Syria

Some of you want to talk about Syria and want to know why I have not written about it. The main purpose of this website is to raise issues I am pursuing for constituents and for the wider nation. The aim is not to mirror the concerns of the media all the time, or to try to repeat what they do. Nor am I going to post items which assert that the main news media have got this story of the missile attack factually wrong.

I aim to present news, not recyle olds in the way so many media journalists do. That is why I have wanted in the last few days to highlight Network Rail’s losses on derivatives and foreign currency borrowing, because you cannot see or read that elsewhere . That is why I have sought to provide background and new analysis to the policy work and exchanges underway over Gibraltar, Brexit and Scotland.

I have not so far sought to intervene in the recent debate about Syria. This is mainly a matter for the USA, the country that decided to take limited military action against the Assad regime. It does not look as if Mr Trump wants to get involved in a major way in the Syrian civil war, which is probably wise.

As I have pointed out before I do  not back either  Sunni or  Shia. I have no view on who could best govern Syrian and reunite it around a peaceful governing policy that can  bring  people together. I have no love of the barabric attacks on his own people by Assad, but nor do I have any time for one of his main opponents, the terrorist movement ISIL. I am also aware that there are other unpleasant murderous groups at large who also do not deserve our support.  I have heard previous UK ministers in the  Coalition argue we need to help so called moderate  rebels.  So far there is no evidence of a powerful enough group who could both defeat ISIL and Assad simultaneously and then rule a peace loving country thereafter. One of the reasons the West’s interventions have been sporadic and so far unsuccessful is trying to find a side we want to win the war.

Mr Obama threatened Assad  if he used chemical weapons but  failed to enforce his threat. Mr Obama allowed Russia to take a much more prominent role in suppport of Assad, making it  more dangerous and difficult for the west to intervene militarily.

I suspect Mr Trump will not wish to extend his  military involvement, and will hope Assad will now desist from using chemical ordnance. Presumably were Assad to use chemical weapons again there would  be further US attacks.  The aim seems to be to try to get more of the protagonists  into talks. Recent events will clearly disturb efforts for there to be more collaboration between Russia and the USA to fix world problems. Mr Trump hopes that Russia will  now exercise more discipline over Assad, and will see the need to seek a peaceful political solution to Syria’s riven factions in conjunction with others around the negotiating table. Let’s hope that works out.

 

 

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100 Comments

  1. Lifelogic
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 5:36 am | Permalink

    Indeed I agree with your approach to air things that are not usually discussed.

    As you say let us hope Russia will now exercise more discipline over Assad and it does works out.

    • Hope
      Posted April 10, 2017 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

      Like the illegal disasters of Iraq and Libya before, the bombing will solve nothing. Trump’s first position was correct let Assad and the Russians bomb the hell out of ISIS, why do we care. Well, of course, we care about innocent civilians. However that was thrown to the wind by the protraction of this mess by arming the alleged rebels by the West, including the U.K. Cameron step forward and accept responsibility. Osborne made a stupid speech in parliament since. He should have been slapped down for his stupidity. I do not want my taxes used by the govt in this way when it was clear Cameron’s govt never had a clue what they were doing or trying to achieve, but wanted to replicate the mess created in Iraq and Libya! An unstable state with mass immigration to Europe encouraged and welcomed by Merkel. I would prefer proper criminal proceedings with proper punishments against Cameron and Blaire, together with their cohorts blowing the bugles. The untold suffering they have caused against humanity deserve it. Not some bias pathetic vote in parliament not to take action against them.

  2. Lifelogic
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 5:51 am | Permalink

    John can you see any glimmer of hope that this May/Hammond government is actually going to make any moves at all in the much needed pro-business, pro growth direction? Smaller government, lower taxes, far less regulation, more freedom, more choice (especially in heath and education), a sound currency, cheap reliable energy and the likes? I see none what so ever. Anything remotely Conservative?

    • Know-dice
      Posted April 10, 2017 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      Doesn’t look like it 🙁

      Shall we give up now?

      “Making Tax Digital for Business update

      Extensive changes to how taxpayers record and report income to HMRC are being introduced under a project entitled Making Tax Digital for Business (MTDfB).

      MTDfB is to be introduced in stages and the government has confirmed in the Budget the deferral of some of the obligations for one year. The result of this announcement is that unincorporated businesses and unincorporated landlords with annual turnover:

      above the VAT threshold (currently £85,000) will need to comply with the requirements of MTDfB from the start of accounting periods which begin after 5 April 2018
      at or below the VAT threshold but above £10,000 will need to comply from the start of accounting periods which begin after 5 April 2019.

      Companies (and partnerships with a turnover above £10 million) will not come within MTDfB until April 2020.

      The government has decided how the general principles of MTDfB will operate. Draft legislation has been issued on some aspects and more is contained in Finance Bill 2017.

      Under MTDfB, businesses, self-employed people and landlords will be required to:

      maintain their records digitally, through software or apps
      report summary information to HMRC quarterly through their ‘digital tax accounts’ (DTAs)
      make an ‘End of Year’ declaration through their DTAs. The End of Year declaration will be similar to the online submission of a self assessment tax return but may be required to be submitted earlier than a tax return. Businesses will have 10 months from the end of their period of account (or 31 January following the tax year – the due date for a self assessment tax return – if sooner)

      DTAs are like online bank accounts – secure areas where a business can see all of its tax details in one place and interact with HMRC digitally.

      Businesses, self-employed people and landlords with turnovers under £10,000 are exempt from these requirements.”

      https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/making-tax-digital/overview-of-making-tax-digital

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 10, 2017 at 11:37 am | Permalink

        Indeed this quarterly reporting was introduced by the appalling George Osborne. He claimed he was doing us a favour by abolishing time consuming tax returns when he was actually increasing them by a factor of four to quarterly ones.

