What is John Kerry doing in Syria?

THe U.S. Administration seems to think foreign policy is about telling the rest of the world what to do whilst doing little to ensure the U.S judgement is sensible or can be enforced.

John Kerry behaves like some over privileged commentator. He tells Russia who they can and can’t bomb in Syria with no ability to make them stick to his rules. Instead they bomb US allies amongst the opposition to Assad and Mr Kerry says he has improved collaboration.

Yesterday there were devastating attacks on hospitals, to add to the concerted damage to civilian targets around Aleppo in recent days. The Assad regime is blamed, and they tell us the ceasefire will not be possible.

During his period in office we have seen the Syrian civil war get worse and watched as Russia has intervened more decisively in Syria in ways he does not want. The US has failed to act successfully in Libya, backed unhelpful EU positions on Ukraine and the Middle East, and withdrawn most of their troops from Iraq and Afghanistan without creating settled and effective democratic governments there.

I accept that none of this is easy, and sometimes even the USA has to realise it dos not have the power to bring about what it wishes. It is however difficult to see good in what John Kerry has furthered with President Obama.

The Middle East is in a dreadful state. The Syrian civil war has just got worse, with yet more extensive migration. Mr Kerry still seems to believe there is a democratic opposition capable of winning the Syrian civil war, but so far his clumsy and limited interventions have helped prolong the agony without supporting and developing a proper democratic challenge to Assad and ISIL.

In the north of Syria there is also worse news, that the US ally Turkey is now attacking the Kurds, another US ally in Syria, whilst Saudi Arabia, another US ally is going to the support of Turkey. There is no sign of Putin yet ending the bombing of targets the US opposes.

Meanwhile Mr Kerry has time to lecture the UK on our own future as a democratic nation, recommending we do not seek to restore our democratic control over our own affairs. Mr Kerry clearly does not believe Mexicans, Cubans and Canadians should tell the U.S. what laws to follow, so why does he think continental European countries should impose laws on the UK?

Instead of lecturing us, we need to hear from Mr Kerry on how he is going to get his peace plan for Syria back on track, and how he is going to influence Russia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey in the way he wishes. I do not feel more secure for the actions and words of either the USA or the EU over Syria and the Middle East, nor over Ukraine.

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77 Comments

  1. Lifelogic
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 5:25 am | Permalink

    I also do not feel more secure for the actions and words of either the USA or the EU over Syria and the Middle East, nor over Ukraine. Obama, hugely lauded by the dreadful BBC at every turn, has been a disaster.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 16, 2016 at 6:17 am | Permalink

      I that that Tusk has warned that the risk of EU break up is real. Let us hope so, we must show the other countries the best the way to leave and the very many benefits of leaving and of restoring some real democracy.

      http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/feb/15/risk-of-eu-break-up-is-real-tusk-warns-ahead-of-crucial-summit

      If he wants people to stay this is surely not the way to go about it. Perhaps if he could mention one or two things that the EU has does well and that have actually benefited their members significantly. But I suppose, like me, he simply cannot think of any.

      • Know-Dice
        Posted February 16, 2016 at 10:02 am | Permalink

        Two faced is all I can say about the current “bunch” of politicians and bureaucrat

        So, on one hand Tusk throws CMD a few scraps from a very lowly list of changes to the EU.

        And on the other, if we leave the EU will break up….

        So, which is it?

      • getahead
        Posted February 16, 2016 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

        Good comment Lifelogic. Especially the last paragraph.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted February 16, 2016 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

        This is amusing:

        https://euobserver.com/tickers/132297

        “”There is an extra mile we will have to walk to reach an agreement,” between the UK and its EU partners, European Council president Donald Tusk said.”

        What does he mean, an “extra” mile? No miles have been walked so far, there have just been a few baby steps in what looks like roughly the right direction, and even they may be reversed later.

        • Anonymous
          Posted February 16, 2016 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

          Extra kilometre, surely ?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 16, 2016 at 8:14 am | Permalink

      It seems, according to the BBC this morning, that Cameron’s UK negotiations are at a very “delicate” point.

      So we will just have to wait to see if we get a vague, unenforcible promise (of absolutely nothing of any value at all) or no vague promise on absolutely nothing at all.

      Who cares about all this carefully choreographed, meaningless, fake PR dance by Cameron?

      Then on radio 4 they had a long, rather meaningless discussion between some pro EU Tory and some EU representative. No one from the out side needless to say.
      We can certainly rely on the BBC to slope the referendum field of play relentlessly.

