Co-operation with Russia

I am no fan or apologist of Russia, but I am pleased that the USA is now trying to work with Russia for a solution in Syria. Russia has projected her power into this troubled country, just as the USA has sought to do, so it is better if they talk to each other about what they are each trying to do there. The people of Syria need to be spared bombing by competing large powers from outside the country.

The West has to get over Crimea. Crimea cannot be prised back by military means, and there is no obvious diplomatic solution to that issue in sight. The West needs to make clear further territorial expansion by occupation will invite a military response wherever there is a NATO guarantee as it has been saying, but we now need to reach understandings with Russia about issues where we have common or conflicting concerns.

Russia is flexing her diplomatic muscles and is creating a series of alliances across the Middle East and with other oil producing countries worldwide. The politics of oil are an important part of the question, given Russia’s reliance on black gold for her hard currency earnings.

As for Syria, the West needs to understand that its attempt to find moderate rebels against the Assad regime who can both stay moderate and fight their way to a victory against both Assad and ISIL was never a credible policy. Pouring more arms into the country for the good forces just added to the explosive mix and often led to the weapons falling into wrong hands. Selective bombing just killed more people and extended the range of violence and left open the possibility of hitting the wrong people or fuelling anti western propaganda from the opportunity western bombs create for the bad forces to spin the tragedy as they see fit.

There is no easy answer to the long and murderous Syrian civil wars. Those who think the west must do something should perhaps first say the west must avoid doing more harm.Talking to Russia is a first step in trying to explore when the warring factions on the ground will all conclude there is no victory or military solution in sight for any of them.

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62 Comments

  1. Mark B
    Posted September 12, 2016 at 5:18 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    Unpalatable as it maybe to some, it is far better for the Syrian people and everyone else in the region that, Assad and his forces resume full control over that country. Only he can bring stability and peace and those countries (who our kind host will not allow me to mention) that for religious as well as political reasons fuel much of the terrorism and war.

    One has to ask; “What business is it of the USA and other countries with regards to Syria ?” It has long been a Russian ally and I cannot see what interests there are, other than to support the politics and religion of certain regional powers.

    Under the shadow of the Cold War, this would never have been allowed to happen as everyone knew their place. Back then, thing seem to have an oreder and a degree of certainty, not anymore I think.

    Backing NATO allies against possible invasion is one thing. Backing one that is seeking to inflame and steal land under the guise of ‘Safe Zones’ is another. NATO should not be used as a shield for other to commit misdeeds.

  2. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted September 12, 2016 at 5:58 am | Permalink

    For normal folk, the West’s inability to get on with Russia is a mystery.

    We think of the WWII Arctic Convoys with British sailors landing in Russia, boozing in their pubs, womanising; their passports and visas were merely their sailors’ uniforms. We should perhaps, in this connection, think of the recent newspaper headline that the EU may wish us all to have a visa before we set foot on EU territory. Maybe we should all go by rubber boat, selfie phone on stick, to avoid such EU democracy.

    Then we think of Yuri Gagarin, the first astronaut,and how he was driven in an open car through the streets of London to cheering crowds and his smiling face adorned all of the front pages of every single UK newspaper. The old people literally freezing to death in Britain at the time with Soviet oil fields having to burn off their gas for no-one outside their orbit would buy it even though it was muck-cheap. They still burn much it off in fact.

    So we talk to normal Russians on our streets and on their streets and are jealous of their fur hats and it takes us several decades to warm to the idea that a fur hat is just the thing in a bad winter. Their genuine Russian vodka tastes sweet and we wonder why we have been drinking Russian named English vodkas for years that easily turn blue litmus paper to red and would probably be better employed de-rusting old farm machinery or stripping the varnish off secondhand but worthy dinner chairs.

    Of course we are all desperately interested in Syria and can think of at least ten imports from there which we nowadays miss.

  3. Jerry
    Posted September 12, 2016 at 6:12 am | Permalink

    John like you I am no fan or apologist of Russia but a few points; Russia is doing what she is doing in Syria at the request of the legitimate government of the Syria, we might not like that fact but we need to call what the USA (and UK, it seems) policy wants for what it is, like Iraq and Libya before – Regime Change.

    As for Crimea, a very complex country at best, is WW3 really worth risking when those who NATO will be ‘defending’ probably identify more with their Russian ancestry far more than they do anyone else. Again this is not about what is best for Crimea but what western (NATO member) countries want and do not want.

    “Russia is flexing her diplomatic muscles and is creating a series of alliances across the Middle East and with other oil producing countries worldwide.”