        Rather like the other blatant lie he used when he attacked landlords interest tax deductions by totally falsely claiming that he was leveling the field with owner occupiers.

        Tax is already paid on the interest by the bank who receive and now it is paid twice – so higher rents and far fewer properties to rent! He was just taxing landlords on profits they had not even made. Has the dreadful man resigned as an MP yet, at least Cameron did the decent thing!

        • Mitchel
          Posted April 10, 2017 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

          LL,can we expect you to be as regular a contributor to the Standard’s readers letters page as you are here when Boy George takes over?!

        • Hope
          Posted April 10, 2017 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

          LL, for the last 40 years the liblabCon have managed and implemented what the EU demanaded, leaving little tweets for them for the charade of independent govt. Why would you think a different cheek from the same arse would be different to the left winglitics we have endured over this period? Neither of them having to really think for themeselves but mange what they were given. JR cannot have it both ways. He cannot advocate how much EU regulation, directive and law the is and nodded through without debate and then claim the liblabCon to be somehow different! You are correct they are all socialist and vary in degrees in left wing politics. Hitchens analysis is correct. Additionally, Read Mandelsons comments and you will only have disgust that our taxes are given to him.

      • Posted April 10, 2017 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

        As a buy-to-let landlord with turnover in excess of the VAT threshold ( although we do not have to charge VAT ) I am caught up with this messy new system which is most unwelcome.

        There is no doubt that it will cost us more in Accountant’s fees for no benefit whatsoever. Hammond and May appear to be no more helpful to business than Corbyn would be otherwise this whole system would have been scrapped.

        Conservative Government ? It’s barely any better than Cameron’s lovefest with Clegg.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted April 10, 2017 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

          Indeed Corbyn would make us like Cuba and May only as bad as Venezuela. Little difference really both are totally deluded. What this Government really want is to nationalise all businesses and have them all account to them every singe day or week on HMRC’s complex systems. That way they can fine them for any tiny minor infringement, any late filing or minor error.

          Just the same as they want to do with speeding cameras, box junction fines, bus lane fines, half a day of school fines, litter fines, failing to file anything by due date fines …… but May clearly want even more of this statism, she want to strangle the goose that lays the golden eggs! Why is she even in the Tory Party?

        • acorn
          Posted April 10, 2017 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

          ChrisS, you have to understand that this government does not want buy-to-let Landlords. It wants owner occupiers.

          Owner occupiers are more likely to vote Conservative. Tenants paying rents to Rachman type Landlords, don’t vote Conservative, they blame Conservatives for their situation.

          • Know-dice
            Posted April 11, 2017 at 10:04 am | Permalink

            Too true, unfortunately.

            Nothing on bank savings and now loads of “red tape” on rental income.

            Which is all fine and dandy if the Government is going to “man up” and pay for properly funded care for the elderly…

            Will they?

            Like hell they will !!!

          • Lifelogic
            Posted April 11, 2017 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

            We need both rented and owner occupied to suite different needs. It makes no sense at all to buy for less than about five year – especially with the absurd stamp duty levels that Osborne intoduced.

    • acorn
      Posted April 10, 2017 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      There are three basic types of conservatism, you voted in the wrong one. LL you want a Libertarian Conservative Party. Least possible government and regulation; laissez-faire liberalism; traditional conservative values of authority and duty; the New Right theory.

      Authoritarian Conservatism is government from the top (Downing Street) by command; order and discipline orchestrated from the centre. This is the system that fits naturally into the UK’s two centuries out of date democracy. What Lord Hailsham termed “elective dictatorship”; an even more accurate description of the political landscape today, than it was post war.

      Paternalistic Conservatism, is somewhere in the middle; the wealthy having a duty to look after the less wealthy; One Nation Conservatism, Disraeli style. I wonder where that went.

      • Ed Mahony
        Posted April 10, 2017 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

        ‘Authoritarian Conservatism’

        – we all, from one degree to another, lust after sex, money and power. Sex, money, and power in themselves are neither good nor bad but can become bad or inordinate if not moderated. Which is why ‘moderate Conservatism’ is a healthy type of Conservatism to aim for i think. Similar dangers can be said for other political movements such as socialism or social liberalism (although i’m a Tory).

        Inordinate Conservatism also loses you votes and elections like what happened in 1997 when power went to the Conservative Party’s head, and Blair snatched power off them. And we’ve seen similar things happen in the White House, with President Trump booting out, to a degree, that hard right in the White House, and listening more to the more moderate Conservatives around him. If he doesn’t, he knows he’ll be toast at the next elections.

        Reply What was immoderate about Mr Major’s Manifesto in 1997?

        • Ed Mahony
          Posted April 11, 2017 at 11:08 am | Permalink

          ‘What was immoderate about Mr Major’s Manifesto in 1997?’

          – I think power went to Tories heads in 1997. There was a lack of unity in the party to beat New Labour. So in this case, not so much policy but approach.

          Not condemning Tories. Love the Tories. But often power goes to all our heads at times (mine included) after success. And we challenge those we like when they need to be challenged, not flatter them or say nothing because we’re afraid of ‘upsetting’ them.
          Regards

          Reply We lost because the ERM economic policy had done so much damage.

          • Ed Mahony
            Posted April 11, 2017 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

            I agree to a degree. However, i think the real reason we lost is because we’d taken our eye off the ball, after 13 years in power. And Tony Blair came along very PR savvy with his cool Britania and everything and was in tune with the zeitgeist of the time.

