Different moralities for different countries and different times?


I am finding it difficult to keep up with the West’s shifting moral compass under Obama and the EU.

Take the issue of whether the west supports separatists in any given country. In Syria the West did support the forces opposed to Assad who wanted to break the country up. Now the West is arming the Kurds, who want to create a separate Kurdish state from a part of Iraq. Yet in the Ukraine the West is against the rebels who wish to create a separate Eastern Ukraine. It  is also, of course, against IS forces who want a separate Sunni regime in parts of Iraq and Syria.

Or take the issue of whether the West supports incumbent governments because they have attained power through the correct  means in their system. The West supports the governments of Saudi Arabia and Iran, but did not support the government of Syria or Libya. The West asked for a change in the elected government of Iraq which it helped secure. It helped remove an elected President in the Ukraine, but now supports another elected government there. It did not support the elected government of Egypt when there was a military takeover.

Take the issue of who is the enemy?  Last year number one Middle East enemy was President Assad of Syria. Today number one enemy is the IS, Assad’s prime enemy. Some now think the West should change from  being anti Assad to being in alliance with him against IS.

Doubtless the strategists of the USA and the EU can make a case for each of these positions, and for the changes to them. It is difficult, however, to find a single strand of resolute support for democracy, or continuous support for the free determination of self government by peoples in these shifting sands of soundbites, military interventions and diplomatic pressures. Does it matter that the West’s voices are so  inconsistent? Can those who took us to war in Iraq, in Afghanistan and in Libya, and urged us to war in Syria, claim that the Middle East is a better place or more settled for our military activities?


  1. zorro
    August 23, 2014

    John, I am sure that they will brazenly claim anything to justify their actions. In a most insidious manner, the authorities are using the notorious terrorist legislation to threaten the arrest of anyone who views the purported beheading of Mr Foley, even though doubts are being raised in the mainstream media about this presentation. Of course, Mr Cameron has viewed this video and has no fear of arrest as he knows best. Is this the measure of our free society where any possible challenge of the narrative engenders the fear of arrest?

    In these days, how true is the quote….. ‘In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act…’


    1. zorro
      August 23, 2014

      ‘Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious’…. In actually putting these thoughts out there John, this is what you are doing. I wonder if these politicians think that we have the memory span of gnats. We know here Malcolm Rifkind saying that we must fight/bomb Assad in August 2013, and in August 2014, we must make common cause with Assad……. Of course, the common cause is to bomb Syria and take it over one way or another, and if anyone thinks it isn’t, I would suggest that they are deluding themselves.


    2. Lifelogic
      August 23, 2014

      Indeed well Cameron is essentially a LibDem and thus anti liberal and anti democrat.

    3. Tad Davison
      August 23, 2014

      Dead right Zorro!


  2. Peter van Leeuwen
    August 23, 2014

    To me the overall development over the last decade illustrates the bankruptcy of military approaches. But how to get out of these messes in the many hot spots now?
    The EU used to be guided by a non-military approach. It would be sad if the EU were drawn further into military thinking for its foreign policies. Less British and French military influence and more German influence, which for decades has been more conciliatory?

    1. Keith
      August 23, 2014

      You’re claiming the British have influence over the EU’s military policy? Doubt it was our idea to expand the EU’s sphere of influence to Ukraine.

      1. Peter van Leeuwen
        August 24, 2014

        @Keith: what is portrayed as EU (military?) expansionism is not much else than an open door policy for European countries that (like the UK in 1971) want to join the club, nowadays subject to Copenhagen criteria and restrictive policies (no expansion in the next 5 years). If it had been expansionism, than wouldn’t Turkey not have been an EU member already? This in spite of pushing by Anerican presidents and Nato.

    2. yulwaymartyn
      August 23, 2014

      of course that is right Peter. I don’t know if you can catch Channel 4 catch up where you are but watching the news last night on this issue fully showed up the bankrupt approach adopted in recent years. The anchormen could hardly keep a straight face it is so pitiful. It is now who is the enemy? my enemy’s enemy’s best friend?. Do we now give aid to those that we were considering attacking a few months ago.?

      1. Peter van Leeuwen
        August 24, 2014

        @yulwaymartyn: Channel 4 (BBC4?) requires an additional subscription. As my wife didn’t really watch it, I dropped the subscription (we still live in hardship in the eurozone! 🙂 )

    3. Sebastian Weetabix
      August 23, 2014

      …….Blair has a lot to answer for, that is for sure.

      I think the problem has been a lack of critical thinking before applying military force. I have formed the view that Mrs Thatcher was the last UK leader to send in the military with a clear achievable goal in pursuit of our national interest in mind, rather than doing so for PR effect with an eye on opinion polls. The teenage gushing from many of our politicians (our host happily outside their number, as I recall) in favour of the so-called Arab Spring was embarrassing in its witless detachment from reality. In our pub the settled view at the time was we should probably be on Assad’s side, given the array of Islamist lunatics ranged against him.

      As for the Germans… if someone can explain to me what me Merkel and co. are up to in Ukraine, other than poking the Russian bear with a sharp stick, I’d love to hear it. I don’t detect any diplomatic genius at work there.

      1. Peter van Leeuwen
        August 24, 2014

        @Sebastian Weetabix: if you google on “land for gas Merkel Putin, you will read that there are talks going on, inspite of Crimea and MH17 etc. although any deal denied by the Germans, as it doesn’t secure handing back the Crimea to Ukraine. Let’s see if next Tuesday’s meeting in Belarus will help with diplomacy.

        1. lojolondon
          August 24, 2014

          Yes, Peter, we know and Merkel knows and Putin certainly knows that when winter comes and the stupid windmills all over Germany stand still as a high pressure cell resides over Europe on the coldest days of the year, that is when Putin’s gas will be required. And knowing Putin for the experienced chess player that he is, that is when the deal will be struck, possibly after a short squeeze on the supply lines through the Ukraine to remind the EU who holds the strings.
          When negotiating, common wisdom is ‘speak softly and carry a big stick’. The EU, lead by Merkel, has spoken loudly and carries a very small twig.
          Watch this space.

    4. Leslie Singleton
      August 23, 2014

      PvL–Well that’s just wonderful–Provided of course the other guy sees it that way too. We are OK with the EU though–They do at least have the vacuum cleaner situation under control (Actually they don’t as the letters in the Torygraph show today).

      1. Peter van Leeuwen
        August 24, 2014

        @Leslie Singleton: Dutch media are at least fair enough to acknowledge that this new directive is the result of a lobby by European industry (keep the competition from outside the EU out). I sort of missed that in British tabloids.

