdom was forced on them against their wishes. Imagine what would have happened if they had been allowed to interfere militarily in Syria as they so earnestly wanted to do. They would now find themselves having supported the very extremists whom they are now so concerned are taking over Iraq!
    Meanwhile, we still await the whitewash from Chilcot.

  27. English Pensioner
    Posted June 14, 2014 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Fortunately most of the European religious wars, with the exception of Northern Ireland, took place before the invention of modern weapons and didn’t have such devastating consequences as what is happening now.
    It was, in my view, a mistake to get involved in any of the recent conflicts, as far from improving the situation it seems that we have made things worse and caused non-involved Muslim countries and peoples to turn against us.
    The other question is whether we have enough forces to get involved with the recent cuts to the military. I believe the plan to increase the number of Reservists at the expense of Regulars is doomed to failure. In the past, I’ve had colleagues in the Reserve, and they joined because they felt the Reserves were there to be used as a last resort when the country was under imminent threat and they believed that they would never be deployed in peacetime. Now they are quite likely to be deployed, I think is very unlikely that adequate numbers will be recruited, certainly I don’t think that those Reservists that I knew would want to serve under these new conditions.

  28. A different Simon
    Posted June 14, 2014 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    As soon as a Govt , particularly one which has tries to retain sovereignty , doesn’t do what the USA and EU say it is the target of military or economic measures .

    Any country which does not wish to have a central bank which is under the control of the International banking cartel is living on borrowed time .

    I think we are deluding ourselves if we think that what has happened to Iraq and Russia could not happen to the UK .

    How long would it be before the UK was the victim of US/EU economic terrorism if it decided to :-
    – i) leave the EU
    – ii) extinguish debt and fund public spending by money printing rather than incurring debt ? *

    * what is the point of retaining the pound if you don’t press that advantage home ?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted June 14, 2014 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

      Obviously not repaying debts is immeasurably worse than not incurring them in the first place.

      • A different Simon
        Posted June 15, 2014 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

        I did not advocate cancelling debts .

        I’m advocating that the Govt issue new central bank money to pay sterling denominated debts off completely .

        What is so good about the Govt running a surplus if that money is being taken out of the private sector reducing the ability of the private sector to invest or save ?

        Given that a public deficit can be covered by issuing interest free money , surely private debt levels should be the concern ?

  29. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted June 14, 2014 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    We are lucky no to have been born or raised in the Sunni / Shiite regions. I cannot see why people can even try to understand these religious cultures. They cannot think any different about the way they have been indoctrinated any more than we cannot help to adversely criticise it.They have deep seated beliefs which they can only protect with irrationality and violence.
    Obama and Clinton agree that the USA will not strike Iraq again. What is the point?
    however ,If we are directly threatened by Weapons of Mass destruction or recognisable terrorists groups , then we should also protect ourselves.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted June 14, 2014 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

      Re “They cannot think any different about the way they have been indoctrinated” same goes for the Catholic church, and so on, I am afraid.

      My first decision on becoming King would be to make Jonathan Miller into the Archbishop of Canterbury, and introduce some realism. His views on religion need to be heard more. Since I am 60 odd millionth in line to the throne its not going to happen any time soon : )

      • margaret brandreth-j
        Posted June 14, 2014 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

        I am sure that you understand that all cultures are in the mindset of their particular group, however, when ones upbringing is centred around violence and physical retribution , the anti violent indoctrination which we believe in for our own people is thought to be superior; i.e by us ;yet by a violent regime it is thought to be weak .
        This is a philosophical analytical observation and is not intended to compare the value of religions ,but you also probably understand that you would rather be in an anti violent camp?

    • Bazman
      Posted June 14, 2014 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

      Rather depends upon your birth right if you are born in Shiite regions. Like here.

  30. Ex-expat Colin
    Posted June 14, 2014 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Its a religious war when it needs to be. Outside of that its a grab for anything by tribes. Every tribe has its priorities and they are different in some respects.

    Those outside the tribal groups receive the religious war, those inside get brutal treatment with a shout of God in amongst it.

    Those outside of the Middle East maybe welcomed and acquire interests, those responsible need to be well protected. Like having somewhere far away to live/hide.

    Don’t try to teach anybody in that part of the world anything about democracy, just severely ring fence your interests tightly. Or better, keep out!

    Read and learn the history before engaging silly brain. This is Al Shabaab this time.

  31. John Chaytor
    Posted June 14, 2014 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    “In today’s complicated world the great western powers do have duties as members of the UN. Where the international community thinks international law has been breached by one side in the dispute and not the other, and where they think their military intervention could put right the wrong, then there is a case for doing so.”

    I don’t want to start the whole Israeli / Palestine argument but you have to agree that some of the “great western powers” are not impartial in many conflicts in the world.

    I read an article by Matthew Parris in The Times 2-3 years ago about the “2 state solution problem” where he said that we should just ignore this issue until both sides decide that they have suffered enough and their suffering is now greater than their grievances. He suggetsed it may take 20 to 30 years. At that point we can step in and help to resolve the issue as they, at that time, will be open to a solution.

    In the current unfolding nightmare in the middle east I suggest that the best the west can do is accept refugees fleeing from the conflict and provide as much humanitarian aid as we can afford. Only when the parties have suffered enough will they accept that a compromise is the only solution.

    UN (in reality, western – mainly US) “solutions” will only temporarily put a lid on a pressure cooker until it next explodes.

    The US and UK have spent over a trillion dollars in the recent wars (as well as thousands of military lives) and achieved absolutely nothing because the participants still have their grievances. Until that is resolved we would be wasting our time.

  32. Iain Gill
    Posted June 14, 2014 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    Do what Switzerland would do, that’s my advice.
    I would however recommend a bigger army in terms of actual soldiers, lots of the senior officer and head office posts could go though. (I suppose we will end up with a lot of vacancies in the “rest of the UK forces” when all those Scottish soldiers/sailors/airfolk go?).
    As for “We are not well briefed over the theological. social and political differences” that needs to change, especially the way some of our own neighbourhoods are splitting along these lines.
    I am struck by how much of what George Galloway said has turned out to be correct on Middle Eastern matters. For a right winger like me its weird saying that, but we need to open up more space in our political system for people prepared to go against the grain.

  33. Bazman
    Posted June 14, 2014 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    The American war machine is geared to the compete disassembly of the state structures due to the nature of the cold war and the strategy to be used in combating the USSR. This complete disassembly Iraq and its government structures has led to the present situation, but at least there is a free market in sectarianism and war and this is what is most important. They have the right to choose and not have a dictator or democracy. Might is right, as you all know from you free market delusions and anyone who tries to prevent this is North Korean right wing communist. If they don’t like Shari law or democracy then they can leave. Sorry you are telling me you cannot understand? What does this tell us?

    • Edward2
      Posted June 16, 2014 at 7:23 am | Permalink

      But the strategy for dealing with the USSR was totally different to the way USA/UN backed by the Labour party decided to deal with problems in the Middle East so your argument fails.
      But I will give you credit for managing to get your hatred of the free market into your post on this topic which takes some doing.

      • Bazman
        Posted June 17, 2014 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

        The American war machine does not just change overnight. An monopoly and oligopoly is a free market which many industries are here with banking at the top of the pile? More delusions.

        • Edward2
          Posted June 18, 2014 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

          You have commented on your own post Baz,…”more delusions”

  • 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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