      • DaveM
        Posted February 16, 2016 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

        There is lots of choreographed stuff on the BBC website today, with the BBC reporting that the PM’s “negotiations” are difficult, etc. Obviously the Chamberlain moment is approaching. There are also video guides to the EU.

        However, none of these articles have appeared in the top 10 Read or Watched lists for the last 3 days, which speaks volumes.

        I haven’t yet spoken to anyone who wants to stay in; the overriding issues being sovereignty and immigration, and foreign interference in general. This applies not only to the EU but also to Americans like John Kerry who seems to think he’s some kind of Henry Kissinger.

        I know there is no Statesman School as such, but surely there must be SOME people in the world who possess an ounce of the instinct required to be a good statesman.

    • Hope
      Posted February 16, 2016 at 9:03 am | Permalink

      Spot on JR. You should have added that it was the west support and involvement to oust Assad that has protracted civil unrest in Syria. It was none of our business in the first place. Our taxes should not have been used to help forces against Assad. It ultimately helped fund terrorism i.e. ISIS. It has caused mass immigration. It was about squeezing the Russians economically. If they could rid Assad from his country a pipeline from Qatar could be laid across Syria making EU countries less dependent on Russian gas and oil.

      All this propaganda about how bad he is or about how bad Putin is etc. yet nothing of Saudi Arabia’s horrendous human rights record on its citizens. How EU causing destitution, loss of business, mass immigration or coups of elected governments in Greece and Italy because of the economic failure of the EU plan?

      Kerry needs announce the cancellation of the 4th July. The US government does not believe in independence or sovereign nations. They must tell their people why they advocate this with the U.K.

    • Hope
      Posted February 16, 2016 at 9:16 am | Permalink

      Kerry needs to announce no border controls, the US will provide free health care to all American continent countries, free education, free housing, free welfare including benefits to children who have never lived in the US and that the US taxpayer will help Argentina or any other American continent bail out. They will not be allowed to prevent convicted criminals entering their country, not allowed to deport terrorists or people posing a threat to their national security. Germany allowed to instruct them how many migrants they will accept from Syria. The measly 10,000 is no where near enough. Angela says millions should be accepted whether you like it or not. In future the US will have a seat at the top table where it is out numbered in voting what it can or cannot do with all aspects of how it wishes to run itself.

      • Edward2
        Posted February 16, 2016 at 11:31 am | Permalink

        Excellent post Hope.

        • The Active Citizen
          Posted February 17, 2016 at 6:58 am | Permalink

          I agree with Edward2. It’s one of your best posts, Hope, and you should post it more widely. It really makes the point beautifully.

    • agricola
      Posted February 16, 2016 at 11:10 am | Permalink

      I would guess that from the way Mr. Tusk is running around Europe that it may have dawned on the EU that there is a very good chance that the UK will vote out. From this I deduce that the EU realises that it is vulnerable and impecunious without us. I therefore conclude that Cameron has really fluffed his re-negotiation because he lacked the whit to appreciate how strong our position was. He could have demanded the rectification by treaty of all those things which the UK electorate find increasingly onerous. The EU would have responded very negatively until they reached the position of realisation they are now in. Cameron could then have gained real substance, rather than the diluted gruel he now seeks.

      This is my key argument for not letting him or his supporters in the parliamentary party anywhere near the discussions with the EU post Brexit.

      • alan jutson
        Posted February 16, 2016 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

        Agricola

        Absolutely agree.

  2. The Active Citizen
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 5:39 am | Permalink

    Very powerful stuff. It needed saying.

  3. Mark B
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    And another splendid article from our kind host. 🙂

    The word to describe all the above is; ” a mess.” And it is all these messes that we would have been well advised to stay out of.

    What interest do we have in Syria, Iraq, Ukraine and the MENA ? We, and indeed the populations of those countries, would have been far better if we just left them a lone.

    Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread. And sadly, we have far too many fools at the top of various governments itching to make things far worse.

    A mess abroad and a mess at home.

  4. Mike Stallard
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    President Assad is fighting for his life. He is at the end of his tether and in a tiny minority in his own country. Russia is his ruthless ally. President Assad knows that he is in imminent danger of death – and a horrible death at that – and he doesn’t care who stands between him and salvation. The Russians want him in their camp. So does Iran – same religion almost.
    Once again, Russia is flexing her muscles.
    And the once mighty British Lion is completely toothless and clawless. If you speak softly but do not carry a big stick then nobody listens.
    I reckon that Federica Mogherini will sort it out…

  5. Antisthenes
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    Obama’s presidency will be known to posterity as being one of the worst. He has managed to alienate and confuse his friends whilst giving advantage to his enemies. Race relations have deteriorated, crime has risen and the worst of it is in areas controlled by the Democrats. US debt is escalating. Sadly the USA is no longer the power or force it once was in the world. It was in decline before Obama but he has accelerated that decline. If he is followed by either Clinton, Sanders or Trump although the rest are a bit of a motley crew as well then I fear for the future for not just the US but us as well.