            And even after losing to Blair, we still didn’t ‘get it,’ voting in Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard as leaders (i remember at time thinking we’d never win with them as leaders, not that they’re not smart – they are, especially Lord Howard, but that they didn’t have the talent and right message to connect with ordinary voters).

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 10, 2017 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

        I did not vote for Cameron, I do not get a vote anyway. I did however vote Tory when at Major first election, even though I though he was dire and as daft as a brush, he seemed a little better than the Labour alternative. I assume as Thatcher’s man he must be better than he looked. He was in fact for worse than he looked.

        • acorn
          Posted April 12, 2017 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

          Ok, that’s about 3.5 million people you have just put on the social! They will be doing a lot less shopping in the private sector.

          BTW, you say ” I do not get a vote anyway”, so whose passport are you holding; and where are you tax resident?

      • Hope
        Posted April 10, 2017 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

        No, it is far worse than this. There is no difference in the left wing politics on offer from the liblabCon. By definition any party slightly to the right would be described by these looney tunes to be forget or extreme right! Idiots.

    • Peter Wood
      Posted April 10, 2017 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      We, the UK, has a fundamental economic imbalance; UK Government spending as a % of GDP is about 44%. Compare this to ‘communist’ China, which is below 30% (@28% +/-). So which is the more socialist? We need to cut government expenditure as a matter a great urgency. The world is getting more dangerous and we don’t have the reserves to cope.
      PS, our foreign secretary needs to grow up, start reading his briefs, think before he speaks and get a haircut. Then maybe he’ll be taken seriously.

      • acorn
        Posted April 10, 2017 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

        So basically, you want to take about £250 billion a year of spending power, out of the UK economy. That will reduce UK GDP by about 12.5%, at a stroke. The “private sector” will really appreciate that.

        It makes no difference to the private sector where their customers come from, as long as they have Pounds to spend. It makes no difference if the government sector buys directly from the private sector, goods and services; or, it pays wages to public sector employees, who buy goods and services from the private sector. Together, those two, in the UK, will put £400 billion into the private sector revenue accounts.

        If it helps your calculations; you could shut down the DWP and DfID government departments, to save £250 billion a year.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted April 11, 2017 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

          Drivel release about 2/3 of the state sector workers to do something productive for a change and cut taxes the GDP would rise not fall.

          Lets all dig holes and fill them in again and get paid by the state for it then!

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 10, 2017 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

        Indeed 44% is way,way too high, they need to cut the size of the largely parasitic sector or they will kill or export what is left of the productive one.

        Buy May is pissing money down the drain – HS2, Hinkley C, the benefit culture, the joke NHS, expensive, greencrap & unreliable energy, a bloated state sector, over regulation of everything, a moronic complex tax system, bonker employment laws, gender pay reporting …

        How can she be so unbelievably dim and misguided?

        • Lifelogic
          Posted April 11, 2017 at 3:08 am | Permalink

          This 44% (spend by the state) delivers so very little of any real value. Indeed much of it causes far more harm than good.

      • hefner
        Posted April 10, 2017 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

        Strictly speaking the ratio Government spending to GDP has been, for the UK:
        2011 46.2.
        2012 45.4
        2013 43.1
        2014. 44.4
        2015 43.5
        2016 42.2
        2017. 40.9 forecast
        2018. 39.5 forecast

        For 2016, it was USA: 37.5, Germany 43, NL 45, Sweden 50, France 55.

        Although decreasing the weight of one’s government is certainly something to be considered, do you really want to go to the 30% of China, where the public (and most often private) health system is rather limited to I existent, specially in the countryside, as is the education system (ut of a few big metropoles), and where there is practically no pension system for most of the population.

        Ref: OECD, heritage.com

        • Lifelogic
          Posted April 11, 2017 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

          25% is plenty, half the things the state does it should not even be doing!

        • acorn
          Posted April 12, 2017 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

          Hef, I will let you into a secret. The Osborne’s 2010 plan for a budget surplus by 2015 was never going to work and the techies at the Treasury knew that. Likewise for the 2015 election. The accidental arrival of Hammond, allowed a get out of manifesto card to be played.

          Total managed expenditure (TME) was circa £754 billion in 2011/12. The plan is to keep TME at circa £754 billion in REAL TERMS for the whole of this decade. The government can keep claiming that spending is going up in CASH TERMS, but in real, inflation adjusted terms, it isn’t.

  3. Mark B
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 5:53 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    Good for you for speaking on other issues not covered elsewhere.

    One of the reasons the West’s interventions have been sporadic and so far unsuccessful is trying to find a side we want to win the war.

    That’s the problem, we keep wanting to choose a side. Just leave well alone and let the people sort it out.

    And it is not the, ” . . . Assad regime . . .”, it is the Syrian government ! We do not talk about China, Saudi Arabia or the EU in those terms so why them ? Assad was democratically elected unlike the aforementioned.

    • getahead
      Posted April 10, 2017 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

      Well said Mark.

  4. Jerry
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    “Mr Obama threatened Assad if he used chemical weapons but failed to enforce his threat. Mr Obama allowed Russia to take a much more prominent role in suppport of Assad, making it more dangerous and difficult for the west to intervene militarily.”

    Well first there has to be proof that it was indeed Assad who used chemical weapons, not just caused chemical weapons to be released, so far there has been little proof (at least in the public domain) but a lot of here-say and “it is because we say it is” comments. Nor am I sure that Russia is making the area more dangerous, although they are making it more difficult for the west to obtain their preferred political outcomes even they have and will continue to make the area less safe due to the vacuum his removal will bring.

