The international order, Russia and the rules based system

We constantly hear these days that there is a rules based international order which all decent states follow. Russia is condemned for not following these same rules.

Those who think like this usually divide the world up into a majority of states who follow these rules, and a minority of rogue states like North Korea who pose problems for the rest. When it is one of the world’s larger military powers who has greater diplomatic reach, some world support and a seat on the UN Security Council that does not follow the world order this analysis has its limitations.

I am no apologist for Russia, and understand the ruthless pursuit of Russian interests by that state can lead to unacceptable conduct. I condemn atrocities and illegal acts whichever state carries them out when they are reported and proved.

The truth is there is no one set of rules, no single world order that is codified in many areas of government activity which  every state should obey.  Within NATO and the advanced west there are varying rules of law.  The USA has its own set of laws and legal constraints on the actions of its President and senior officials. The EU has another set of laws and legal requirements on its member states. The EU will not accept all the US rules, and will certainly not accept US jurisdiction, nor will the USA of course accept EU rules and control.

The West does come together in some world bodies and helps shape a global approach. There are world trade rules supervised by the WTO which all members accept, though the USA currently feels those rules are not fairly administered with regards to China and Germany. There are important conventions on nuclear and chemical weapons which most countries have signed. North Korea  becoming a nuclear power and alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria causes problems under these global rules. As the current disputes reveal, the countries accused of breaking world rules often argue they have not. China and Germany pose as supporters of a world free trade order, whilst the USA cites evidence that they are not. The West rightly condemns chemical attacks in Syria, only to be told by Russia that no such attack has happened.

The main countries and blocs appeal to world rules when it suits them, and seek to interpret them in directions which fit with their national interests. Russia clearly plays by different rules to the West in several respects. In Syria it will accept more deaths as the regime seeks to  restore its control over the country, as Russia judges an Assad government to be the least bad outcome. The West is against both ISIS and Assad,  but lacks the power and commitment to enforce a different government on that country, whilst  condemning  the many deaths the current civil war is causing.

Those who protest most about the need to create and follow a rules based system need to be punctilious themselves to obey it. Any Western military intervention in Syria today will need a legal base, made more difficult by Russia’s veto of any UN Resolution which could directly support action. The UN is a world body which comes closest to providing a rules based system for the conduct of diplomacy and where unavoidable to regulate  the use of force between states. That body cannot have a clear single view or straightforward rule where the Security Council is divided and where a veto has been wielded.

 

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107 Comments

  1. Fedupsoutherner
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 5:45 am | Permalink

    I don’t profess to know much about these kinds of things but surely consideration should be given as to whether a country like Russia has any use to it and perhaps should be removed.

    • Rien Huizer
      Posted April 14, 2018 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

      Remove Russia? Whereto?

  2. Lifelogic
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 5:50 am | Permalink

    Indeed. But let us hope that sensible & peaceful solutions can actually be reached despite all the obstacles.

    I see that the BBC is keeping up its strong remainer agenda on nearly every programme. Again on Question Time and Any Questions, 5:1 and 4:1 this week. I include the chairman as that is very clear for almost anyone who works at the BBC. Thanks goodness for Peter Hitchens who did very well with the others endlessly talking through him. I find Brexit people are so often sound on the other issues too. Lord Patton as expected seemed to have particularly appalling views on nearly every subject, is this why he has been given so many senior state sector and university jobs after the voters rejected him?

    I see we have Lord Adonis wanting the BBC to censor history and ban a reading of Mr Powell’s so called “Rivers of Blood Speech”. Looking at Adonis’s letter he seems not to have even read it properly (Powell was quoting a constituent). I still have never heard Adonis say anything remotely sensible despite him endlessly being on the BBC. Would he like the text of the speech banned from books and the internet too? How much more of history would he like expunge from books, newspapers, films and the internet? Or is he just doing more pathetic virtue signalling and does not really mean it?