    Putin is of course not in the least bit trustworthy and he has turned Russia into a gangster state. Turkey is dismantling democracy, secularism and repeating past mistakes with their policy towards the Kurds reminiscent of the Armenia conflict. The middle East and some African countries are either basket cases and/or in open conflict. China is flexing her muscles and disregarding the legitimate rights of her neighbours and doing little to curb the insanities of North Korea. Iran, Saudi Arabia and the like are (unable to stop the spread of ed) pernicious forms of political Islam that encourages extremism which is being rapidly exported to countries outside of the Middle East. Nuclear proliferation in the region is now a real possibility as Iran can now freely with the connivance of the US, UK and others develop her own bomb. Assurances from and deals made with that regime are worthless and now they will have the financial means to do it more quickly. This is only a brief list of the problems that the world faces today more could be added.

    With the background of all that is and is going wrong in the world and the totally confused and complicated civil war going on in Syria it is not a nominee of Obama’s Kerry who should be strutting the world to solve it’s problems. No a person of stature, ability and not tainted with lefty ideology is needed but where do we find that person. Who knows not under a Democrat administration that is sure. The multitude of crises in the world are very destabilising and if some means soon is not found to solve many of them then all those crises will escalate into something much bigger and we could all end up going to hell in a bucket.

  6. APL
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    JR: “The Middle East is in a dreadful state.”

    Largely due to that wretched (PM? ed) Blair.

    The ‘West’ if by which you mean the US, should align itself with Russia. Assad may not have been the fellow you’d like to live next door to, but he wasn’t a raving fanatic like those who the US would seek to replace him with.

    I give the the wreckage that is Libya, a completely unprovoked aggression by your hero Cameron. The ordinary man or woman is now worse off under the squabbling Islamic warlords that they ever were under Gaddafi.

    ‘Well done’ for the foreign policy of the political elite.

    • Cheshire Girl
      Posted February 16, 2016 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

      I used to work in Tripoli, Libya in 1968 when they had a monarchy. It was such a beautiful city, and the inhabitants were kind and welcoming. The Italians had their little shops, selling pastries and cakes, also beautifully tailored clothes. There were nice restaurants and a beautiful climate. We went to Sabratha one day to see the ruins of the Roman city. I got married at the British Consulate ( and had sherry afterwards with the British Consul)
      It breaks my heart to see what Libya has become. I cant imagine it will ever be what it was, and if so, not for many,many years.
      Please forgive me if this post is a bit ‘off topic’.

      • Richard1
        Posted February 17, 2016 at 8:04 am | Permalink

        Thanks for that interesting recollection. Much of what was swept away by the leftist anti-colonialist / imperialist wave of the 50s & 60s was far superior for people living in those countries than what replaced it.

  7. zorro
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    Yes, well said – there is no way that Russia will let a secular, multi religious country go Wahhabi, and certainly not after the West’s unique efforts at bringing stability to Libya. We have alluded to the geopolitical strategy and supposed imperatives for some time but I suppose that the lectures on our relationship with the EU are the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

    In Syria, they complain about Russia bombing the ghostly Free Syrian Army which in reality composes of a rag bag collection who change affiliations and all regularly with AQ, Jabat al Nusrah and god knows who else. Hardly a scion of democracy and liberty last time I looked! The Turks are freely encroaching on Syria and the Israelis have launched multiple attacks on Syria. The hypocrisy is breathtaking…..

    zorro

    • getahead
      Posted February 16, 2016 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      May I question your use of the word ‘unique’? The West’s interference in Libya was far from unique.

      • zorro
        Posted February 18, 2016 at 7:35 am | Permalink

        Uniquely awful…..

        zorro

  8. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    Mexicans, illegally entered into USA, millions,: many of them still illegally there have even started voting in US elections, applied and got driving licenses, received and receiving welfare benefits. There are SANCTUARY CITIES where police are forbidden to enforce American law or document illegals. Actual recognised NO-GO areas. America is a mess. Hence the massive immigration issues in the US with Mr Trump, and with huge cross-party support, very likely to build his wall clear across the Mexican border. Oddly Canadians,always our friends, legally entered, married or widowed to US citizens sometimes face horrendous tax , medical health insurance and inheritance difficulties.