    • Jerry
      Posted April 10, 2017 at 7:39 am | Permalink

      I can’t help thinking that President Trumps actions in Syria were opportunist, being a wider message or warning to a ‘problem’ nation quite some distance from Syria, if so we really are living in dangerous times…

      • Tad Davison
        Posted April 10, 2017 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

        Well put. You see, we don’t disagree on everything.

      • eeyore
        Posted April 10, 2017 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

        Mr Trump has sent a signal to the world’s bad guys that he is unpredictable and dangerous. He talks loudly and carries a large club.

        Russia, which has traditionally awarded itself the privilege of being the worst behaved person in the room, now has a competitor. Time for Mr Putin to sing small?

  5. eeyore
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    The sinews of war: America spends a little over $600bn on arms, Russia about $65bn and Iran, which has joined Russia in protests against Mr Trump’s action, about $10bn. The UK comes in at £55bn. US GDP last year was over $18,000bn. Russia’s was $1,200bn, only a little more than California’s and less than half Britain’s. Iran’s – who cares?

    China earns $11,000bn and spends $315bn on arms. Its President was with Mr Trump when the butler brought in news of the Syrian strike. No doubt it made him quite thoughtful.

    The Fat Boy of North Korea, who like the Fat Boy in Pickwick loves to make our flesh creep, may well be off his dinner this week. Good thing too.

    • Mitchel
      Posted April 10, 2017 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

      Bare figures but who gets value for money?I gather Lord Ashcroft and Isabel Oakeshott are currently researching a book on how our defence budget is spent.Should make very interesting reading!

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 11, 2017 at 3:13 am | Permalink

        Indeed good luck to them it is spend appallingly Isabel seems a good journalist to me one of rather few sound female ones. But then almost everything government does is does very badly. It is not their money, nor they who benefit from the spend – they care not what they pay nor what value they get and it shows.

  6. formula57
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    That you “…aim to present news, not recyle olds in the way so many media journalists do” is something I am very grateful for and a consequence is that I learn a lot, unavailable from elsewhere. Thank you.

  7. Ian Wragg
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    Barry was all talk and both Russia and Syria took advantage of the perceived weakness.
    North Korea continues to perfect a missile delivery system and we are reaching the end game.
    The West has to up the anti because the rogue states aided by Russia and China are getting very dangerous.
    Coupled with European politicians wanting to Islamify Europe times are getting very dangerous.

  8. stred
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    After the first disputed chemical attack, during Obama’s presidency, the Russians persuaded Assad to collect stocks of Sarin and they were destroyed on US ships. Why would he decide, with Russian assistance, to use Sarin in a clearly visible air attack, at a time when the new president was talking about co-operation to destroy ISIS? When the Syrian army is the only force capable of beating ISIS, as the Iraqi army is also doing, and with the same collateral damage, would the US intelligence service inform Trump that it was certain that Assad was the guilty party and not wait to investigate other possibilities, such as ISI having some stocks, which were released by bombing accidentally, or deliberately to blame Assad? No-one knows the truth either way, but now ISIS is assisted and the peace process is back to square one.

    Why is our Defence Dept and Foreign Office also jumping on the bandwagon and the MSM not questioning what is happening? There must be something going on behind the scenes. Or perhaps it is just plain old incompetence.

    • Chris
      Posted April 10, 2017 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

      To your last sentence I would suggest that it is not only incompetence, but ignorance and utter stupidity they suffer from.

  9. The Prangwizard
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    Was it President Assad who used these chemicals? Where is the evidence? I’ve read claims and assertions but that is all. As bad as he is said to be he did before the rebellion keep the fanatucs under control. Do our Western leaders not realise there are no ‘moderates’, that every group is anti-Christian and anti-Western?

    • getahead
      Posted April 10, 2017 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

      Is Assad bad because the Saudis say so?

      • Mitchel
        Posted April 11, 2017 at 9:09 am | Permalink

        He who pays the piper……..

  10. APL
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    JR: “I am also aware that there are other unpleasant murderous groups at large who also do not deserve our support.”

    Some of which our British government appears to be supporting in an attempt to topple the Assad regime.

    JR: “Mr Obama threatened Assad if he used chemical weapons but failed to enforce his threat. ”

    The 2013 incident it turned out, was a ploy by anti Assad forces to try to enlist the West against Assad. I for one would be very angry in my government turns out to have succeeded in replacing one despot, Assad, with other worse, as has already done in Libya.

    JR: “got this story of the missile attack factually wrong.”

    I will ask you one question. If the latest attack was Sarin or other nerve agent, that toxin is notoriously persistent. Why were so called decontamination staff handling the contaminated individuals with out any HAZMAT precautions?

    By now we could expect to be seeing reports of rescue and medical staff suffering the effects of Sarin contamination. But no.

    JR: “Mr Obama allowed Russia to take a much more prominent role in support of Assad, making it more dangerous and difficult for the west to intervene militarily.”

    You are mistaken if you take that perspective. Syria was *always* aligned with first the Soviet Union, and now latterly with Russia.

    Russia has been invited into Syria by the legally recognised Syrian government, which sits as a member in the United Nations.

  11. eeyore
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    Chinese arms budget not £315bn but $145-200bn. Sorry.

  12. alan jutson
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    What a mess we helped to create with our interference, and with our regime change ideas.

    A big, big lesson to be learn’t here, but will we learn, I doubt it. !

    We now have such a huge complicated mess, with millions of displaced people in various parts of the World, I wonder if it will ever be resolved with a long term solution/agreement.

    Civil wars are cruel affairs, but when outsiders start taking sides militarily, it becomes ever more desperate, and usually prolongs the agony.