  3. Nig l
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 5:53 am | Permalink

    So no different from Blair, Theresa May has given craven support, this time to Trump. Obviously politically the republican president was boxed in but the action taken was no more than macho virtue signalling of questionable effectiveness.

    Presumably the Russians were notified in advance, hence some aged Tornadoes were not shot down. Will it make any difference, history suggests not. The major blow will be to Putins ego, a Russian protectorate defenceless against an attack from the West.

    We should beware his response and not let the sabre rattlers in the US escalate this further.

  4. zorro
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 5:59 am | Permalink

    Quite right too, the ghouls and gollums who pose as guardians of a “international rules based system” are the biggest hypocrites in the universe. They veto investigation of a nation that deliberately shoots and murders unarmed civilians. They also have chemical weapons but will not surrender them but lecture others. They support by arming and supplying regimes which on a daily basis are bombing and killing children in Yemen. Yes, bombs and weapons of a type developed in certain countries….. It is because they are scared of losing control of the oil trade and other countries challenging their hegemony. That is the real danger to this world, the temperemental lashings out of the ‘manchild’ USA….. Lashing out without semblance of due process, evidence or attribution. They have now made themselves legitimate targets. They will reap the whirlwind….

    zorro

  5. Dame Rita Webb
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    JR I would sleep more soundly at night if you were in government and I hope the are many more at Westminster who share your views. However as things stand this morning, Syria has been attacked without even the fig leaf of of a “dodgy dossier”. The US Defence Sec and the incoming head of the CIA say they have no definitive proof. The West really needs to have a look at itself and ask are you actually behaving like the rogue states you are always quick to condemn? Mrs May needs to be removed now being a danger to world peace.

    • Timaction
      Posted April 14, 2018 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

      No proof as Inspectors hadn’t arrived and all accounts suggest Assad was about to win ! So why would he use chemical weapons then? Your leader does nothing about the significant continuing threat at home or protecting vulnerable young English girls from grooming gangs up and down the land, but gets involved in more middle East conflicts we don’t want or to get involved in. She must go so the will of the people can prevail!

      • Well?
        Posted April 14, 2018 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

        Look the BBC is behind her, like a pantomime donkey, as is Sky News to the point of censoring real news of what Russia is saying. I should say the already established Fake News of those two who employ the relations of Establishment figures on abnormally high salaries and not proper journalists.

  6. Lifelogic
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    I see that one on the big four bank are now charging daily overdraft fees that amount about 68% APR (this even on approved overdraft facilities). When I took this bank account out about 30 years ago the rates was base plus about 2.5%. So a bank depositor get about 0.25% and borrowers (even solid ones) get charged 272 time this rate, quite some margin!

    Why is there no real competition in banking. What is the government, the ombudsman service, BoE or competition authority going to do about it? Or are they completely happy with the banks becoming extortionate payday lenders. The daily “fee” 1p per £7 borrowed seems to mean they can get away without even quoting this massive effective interest rate to borrowers. Are they happy with the banks using very cheap government money and lending it on at such a vast margin?

    Would the government be happy if the supermarkets started charging 272 times their purchase costs say £300 for a packet of butter? So why are the banks immune from any real and fair competition?

  7. Posted April 14, 2018 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    The UN has been corrupted well beyond its usefulness – it is no longer the guiding light it should be in international affairs, now dominated by special interest groups… While it is a good talking shop, at the end of the day, countries do not have to go along with UN decisions, nor commit to war…which will be individual countrie’s decisions.
    The UN is another great, expensive, world organisation. that badly needs stripping down to its core elements, and reforming – just like the BBC.
    Integrity, and total honesty is lacking in international politics, for we all know that those within big organisations, like the UN, have their own plans for humanity, which they would impose, if they can make the world dangerous enough, such that we would meekly go into the night.

  8. Peter
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    Realpolitik.

    The USA also uses its UN veto to affect outcomes in the Middle East.

    Not that John Bolton is a big fan of the UN.