    In this light it is interesting Mr Kerry has an opinion about the UK Referendum. The EU may wish him a vote in it. Unlikely it would wish him to apply for UK welfare benefits. Americans can have a very tough time here in the UK to get anything even if married to a British subject..even to stay here. Even a UK or EU citizen staying “too long” in the USA and returning here and to the EU can have big problems. Does have big problems.
    EU law is anti-American except when it comes to poking it military nose into countries where neither side is Christian. And all turn on the US using US guns and ammunition and vehicles to killing US troops.

  9. Richard1
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Well put, I have always though Mr Kerry unimpressive and as you set out his lack of achievements are dangerous. The US political outlook is grim indeed. We have the ludicrous spectacle of a possible contest between an avowed socialist recommending upending the whole basis of the US’s success over 250 years and the ridiculous Mr Trump or the possibly even more ridiculous Mr Cruz. mrs Clinton is not an impressive candidate, and wasn’t a good Secretary of State either. She owes her whole political position to being Bill Clintons wife. Let’s hope Michael Bloomberg decides to run!

    • forthurst
      Posted February 16, 2016 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

      “Let’s hope Michael Bloomberg decides to run!”

      The US electorate would be well advised to support a candidate who has respect for the US Constitution.

  10. agricola
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    So called international diplomacy is played somewhat like party politics, ie. what suits the party rather than the problem that needs to be solved. From day one no one sat back and asked what is going to be good for the people of Syria and what in practical terms is achievable if we search out some common ground.

    To me it seems that sides are taken on the basis that Assad/Russia are bad and USA/EU/UK are good. An extension in fact of the Cold War or what happens in the playground. This of course created the vacuum in which ISIL thrived.

    The five parties should have got round the table and worked out what they wanted as an outcome. Instead they sniped at each other and all ended up in different parts of the playground with partners they might not have wished to choose.

    End result, the people of Syria become by and large refugees, either in their own country or outside in other countries. The main players all end up with egg on their faces, and the problem remains but on a larger scale.

    • forthurst
      Posted February 16, 2016 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

      “From day one no one sat back and asked what is going to be good for the people of Syria…”

      Neocons do not entertain such considerations because they are congenitally (wrong? Ed)

  11. alan jutson
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    You cannot force democracy on anyone, all you can do is encourage people to help it on its way a little.

    Were doing terrible things to each other in this country a few centuries ago, when a high tech weapon was a crossbow.

    The US did the same 200 years ago when North was against South.

    The more we all interfere in the middle east, the worse it seems to get.

    I certainly do not know the answer, but we certainly did not have this absolute widespread chaos 30 years ago.

    Perhaps the United Nations will eventually be united.

    In the meantime, we still know that Russia fights a different sort of war to the other developed Countries.

    Perhaps a lesson to be relearned here.

    How odd that not a single politicians son from all Countries appears to be in harms way.

    • Anonymous
      Posted February 16, 2016 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

      “I certainly do not know the answer, but we certainly did not have this absolute widespread chaos 30 years ago.”

      The weaponry is the same but personal communication devices have changed beyond wildest expectations.

      Shutting down the net might help.

      Not a good time to lose control of our borders (not that there is ever a good time.)

  12. Horatio McSherry
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    John,

    Your last two paragraphs made me chuckle. Your new best friend, Mr. Soames, tweeted his support for John Kerry’s musings on the EU referendum. I replied that John Kerry telling the British people what to do might possibly have counter-productive effects, as would any further pontification by Mr. Obama.

    For some reason I am now blocked from seeing his account. A technical problem I’m sure 🙂

    • M Davis
      Posted February 16, 2016 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      Here’s a Petition you and others might like to sign, over 11,000 have signed already so, the Government has to debate it:

      “Prevent Obama From Speaking In Westminster Regarding The In/Out Referendum”.

      https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/119328

      • M Davis
        Posted February 16, 2016 at 10:09 am | Permalink

        Sorry, 10,ooo for a response and 100,000 for considering a debate – very sorry to mislead!

      • Horatio McSherry
        Posted February 16, 2016 at 10:54 am | Permalink

        Thank you for the link but I’m not one for banning people; well intentioned as it may be. As I said above, Obama lecturing the British people on what he wants might actually make more people vote to leave. Apart from the Press (who still think he’s the second coming) and soaking wet progressives in Parliament, I’m not sure many people here have much time for him.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted February 16, 2016 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

        I think the backbench committee decides whether to have a debate.