        1. Leslie Singleton
          August 24, 2014

          PvL–An insane and counterproductive piece of nonsense like this is not altered by what you have just said. It’s not just the directive as such, it’s the fact that there are highly paid and well pensioned whole departments in Brussels sitting there doing nothing but put this sort of baloney in place. You will remember the bent bananas, the truth of which didn’t matter because everybody believed it to be true and an entirely typical example of the EU in action. Brexit ASAP.

    5. BobE
      August 23, 2014

      The Germans tend to prod Russia if they can

    6. Anonymous
      August 23, 2014



      Mr Blair and Bush caused us grave damage.

      (Dr Redwood. My source may be the Daily Mail but – sadly for your party – it is being read and it articulates what a good many of your supporters believe.)

      1. Peter van Leeuwen
        August 24, 2014

        @Anonymous: I’ll read the linked article.

  3. Mark B
    August 23, 2014

    John Redwood MP said;

    ” . . . West’s shifting moral compass . . .”

    There is no ‘moral compass’. That is a Blairite / Progressive Liberal fantasy. It allows them to engage in acts that are none of our concern, and force and outcome that is of no benefit, other than to enhance the standing of an individual politician eg Kosovo.

    Nation states do not go on morals, they go non interests. Which begs the question.

    “What are OUR interests ?”

    Find the answer to that question, and we maybe able to define a foreign policy.

    1. APL
      August 23, 2014

      MarkB: “There is no ‘moral compass’. That is a Blairite / Progressive Liberal fantasy.”


      MarkB: “Which begs the question. ‘What are OUR interests ?'”

      Which begs the question. Who is ‘OUR’?

    2. oldtimer
      August 23, 2014

      I agree with your comment. Morality and moral outrage has been invoked to justify UK military intervention; Blair has used it, Cameron has used it. But I observe that this “morality” is qualified and only invoked in particular circumstances – such as the little matter of actually being able to apply effective military force. It was ever thus. And UK capacity to “intervene” is declining by the year. The consequence is the muddle we see today.

      As such, in my view, it is a poor, uncertain, unreliable and arrogant guide to or basis for foreign policy. That should be national interest, no more, no less. That policy should reflect our values but not to the extent of imposing our views of what is best for other countries on those countries by military force. Manifestly that does not work.

  4. Excalibur
    August 23, 2014

    John it was ever thus. British foreign policy in particular, has been fraught with inconsistencies and moral erraticism. Thus the Fijians were made into foreigners in their own country, (much as the English are being made now), whilst the Malays had preferential treatment under their constitution, that has turned it into a hot bed of Muslim fundamentalism.
    I seem to recall that Assad claimed from the outset that it was Islamist terrorists who were attempting to overthrow his regime. Our enlightened Foreign Secretary at the time, and others, wanted to arm them. Indeed it is probable that we are even now providing Assad’s opposition with arms and military expertise. Now that Assad’s claim has been largely verified William Hague remains opposed to co-operation with his regime.
    Given the complete lack of democracy at home I am at a loss to understand why Britain should be so determined to impose it on others. The only consistent factor in our assessment of situations abroad is apparently the propensity for making the wrong call.

    1. Leslie Singleton
      August 23, 2014

      Excalibur–We just plain and simple got it wrong over what to do, if anything, in Syria. I was bemused by what Hammond had to say yesterday. He seems to think that what some of us have been saying has something to do with whether we want to be friends with Assad, which has nothing to do with anything.

    2. yulwaymartyn
      August 23, 2014

      No wonder Hague got out. He could see what was coming.

    3. Sebastian Weetabix
      August 23, 2014

      There were a lot more Malays than Fijians, and we were fighting Chinese communist insurgents at the time, so going along with the desire for preferential treatment for indigenous Malays as expressed by the Bumiputra policy was quite sensible from our point of view. My uncle fought in the Emergency in the late ’40s early ’50s.

      1. Excalibur
        August 24, 2014

        I am not sure I follow your thinking, Sebastian. There were Malay CT units, at least initially, as well as Chinese. The fact that a majority of CTs were Chinese, was no excuse for denying third and fourth generation Chinese and others equal status under the new dispensation.
        Equally when the Fijians protested over the loss of their homeland to others through a military coup they were thrown out of the Commonwealth. How the number of Malays as opposed to Fijians could affect the Fijian position I fail to comprehend. I was a rifle platoon commander on anti terrorist operations in Malaya for several years.

    4. Bill
      August 23, 2014

      I would not describe Malaysia as a ‘hotbed of Muslim fundamentalism’ given that Shiite radicals are imprisoned there and Christian churches are tolerated. I would agree, though, that it was very odd how Malay Muslims were given an inbuilt majority by the Constitution bequeathed to them by the British.

  5. stred
    August 23, 2014

    Thank goodness some politicians are capable of seeing the discrepancies. Today, we have the possibility of a another war with NATO warning Russia not to take an aid convoy into an area being shelled and rocketed by a regime backed y the EU/US. The Russians have only ever proposed that the area should have an independent status within Ukraine, but neither side will give an inch.

    There have been widespread destruction and large numbers of refugees, but the issue has little coverage on the BBC and other channels. They have concentrated instead on important matters such as police raids on Cliff Richards house following unproved allegations about what went on at a Billy Graham rally in Yorkshire 40 years ago. But perhaps those who were so supportive of the Kiev riots are feeling uneasy about the consequences. Besides, Putin is a horrible man who wants has brought back a law similar to Mrs T’s disgraceful attempt to ban the promotion of homosexuality to children. And to the media class, this is a very important matter.

    The horrifying pictures from the Middle East have finally woken our EU/US compliant politicians to the result of their interference and now they are back pedaling as fast as possible. It would not be surprising if our security services had the details of these recruits to the Headchopper State all the time, just as they did when the appalling attack happened in South London last year. No wonder the Moslem clerics are asking for some leadership. They are threatened by the extremists themselves.

    1. Martyn G
      August 23, 2014

      “No wonder the Moslem clerics are asking for some leadership. They are threatened by the extremists themselves”.
      Exactly so and it has come about because of the silence to date of the huge number of law-abiding, moderate Muslim communities who seek to live in peace with their neighbours of whatever persuasion. To remain silent and acquiescent in the face of the ongoing IS atrocities they put at risk their own freedom of worship and, at worst, their lives.

  6. formula57
    August 23, 2014

    What your excellent description reveals is perhaps that there is no morality guiding the West’s actions, rather case by case opportunism driven by who knows what forces but likely greed and sectional interest rather than some greater good. Accordingly, the less active the UK becomes in foreign affairs, the better.