  9. mickc
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    Mrs May has now led the UK into committing an illegal act of war. She did not even seek Parliamentary approval. She is not fit to be PM.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 14, 2018 at 8:56 am | Permalink

      She was not fit to PM even before this decision. Her compass is invariably 180 degree out.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 14, 2018 at 10:12 am | Permalink

        If T May did stock recommendations I would do the complete opposite and make a fortune.

        • Well?
          Posted April 14, 2018 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

          Maybe the US market will take a sudden dip ( temporary 🙂 ) on Monday

      • Dame Rita webb
        Posted April 14, 2018 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

        do you remember the morning after the general election result and the look of strain on her face? if she cannot handle something like that there is no way she is fit enough to be a wartime pm. the problem being, apart from DD, the rest of their cabinet look equally as incapable as she is.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted April 14, 2018 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

          All entirely self inflicted with her “vote for me and we will kick you in the teeth manifesto” and endless robotic repetition of “strong and stable government”.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted April 14, 2018 at 9:27 am | Permalink

      Dear Micke–I believe otherwise–What do you think the average MP knows about it? Most haven’t been anywhere near Syria, could hardly find it on a map, know next to nothing about the military considerations specific to that part of the World and are not privy to the latest intelligence. I have asked many times why we should glorify the H of C the way you seem to but never get much of an an answer, except possibly the hardly-convincing “That’s the way we’ve always done it”. TVM Simon de Montfort. This is a Government responsibility and that’s all there is to it. Allowing the decision to hang on Party politics, as would inevitably happen, seems to me, certainly at present, to be akin to tossing a coin only harder to control. certain.

    • eeyore
      Posted April 14, 2018 at 11:47 am | Permalink

      In what way is this illegal? HMG needs neither international nor Parliamentary approval for use of force – though it is of course answerable in both arenas.

      Parliament is wise not to get involved at this stage. It can hardly complain when things go wrong if it allows itself to be made a fig leaf or stalking horse from the start.

      Mrs May’s justification – that to the best of her knowledge an outrage against humanity had been committed and should not go unanswered – satisfies me. Were the intelligence later to be shown faulty Parliament will call her to account.

      Other raisons d’etat which it might be inconvenient to acknowledge overtly could include a desire to remind Russia’s satellites that their protector is not as powerful as it boasts; and our settled, centuries-old policy of resisting malign Russian expansionism to the south.

    • Timaction
      Posted April 14, 2018 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

      What a bunch of successive unpatriotic political pygmies we have had to endure since Mrs Thatcher. The last true leader this Nation had and its now almost 30 years of decline since. The legacies are truly awful!

      • Cheshire Girl
        Posted April 15, 2018 at 5:57 am | Permalink

        I agree. When Margaret Thatcher was PM, I felt that this country was in good hands. Sadly, I haven’t felt the same since she stepped down( or was forced out) whichever way you want to look at it.

        With a heavy heart, I will not be voting Conservative at the next election.

        • Hope
          Posted April 15, 2018 at 9:33 am | Permalink

          She did not step down Back stabbers Europhiles like Clarke ousted her. The same ones who touted for May to be in office and Major and Cameron before her.

  10. Mark B
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    We constantly hear these days that there is a rules based international order which all decent states follow. Russia is condemned for not following these same rules.

    Exactly ! RULES not LAWS. If they do not like the rules, why follow them.

    And who makes the rules ? And by what right does another sovereign nation impose their rules upon another ?

    It is this I want us to get away from. Having to be a rule taker rather than a rule maker. I can see a better world for the UK. It is so sad that others, Remainers mostly, cannot.

    • acorn
      Posted April 14, 2018 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      You’re in luck with Brexit then. We won’t have to go to the aid of other EU members or they come to our aid, under Article 42.7 or 222 tfeu, the equivalent of NATO Art 5. The French used it after the Paris attacks, instead of Art 5, so as not to give the US an excuse to go and bomb the Middle East again. Macron reversed that idea in Trumps.

  11. Kenneth
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    I have never understood the concept of “international law”.

    Surely there is no such thing.