  13. Ex-expat Colin
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Influencing Russia looks like the old poking business. Thats the US of A and the US of EU. Russia won’t ever dance to their foolish tunes…just re-arm.

    The USA is too frightened to put soldiers in that region having failed badly everywhere. Air/Naval attacks aren’t so good either…helpful, but? So all the other influence levers have to be pulled almost with authority? I hope that Trump can do a lot here. It means withdraw and seriously reinforce borders ultimately. Get NATO out of eastern europe and prepare to protect us from the south.

    Bush and labels on soup cans…he left the USA in a real mess (soup)…and Clinton is going to mess up again if given a chance?

  14. NickW
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    America believes it has the right to decide who Governs and how every Country in the world is governed.
    It doesn’t; Democracy is about self determination.
    Obama is set to address Parliament and speak in favour of Britain remaining in the EU.

    It is none of his business and it is an abuse of the democratic process to allow him to do so, and to allow those who arranged it to do so.

    This referendum is being run like a Zimbabwe election, with the Government taking one side and making sure that opposing views are not even heard.

    There is an official petition to stop Obama addressing Parliament;

    https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/119328

    How would it go down with Americans if Cameron went to the States to tell them who to vote for in their Presidential Election?

  15. acorn
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Have a heart JR! It is a tough job organising CIA sociopaths to enact “Regime Change” all over the planet and re-start the Cold War. All in the name of US corporate profits. The USA will spend a mere $600 billion on its military this year, 25% less than Bush was spending; that was more than the rest of the planet put together. (they had ed) to fund the regime change in the Ukraine (allegedly), to “save it from the Russians”. All this being carried out behind a NATO mask that only only the American public can’t see through.

    Anyway, Eurostat followers, will have read that the EU economy is basically in s**t order. Prof Bill Mitchell writes today:

    “And with all that, many in Britain still think staying in this dysfunctional mess which is slowly disintegrating is a desirable outcome. Brexit, as it is being called, is the only outcome for Britain, which makes sense. All the concessions that Brussels are making to Britain just to keep it inside are, in fact, working in the opposite direction of where they have to go to start making the common currency work. More Europe not less is the direction they should traverse, although Germany will never let the Member States go there.”

  16. Roy Grainger
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Quite right. The Nobel committee should seek the return of the Peace Prize they awarded to Obama on the basis it was obtained under false pretences.

    • Bill
      Posted February 16, 2016 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

      They were idiots to give it to him in the first place. Indeed they debased the prize by doing so. Why give a prize at the start of a term of office and not at the end?

  17. Bert Young
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    US foreign policy is in a mess and has been for some time .The actions taken in Viet Nam , Afghanistan and the Middle East indicate wrong decisions followed by negative outcome ; we have been very foolish to fall in with them – I blame Blair and Cameron for this . At one time I believed the US simply wanted to overcome our influence in the world ( Suez ?), more recently I have put their actions down to Obama whom I have always considered a mistake .

    At the moment we have the USA’s ambiguous stance between Turkey the Kurds and the knock on effect of their actions in Syria ; I cannot see the direction they wish to take and the subsequent effect it has on of Russia . Equally they show a poor understanding of Eastern Europe ; part of the Ukraine want to align with Russia part does not ; what they should do is to leave it to the Ukrainians to decide after all it is a sovereign country with the power of the vote . Overall it simply looks like the USA wants to make Russia look bad . Putin is certainly no saint and I wish there was another Gorbachev in charge there , however , I see no point in making a bad situation worse .

    The last thing we now want is to have interference from the USA in our referendum . It is none of their affair they must keep out of it . Russia must now be looking on with great interest from the outside .

  18. fedupsoutherner
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    It seems to me that we are being told what to do by practically the whole world!! Not surprising really when we have such a weak Prime Minister as Cameron. Somehow I think someone like Maggie would have been a little tougher.

    What a mess the whole Syrian debacle has become with nobody knowing or controlling what anyone else is doing. A general Free for all.
    Great post once again John showing just how critical getting out really is.

  19. mickc
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    The USA is a malign influence in the world, and exhibits all the signs of a failing empire (which it is).
    The UK should stop being its vassal, and ally with the coming powers.

    • Bill
      Posted February 16, 2016 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

      I do not think the US is a ‘malign influence’ but I do think that in the hands of a bad it loses ground. How soon people forget the loss of American lives in the period from 1942 to about 1955. Go to South Korea and learn how the people there were rescued from dictatorship by American arms and courage.

  20. ian
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    the western backed fighter can lay down their arms.

  21. ian
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    I hope the house of sud will come to the party instead of sending nameless people to do their fighting for them.