    1. acorn
      August 23, 2014

      Hypocrisy Rules OK! Can you imagine what a nicer place this world would be if the Americans had just stayed at home.

      1. Ted Monbiot
        August 23, 2014

        Presumably if America has stayed at home the USSR would now own much of Europe and the Far East.

        1. Tad Davison
          August 23, 2014

          I carry no brief for the USSR. I didn’t much care for the communist ideology and still don’t. I do however recall something Denis Healey once said of the USSR about the time of the Cuban missile crisis and the period thereafter, ‘all the Russians would have needed to invade western Europe, was boots.’ In other words, they could have invaded, but they didn’t.’

          They had surrounded themselves with satellite states as a strategic buffer against the opposite happening – the western invasion of the USSR. Now let’s look at the present geopolitical make-up of eastern Europe and the encirclement of Russia by NATO. It would seem as though it has always been the western power’s intention to expand ever-eastwards. So who’s the real baddie?

          The sooner the people wake up to this imperialist EU US expansionism and put a stop to it, the sooner the world will know the true meaning of peace, and the better it will be for everyone.


          1. Ted Monbiot
            August 24, 2014

            NATO, American troops deployed in places like Germany and the nuclear capability of the UK and France and the USA is what kept the Russians out, not their kindly decision Tad.

        2. acorn
          August 23, 2014

          The USSR shut down Christmas 1991. Anyway the Russians don’t have a good record when they play away from home. Hence nowadays, they only “rescue” Russian speaking regions from EU expansionism that is operating as a proxy for the US “bring back the cold war” neo-cons.

          That’s the same neo-cons that pushed Bush into Iraq; de-stabilized the whole Middle East and created mega profits for the US arms industry, which was threatening to shutdown weapons factories in multiple US Congression Districts.

      2. A different Simon
        August 23, 2014

        Acorn ,

        You may get your wish sooner than you expect .

        What happens when America becomes energy independent ?

        Won’t the EU will have to pay for the policing of the straits of Hormuz ?

        1. Mark B
          August 24, 2014

          No, they will just build a pipeline through Iraq and Syria and on to the Med’. 😉

  7. Douglas Carter
    August 23, 2014

    Not sure if you’d call this off-topic or ‘on’ but specifically with regard to the murder of the Journalist James Foley, if indeed his murderer can be identified with the accuracy that the UK legal system would demand, let’s ensure that the USA are given the opportunity to lead the operation that might lead to his capture.

    If he was to be captured successfully alive by UK-led forces, or UK forces acting as a sole national unit, that murderer would instantaneously become the focus of numbers of campaigns within the UK with regard to his status as some form of role model to UK extremists, and of course as a vehicle by which the UK Human Rights industry (…’Industry’….) will use him as their political football of choice in the many years ahead – they will do everything in their powers to prevent any extradition.

    Let’s make certain that if he’s captured, the UK has no competence of legal custodianship of him in any subsequent respect, if indeed he can be identified with that level of accuracy.

    1. Leslie Singleton
      August 23, 2014

      Douglas–Let alone the risk of the EU getting involved, which Heaven forfend

    2. APL
      August 23, 2014

      Douglas Carter: “Let’s make certain that if he’s captured, ”

      We’re taking prisoners? Sorry to hear that.

    3. Chris S
      August 23, 2014

      The Americans have framed their laws to ensure that a crime committed anywhere in the World against an American Citizen can come under US juristiction.

      By all means let’s send the SAS after him but in the unlikely event that he’s captured alive, make sure that he’s handed over to the US to deal with. He can then face the death penalty.

      1. Mark B
        August 24, 2014

        We cannot hand over people to a country were the person is likely to face the death penalty.

        It is against their Human Rights.

  8. alexmews
    August 23, 2014

    Thx John

    the other 180 you missed is Iran. A year ago – and for the previous decade or more – they were the poster child of the Axis of Evil. I see a full normalisation coming as we partner with them to confront IS.

    is it about oil? About supporting Israel? About protecting Kurds? About feeling the need to Do Something when confronted by horrors on TV / Internet? I can no longer follow what our interests and policy is. I agree with your post.

    1. StevenL
      August 23, 2014

      It’s about keeping them at each others throats, stopping them uniting to form an Islamic superpower. Always has been.

  9. Ian wragg
    August 23, 2014

    Should read SAS. Predictive text.

  10. alan jutson,
    August 23, 2014

    Agreed, worrying times John.

    I am also getting confused.

    Perhaps we are better keeping out of foreign conflict, and concentrating on how we can best protect ourselves at home, and our territories abroad, such as they are..

    No problem with genuine humanitarian aid, and trying to help in any negotiations, but think we also have enough asylum seekers here now.

    If we are not careful, we will start to have problems here if we keep on going down the human rights, political correctness route which is undermining our own criminal and civil laws and way of life.

    Time to pull up the drawbridge.

    Perhaps time to ask the UN what it stands for, and is it really relevant any more, as it seems utterly powerless.

    1. A different Simon
      August 23, 2014

      Alan ,

      I think you know what the UN stands for .

      As Agenda 21 makes clear it isn’t the interests of the masses here or anywhere else .

  11. Brian Tomkinson
    August 23, 2014

    JR: ” It is difficult, however, to find a single strand of resolute support for democracy, or continuous support for the free determination of self government”
    Not at all surprising from the EU which has little, if any, regard for either when it comes to the people of its own member states. They also have expansionary ambitions to govern more countries. These disparate activities are ultimately about the exercise of power and self-interest. Insufficient attention in my opinion is being given to the security interests of the people of this country – the first duty of government.
    Returning to the above quote, it summarises my opposition to our EU membership and my total lack of confidence that neither your party nor either of the other two main Westminster parties support in any way our own democratic self-governance.

  12. agricola
    August 23, 2014

    The West is in a magnetic anomaly where the compass spins or varies so much as to be useless. The West needs to decide what their moral or pragmatic compass is.

    Do we wish to espouse democracy baring in mind that Europe and the UK only have a tenuous grasp of the concept for their own political conduct. The only democratic country in the Middle East is Israel so I do not see many others in that area being sympathetic to the idea.

    Do we prefer to safeguard our energy sources rather than worry about what political regimes we give succour to.

    Do we see the area as a nice little earner in terms of arms and worldly goods sales, and therefore support whatever political regimes exist.

    The thinking at UK government level has been very shallow in terms of Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and Libya. Seemingly based on short termism and ignorance. Putin from self interest probably got it right. He did not want revolutionary Islam kicking off in his border southern states, so he supported Assad. We took the fallacious democratic stand on behalf of freedom loving Muslims and therefore against Assad. Thank God that Parliament stopped government from actually doing anything, because we later found that those we thought to be heading for democracy were a bunch of sadistic, mad, evil tyrants called IS. Demonstrably worse than Assad.