    You mean that the USA is not “flexing her diplomatic muscles and is creating a series of alliances across the Middle East and with other oil producing countries worldwide”?!… Two wrongs do not make the USA correct and Russia bad, it makers both bad.

    “The politics of oil are an important part of the question, given Russia’s reliance on black gold for her hard currency earnings.”

    Much the same can be said of the USA, and much of the west, even the UK. The politics of oil are an important part of the question, given the UK’s reliance on black gold as a foundation to her economy.

    “As for Syria, the West needs to understand that its attempt to find moderate rebels against the Assad regime “

    I bet you would not be suggesting blatant ragtime change if Assad was an cozening up to the west like some other North African/Middle Eastern countries are, and to think 25 years ago all as the Berlin Wall cam down and Warsaw pact/USSR teetered on the edge the cliff it would fall from governments in the west talked of the end to the Cold War…

  4. Gary
    Posted September 12, 2016 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    “West needs to make clear further territorial expansion by occupation will invite a military”

    Yes, just as soon as we discover how “NATO” suddenly expanded all across eastern Europe right to the Russian border and started setting up missile defenses to curb Iran !

    Really people with half a brain, and there are millions of them waking up, are getting sick of the lies and hypocrisy.

    They know what’s going on.

    This western fractional reserve banking mercantilist scam has run its course and is now in utter collapse. Morally and physically.

    • acorn
      Posted September 12, 2016 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

      How come you are allowed to criticise NATO and I’m not? Perhaps it is because I call NATO a mask for the US perpetual war machine? For instance:-

      “A new mini-crisis erupted in late August near the Strait of Hormuz when small patrol boats from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps intercepted and continued to sail within a few hundred yards of a U.S. destroyer, the USS Nitze. The Nitze responded by firing warning shots.” It continues:-

      ” U.S. officials immediately condemned the incident as a terrible provocation, a theme that members of the American media obediently echoed.

      No one seemed to question why it was not provocative, for the United States to sail a heavily armed destroyer (along with other warships), six thousand miles away from the American homeland, to operate within a few miles of the Iranian coast. Yet Iran’s interception of that warship was automatically deemed provocative.” (National Interest Skeptics Blog)

  5. Ian Wragg
    Posted September 12, 2016 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    This is a resounding victory for Putin. He has stuck by his alies and seen off the rebels. Past alliances of NATO and the West are coming back to haunt them.
    Arming the Taliban and indirectly Al Quida means their own weapons directed against them.
    We should keep our noses out and let them get on with it. It’s being used to plant a 5th column in our midst.
    How many refugees has Russia taken.

    • Mitchel
      Posted September 12, 2016 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      A victory not just Putin but for Russian diplomacy;Sergei Lavrov is the most outstanding diplomat of his generation.

      Note also how the EU and it’s constituents have been totally sidelined as irrelevant to global power politics.

  6. agricola
    Posted September 12, 2016 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    I think that it will be worthless to push for democracy in Syria. Neither Russia nor most Syrians have much experience of, or faith in the concept. The best we can hope for is peaceful rule by the most powerful, and a Marshall plan. Without the latter the country will quickly revert to anarchy.

    The one common denominator between Russia, the West and most Syrians will be the need to eliminate ISIL. A process that will need to go beyond Syria because their cells and active players exist elsewhere.

    It would be interesting one day to read a full intelligence analysis of ISIL that included their thought processes, their supporters and who are their bankers both financial and ideological. We no doubt know who these are in the UK, but I suspect that there are bigger fish elsewhere. We might then begin to understand where the real problem lies.

  7. Denis Cooper
    Posted September 12, 2016 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    “Pouring more arms into the country for the good forces … ”

    Are there, have there ever been, any significant “good forces” in Syria?

    The starting point for British policy is that Assad is a bad man and must be removed.

    The first part of that is certainly true, it is the second part which is highly questionable and which should have been rigorously questioned before the policy was set.

    I don’t think that the soil of Syria is yet suitable for Western style government to flourish if we attempt to transplant it there, and indeed that is true for many other parts of the world; with time it may improve; but meanwhile removing a brutal dictator may unleash forces which are far from “good” and lead to a descent into unceasing chaotic violence.

    And I wouldn’t be too complacent about what might happen in this country; we have our history, but it is not impossible that it will be forgotten and have to be repeated.

  8. Bert Young
    Posted September 12, 2016 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    There is Putin and there is Russia . Putin is without doubt a tricky and difficult individual who considers he has absolute power – an inheritance from the Tsars . The Russians – by and large , are a good natured fun loving lot who want nothing more than to be friends with the rest of the world .