    There is national law and there are a set of rules in some international organisations and there are treaty obligations…but none of these amount to “international law”.

    If “international law” did exist then democracies could no longer exist.

    • Adam
      Posted April 14, 2018 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      ‘Rules’ & ‘Laws’ tend to describe the same, with rules being regarded as softer.

      Whatever semantic difference exists, it is power of enduring Enforcement that governs.

      Laws of Nature exert supreme Enforcement beyond any nation’s reach & resistance.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted April 14, 2018 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      Your last sentence sums up why enemies of national sovereignty and democracy are enamoured with the concept of supranational law, whether that is regional supranational law such as EU law or the wider global “international law”.

      One of the leading advocates of not just European but global federalism, Arnold Toynbee, grandfather of Polly, put it very clearly when addressing a meeting in 1932, as related by Lindsay Jenkins in her book “Britain Held Hostage”.

      I quoted extensively from that address in a comment here back in 2014:

      http://johnredwoodsdiary.com/2014/01/12/text-of-letter-to-prime-minister/

      and highlighted his utterly cynical admission:

      “I will merely repeat that we are at present working discreetly but with all our might, to wrest this mysterious political force called sovereignty out of the clutches of the local national states of the world. AND ALL THE TIME WE ARE DENYING WITH OUR LIPS WHAT WE ARE DOING WITH OUR HANDS … “

    • Posted April 14, 2018 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      But there are international agreements. Those who sign up to them need to be punished if they flagrantly break them.

  12. APL
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    JR: “We constantly hear these days that there is a rules based international order which all decent states follow. ”

    Yes we hear it a lot. But it’s not true. For example;

    Syria has a legally constituted and internationally recognised government with representation at the United Nations.

    The US on the other hand, has not consitutionally declaired war on Syria. There is a lawful process for the US to declare war on any country.

    But despite no lawful domestic authority, and no imminant threat to the US from Syria, the United States has twice in the last two years attacked Syria with out a declaration of War.

    That is unlawful and illegal behavior. So don’t come all holier than thou with us.

    Attacking another countries population centres without a lawful declaration of war is nothing short of International terrorism.

    The leader of your party, bless her, obviously has limited intellectual faculity, so it’s not difficult to understand what motivates her. But to allow the UK to be led around by the nose in the Middle East is nothing short of demeaning.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted April 14, 2018 at 11:07 am | Permalink

      Well, the last formal US declaration of war was in 1942:

      https://www.senate.gov/pagelayout/history/h_multi_sections_and_teasers/WarDeclarationsbyCongress.htm

      “The Constitution grants Congress the sole power to declare war. Congress has declared war on 11 occasions, including its first declaration of war with Great Britain in 1812. Congress approved its last formal declaration of war during World War II. Since that time it has agreed to resolutions authorizing the use of military force and continues to shape U.S. military policy through appropriations and oversight.”

      There are some who argue that this is not good enough, and it seems this case went to the Supreme Court in 2016 but I don’t know how it turned out:

      https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/06/war-powers-irresolution/485021/

      “Can the Courts Make Congress Declare War?”

      “A new lawsuit wrongly asks the U.S. judicial branch to weigh in on the military action against ISIS.”

      • acorn
        Posted April 14, 2018 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

        ISIS is not a Sovereign State. If ISIS (and/or all other Islamic state derivatives) attacks a Sovereign State, does that allow that Sovereign State to attack another Sovereign State, that may have acquired, against its will, an ISIS infection within its territory?

        How do you declare war against a non-sovereign entity, without wrongfully declaring war on another Sovereign State’s territory.

        • Mark B
          Posted April 14, 2018 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

          The USA was not attacking ISIS.

          • acorn
            Posted April 15, 2018 at 6:08 am | Permalink

            That wasn’t the question I asked. A bit too academic for this site, sorry.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted April 15, 2018 at 11:24 am | Permalink

            But in any case your academic question was not relevant …

    • Dennis
      Posted April 14, 2018 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

      APL your point is not valid apparently. States can intervene in others by force with no declaration of war if it is to so genocide or other human rights violations. That is in the UN ‘rules’ – am I wrong?