    Time to eat humble pie I think, and to talk to Putin and through him Assad. If IS. can then be destroyed because they have nowhere to run then I think we must accept that the post WW1 borders are no longer valid. Better Syria and Iraq be allowed to break into religious faction states of Kurd, Shia, and Sunni while trying to safeguard minorities wherever they find themselves. Historically Islam seven hundred years ago was tolerant of Jews and Christians so it is possible in the future. Maybe Middle Eastern countries of one religion are more stable and easier to deal with than those in a state of civil war.

    As to the UK jihadies who travel to Syria and Iraq to fulfil their ambitions, so be it. If family and their Imam cannot stop them then we should be free of a long term problem, if there is no way back. They are an element that has nothing to offer our society or their own community. Time for our beach loving PM to offer some leadership or at least to listen to those who know what leadership entails.

    1. Anonymous
      August 24, 2014

      Agricola said of Putin ” He did not want revolutionary Islam kicking off in his border southern states, so he supported Assad.”

      Putin wasn’t arrogant or naïve enough to assume that the whole world would be like him once regime change had taken place – unlike the spoilt denizens of South Hampstead.

      PS – The jihadis from this country can virtually come or go at will. Yet again we are being told we must spend billions fighting in the middle east to prevent atrocities on our streets.

      1. APL
        August 24, 2014

        Anonymous: “The jihadis from this country can virtually come or go at will.”

        Yes, I don’t much care about the going bit, I’d just like the government to do it’s ******* job and stop the jihadi arrivals.

      2. Mark B
        August 24, 2014

        Yes. Billions spent elsewhere to keep those who really cannot keep our streets safe, well not 100% anyway, in the safety of Taxpayer funded, State Employment.

  13. The PrangWizard
    August 23, 2014

    It is indeed a lack of morality. Our leaders in all walks no longer look at things in terms of right and wrong, good or bad, because I don’t think they really know the difference. They are morally weak. Cameron in particular sets an appalling example, he says whatever his audience of the day wants to hear, and pandering even to the worst. He is not to be trusted. Because of this they don’t tackle and haven’t tackled for years the threats and abuses we in England in particular have had to endure. Moral equivalence has ruled the day. That of course is exploited by those who know exactly what they want, that is why we have a multitude of problems, domestically and internationally.

    We need new courageous leadership, particularly here in England. We have been told for years, that is, we the people, must put our beliefs and identity below that of others; that we must not protect our beliefs, we must not offend anyone; that we must demean ourselves. Anyone or any group that shows dissent is threatened by the British Establishment, the very same British Establishment which has led us into the moral mess described. No wonder many of us show no respect, because they are weak and they don’t earn it. There must be change.

  14. acorn
    August 23, 2014

    Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia are fighting a proxy war in Iraq and Syria, where sectarian violence is being fueled by both sides. If you are having trouble keeping up, here’s a map which appears to be updated fairly frequently. (Don’t ask me how.)

    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Syria_and_Iraq_2014-onward_War_map.png .

    I told you recently this is all about OIL so which bunch of land (Oil Field) grabbers should the UK put its money; guns and missiles on. Remember we make a bundle selling armaments to Saudi Arabia et al. Lots of western politicians make a bundle giving (all expenses over paid) lectures and speeches out there, to audiences of hotel staff.

    To be true to the form of western business practice, backing the gang that will give you the best oil contracts is normal. Then you have to try and make sure that your sponsored gang survives long enough to win the end game. The odds are not usually that good.

    And remember, whoever you decide to bomb this week, do not destroy any oil field equipment; pipelines or loading terminals. Yes, I know we can make another bundle rebuilding them but that’s not the point.

    The Turks say, ISIS is now selling its oil, but the Kurds are not allowed to sell their oil, a reference to oil fields and installations captured by IS/ISIS in eastern Syria and near Mosul in northern Iraq. There is a dispute within Iraq on the rights to oil revenues but; if outsiders take sides, you can tear up the constitution; again.

    Remember that Kurdish tanker the US won’t unload; $100 million dollars worth of crude. The US is opposed to the Kurds selling their oil independently, fearing it will break up Iraq in favour of the Kurds.

    1. acorn
      August 23, 2014

      Have you ever thought how all these bandits get paid for the oil they sequester from some other bunch of bandits?

      What banks could you think of that would handle such transactions and which oil companies would act as the middle men? Would there be a problem with money laundering rules? Is any of it in cash?

      Which regulators on Wall Street and the Spiv City of London will “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”.

      1. Tad Davison
        August 24, 2014


        I wish to God that John had used my earlier post in which I condemn predatory capitalism and make the case for benign capitalism. Alas, it didn’t see the light of day. I think you might have agreed with most of it, and there’s a growing number of people who are taking a different line entirely to the one they’ve been consistently spoon-fed by such ‘media’ as Fox News. They’re finally taking the time to educate themselves by going elsewhere for the truth and to see the massive con that has been perpetrated against their interests for decades if not longer by the forces of crony capitalism.


  15. English Pensioner
    August 23, 2014

    We should have kept out of all the recent disputes. Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya were nothing to do with us, this country wasn’t at risk and we have gained nothing by getting involved. Indeed, there is an arguable case that we’ve made things worse.
    The government should consider only one thing “I this event likely to have a serious repercussions on our country, either now or in the future?” If the answer is a clear “No” we should keep out and leave those involved to sort it out for themselves, and I believe that this is the situation in Ukraine.
    With the IS, there does seem some possibility that this could affect us in the future and parliament should be debating proposals from the government to ameliorate any future problems for this country, whether this is by entering the conflict either directly or indirectly (by supplying arms and support), or by strengthening our own defences at home by beefing up our borders and anti-terrorism laws.
    As I’ve said before, it’s not our job to be the world’s policeman, and we should keep out unless absolutely necessary.

  16. Atlas
    August 23, 2014


    It is as if this moral compass is situated at one of the magnetic poles, say the North, where all directions point south. Hence the compass can freely spin to point to all directions with equal probability.

    Off topic: The EU and Vacuum cleaner power consumption reduction edict is breathtaking in its chutspah (you must have read of it in the recent newspapers).
    Yet another good reason for leaving the EU. I wonder if the EUapparatchniks who dreamt this one up actually do their own housecleaning? Or do they employ cheap migrant workers???

    Actually thinking on it, these apparatchniks are omniscient. They know all there is to know about a whole range of things: Car performance, Vacuum cleaners, the Climate, the shape of Bananas etc, etc. Why, how did we survive before them? Perhaps we prospered instead.