    Dealing with the dilemma of its leader and its people is a diplomatic nightmare ; it is the question of who and what has the most influence . I always take the view that leaders come and go ; their unpredictability and future is always , in the end , in the hands of the people . For this reason my approach would be to welcome Russia into the international club and encourage co-operation wherever and whenever possible . The stand off that presently exists creates a tension the world would be better off without .

    The issue of the Ukraine has been handicapped by the interference of the USA and the EU ; it is the people of the Ukraine who must decide and no-one else . The Eastern part of the Ukraine is , clearly – economically and ethnically , linked to Russia ; it is they who should decide if they wish to be part of Russia .

    The Russian efforts to dominate world markets in oil is nothing more than a cry for recognition ; surely this can be achieved by other forms of international arrangement .A longer term view is always the most sensible ; short term reaction , as history shows , seldom is right .

  9. brian
    Posted September 12, 2016 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Russia cannot be trusted. Judge it by its actions, not its words.

    • mickc
      Posted September 12, 2016 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

      Russia can indeed be trusted. It can be trusted, like any normal country, to do what is in its own best interests. Those may, or may not, accord with those of the UK.
      The UK should act similarly; being a vassal of the USA or EU is unlikely to benefit us.

      • Mitchel
        Posted September 12, 2016 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

        Absolutely right!For all the wonderful rhetorical flourish of Churchill’s “I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia.It is a riddle,wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma,”it is the more prosaic and less frequently quoted next line of that speech which is telling-“but perhaps there is a key.That key is Russian national interest”.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted September 12, 2016 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

        Well, trusted perhaps to do what the leaders “think” is in the countries best interests but perhaps their personal interest too. A UK government that ruled sensibly & in the interest of the UK’s subjects would indeed make a rather pleasant change.

    • Jerry
      Posted September 12, 2016 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      @brain; “Judge [a nation] by its actions, not its words.”

      Indeed, but let the first untarnished nation cast the first stone, the USA nor the UK can ever again occupy such moral high ground until we admit that what we did in Iraq from 2003 was wrong.

      • Tad Davison
        Posted September 12, 2016 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

        Absolutely!

      • Edward2
        Posted September 12, 2016 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

        Every nation makes errors
        Your logic is that if a nation does make an error they should remove themselves from any future action.
        Would any nation be left?
        Or would you have them go to confession first before doing anything else?

        • Jerry
          Posted September 13, 2016 at 5:55 am | Permalink

          @Edward2; Thanks for confirming that you appear to believe in the manta of “Do as I say, not as I do”. Also I never said that such nations can not hold opinion, even votes at the UN, just that they should not try to occupy the moral high ground and thus preach to others about such issues.

          • Edward2
            Posted September 13, 2016 at 6:16 am | Permalink

            Wriggle all you want to Jerry
            You are effectively saying nations that make policy errors should not involve themselves in foriegn affairs or comment any more until they atone for these errors to your (and others) satisfaction.

          • Jerry
            Posted September 13, 2016 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

            @Edward2; What ever… If that is how you read my comments then that says far more about you than it does anyone else, I said nor implied any such thing!

          • Edward2
            Posted September 14, 2016 at 6:36 am | Permalink

            I read what you say.
            When challenged you say “that is not what I meant”.
            Followed by “read what I say”
            As I dont have a similar difficulty with other posters do you think it might be you?

    • Ronald Olden
      Posted September 12, 2016 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

      I don’t trust Russia an inch further than I could throw it. But this obsession about Russian ‘expansionism’ is misguided. Russia has every reason to feel concerned about it’s security. It has NATO and an expansionist EU to the West (and even South), China and Nuclear armed Pakistan and India to the South and Japan to the East. It also has significant Islamist forces within its own Southern Territories and unstable, potentially Islamist states just to it’s South. If the USA were in anything like that position of vulnerability, it would be in a state of paranoid siege.

      Its also not well appreciated that Russia is for its size a poor country. Its’ GNP is about the same as the UK but has more than twice the population and Russia has no-one else to rely on to help defend it. It’s relative financial position and economic leverage is getting worse owing to low oil prices.

      Russia is in an appallingly vulnerable position. We need to cut it some, (although not too much), slack. Considering the way this could all have gone Russia has behaved reasonably well in the transition from the Soviet Union to the way things are today.

      The Crimea ‘invasion’ has been blown up out of all proportion. Clearly this isn’t the way it should have gone in an ideal world. But given Russia’s vulnerability and the fact that nearly all the population of the Crimea wanted to be part of Russia, what practical difference does it make? People have the right of self determination, and no one seriously believes the Crimeans wouldn’t have voted for this in a Referendum if they had had the chance.