  22. Qubus
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    I was interested to read in Monday’s Daily Telegraph that when our retiring British ambassador to Washington, Sir Peter Westmacott, attempted to make a mild intervention regarding the Iranian nuclear deal, he had a pretty hard time of it. He was told by a US congressman: “How dare you interfere in our domestic politics, it’s none of your damn business”. That, of course, was not Mr Kerry but, nevertheless, is an interesting insight into how we are viewed over there.

    I often wonder why a great nation like the USA always seems to have such a third-rate bunch of political leaders.

  23. Duyfken
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    Not everyone is delighted to be receiving your advices (the ungenerous Soames for instance), but I reckon some in USA would find this latest article eye-opening; it is worthy of wide distribution in the media over there.

  24. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    He is not doing anything in Syria. The US does not have a secure area where any of its citizens can walk unmolested. Except, ironically, Damascus

  25. Anonymous
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    The Arab spring has turned into the winter of discontent.

    All the fault of Western neo liberals.

    Goes to show the judgment of the fools who set this in motion – and they’re all pro EU to a man/woman.

  26. Stephen Berry
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Paying a rare visit to the BBC News channel yesterday, I was treated to a ringing condemnation of the Russian bombing of Syria. Does the BBC really thinks this will wash? Russian bombing bad – coalition bombing good? And will the general public’s critical senses have so atrophied that they can’t remember which powers have been bombing around the Middle East these last ten years or so?

    It’s really quite simple. What Syria requires is no bombing from foreign powers – period. Does anyone think that the Northern Ireland civil war would have been helped by foreign powers bombing both republican and loyalist areas? The war would have deepened and been made more bitter. The casualty list would have also risen dramatically with many more refugees fleeing to the UK.

    The intervention of a myriad of foreign powers in Syria also raises the prospect of the conflict spreading wider. One of the US presidential candidates proposes a no-fly zone over Syria. Has she consulted with the Russians about this?

    Mr Kerry does not particularly care about the future of Britain as democratic nation. He does care that America’s position on various issues is represented at EU confabs. That’s the UK’s job and part of the ‘special relationship’ which so infatuates so many. For my part, the fact that a vote to leave the EU is also a vote to leave the ‘special relationship’ is music to my ears. High time the UK began to pursue a more realistic foreign policy.

    • Mitchel
      Posted February 16, 2016 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      Sky’s coverage is even worse – they equate the bombing of houses in Aleppo with the bombing of civilians as if there were no armed fighters there;they equate all military activity with Russia,ignoring the fact that all the ground operations,the Syrian Army aside, are being conducted by Iran and its allies and mercenaries.Still,I’m sure their neo-con friends will be pleased.

      And what about our own Foreign Secretary who,leaving aside the fact that Osborne seems to speak for him on the important matters,turns up to the various peace conferences like a spare part with no power or influence over the proceedings,no original ideas or solutions apart from repeating the US’s mantra on the situation in hand and then squeezes himself into frame for the closing photocall.Woeful and embarrassing….particularly when trying to give Russia a ticking off!

    • Michael Walzer
      Posted February 16, 2016 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

      How can you be so sure that “a vote to leave the EU is also a vote to leave the “special relationship”?
      I would not bet on it.

      • Stephen Berry
        Posted February 17, 2016 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

        The main job of the British foreign secretary is indeed to repeat the US position on major issues. I would be amazed if Mr Hammond were allowed to campaign to leave the EU and keep his job. This is precisely the policy which the U.S. does not want and Mr Hammond will be warned accordingly.

        I have no doubt that the ‘special relationship’ in the cultural sense will continue. A common language ensures many areas of common interest. In the political sphere however, there are obvious tensions. The U.S. wants to have the UK at the heart of Europe, whilst the UK has historically sought to keep the continent at a distance. Nor, in my opinion, does the present neocon-inspired demonising of Russia fit in with Britain’s long term interests. A vote to leave is bound to bring about a reassessment of US-UK relations, both in Washington and Whitehall.

  27. Atlas
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Well put, John.

  28. Denis Cooper
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Off-topic, JR, you may be interested in this Open Europe blog article:

    http://openeurope.org.uk/today/blog/domestic-measures-to-safeguard-national-sovereignty-what-options-does-the-uk-have/

    “Domestic measures to safeguard national sovereignty: what options does the UK have?”

    My simple suggestion: an amendment of Part 3 of the European Union Act 2011:

    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2011/12/part/3

    stating that Parliament reserves the right to authorise the disapplication of any part of the EU treaties or laws, “notwithstanding the European Communities Act 1972”.