  13. mickc
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    I generally agree with your attitude towards the Syrian conflict. The UK has no national interests involved.
    However, the Foreign Secretary has involved the UK by his snub to Russia on the basis of Russia being an ally of Assad, and has proposed further sanctions against Russia. Allegations against Russia have also been made by the Defence Secretary. Presumably these actions were with the Prime Minister’s consent.
    I cannot see any way these actions further the interests of the UK. Indeed, the unconditional backing of the USA in committing an act of war against Syria seems a huge error of judgment and makes a confrontation with a nuclear (but not economic) superpower a likely possibility.
    To broaden the debate, I hope the UK does not follow the US posturing on North Korea; we need China’s goodwill, not its enmity.

  14. norman
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    Thank you, John: a necessary comment, and a wise assessment. The action taken by the Americans showed Mr Trump in a good light. I sensed he did not take the decision lightly, nor shirk his huge responsibility. It deals with the jackals, constantly nipping at his heals over backdoor relations with the Russians. In the medium term, it will also be good for Putin – two tough guys that understand each other, and need need balancing out against each other – one (if not both) with dangerous dogs in hand. Woe betide us all, once they get off the leash, as I believe they eventually will.

  15. jason Wells
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    Obama was largely the problem.. he didn’t act when he should have- he shirked the job and just slinked off- it let Russia in the door- so now it’s left to others to try to correct Russia’s thinking on Assad and to clean up the whole sorry mess that is Syria..

  16. Bob
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    How can you be sure that this wasn’t a false flag attack by ISIS?
    Seems to me that Assad and Putin had nothing to gain by using Chemicals, and everything to lose.

    Various insurgents across the middle east have a track record of feeding the press with misinformation and faked photos, hence the term “Pallywood”, and it appears that Mr Trump ordered the missile strike after seeing some pictures on TV.

    • Mitchel
      Posted April 10, 2017 at 9:33 am | Permalink

      Two good articles in Saturday’s Daily Mail on this issue :One by John R Bradley (“A cynical stunt by Trump to boost ratings”) and the other ,in his regular column, by Peter Oborne who has visited Syria a number of times.

      I am grateful to Mr Oborne for pointing out that our UN Ambassador,Matthew Rycroft,was heavily implicated in the creation of the casus belli for the Iraq war,being the author of the………”Downing Street Memo” where “the intelligence and the facts were being fixed around the policy”.

      • rose
        Posted April 10, 2017 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

        Peter Hitchens also has four articles on this in the Mail. NB the bit about the “British doctor”.

    • graham1946
      Posted April 10, 2017 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      Because it was done by air – the Russians admitted this saying it was due to bombing an ISIS chemical dump.

      Ho many bombers do ISIS have?

      It may not have been ordered by Assad himself but by someone lower down, but dictators and the Russians can never admit being in the wrong. They’d have been better finding a scapegoat and apoligising.

      • stred
        Posted April 10, 2017 at 10:42 am | Permalink

        They may not have known there was Sarin in the weapons store. It should be possible to find out whether the containers were on the ground or delivered by bomber.

        • graham1946
          Posted April 10, 2017 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

          If the Russians really did flatten a chemical store they could easily lay it all to rest by supplying photos and co-ordinates so that the statement can be verified. They haven’t done this. Why? It would be simple so there must be suspicion that they are lying.

      • Bob
        Posted April 10, 2017 at 11:02 am | Permalink

        @Graham1946

        “Because it was done by air”

        what is the evidence of this.
        How can we be sure that the gas wasn’t delived by ISIS rockets of merely gas canisters on the ground?

        The so called “evidence” appears to be more like spculation.

        • graham1946
          Posted April 10, 2017 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

          Bob

          The Russians said it was due to an attack by air on a chemical dump. They have not mentioned ISIS rockets and I’m pretty sure they would if it were so.

          Why are you more prepared to believe Assad and Putin than your own government?

          Boris said there is ‘irrefutable evidence’. Not privy to what that is of course, but I’m more inclined to believe him than the other two.

          • Bob
            Posted April 11, 2017 at 8:02 am | Permalink

            @graham1946
            the point is that bombing is only one method of delivering Sarin.

            Remember the Tokyo Sarin attack? (no planes, no rockets involved)

            Remember Iraq? (govt assertions ot WMD completely false)

            Neither Assad or Putin are stupid, why provoke international outrage when ISIS are already on the back foot.

            With no credible sources of information in the area we cannot be certain what happened, and having seen is people in white hard hats with no other protective clothing or gloves administering help at the scene we have to at least allow fot the possibility that we’ve been had.

            It should take more than circumstantial evidence & speculation to provoke WW3.

          • forthurst
            Posted April 11, 2017 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

            “Boris said there is ‘irrefutable evidence’.” He is refering the evidence of the cutthroats and murderers who control Idlib; what possible other evidence would be required in those circumstances? We know the doctor is genuine because he is a known terrorist in this country who was struck off the Medical Register.

    • Paul w
      Posted April 10, 2017 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      Bob..assads father used chemical weapons in his time and killed hundredd of thousands..now his son is doing the same..it runs in the family..they are a brutal dictatorship that..i bet you that asssd has his own family tucked safely away and not anywhere near chemicals..

      • Bob
        Posted April 10, 2017 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

        “assads father used chemical weapons in his time and killed hundreds of thousands..now his son is doing the same..it runs in the family.”

        That wouldn’t stand up in court Paul.
        It goes to motive, Assad and Putin had nothing to gain by using Chemicals, and everything to lose.