      Furthermore, Crimea is historically part of Russia (or at least as much part of it as much of it’s territory is), and clearly wants to be now. Crimea was ‘gifted’ to The Ukraine when the Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union. Given that Russia’s Fleet is located there, the Ukraine is no longer in a Union with Russia, and appears to be involving itself with NATO and the EU, it’s not unreasonable for Russia and the Crimean people to reconsider.

      These are little accidents of history that need to be resolved. There’s no need for any of them to mushroom into bigger conflicts. There are far more serious threats to world peace than these small territorial issues Russia finds itself in. I for one am surprised how peaceful it’s all been. It could have been much worse.

  10. Bob
    Posted September 12, 2016 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Not sure what US and EU are trying to achieve in Syria.
    Leave it to the Russians. Keep it simple. Balance will be restored.

    • Mitchel
      Posted September 12, 2016 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

      How about a gas pipeline to reduce Europe’s dependency on Russian gas or NATO’s wish to deny Russia a Mediterranean naval base?

  11. Iain Gill
    Posted September 12, 2016 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    There is only one group actively attacking us on our home soil… and killing kidnapped Brits around the world. And for that reason they should be our number one enemy. And once we have decided that then your enemies enemy is your friend.
    I do however think “the West” should act against anyone using NBC (nuclear, biological or chemical) weapons, we shouldn’t sit by and watch them used. That is a very slippery slope.
    Other than that the UK should try to keep out of it as much as possible.

  12. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted September 12, 2016 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    1. Gary Johnson, US presidential candidate, successful businessman, with over 1000 employees; Bachelor of Science Degree in Political Science, Governor of New Mexico ( twice ) recently asked a TV interviewer “What is Aleppo?”

    Well Aleppo of course is a city in Syria which had just over 2 million inhabitants in 2004. Despite this, more than that number are registered as having “escaped” from that city and wander Europe. Yet, 100s of thousands of them remain in Aleppo being bombed. (!)

    2. Emily Thornberry, Shadow Foreign Secretary,a trained barrister, recently demonstrated on TV she did not know the name of her French Foreign Minister who she is about to visit nor the name of the South Korean President, who talked recently of “nuking”
    Pyongyang in North Korea.
    Ms Thornberry is not the first extremely intelligent and accomplished UK politician of rank who does not appear to have basic knowledge regarding their very important role.

    3.Hilary Clinton who needs no introduction has been shown on social media via many videos to have long-standing signs of some illnesses. Her doctor says in a page and a half statement that she is fit.

    JR there is something wrong at the top.

    It has certainly been noticed in Local Authorities by local residents over many years that otherwise intelligent and educated people in various positions behave not just failing to answer basic questions but actually react in very bizarre ways indeed that look, sound and appear utterly strange to people of all and no political persuasions. Something is very much wrong. At one stage I preferred to call it Stress. It appears to be that plus something…I genuinely do not know what the “plus” is.

    So the Remainers at the top still cannot accept or understand why people voted Leave. So much advice from the top. They ignored it. There is more than just a perception that something is amiss at the top of our society.

  13. Atlas
    Posted September 12, 2016 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Hmm,

    The Crimea & the Ukraine – both ‘plantation’ problems/legacies from J. Stalin Esq.

    Not easy to see a way forward. I just hope the same issues do not appear in the Baltic Countries ( Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania).

  14. stred
    Posted September 12, 2016 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    There may be a way to get over Crimea. Offer to pay for opinion polls and if necessary another referendum in Crimea. The US/EU says it was unfair and Russia says 95% of Crimeans voted to re-join Russia. Let’s find out whether they wanted a western takeover or not. The scenario of the documentary in which NATO comes to blows with Russia over the Baltic states was that Russia invades to protect the Russian section of their population after they are slapped down for protesting about having no full citizen’s rights. How about putting pressure on these EU states to grant all of their citizens equal rights, as the EU seems so keen to promote these. Then the tension would be eased.

    A report on Saudi ordering 16 nukes from Rosatom for $100bn. Two EU countries are also customers and one uses Rolls Royce controls. This against £24bn for Hinkley Point, where the latest idea if for HMG to take a share instead of the Chinese to build the only nuke that has yet to be successfully completed and is far more expensive than the others in the market.

    Never mind, Teresa is asking M15 to use their experts to advise on security, while the rest of the cabinet is spending time arguing about grammar and religious schools.

    http://www.utilities-me.com/article-4503-rosatom-to-build-16-saudi-nuclear-power-stations/

  15. Tad Davison
    Posted September 12, 2016 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    Over the weekend, Baroness Caroline Cox kindly sent me a synopsis of a report into the military intervention in Syria. It makes interesting reading. Space precludes the use of the synopsis in full, but just taking a small sample of the text, it will be seen that we in the UK don’t always get the news we deserve, and the narrative of our domestic media is less than even-handed. But then some of us knew that already.