      • APL
        Posted April 15, 2018 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

        Dennis: “Am I wrong?”

        I think you raise an interesting point. Does UN rules over ride national constitutions?

        I would say no. That you should first pursue the legitimate constitutional procedure at the national level. Before you attack under a US mandate.

  13. Lifelogic
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    May is certainly keeping up her record of being consistently wrong on almost every issue. Surely the bombing of Syria (especially without any authority from parliament that she probably would not have been given) is another huge mistake.

    What on earth did she think it can actually achieve?

    • Peter
      Posted April 14, 2018 at 8:59 am | Permalink

      “May is certainly keeping up her record of being consistently wrong on almost every issue.”

      Correct. Possibly thought it wise to keep on good terms with the USA? Wanted to do as much as the French?

      Alleged chemical weapons usage by Assad is a convenient casus belli.

      However, other states in the Middle East kill unarmed civilians and there is no action. The USA uses its veto to keep a lid on things instead.

      • Timaction
        Posted April 14, 2018 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

        It’s totally disingenuous. Why isn’t Mrs May taking action in the Congo and other Countries in Africa where lots of atrocities are taking place? How about North Korea or the actions of the Saudi’s in Yemen? Could it be oil or yet another distraction to cover her appalling Government failures and negotiation capitulation in Brexit? We’re sick and tired of the legacies getting involved in middle eastern wars that have nothing to do with us and then having to pay the price in mass migration and the significant costs that involves!

        • Cheshire Girl
          Posted April 15, 2018 at 6:29 am | Permalink

          What has been happening in Zimbabwe over the years, springs to mind, but that’s not considered important!

  14. jerry
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Mrs May has just lost the local elections, and probably the next GE too…

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 14, 2018 at 8:59 am | Permalink

      Let us hope not. The UK needs Corbyn, Mc Donnall and the SNP like a hole in the head. May & Hammond are making quite enough mess already.

      • getahead
        Posted April 14, 2018 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

        Despair Ll.
        However, I am still optimistic that UKIP can rebuild itself now that the Tories have been found to be lacking with their trail of broken promises. We desperately need a third party with right wing leanings and some honour.
        554 UKIP candidates are standing in the English local elections so that’s a start.

        • jerry
          Posted April 14, 2018 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

          @getahead; Oh for goodness sake, UKIP have never so far been electable, and by this this time next year they will not even have the EP (MEP’s) for their national and local candidates to bounce off, if you think that five (Welsh) AM’s are going to cut the mustard with UK voters in the same way as UKIP MEPs have then you are sadly mistaken, even more so when they have been parachuted into Wales!

          Mr Farage understood this very well, he knew that Brexit means the end of UKIP, its job done, that is why he resigned and has meant it this time.

          If the right wing want to stop Corbyn/Labour then the right needs to start offering what the majority of voters want, and no that is not even more of what they are objecting too, the hard right is falling into the same trap that the hard left of Labour its self fell into in the early 1980s…

    • Peter
      Posted April 14, 2018 at 9:00 am | Permalink

      She had already done that before the air strikes.

    • jerry
      Posted April 14, 2018 at 9:19 am | Permalink

      Mr Redwood, can you explain what the difference is between;

      1/. The UK (France and the USA) asserting that Syria has used chemical weapons against their own citizens and thus air strikes are legally justified against ‘specific’ locations.

      and

      2/. Russia asserting (as they did only yesterday) that the UK has used chemical weapons against one of their citizens and her father here in the UK and thus air strikes are justified against ‘specific’ locations.

      • Stop Fake News
        Posted April 14, 2018 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

        I would like to congratulate ‘Jerry’ on the only post that made me laugh.

        • jerry
          Posted April 15, 2018 at 7:25 am | Permalink

          @SFN; Your comment probably says more about yourself than it does anyone else!