  17. Chris S
    August 23, 2014

    There is a consistent lesson we have failed to learn from everything that has happened since the Iranian Revolution :

    It’s uncomfortable for the dreamers amongst us but the fact is that some countries, particularly those that have artificial borders concocted by Colonial Administrators, can only be held together and in relative peace by strong dictators.

    The Shah of Persia, Gaddafi, Saddam Hussain, Assad, father and son and Mubarak all held their countries together with ( relative to today ) little violence, a recognisable form of law and order and protection and respect for the rights of minorities, especially Christians, and women.

    They were very far from perfect but compared with what we see today they were infinitely preferable and the West could mostly deal with them in one way or another.

    I can see no way that there can be any form of satisfactory outcome in the Middle East given the current situation. Liberals and Lefties within the Western Democracies have been largely responsible for failing to recognise this fact and at least try to deal sensibly with the dictators.

    We all need to be realistic and accept that there are parts of the world where Western-style law and order and democracy just can’t be made to work.

  18. Stephen Berry
    August 23, 2014

    John’s piece captures the essential flippancy of the West’s foreign policy in the Middle East and generally. Allies and enemies change as rapidly as stories in a 24 hour news room and we steadily become less safe.

    Back in September 2001, the Global War on Terror was launched to ‘drain the swamp’ of terrorist networks in up to 60 countries. In fact, there were scattered bands of jihadis globally, while al-Qaeda had a couple of camps in Afghanistan and a sprinkling of supporters elsewhere. Today, in the wake of the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and an air power intervention in Libya, after years of drone bombing campaigns across the Greater Middle East, jihadist groups are thriving in Yemen and Pakistan, spreading through Africa and ISIS has taken significant parts of Iraq and Syria right up to the Lebanese border and is still expanding murderously.

    Had there been no “cakewalk” in Iraq, had there been no lies about weapons of mass destruction and no claims that Saddam Hussein’s regime was somehow linked to al-Qaeda and so to the 9/11 attacks, ISIS would have been an unlikely possibility. These last 10 years have seen the smashing of state power in Iraq and Libya and the Islamists have rushed into the void.

    It’s a miracle that we did not bomb and overthrow President Assad to bring ISIS to the shores of the Mediterranean and fulfil the Prime Minister’s worst nightmare. But remember, that miracle was achieved by defeating, not supporting British government policy. And only by changing this policy of incessant meddling in the affairs of others will Britain become a safer country.

  19. John E
    August 23, 2014

    What the West has done is to create anarchy, which is a great evil.

    Almost any form of ordered government is a lesser evil than anarchy. We are seeing its fruits in Iraq. It is more dangerous than ever given the inter- connectedness of the modern world.

    I am of the the view that what matters above all is the rule of law, not democracy.

  20. Kenneth R Moore
    August 23, 2014

    I do find it curious that Professor Redwood has never discussed political correctness – for it is this that is bending the ‘moral compass’. PC is not just some silly notion used to stop us saying naughty words. It is a serious threat to western civilisation and conservative values.
    When John Redwood says ‘The West’ he means the political elite with their wonky moral compass – not ours.
    The instincts of the common people in the Uk at least, have been much more anti war and generally against interfering in foreign affairs unless there is a direct threat to British nationals such as in the Falklands. We did not want action in Syria and the Blair toppling of Saddam Hussein. The public also felt that mass immigration would lead to separate cultures developing..some of which would be hostile to us. Again our out of touch politicians cocked a deaf ear to our concerns.

    Those in charge, dripping with a good measure of naivety, extreme arrogance, righteous indignation and political correctness seem unable to resist the attraction of being seen to do something – to bear their moral superiority and political correct credentials before the world.
    As I have said before the elite only recognise the politically correct truth. For example Mr Assad has been given evil oppressor status so Mr Hammond is forced to turn his face against helping Syria with IS even though it would be in our national interest. Political correctness trumps ALL other considerations.
    I remember all the fools in parliament, standing up and saying how ashamed they were that we didn’t intervene in Syria. They have all gone a bit quiet now.


    I well remember Mr Rifkind standing up in parliament calling for the bombing of Assad
    Now rather bizarrely he thinks we should work with Mr Assad.


    “Sir Malcolm, the chairman of Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, said history had shown that “sometimes you actually have to make an arrangement with some nasty people in order to get rid of some even nastier ones”.

    What kind of message does these muddled and inconsistent messages send out to our opponents.

    1. Anonymous
      August 24, 2014

      Kenneth – By controlling the language of the debate they control the outcome of the debate.

      If certain words are excluded then so are certain actions.

      Eventually thought itself is controlled. It is a form of brainwashing.

      1. Mark B
        August 24, 2014

        Classic Marxist theory. Which works.

        1. kenneth r moore
          August 25, 2014

          Indeed…It’s not enough for the Marxists to disagree with us..they actively believe we are bad. I suspect poor Dr Redwood has to spent considerable time deleting vile personal attacks chiefly from Labour party supporters in order to keep this a decent and orderly environment.

          Castles in the air – they are so easy to take refuge in. So easy to build ,too.

  21. Alan Wheatley
    August 23, 2014

    The difficulty starts by it being an international issue addressed by the USA and the EU. Surely the correct forum for addressing, and where necessary resolving, these matters is the UN, and in particular the Security Council.

    Putin’s stance on Syria, in contrast to “the West’s” seems to have been justified by events. And we can now ask the question why is Russia, a Member of the Security Council and ally of Syria, not leading the charge to assist the Assad government.

    Further, is seems logical and predictable that Putin, having had his advice on Syria ignored and thereby Russian interests undermined, was not prepared for a re-run in Ukraine.

    And we should also be asking why is China, another member of the Security Council and wishing to be a top player on the Wold stage, not getting involved in resolving these international issues. When it comes to “boots on the ground” they are better placed than anyone to fulfil the mission.

    As to whether Putin, and Assad, is a nice sort of chap with whom we would be happy to align ourselves, you need to look back to the Shah for a prime example of ditching your friend and ally because of some traits that offend western sensibilities to see how VERY much worse the replacement turns out to be.

    1. Mark B
      August 24, 2014

      China will not want to be seen i getting involved, for both domestic an international reason.

      On the international stage, she must have asked herself the question I raised above. And that is of one of National Interests. I’d doubt she has much, but is willing to let others make the running, so long as they are in a position later on, to pick up any pieces useful to them.

      A classic example of what I mean, can be seen on the African Continent.

  22. yulwaymartyn
    August 23, 2014

    Channel 4 news last night was painful. Clueless countries not knowing what to do. The spokesperson from the American State Department looked about 14. What a mess. American fighter planes blowing up American made Humvees recently captured from Iraqi forces. IS personnel are now driving around in captured vehicles built better to a higher specification than our own soldiers were in Iraq.