    Tad Davison

    Cambridge

    ’14. Without exception, every person we met believes that current UK and international policies of commitment to ‘Regime Change’ will destroy the pluralistic and diverse society which has existed for hundreds of years. They also passionately believe that Syrians should have the right to determine their own future and elect their own leadership.

    15. While almost all media coverage in the West focuses on the devastating effects of military offensives by Government forces, in just one day during our visit (September 5th) the following attacks by the armed Opposition inflicting indiscriminate death and injury included:

    Four car bombs at Homs with 12 killed and 30 injured; in Tartus 45 killed and 100 wounded; in the Damascus countryside, 3 killed and 12 wounded; in Hasaka, 6 killed and 20 wounded.

    This is only a part of the daily toll of death and injury inflicted by Opposition forces on civilians, such as the shelling of the University in Aleppo by 4 missiles on the day we were there.’

  16. Mitchel
    Posted September 12, 2016 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    I came across a very interesting research paper a few weeks ago-“From Greater Europe to Greater Asia?The Sino-Russian Entente” published by the Carnegie Moscow Center in April 2015 which I would recommend to anyone with an interest in geopolitics and the shifting relationships between the USA,Russia and China(Europe barely gets a mention in this global power equation).

    I don’t believe Russia has remotely given up on Europe but the paper examines it’s pivot to the East and how amongst other things China now sits at the apex of the triangle above the USA and Russia,how the supposed close relationship between Putin and Merkel was exaggerated or misinterpreted(apparently she wanted Medvedev to continue as President before Putin returned for his second term) and the decline of US global influence – “the last dozen years(since the fall of Baghdad during the 2003 US invasion of Iraq)have witnessed the quickest weakening of a hegemon in history”.

    All very interesting and it’s free to view so just google it.

    • forthurst
      Posted September 12, 2016 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

      Russia and China are responding to policies designed by US geopolitical ‘experts’: according to the Bzezinski doctrine, an entente between Russia and Western Europe should be prevented at all costs to prevent a more powerful alliance than that of the USA with NATO arising to challenge its status as the only military superpower; his strategy was specifically that which has been engineered between the ‘West’ and Russia over Ukraine. According to the Wolfowitz Doctrine, the USA must arm itself to be the most powerful country in the world and then either subvert or destroy any regime that it perceives as a threat to its ambition to make it incontestably the World hegemon, hence the destruction or attempted destruction of a whole swathe of regimes in Africa and West Asia, the surrounding of Russian and Chinese territory with nuclear missiles as well as the consequent avalanche of assorted refugees, terrorists, and economic migrants that has been heading to Europe and into Merkel’s welcoming embrace.

      • Mitchel
        Posted September 13, 2016 at 9:12 am | Permalink

        I think it was Brzezinski who,without a shred of irony ,compared the Pax Americana with the Pax Mongolica-that late mediaeval period when the Mongols controlled most of the Eurasian continent and peace prevailed and East-West trade flourished but only provided you paid your tribute;if you failed so to do,your cities were burned down and surviving population sold into slavery!

  17. Denis Cooper
    Posted September 12, 2016 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Off-topic, I’ve been reading through the transcript of Andrew Marr’s interview with Amber Rudd yesterday:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/11091604.pdf

    I find that she didn’t actually say that if the EU starts charging UK citizens for authorisation to enter its territory then the UK government might take it out on EU citizens resident in the UK, that was just a rather nasty invention by one of the newspapers.

    Which would not be a charge for a visa, as some sections of the media suggest, but a charge under a visa waiver scheme – under the arrangements applied by the US a visa costs $160 – $205, while the ESTA charge under the visa waiver scheme is $14 – and which might be for entry into the Schengen area rather than the EU – so even if we had decided to stay in the EU, but still stay out of Schengen, eventually UK citizens could well have become liable for it anyway – and which might also apply to the citizens of the countries still in the EU when they travel back to an EU country, given that Tusk recently said:

    http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2016/09/09-tusk-meeting-lofven-stockholm/

    “In Bratislava I want us to pledge that all persons, including EU citizens, that cross the Union’s external borders are checked against the relevant databases.”

    There’s a 2011 report here:

    http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/e-library/docs/pdf/esta_main_en.pdf

    but it’s a long and highly detailed read.