  29. Yosarion
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    So in the biggest week in our recent political history the BBC Daily Politics has gone AWOL to the TV poll tax payers.

  30. The PrangWizard
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    I am a determined supporter and believer in our Western Christian way of life, that it is under threat and must be defended. And we must not be ambivalent about it.

    I want to know more about Assad and his supporters, we see nothing of their lives or their opinions. He clearly has a loyal army – if he is so bad, why is this? And they have been fighting for a long time. Are we to believe it must up of monsters?

    I am seriously suspicious of the West’s endless criticism of him and his ‘regime’. Sanctimonious? Is he not a legitimate leader, and wasn’t he the victim of an armed rebellion against which he is entitled to defend himself? Were there not Christians in Syria which his regime protected – he did not persecute them.

    No-one has yet convinced me that any replacement will be any better. Who are the so-called ‘moderates’? Are they not Islamists who are just a little less brutal and intolerant than ISIL? Are they not fighting him because he was running a secular nation, and they are opposed to such toleration.

    Nor am I much convinced that all the stories of schools and hospitals being bombed are true, and that the Russians and Assad are to be blamed for all of it. If they are why is it all we see are pictures of crumbling buildings which could be anything and anywhere? These pictures all seem to be taken well after the event.

    And why do we not see pictures of children or hospital patients lying dead – where are they? Wouldn’t you expect the propagandists to make sure they bombarded us with such pictures.

    And then there is the obsession with ‘civilian casualties’, sadly they cannot be avoided in any war. It isn’t long ago that the US bombed a hospital after all, we did see victims of that. Is it possible that these buildings were being used by Assad’s opponents for military purposes, and there were no pupils or patients in them, we know this has happened in Gaza for example?

    The phrase is all part of the propaganda war. The West does not hold the moral high ground – the whole thing has become sleazy with our politicians simply posturing for media attention.

    Reply Some of us object to regimes who do shell and bomb their own people – surely we need a political process to take over.

  31. fedupsoutherner
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Looks like Cameron’s negotiations in Europe are not going too well at all!! No surprise there then. Forgive me if I am wrong but didn’t Cameron promise to lead Britain out of the EU if he didn’t get a good deal??? I watch with interest to see if this will be another promise broken.

  32. alte fritz
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    The only way Syria can ever again become peaceful and repair the damage done is to restore the authority and power of its government. Whether we like Mr Assad or not, no one, least of all Mr Kerry, has proposed a viable alternative. Like it or not. Russia is backing the right side.

  33. oldtimer
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Yesterday my wife and I visited Churchill’s underground Cabinet War Rooms for the first time. Among the exhibits was the text of the Atlantic Charter agreed by Churchill and Roosevelt. Clause 3 of their declaration caught my eye. It reads:
    “3 They respect the right of all peoples to choose the form of Government under which they will live; and they wish to see sovereign rights and self-government restored to those who have been forcibly deprived of them.”

    Given the tortuous, and in some respects duplicitous, way the UK relationship with the EU has developed over the past sixty years it was a timely reminder just how important the forthcoming referendum on the UK’s membership will be. It will provide the opportunity for the UK to reassert the ancient right of its “peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live” and to reject those that seek to prevent “the restoration of our sovereign rights and self government”.

  34. graham1946
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    Kerry has the classic Politicians Delusions of Grandeur – we have plenty of that over here.

    The Americans haven’t won a war in 200 years, despite their heavy expenditure on defence and all the latest weapons.

    This all just shows what a waste of money nuclear weapons are. They used them against defenceless Japan (in nuclear terms), but they didn’t stop 9/11, can’t get a result anywhere in the world. They are seen off by second rate tribesmen – always have been and always will be. North Korea don’ t see it as a deterrent but as a target. Nuts, yes, but the world is full of them. Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, you name it, they have failed every time and mostly dragged us in as well.

    Reply I thought the U.S. Did help win both world wars

    • graham1946
      Posted February 17, 2016 at 10:31 am | Permalink

      Did help, yes, but never won anything on their own. They also came in late and charged us a fortune prior in liberty ships, armaments etc.

  35. mick
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    Kerry and the usa should keep there noses out of our country, and it looks like prince william is for staying in the eu, well he`d better start looking for another job if he dosn`t mind this country loosing it`s sovereignty to the eu because this is what were fighting for or don`t the elite give a toss

  36. YTD
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Hopefully, Kerry will have about as much luck influencing Britons on our political future as as he is in Syria.