  17. Posted April 10, 2017 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    I still remain unconvinced that Assad was responsible for the attack. There was every sign that, with Russia’s help, he was winning the war and Trump had recently announced that he no longer considered the removal of Assad was a priority.
    Whatever else he might be, Assad isn’t stupid otherwise he wouldn’t have survived so long, so I simply ask “Why?”.
    There are other explanations which many would consider to be just as plausible, and I would prefer to wait for the facts to emerge in due course.
    As a side effect of the attack, it is possible that the madman running North Korea will ease back knowing that Trump might be provoked into doing something if he pushes his luck too far.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 10, 2017 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      It certainly did not make much sense for Assad to do this, so if he did why did he?

    • James neill
      Posted April 10, 2017 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      Assad is not stupid but he has miscalculated when ordering the use of chemical weapons again- as this was done in cahoots with the russians who were just probing americas resolve,.. but they both got it wrong when it came to trump..

      the trouble now for russia north korea and china itself is that trump is proving to be a bit of a wild card – none of them have a handle on him yet and on the way he might react now to any situation that might arise and maybe for the rest of us that us how it should be.. keep them under pressure

  18. Bert Young
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    The key to Syria and the Middle East is co-operation between the USA and Russia . The same is true in Eastern Europe and in N. Korea . Putin needs to be drawn into the West ; his personality would be neutralised to something much more amenable were this to happen .Isolated Putin shows aggression .

    The problem of how Islam and groups that represent its extreme anger are tackled is , again , a matter of co-operation . Force and violence simply creates hate and disgust . It will only stop when all sides sit down and sort their differences out . When discussion of this sort occurs the Middle East will obtain peace .

    • Mitchel
      Posted April 10, 2017 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

      I don’t believe Mr Putin will be”drawn into the west”.Those days have-for now-gone;Russia,no longer trusting the west,has pivoted east,building relationships with China,Iran,India,etc.creating a flexible alternative power bloc to frustrate the progress of the globalists.To say he is isolated is wishful thinking.

      He will no doubt turn back westwards when the west falls apart to pick up those pieces that are of interest.

  19. Antisthenes
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    This attack on a Syrian government airbase only tells us that Trump is just as much at the mercy of the political establishment as the rest of us. The DC swamp as he calls it. He did it for purely political reasons. To show that he was not beholding to Russia and to establish other credibilities and to gain approbation which he did. He is going to find that expediency trumps principle to survive in politics which means that what he may wish or said he will do as president will be a far cry from what he will actually do.

    Syria and the Middle East as much as we may wish not to be involved creates for us serious problems so that we have no choice but to act. US presence and even our own is already in the Gulf and on land and growing. The fight against ISIS is the pretext but if not now but later Iran and the like and their proxy terror groups will ensure that our minds are very much concentrated on that region. The conflicts in the Middle East if not resolved quickly and efficiently will just be a catalyst for the creation of worse. A taste of which we are already experiencing.

  20. margaret
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    These are people, children, adults , elderly ..humans . How can anyone turn a blind eye to this sort of slaughter . I understand the precarious politics , but think if we cooperate with the USA, Americas, Europe and East in general on this one and surround the offending countries who think it is Ok to slaughter these innocents ,then at least we have a chance. It is no good saying Putin is supporting Assad or ISIL is slaughtering their own and will stretch out in any other ways they can all over the world . We need to work together . No blame , no adding up of sold weapons or cost . They are history . What is going on is now!

  21. Anonymous
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Too much of the agenda is set by the MSM – particularly 24hr rolling news and highly selective reporting/headlining.

    Such as the BBC goad western governments into action rather than reporting news. How is it we never see the bodies of children killed in Europe in terrorist attacks, yet such imagery is allowed when the MSM wants action on the refugee crisis or in Syria ?

    • Russ
      Posted April 10, 2017 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

      Such as the BBC goad western governments into action rather than reporting news

      >
      Well spotted.

  22. Establishment
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    ” The fact that Trump’s daughter and son-in-law have moved into the White House and work there in senior roles isn’t necessarily a bad thing” CNBC today
    No, of course not.
    Our Defence Secretary is anybody’s isn’t he.

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted April 10, 2017 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

      Oh I imagine several British PM’s have had their policies influenced by close relatives too – wives, husbands and so on. At least Trump is open about it.

      • Establishment
        Posted April 11, 2017 at 11:29 am | Permalink

        Roy Grainger
        My point, ( comparitively in part ,I guess) is the apparent nepotism.
        Though I feel you understimate or some may feel overestimate our PMs. It would be impossible for a Briton to sleep at night with the decisions which need making unless they were able to tap into that part of our brains which is ruthlessly unconcernedly reptoid. Their friends, family and others may think they influence them in some way but politicians in their prime are good at making people think that.

  23. agricola
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Undoubtedly Syria is in a dreadful mess. None of the warring parties subscribe to the criteria for conducting war that pertains in the West. Putin is no doubt terrified that the religious mania in Syria could spread into southern Russia, hence his support for Assad, his only option.We, the USA and UK, demonstrated the folly of removing hard line dictators both in Iraq and Libya, effectively releasing a powder keg of religious revolution.

    I would like to see a lot more hard evidence relating to this latest gas attack. Was it delivered by bomb or shell, I want the fragments so that origin can be identified. What sort of aircraft or artillery piece delivered it. This could lead to culpability. It is not impossible that a conventional bomb or shell hit a stockpile of gas, effectively an own goal by those holding it. Were the UN, anything but useless, this is what they should be doing.

    Obama was , as they say up North, all mouth and no trousers. Trump has put down a marker by symbolically breaking concrete with cruise missiles. A way of saying that there is a limit to what I will tolerate. For all the subsequent Putin hot air, I think he will take note, a la Krushchev and Cuba. Now is the time to get all the parties round the table. I suspect that Putin would like a way out that safeguards Russia.