    • rose
      Posted September 13, 2016 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

      A Home Secretary should understand that for her purposes we are all vulnerable.

  18. Dung
    Posted September 12, 2016 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    John

    Suggesting that the US should sit down and negotiate with Putin is naivety on stilts and Obama has demonstrated his own naivety by doing just that.

  19. mickc
    Posted September 12, 2016 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Russia is not a natural opponent of the UK. Indeed, the only legitimate fear the UK had of Russia was during our “ownership” of India, when further Russian southward expansion was a possibility.
    Happily, the British Empire has long since been wound up, as has the USSR, which was only dangerous ideologically.
    The present Russia is a potential ally of Europe in the contest with radical Islam, as well as being able to supply oil and other natural resources and being a market for European goods. This opportunity is being thrown away at the behest of the USA, which seeks to dominate the planet.
    The USA has never been a “friend” of the UK, only an ally when that suited the USA.
    About time the UK ceased to be a US vassal With luck, Trump’s policies, which are already shifting US politics no matter who wins, will cause the USA to retrench and the UK can learn to tread its own path without holding onto the USA’s skirts.

    • Mitchel
      Posted September 12, 2016 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

      Also,Catherine the Great,whilst staying technically neutral,played a significant role in us losing the American colonies.Nothing personal,she just thought we were getting too big for our boots after our success in the Seven Years War.Strange as it might seem now Russia was the first country to be awarded favoured nation status when it came to trade by the former colonies.

      Whilst there is a tendency to think of Russia mostly in terms of it’s martial prowess,it has often displayed a brilliance in diplomacy,perhaps reflecting it’s Byzantine antecedents.

      • stred
        Posted September 13, 2016 at 11:27 am | Permalink

        Catherine the Great employed a British engineer to build the harbour at Sevastapol. He was the brother of Bentham, the philosopher. She also employed Scottish naval architects to build some of the fleet.

        • Mitchel
          Posted September 13, 2016 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

          Catherine the Great employed all sorts of foreigners to perform all sorts of tasks!

  20. John S
    Posted September 12, 2016 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Having been to the Crimea, the locals fully supported the Russian presence. The West just doesn’t get it.

  21. Ronald Olden
    Posted September 12, 2016 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    I wish David Cameron all the luck in the world in his future life. He is after all only 49. He made the Conservative Party electable again, delivered a Conservative led Coalition Government in 2010, which considering the financial mess they inherited did an excellent job. And thanks to him there’s a majority Conservative Government now.

    None of these things were forgone conclusions and could easily have gone the other way under any other of the other possibles leaders available. And it appears to me that the extra seats David Cameron was able to win in 2010 and 2015, by detoxifying the Tory brand for those important few voters who make the difference, were crucial. It should also be remembered that it was defeat in these elections which resulted in Labour electing Miliband in 2010 and then Corbyn in 2015, so possibly ruining Labour forever. If Labour had won in 2010 or 2015 it might have been very different. These election results will be seen as pivotal for generations to come. And that’s before we even mention the effect of all this on the Lib Dems.

    It’s hard to see how anyone could have managed the EU issue differently. It was never practicable for a Governing Party leader let alone a Prime Minister to recommend Leaving the EU. It was a decision the Nation had to take on its own. David Cameron did however deliver the Referendum and give the Nation the chance to take it. So no-one on the Leave side, (or the Remain side for that matter) should be complaining about him.

    David Cameron did actually win some important battles for the UK within the EU by keeping us out of various misguided schemes and getting at least some semblance of control on the total EU budget. But no one can perform miracles.

    If he wants a seat in the House of Lords, or a knighthood, it should go without saying that David Cameron gets them immediately he ceases to be MP for Witney.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted September 12, 2016 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

      Well resigning as an MP is certainly the sensible thing for Cameron to do. The idea that “he made the Conservative Party electable again” is complete and utter drivel. He lost the first election (against the hapless & no return to boom and bust sitting duck) Gordon Brown. This due to his cast iron ratting and his lefty, high tax, greencrap agenda.

      He very nearly lost the second too. But for the dire prospect (to the English at least) of a Miliband dog, wagged by Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP he would have.

      The idea that he deserves a place in the Lords or even a knighthood for trying to bury UK democracy for ever is absurd. He only got the job of Tory leader only by pretending to be a Eurosceptic, low tax Conservative at heart, he was never any of these thing. He was a Libdim to his very core.

      His dishonest attempt to rig the referendum with threats of doom, the BBC bias, the leaflet, Carney and Osborne’s absurd threat were the final straw. He deserves nothing what so ever, not even his gold plated pension. His intervention on Libya was another disaster.