  23. Bazman
    August 23, 2014

    Pasty Dave Cameron surfing, eating beef jihad and fatwa chicken pasties in Cornwall.
    Are you crazy!? Don’t you think its a little politically risky for some R&R?
    If I says its safe to surf this beach, Osbourne, then its safe to surf this beach! I mean, I’m not afraid to surf this place, I’ll surf this whole place!
    What the do you know about surfing, Osbourne? You’re from Paddington!
    All right, let’s see what we have. Two of spades. Three of spades. Four of diamonds, six of clubs… there isn’t one worth a jack in the whole bunch. Four of diamonds…

    1. Mark B
      August 24, 2014

      And you had the bloody cheek, to criticize someone in another article over not keeping to the topic.

      But then again, you are Left-Wing.

      1. Bazman
        August 24, 2014

        When did I do this? No other answer have we?

  24. Eddie Hill
    August 23, 2014

    The short answer is that they’re all the enemy, but sometimes, it’s convenient to let them fight each other rather than us! I believe it’s called realpolitik and there’s nothing new about it.

    In less recent times, Hitler entered into a pact with Stalin, despite being a rabid anti-communist. Britain, France and the USA let Stalin have Eastern Europe in exchange for taking the casualties necessary to defeat Hitler. In World War II, France was happy to let everyone else fight for its freedom, then it joined the victory parades and shared in the spoils.

    And so on.

    I guess the FO privately feels that once Assad has dealt with some of our enemies, it will be easier to deal with him?

    However, Islam(ic extremism ed) is the real enemy and has many heads, perhaps too many to cut off.

    I also left a post yesterday about differing morality between the West and the rest of the world, but it didn’t make the cut!

  25. Tad Davison
    August 23, 2014

    Our foreign policy is indeed confused, but perhaps we need to see what drives it, and I suggest it isn’t a moral compass. That’s just part of the deception. We only need to listen to the speeches of George W. Bush and Tony Blair when they addressed the Iraqi people in 2003 to see the level of cynicism involved. The bringing of democracy and human rights to Iraq played no part in it. It was a full-blooded rape of a nation state and nothing less. And then the invading forces left the vulnerable victim with an unstable situation that saw a power struggle and the wholesale killing of innocent civilians that goes on to this very day.

    I am a capitalist, and believe that benign responsible capitalism can work for the good of everyone. It can improve the lives of every single person on the planet, but that isn’t what we presently have. Instead, we have a corrupt system of predatory capitalism that is run by a very powerful cabal. They heavily influence politicians who are then manipulated to design foreign policy which benefits this powerful lobby group and which sucks the life out of the US economy. We need to break that dominance as it’s both corrosive and subversive. Yet many brave men have tried to do just that, a lot of whom are no longer with us.

    It disappoints me that our own political leaders in the UK seem to want to go along with this system of predatory capitalism, and wish to see us embroiled in foreign wars and entanglements under the deceptive cloak of humanitarianism and democratisation. They depend upon the public not being able see through the deception. Blair feely admits to being an interventionist, and it seems that Cameron is following in his wake. Brown wasn’t quite as bad as Blair as far as military interventions are concerned, but when we see what lay behind his selling of the UKs gold reserves, and who ultimately benefitted from it, we also see that he was just another puppet of the above mentioned cabal.

    We in the UK need to have our own foreign policy, and one that is backed and supported by the people who really matter – the British voters. For too long, we’ve had this massive con trick played upon us. We grow weary of it, and I genuinely believe we cannot extricate ourselves from this mess whilst we have politicians of the three main Westminster parties who are so ready and willing to acquiesce to US and EU foreign policy. Maybe we’ll see some change at the next General Election. I live more in hope than expectation.

    Tad Davison


  26. Alan Wheatley
    August 23, 2014

    Once upon a time there were inter-nation treaties, perhaps there still are, where by nations would declare their mutual support in event of conflict. [OK, there is NATO, but that is on a different scale.] It seems to me there is every reason to continue with such treaties. For one thing it would make clear who we considered to be our allies and fellow travellers in the evolution of the World.

    Of course, such treaties should only be entered into if there is the unwavering resolve to see through the consequences. It is a great shame Chamberlain did not see things this way in 1938, for if Britain had soon by Czechoslovakia the likelihood is that the German resistance would have got rid of Hitler and the Nazis and there would not have been WW2.

    If you want peace you have to prepare for war, and on occasion go to war. Pacifist, non-involvement is not a guarantee for a peaceful and happy life. Indeed, it is an invitation for the aggressor to have a go at you.

  27. iain
    August 23, 2014

    Methinks much of the problems stem from the redrawing by the west of boundaries. If it wasn’t for oil I am pretty sure we would have left them to their own devices long ago.

    1. Leslie Singleton
      August 24, 2014

      iain–I agree (who doesn’t?) about the contrived redrawing of boundaries, arbitrarily splitting religions, tribes, races, cultures, law, languages and history (to name but a few). What happened eg to Mesopotamia about which I know little except that etymologically it means “between the rivers” (Tigris and Euphrates). Boundaries like that had been around forever and would have stood much more chance. These days I think it contains chunks of five countries (at least).

  28. Denis Cooper
    August 23, 2014

    JR, I don’t think you should muddle up the perpetual problems in the Middle East with the current problems in Ukraine. I may be incompletely informed on this matter, but as far as I’m aware there is as yet no strong religious aspect to the conflict in Ukraine, even though religion has entered into other conflicts in other territories that were previously parts of the Soviet Union and also in the Balkans. In contrast, the conflicts in the Middle East have long been and still are predominantly about religious differences, as is often the case elsewhere in the world. However I recall that the last time I offered a perfectly reasonable comment about what appears to be a fundamental incompatibility between a certain religion and democracy you declined to publish it, so I will say no more.

  29. DaveM
    August 23, 2014

    UK interests MUST always come first, even if it means u-turning, and sometimes negotiating with less-than-desirables. I just hope there is at least ONE person in the government that has the ba**s to do something other than playing party politics and posturing for the TV. Otherwise we’re in real trouble.