  24. Chris S
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    President Trump was right to make good on Obama’s empty threat and his response was both measured and proportionate.

    However the joint statement by Russia and Iran is a very worrying development and this tacit acceptance of the use by Assad of chemical weapons against his own citizens demonstrates how out of step the leadership of both Nation s clearly are with the world order.

    The statement was a serious miscalculation on behalf of the Russians in particular : if Assad’s forces again use chemical munitions, it is difficult to see how President Trump could avoid taking further action – indeed civilised countries would demand it.

    The very real prospect will then exist of conflict between Russia and the USA, albeit initially of limited extent. However at the same time there has to be a serious risk that the madman in Pyongyang might take the opportunity to make a fatal mistake. We can only hope that the Florida summit has produced a confidential agreement on how to deal with Kim Jong-un.

    These could very quickly become very worrying times, whoever happened to be in the White House.

  25. Peter Davies
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    You’re level headed approach to discussing issues with references to supporting evidence rather than following the media spin wagon is why so many including myself pay an interest in what you have to say.

    Why on earth do we never see you on question time?

  26. Bryan Harris
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    It seems we can’t get away from Syria……. but I will be brief.

    I don’t entirely trust the agreement that Syria was totally responsible for the chemical attack – It’s been more like a lynch party than a real investigation.

    Isolating Russia doesn’t work – we’ve already seen that – and neither do threats work against Russia. Boris bungled his option to get some straight answers from Putin by cancelling his trip at the last moment…. I had imagined Boris to be a better diplomat.

    Now is not the time to escalate tensions. Some times are better than others, for example when everything is crystal clear and there is real hope of a diplomatic solution.

    @@@

    • getahead
      Posted April 10, 2017 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

      Yup.

  27. Bryan Harris
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    John

    Why do my comments always say: “Your comment is awaiting moderation”?

    Have I crossed some invisible red line?

    • Turboterrier.
      Posted April 10, 2017 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

      @ Bryan Harris

      Join the club mate. When I read some of the stuff that gets printed I wonder what the hell it is that I have done wrong. In yesterday’s post on Scotland where I live nearly every man and his dog were talking in the same direction and for me the truth is, the truth, I live, read and write it, as it is. This dictatorship that governs us has been allowed to happen through too many politicians talking but not walking the talk and in reality they do not have a scooby doo what is really going on up here. Still as I have said before its Johns ball and his game but other sites that I occasionally comment on do not seem to worry too much against come backs.

    • bigneil
      Posted April 10, 2017 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

      I’ll answer. Mine does as well. I assume all do. Our host wouldn’t have absolutely anything posted on a site with his name to it. Only sensible. Not all comments get on. Doesn’t mean anything is wrong. It is NOT just an open Forum. There are sites using Disqus that have that – -but are still moderated. One site – if JR doesn’t mind me putting it on here – -is a group that used to use the Daily Telegraph comments for their chats. They now have their own channel on Disqus called something along the lines of Not the Telegraph Letters – or something similar.

  28. Jack snell
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Trump has caught them all by surprise and put the bullys on the back foot- the russians are furious-and now he has turned his attention to notth korea and all this was done right in front of the chinese premier Xi- so well done is all i can say. After years of looking at obamas mealymouthed pussyfooting around maybe now we will see some positive action. At the very least trump is putting these bully boys and schemers on notice that using or threatening the use of nuclear weapons in the case of north korea, or chemical weapons in the case of russia or assad will not be tolerated- russia is very much on notice now- and rightly so

  29. Jon p
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Corbyn is sticking his oar in now.. saying that there will be a proxy war between the americans and the russians.. will somebody please tell me what is this special gift that the Labour leader has that he can see into the future…i wonder what is it that corbyn has more than anyone else that he can make such statements- idiot

  30. rose
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    I agree with your reasons for not wanting to discuss this.

    The West should have learned its lesson in 1979 with Iran. I was very against overthrowing the Shah then and I still am. When the Left gang up with the Ayatollahs and the MSM, you know who is going to win and it isn’t going to be democracy.

    But oh no, the lesson wasn’t learned. We then had Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, now Syria, and the rest of the Arab Spring on the way. “We must have elections and install a democratic government…” No, let’s just have peace and order, including for Christians.

    I can see the US and Europe want Putin out of the Mediterranean but 8 years of Obama have made that a tall order.

  31. Posted April 10, 2017 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    I thought Russia had guaranteed the destruction of the Assad regime’s chemical weapons stores some years ago. Either Russia misled the world, or the attack was not by Assad’s forces. We need to wait and see. Above all, we need to ignore any ‘explanations’ coming out of Russia. Their policy seems to be to offer a multiplicity of possible explanations for a contentious event that just muddies the waters and feeds conspiracy theorists. For example, the destruction of the aircraft over Ukraine by Russian-backed rebels: Russia produced not just one, but several ‘explanations’, some fanciful beyond belief. One, I recall, claimed that Ukrainians had downed the plane believing it to be carrying Putin himself. Another was that anti-Russian elements had got hold of bodies from the disappeared Malaysian flight, and dropped then over Ukraine. There were others I can’t now recollect.

    I fear there is no solution we can find for Syria. It is almost axiomatic that the downfall of a dictator produces euphoria and then chaos (Tito, Saddam, Gaddafi, Mubarak) as rivals seek to fill the power vacuum. If Assad is deposed there will be the same result. Meanwhile, if the west does nothing, we will be blamed for inaction. If we involve ourselves we will be blamed for interference. We should stand aside and offer only humanitarian aid as we are doing in Turkey, Jordan etc. keeping refugees safe near to their homeland so that they can rebuild eventually.