      He even claimed that the N H S was his priority in three letters – what a sick joke that proved to be. Also that Schengen gave us control of our borders, he was repaying the debt and that a treaty is not a treaty once ratified!

      When are Osborne and Carney going to follow his example what are they waiting for? The best thing Osborne ever did was to promise a £1M IHT thus causing brown to foolishly cancel his early election plans (he would have won). Needless to say he ratted on this IHT promise too. Time for these two to go too.

    • mickc
      Posted September 12, 2016 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

      Cameron was utterly useless. He wasn’t a Conservative, he was a LibDem.
      Osborne just believed in taxing people to death….and effectively misleading people about it eg his “allowance” of £1M in respect of IHT.
      Thank God they have both gone. It remains to be seen if May/Hammond are any better..

      • Lifelogic
        Posted September 13, 2016 at 2:06 am | Permalink

        Indeed he was just a Libdem in disguise. We saw how hugely unpopular Clegg’s/Libdem policies were at the last election. As usual the public are right and Cameron/Clegg were totally wrong.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted September 12, 2016 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

      Let us hope the next Conservative MP for Witney is a real Conservative and not another dire Libdim in disguise. Someone who strives for efficient, smaller government, simpler & lower taxes, free trade, far less government intervention in markets, greater freedoms, no counterproductive damaging wars, cheap non greencrap energy, public services that actually serve and a huge bonfire of damaging red tape.

      Someone who is essentially the opposite of Cameron please.

    • Bob
      Posted September 12, 2016 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

      @Ronald Olden
      Mr Cameron was bounced into the referendum promise because he was hemorrhaging votes to ukip in 2015.

      The resultant surge of support which gave the Tories a slim but outright majority came as a shock to the Cameroons, because they were banking on another coalition with the Lib Dems, which would have let them off of the referendum hook.

      DC attempted to skew the referendum with scaremongering and invited endorsement from the likes of Mr Obama, Mark Carney, and a multitude of celebs, “experts” and corporate fat cat buddies, whilst using govt departments to support the Remain campaign simultaneously putting untold pressures on cabinet brexiteers to back off. His behaviour did him no credit and was a breach of his undertaking to conduct a fair and balanced plebiscite.

      If the foregoing were not sufficient reason for him to slither quietly away into obscurity then his Prime Ministerial resignation Honours nominations should seal the deal. He truly was the heir to Blair and brought the post of PM further into disrepute.

      I understand that boundary changes will also result in the loss of George Osborne’s Tatton constituency, and I trust that when it happens, he will also go quietly from govt never to be heard of again.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted September 13, 2016 at 7:22 am | Permalink

        Indeed so dire is Cameron’s record that I even forgot to mention the outrage of his offensive honours list.

        • Henry Kaye
          Posted September 13, 2016 at 8:29 am | Permalink

          What puzzles me is that Cameron should have received such rapturous applause when he announced his resignation. The critical comments recorded here match the general feelings in the country of the man. I may be wrong but I get the feeling that he has been the least popular Conservative Premier ever and in my view, quite rightly so.

    • Mitchel
      Posted September 13, 2016 at 9:42 am | Permalink

      I think I prefer James Kirkup’s portrait of Cameron in today’s Telegraph to your hagiography- petulant….graceless….no sense of duty….no care for the little people,etc

      The little people are more than happy to reciprocate.

  22. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted September 12, 2016 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    So, David William Donald Cameron failed his 23 plus. It upset him. Time to take hold of his opportunities that better fit his aptitude and abilities.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted September 13, 2016 at 2:02 am | Permalink

      A second hand car salesman perhaps?

      • Bob
        Posted September 13, 2016 at 7:42 am | Permalink

        @lifelogic

        “A second hand car salesman perhaps?”

        He would have to raise his standards considerably.

  23. Don Dutta
    Posted September 12, 2016 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    Its great USA and Russia are talking…but for a sustainable peace in this region, Russia needs to get Assad ‘on board’ to STOP the killing …and wage a co-ordinated effort to wipe outbISIS from the Middle East.Unless that happens all the different factions will continue to fight in an ever growing spiral of killing. All of Middle East is like a chessboard and we in the west need to make our moves carefully!

  24. hefner
    Posted September 12, 2016 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    As David Davis said today, not all details of the Brexit negociations will be made public, not even to Parliament before article 50 is called … So much for the more vocal ones on this website!

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted September 13, 2016 at 7:44 am | Permalink

      There can be no Brexit negotiations before Article 50 is activated!

      http://www.lisbon-treaty.org/wcm/the-lisbon-treaty/treaty-on-European-union-and-comments/title-6-final-provisions/137-article-50.html

      “1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.