    Oh, and regarding enemies/friends/u-turns/UK interests:

    1. Chamberlain-Hitler
    2. Stalin-Churchill
    3. Mao Tse Tung
    4. etc. etc. etc.

  30. ian
    August 23, 2014

    It all start with the dot com crash in 2000, they lost a load of money and the start of the depression with morals going out of the window . 2001 9/11 the start of terrorist and the housing boom and large scale migration and big push into Chian and the others to bring down prices and costs. Then Afghanistan war, then war with Iraq stock market recovers and booming back home with housing. 2005 terrorist act in London, terrorists laws past by government. The start of your freedom being taken away. 2008 another big crash and the start of QE, big unemployment wages go down, food bank open up and tax”s go up, Chian go”s mad printing money and building everywhere. 2009 more laws past more freedoms taken away markets recovering. 2010 change of government which carry on as the last one more terrorism and freedoms taken away and tax”s going up 2011 stock market takeoff on QE and high inflation, more food bank open up. 2013 terrorists act in london more laws and freedoms lost wages still going down. In comes help to buy housing market takeoff . Terrorism worldwide wars everywhere. 2014 deflation starts, war the with russa put on the table more food bank open up more freedoms taken away with more laws past. The depression go”s on for the 90% of people. The money men are keeping their options open because they do not know when the next crash is coming no moral compass left it like being in a move.

  31. John Wrake
    August 23, 2014

    Whatever you mean by the West and its apparent shifting compass is a total irrelevance. The West is a variable concept, depending on who is speaking.

    What is relevant to British foreign policy is the morality of the government formulating it.

    The present government, supported by Dr. Redwood, has discarded the traditional morality provided for and expressed in our written constitution for a mish-mash of socialist doctrine, humanist views and the relativist thought which allows every individual to claim his ideas are right. As a result, a coherent foreign policy doesn’t exist. any more than a realistic policy at home can exist. We drift from crisis to crisis, governed by those without experience or knowledge, reinforcing their failures by more and more knee-jerk legislation creating more crimes, while they fail to use what we have had for generations.

    We should not be surprised that the treason at the heart of government renders it incapable of acting coherently, but that has nothing to do with “the West”.

    John Wrake.

  32. Terry
    August 23, 2014

    Well, it’s a case of learning after the event. The West should not have toppled Saddam, the West should not have interfered in Libya. Bad as the Dictators were, they did maintain a peaceful existence for the Christians and kept their barbaric rebels in check.

    Lessons were learned and luckily, the UK Parliament ensured that we did not get involved in Syria – much to the shock and dismay of the Whitehouse. Who, in the end, had to follow our lead. We stayed out of it and Assad is still there.

    But now the West is in an unenviable position of seeking an ally on the Western flank of the ‘Islamic State’ zone to overcome the ISIS hordes in their captured lands.
    Should the Americans fly over Syrian airspace to attack them without Assad’s clearance they will be setting a dangerous precedent and one which will be seized upon by Mr Putin with much relish. It’s what he is waiting for, no doubt.

    Our prime objective must be the elimination of this growing band of revolting, bloodthirsty maniacs. They are relics of a bygone age but armed with modern weapons hell bent on killing anyone who stands in their way. They are but primitive savages, unworthy of the civilised society they seek to destroy. They must be put down.

    We are informed by professional military men that they can be beaten but also infer that politics has to step aside to ensure the right outcome.
    Keeping Assad out of it is a political decision and also an serious obstruction to the goal. He has an professional army.
    This nonsense of not believing your enemy’s enemy is your friend should have no bearing on the prime objective. They must be defeated.
    The military would see Assad as a “friendly” on the Western flank who would support the air attack with troops on the ground. Syrian troops NOT Westerners. Use him to rid the world of these psychopathic murderers and save the lives of the innocents. That is the priority.
    Then we can address the Syrian crisis head on but above all, get this anti-ISIS show on the road for they first must be destroyed if there is to be any lasting peace in the region.

  33. Margaret Brandreth-J
    August 23, 2014

    I am not at all confused, because I do not attempt to seek clarity in a flux which changes according to whim .Back biters,back stabbers, disloyal morons whose words and actions change to suit the moment:how can one make sense of that! If we search for common and shared assumptions to challenge strategy,we will find that those assumptions are just as mutable as any strategy.
    You demonstrate John an Aristotle like conservatism where here as elsewhere it must be sensible to see clearly where we are before beginning to consider whether we want to go somewhere else.
    There isn’t any straight forward predicated logic where man’s looked- for power and survival instincts exist.

  34. brian
    August 23, 2014

    The West has been naïve in thinking it can bring democracy to peoples who don’t want it.

    1. Mark B
      August 24, 2014

      EXACTLY !!!!!!

  35. Denis Cooper
    August 23, 2014

    Off-topic, I see that Theresa May has an article in the Telegraph today:


    It seems unsatisfactory, even feeble, in many respects.

    For example, she writes:

    “People who insist on travelling to fight in Syria and Iraq will be investigated by the police and security services. For those who have dual nationality, I have the power to strip them of their citizenship and exclude them from the country.”

    Firstly, isn’t it time that we dumped this stupid idea of having citizens whose allegiance lies partly or entirely with another country? If they are truly loyal to this country they should not be treating its citizenship as a convenience while also holding the citizenship of another country, and they should be required to choose one or the other; if they chose the foreign citizenship that would not necessarily mean that they would be deported, but their continued presence in our country would become conditional, and they would not be allowed to vote in any of our elections or referendums.

    “Following the recent Immigration Act, I can, in certain circumstances, remove citizenship from naturalised Britons who are fighting overseas and exclude them too. And while it is illegal for any country to make its citizens stateless … ”

    Secondly, I don’t immediately see why naturalised citizens should be treated differently to natural born citizens; it can be argued that they applied to become citizens whereas those born in this country did not ask to be born here, but on the other hand those born here have had all the benefit of being born and nurtured in our relatively advanced and civilised society, largely at the expense of other citizens, and might be expected to show more gratitude, and so might deserve more severe punishment for their betrayal.

    Thirdly, as I have argued before, if somebody goes off and adheres to an organisation which claims to be a state, which even has the word “state” in its chosen name(s), then there is no reason why the law should not permit Theresa May to take them at their word and decide that removal of their British citizenship would not make them stateless.

    “… any British national who returns from Syria and Iraq faces prosecution here for participating in terrorist activities abroad.”

    Fair enough, but why not prosecute them for treason as well as terrorism? Is it because the concept of treason is intimately linked with those of allegiance and loyalty, and our present generation of politicians are embarrassed by those old-fashioned ideas?

    And finally we have the usual platitudinous……… claim that:

    “That ideology is based on a warped and nihilistic interpretation of Islam and it is far removed from the peaceful beliefs held by one billion Muslims worldwide.”

    etc ed

    1. Mark B
      August 24, 2014

      Dennis, as always, you offer some good words of wisdom.

      If these people (sic) wish to go and live elsewhere, under laws that are more congenial to them, then they should be free to do so and, we should honour their wishes to be part of another State by allowing them to take up citizenship there, and repudiate it here.