  37. Jerry
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    John, much of what you wrote could have been said of this, the coalition and the Blair/Brown governments, yes Syria, North Africa and the Middle East is in an appalling state, but the UK has also left both Iraq and Afghanistan without creating settled and effective democratic governments, the UK was to quick to get involved in Libya, and now Syria (yes I know Cameron failed in his original wish to bomb but encouragement was still sent as such by implication).

    So yes, John Kerry should mind what he says, even mind his own business, but so should many a British politician and member of government too! I would much rather, the few on the ground, principled people like yourself attempt to hold not only your political opponents to account for past mistakes but those in your own party and government, they’re the arguments you can win…

  38. Margaret
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    To be quite honest I am not a purist in this; I prefer to straddle the USA and Russia and have a foot in both camps as neither are our enemy. I have a certain respect for Putin and the US are our closet allies.

  39. RB
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    I believe the situation is going to worse as I had a vision of this year in 1982.

    Putin flew his bombers into Syria when the US government were distracted by the pope addressing congress on Sept 24th. Now God is going to punish them for what they have done.

    This policy of supporting the overthrow of governments by arming rebels is not Christian and is just downright evil.

  40. Anonymous
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    Prince William must stay out of politics. I’d say the same if he were anti EU. In fact if he were anti EU I’m sure that such wisdom would come with the tact and intelligence to stay out of the debate without having to be told.

    If the Royals want us to be ruled by the EU then might the peoples of all member states save a fortune by greatly reducing their national governments and Royal families ?

  41. RB
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    Erdogan stands up in parliament in Turkey the other day and starts shouting at John Kerry and America saying you are either with us or against us. Little Turkey, can you imagine a British PM having the balls to do that? Erdogan is suffering from political megalomania. Assad got that right.

    Are you prepared to go to war with Russia so Turkey and Saudi Arabia can control gas pipeline routes though Syria?

  42. Iain Moore
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    Off topic.

    I have just watched an interview on C4 news between Chuka Umunna and some Tory supporter who has come out in favour of Brexit, from it Who ever is going to run the Brexit campaign there should be some clear rules and clear No, No’s

    1/ You do not allow an amateur to go up against a professional politician, because the Tory supporter got talked off the news program.

    2/You do not allow an interview to take place with the EU supporter to be in the studio while the Barexit campaigner is somewhere remote and on a video link.

  43. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted February 16, 2016 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

    Well you can tell Mr Cameron isn’t standing for PM again.
    Damage-control from what Mr Martin Schulze ( he’s the one with the beard ) President of the European Parliament said about “guarantees” of any renegotiation wasn’t forthcoming from Downing Street.

    Well what defence or damage-control could Downing Street conjure?
    Mr Cameron is going to go down in history, aside from cartoons and Private Eye seeming hyperbole as humiliatingly cringing as Neville Chamberlain with his infamous ” I have in my hand a piece of paper”

    But if he turns round and says “Well we’ve done! Tried our best. I must lead the United Kingdom as a duty out of the European Union. ”
    Then he will be honoured indeed. And we, can also hold our heads up high.

  44. Ken Moore
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 1:07 am | Permalink

    Syria is a mess, the Eu is imploding but David Cameron still has time to salute the ‘year of the fire monkey’ in a cringeworthy broadcast designed to suck up to Chinese big business.
    Get off your knees you pathetic worm Cameron this is supposed to be Great Britain!.

    https://www.gov.uk/government/news/chinese-new-year-2016-david-camerons-message

    What have we done to deserve Major, Blair and now the Cameron creature ?.
    How did a man whose aim is to ‘dock the uk in Europe’ ever get anywhere near the levers of power ??. Just give us a break from the England hating, Eu loving, politically correct crap we have had for the last 25 years….

  45. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 2:04 am | Permalink

    The only way to stop Assad and the Russians is to destroy Russian aircraft over Turkish airspace and on the ground. Is it worth risking a war when we don’t know who we want to win in Syria and there is scant evidence that any force other than ISIL that can win Sunni Moslem support.

    Before the Syrian war is over there will be more genuine refugees and more economic migrants masquerading as refugees. We need a kind of devil’s island to make the latter think again. Libya? Stornaway? Greenland? It’s a tough one. There is a problem because many of the economic migrants deliberately throw their passports away, so we cannot always be certain of their country of origin.

  46. Beecee
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    Have I missed something?

    Will these freedom of movement EU citizens still qualify for out of work benefits when they come here? If so then the PM is perpetrating the biggest con since Newman and Redford in the Sting!

  47. Beecee
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Being intelligent is does not necessarily include being able to use that intelligence.

  • 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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