      2. A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State … ”

      That is the sequence of events as laid down in the TEU.

      • NickC
        Posted September 13, 2016 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

        No, we do not need to invoke Article 50. Under the Vienna Convention a state which has the sovereignty to accede to a Treaty also has the sovereignty to abrogate a Treaty. The UK has the right to leave the EU according to both our own constitution and international law. There is nothing to negotiate about, in respect of actually leaving the EU.

        The only negotiations subsequently necessary concern co-operation with the EU on various matters from trade to security consequent on us being independent. And we already do that with non-EU countries.

        Therefore the UK should leave first by repealing the ECA, and stopping contributions, and only then negotiate. Anything else will lead to a fudge and a bad deal for us because we would end up confusing the fact of our (new-found) independence with the horse-trading of bi-lateral negotiations.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted September 13, 2016 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

          We’ve been over this so many times. In 2008 we agreed that if we wanted to leave the EU then we would follow the procedure laid down in Article 50, and that specific commitment takes precedence over the general right to withdraw from the treaties. Moreover the UK is bound by the EU treaties by virtue of its instruments of ratification of the EU treaties, not by virtue of ECA72, and repeal of the Act alone would leave us still bound by the treaties.

          • NickC
            Posted September 14, 2016 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

            Quite clearly the signing of Lisbon does not “take precedence over the general right to withdraw from the treaties”, as you claim, because of our constitutional principle that “no parliament may bind its successor”. We have the right in international law to abrogate any treaty.

            The Vienna Convention confirms that a state may withdraw from a treaty “At any time by consent of all the parties after consultation with the other contracting States” (Article 54). So we can use Vienna Article 54, without invoking TEU Article 50, to abrogate the treaties. That way we are equals in the process of abrogation.

            It is not possible to actually leave the EU by following “the procedure laid down in Article 50”, as you claim. That procedure is incomplete because it references only the position of the EU without regard to the UK’s own laws or constitution. Whatever else we do the UK must repeal the ECA to leave the EU, otherwise we are still under the jurisdiction of EU law: that is our law.

            Reply Article 50 gives us the right to leave according to our constitutional principles.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted September 15, 2016 at 8:40 am | Permalink

            It may be true that “no parliament may bind its successor”, but the crucial technical point is that we are not in the EU by virtue of Acts of Parliament on the national or domestic plane, Acts which Parliament can later repeal.

            Instead we are bound by the EU treaties because of actions on the international or diplomatic plane, when the government deposited the UK’s instruments of ratification of the treaties consenting to be bound by them.

            If Parliament had not passed the ECA72 then there would have been no guarantee that the UK would meet all the legal obligations imposed by the EEC treaty, and it would not have been possible for the government to deposit the instruments of ratification for the Treaty of Accession.

            On the other hand if Parliament had passed the ECA72, but the government had then changed its mind and decided not to take the final step of depositing its instruments of ratification, then we would not have joined the EEC but we would have been in the absurd position of having a law to ensure that we met all our obligations under a treaty to which the UK was not actually a party.

            Passage of ECA72 on the national plane was necessary before the government could ratify the Treaty of Accession on the international plane so that we joined the EEC, but repeal of ECA72 would not have the effect of revoking the instruments of ratification and removing us from the EU.

            In 2008 when the government ratified the Lisbon Treaty it agreed inter alia that if any member state wished to leave then it should use the procedure laid down in Article 50 TEU.

            Article 54 in the Vienna Convention runs as follows:

            “The termination of a treaty or the withdrawal of a party may take place:

            (a) In conformity with the provisions of the treaty; or

            (b) At any time by consent of all the parties after consultation with the other contracting States.”

            In this case (a) would mean Article 50 TEU, and (b) could only apply if all the other member states agreed to something other than Article 50 TEU, which clearly they do not.

  25. BrynP
    Posted September 13, 2016 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    Why does no one mention his support for his contribution to the destruction of Libya? Yet another casualty of the Pax Americana and of our wanton subservience to the US.

  26. NickC
    Posted September 13, 2016 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    “As for Syria, the West needs to understand that its attempt to find moderate rebels against the Assad regime who can both stay moderate and fight their way to a victory against both Assad and ISIL was never a credible policy.”

    Let us hope the FCO has finally learnt that.

  27. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted September 14, 2016 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    Answer me candidly, Mr Redwood. Do you think that Alawites and Sunni Muslims or Shia and Sunni Muslims can peacefully combine to form a Nation State?

    If the answer is ‘No’, then how can Syria and Iraq survive?

  • 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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