      Of course, the notion of ‘citizenship’ and all that it means would of course come into question, and why not ? But that also gives rise to the question of EU Citizenship, and all that ‘it’ means.

    2. APL
      August 24, 2014

      Theresa May: ““That ideology is based on a warped and nihilistic interpretation of Islam ”

      What authority does Theresa May have to pontificate on what the moslem faith does and does not advocate?

      Oh! Yea, that’s right. None.

  36. Rods
    August 23, 2014

    At least we know at long last what the almost empty, humanitarian aid convoys from Russia to Luhansk and Donetsk were for:

    “Trucks in the Russian “humanitarian” convoy are carrying back loads of equipment from Ukrainian defense industry plants,” reports the National Security Council of Ukraine.”

    “According to Lysenko, Russian KAMAZ trucks are being loaded with equipment from the Donetsk Topaz plant, which manufactures modern early warning radar equipment like the “Kolchuga” radar complex, as well as equipment from a plant in Luhansk that manufactures small arms ammunition.”

    (source: Euromaiden Press)

    1. stred
      August 23, 2014

      At least they are collecting their army surplus. The US is flying around trying to blow up the stuff they lost in Iraq.

      1. Mark B
        August 24, 2014

        ISIS would not want to be seen dead in a Snatch Land Rover. However, General Dannatt had no such qualms with the lives of his soldiers.

    2. NickW
      August 23, 2014

      Before anyone accepts that assertion as gospel truth, they would be wise to have a close look at the Euromaiden site for themselves.

      My personal opinion (having looked) is that it is a rabid propaganda outlet and that the veracity of anything written there cannot be relied on.

  37. Bill
    August 23, 2014

    John, many thanks for this post. Palmerston called ‘British interests’ the guiding star for British foreign policy. This sounds simple enough till you try to work out what British interests actually are (trade presumably). I am surprised that William Hague, who has written well about British political history, did not make a better or more statesman-like Foreign Secretary. Perhaps he was thwarted by domestic pressures? We know that Robin Cook wanted a ‘moral foreign policy’ but we also know that he resigned over the Iraq war. So we never got to see what a moral foreign policy looked like.

    It seems to me that we have a muddle in the midst of shifting geo-political realities. Sometimes humanitarian considerations are uppermost, at other times treaty obligations, at other times ‘soft power’, at other times, supporting our allies (usually the USA) and at other times old fashioned patriotism (the Falklands War). It is all presumably to do with the most powerful players in Whitehall.

  38. David Price
    August 23, 2014

    You speak a lot of sense John but at times it is frustrating to be a constituent as there is no direct democratic way to influence your colleagues.

    Congrats on being the Freedom Association’s “Parliamentarian of the Week”

    As to the inconsistency of policy and action by our government, I guess the starting points are “cui bono” and “follow the money”, I long ago gave up the notion that our government represented our interests.

  39. oldtimer
    August 23, 2014

    Of course the EU can be high handed within the EZ – as EU induced administration changes in Greece and Italy has demonstrated. The EU is not democratic but authoritarian within its own “borders”. The idea of the creation an EU army is to invite trouble.

  40. Andyvan
    August 23, 2014

    Moral compass? Please. Any perceived morality is a total illusion created by politicians motivated by power politics and money. Washington provokes wars to divide and rule and our idiotic leaders go along with it. The Ukraine is all about making a rift between Russia and the EU.
    Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and ISIS are all the result of similar divide and rule plans that have dismally failed due to US inability to win any wars at all. The last one they could claim to have won was WW2 and that was really won by the USSR. The US military, however, is very good at wrecking sovereign states then screaming terrorist when the somewhat annoyed residents fight back.
    If our leaders had any morality or spine they would cease getting us involved in other people’s wars and refuse to go along with any more crackpot, war mongering US sanctions or invasions.
    Morality means killing people is wrong except in self defence and I really had a problem imagining any of the recently invaded countries military sailing up the English Channel and invading Kent.

  41. Mike Stallard
    August 23, 2014

    We are looking at a failed policy. The USA thinks everyone is an American. Therefore, if you free up the people, they will pursue life, liberty and their own happiness. The election will allow them to choose their own government to facilitate this noble aim.
    Afraid that it doesn’t happen like that.
    We are not dealing with noble American slaveholders and planters of the late 18th century here. We are dealing with urban losers, angry people from southern Russia and different tribes which all loathe each other and have done for centuries.

    Luckily we have Baroness Ashton on the spot as our High Representative to allow us to punch above our weight in the world and to bring a solution to the problem.

  42. NickW
    August 23, 2014

    Without exception, every single interference by the West in the Middle East has made the situation worse.

    The only beneficiary is the American arms industry which is profitably providing arms to all sides.

  43. Max Dunbar
    August 23, 2014

    In aviation the direction indicator is set from the compass. The compass cannot be depended upon to give an accurate instantaneous reading at any time and suffers from lag. It can take a while for the compass to settle down after turbulence has been experienced.

  44. NickW
    August 23, 2014

    What “IS” has is a woman problem, or to be more precise, a lack of woman problem, which has an adverse effect on the psyche of the adolescent male. The organisation is not exactly welcoming to the romantically inclined female who has every right to feel less safe than any journalist.

    Hence the advertising appeal for a female jihadist to star in their own video.

    For very obvious reasons, we are are not ever going to see any evidence that the star in any such performance is actually female, because all we we will be able to see is their eyes.

    Any such video will be met with gales of derisive laughter and deservedly so.

    Contempt is the correct emotion; not fear. It is contempt that will slow and prevent further recruitment.

  45. MikeP
    August 24, 2014

    John, as my MP, I would much prefer you to argue for a military-free response to all these overseas disputes, ie humanitarian aid only. How would we like it if an overseas power came in with troops, tanks, planes and missiles firing on those of us who support one ideology not another. Blair’s Iraq war was a disaster and we’ll live with that for generations. Far better to beef up our intelligence and defences and border controls at home and not try to act as the world’s policeman. If this is really all about the Middle East’s control over the oil price , then fine, let’s accelerate use of alternative fuels.

    Reply I| opposed intervention in Syria, urged early exit from Afghanistan and am opposing a second Iraq war.

    1. Leslie Singleton
      August 25, 2014

      Comment on Reply–It is hard to remember which side we didn’t intervene on in Syria, even harder to remember what we were doing in Afghanistan at all and I do not believe that anything we have been or are contemplating doing in Iraq (possibly wearing a UN beret) could be classified as war. Still with Iraq, we seem to be paralysed by fear of mission creep as much as anything

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