  32. BOF
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    A big thank you for your independence which leads to a better forum than any newspaper.

    I have looked for, and not discovered the ‘good guys’ in this Syrian conflict so firmly believe we should stay out of it. The best outcome would be some semblance of stability and to get that, there needs to be a winner and it is unthinkable for that to be Isil or any other associated jihadists.

  33. nigel seymour
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    “Mr Obama threatened Assad  if he used chemical weapons but  failed to enforce his threat. Mr Obama allowed Russia to take a much more prominent role in suppport of Assad, making it  more dangerous and difficult for the west to intervene militarily.”

    when I was in secondary school it was called hostage to fortune…

  34. John
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    A view that Trump promoted was for the US just to be involved with setting up, protecting and enforcing safe zones. I like that a lot, it does not interfere in a dispute we don’t and cannot have the answer to but provides a humanitarian solution from us.

    Perhaps too late for the Syrian conflict but I like his thinking should there be another conflict arise.

  35. norman
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    My earlier comment assumes the Americans had good intelligence on the source of the chemical weapons. Decent, fair-minded (albeit ever more cynical) westerners tend to assume that everyone tells the truth. Our very freedom is based on such ideals. As for the Russians, sadly, I have my doubts: given their history, their perspective seems altogether less naive (as they would see it). No doubt they understood from an early age that the end justifies the means. As for the Islamists, lying is permissible under the rules of Jihad. I think maybe Boris well-understands these cultural nuances.

  36. LondonBob
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    I don’t why we need to have a position. I voted for Brexit because I wish for us to attend to our own affairs.

  37. forthurst
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    “Paul w” , “Jon p”, “Jack snell” have very similar literary styles.

  38. Pat
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    With the possible exception of the Kurds who only aspire to control their part of the country and are struggling to achieve that, there is no group within Syria who we like or who likes us. Support for the Kurds would be difficult as they are landlocked and would alarm the Iranians, the Iraqis and the Turks all of whom have Kurdish majority regions whose seccesion is feared.
    Our options are therefore either to conquer the place and stay for a couple of generations to civilised it, vastly expensive in blood, treasure and reputation as well as pointless if some administration 10 or 15 years down the line decides to withdraw. Or to stay out and let them get on with it.
    I would strongly urge the latter course, other than action to punish any group that actually threatens the West.

  39. Original Richard
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    So Mr. Trump bombs Syria and immediately becomes popular with Europe’s leaders, the BBC, ISIS and Al-Quaeda, although he may have lost a lot of supporters in the US who voted for a President who said he would not lead their country into another Middle East war.

    I am unconvinced that Mr. Assad deliberately ordered the use of chemical weapons. He had everything to lose and nothing to gain by doing so just days after the US had announced they were relaxed about his staying in power.

    I find it unbelievable that the West is still pursuing regime change and military involvement in the ME when this policy has been a disaster bringing death and destruction to Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and now Syria and importing terrorism to Europe.

    Instead of meddling in the ME and bringing the World into increased danger of a nuclear conflict, our leaders should be expending their time and energy fighting terrorism back in Europe by winning the ideological war in our schools, religious institutions, prisons and homes.

    A good start could be made by removing from the country non-UK nationals who promote terrorism.

  40. Colin Hart
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    There is no evidence. One way or the other.

  41. Pragmatist
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    Pointless Boris going to Moscow. “Niet, you can’t have the Syrian seaport. Niet you can’t occupy Damascus. Niet, you better not try the cruise missile firework display again. Go lick the galloshes of Trump-Baybee!

  42. Voter
    Posted April 11, 2017 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Boris 11/04 2017 on TV is adviocating regime change in Syria. I do not know if this is Tory Party policy or UK policy. It is a tribute in some sense to Boris that he cares not for fighting for a policy and its enactment which is a net vote loser.

  43. Original Richard
    Posted April 11, 2017 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    “Mr Trump hopes that Russia will now exercise more discipline over Assad, and will see the need to seek a peaceful political solution to Syria’s riven factions in conjunction with others around the negotiating table.”

    Mr. Trump has taken a big step backwards by now insisting that Mr. Assad should be removed from power but with no idea of who or what should replace this non-theological dictator as all the alternatives are worse, as has already been experienced.

    If Mr. Trump wants the war to end quicker in Syria, with consequently reduced loss of life, he should not interfere any further and allow Russia and Mr. Assad to defeat ISIS and the other alternatives.

  44. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted April 12, 2017 at 2:40 am | Permalink

    The problem for the West is that there is no group in Syria that it wants to promote to power. One option for us is to involve Turkey to sift through the 79 Sunni Moslem groups in Syria in order to bring about a Moslem Party willing to negotiate with the Alawites. Turkey might co-operate because there are currently 2,000,000 Syrian refugees in Turkey. Turkey therefore has an interest in ending the war.

    Donald Trump can also exercise diplomacy in the cause of peace by telling Putin that it can supply arms to Sunni opposition groups at its discretion, enough to prevent an Assad victory.

  45. Unstable West
    Posted April 12, 2017 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    Two years ago UK students at Political University Chelmsford were set an ongoing task: Break up into four teams to discover the most stable country/organisation in the world
    “Do a 30 minute speech on UK, USA, EU, and Russian Foreign policy at three monthly intervals up to 13 04 2017.”

    The “Russian Team” only needed to make one speech at the very beginning. It was correct. The other three teams did eight speeches. They were all incorrect.

  46. Prigger
    Posted April 14, 2017 at 3:11 am | Permalink

    I looked into Google maps. I found Afghanistan is highly likely not on the US-Mexican border. Bit of a bombshell really.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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