          • Stop Fake News
            Posted April 16, 2018 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

            It made me laugh as it was good

  15. Ian wragg
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    ……the EU won’t accept American law. Quite.
    So why is May so keen to keep us in EU jurisdiction after we have left it.
    Vassal state is her and Hammonds final goal.

    • Timaction
      Posted April 14, 2018 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

      Indeed. What Country or Prime Minister would meekly accept rules ad infinitum from a foreign EU Government after we have left? Just the useless May/Davis!

  16. Adam
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    Where rules conflict, nations must choose how to act if doing nothing causes worse.

    If the force used to disable Syria’s chemical weapons capability did so, without causing wider harm, it would be like removing the firearm of a gunman in a high street safely.

    Force exerted from distance is unlikely to be so surgically precise.

  17. Hope
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    No single rule.: let us get it right, Your idiot of a PM strikes Syria with bombs for an alleged attack on its people, when Russia allegedly attacks civilians in Salisbury on our own country she expels diplomats!

    Explain her stupity and lack of courage to act to defend her own countrymen? A bit like Brexit and overseas aid,she is completely useless, extremely poor judgement and values. Oust her.

    The West should not have intervened in the first place to oust Assad, it was once again about regime change. Iraq and Libya in amess because of Blaire and Cameron. No justification for their action, deaths or injuries. Unlike Thatche who acted perfectly properly with the Falklands and Iraq.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 14, 2018 at 9:01 am | Permalink

      Indeed

    • Peter
      Posted April 14, 2018 at 9:07 am | Permalink

      “A bit like Brexit and overseas aid,she is completely useless, extremely poor judgement and values. Oust her.”

      The whole country knows she is ‘completely useless’ and has known for a very long time. Conservatives will not oust her though.

      Fine words are not enough in a politician. Effective action is also required. The failure of people like Rees Mogg and his ERG colleagues is now as great a concern as May’s ineptitude. When it ends it tears these people cannot just rely on their previous speeches to absolve them of blame.

      • Norman
        Posted April 14, 2018 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

        Sorry, but aren’t you guys being a bit uncharitable? Although I may not subscribe to the woolly liberalism of many of today’s politicians, I really cannot envisage anyone else coping much better than Mrs May in such difficult circumstances. In such turbulent times, what difference would JRM or anyone make – bearing in mind that the individual upon whom the mantle falls has to work with what they’ve got – including the unruly rabble of which you and I are a part?! JRM and indeed our kind host can exert an influence, but that doesn’t mean they’d have a free hand, or carry the necessary clout, for such a demanding role.

        • Hope
          Posted April 15, 2018 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

          No, she is useless, poor judgement, extremely poor values, has broken her word on every important issue. Overwhelmingly She is untrustworthy and should not be in any public office let alone high public office. No mindset to help our nation or its citizens.

      • getahead
        Posted April 14, 2018 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

        May is dragged along by Tory globalist sponsors. As is Hammond. Possibly more so.

    • Posted April 14, 2018 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      Facts.
      There was an attack by Assad’s government using weapons which are outlawed. To say “alleged” is to talk like a lawyer or the BBC.

      There is plenty of proof that Russia was behind the Salisbury nerve gas attempted murder and much classified information has been released. This has no similarity to what happened in Syria which was not done by Russia.

      Just what do you suggest Mrs May should have done about Salisbury?

      In fact her actions were copied by many countries, both European and Australasian, and led to more draconian sanctions by the USA which has really hit Russian
      companies. Russia is Syria’s ally and knew what was going on.

      The West did not intervene to oust Assad. Just how many Western troops have been killed in action against Assad? Backing opposition groups and Kurds is another matter.

      It was not Mrs May who brought in a daft law which increases aid and then has to find something on which to spend it all.

      As you say “your idiot of a PM” perhaps you might say who your PM is?

      • Peter
        Posted April 14, 2018 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

        “Facts.
        There was an attack by Assad’s government using weapons which are outlawed. To say “alleged” is to talk like a lawyer or the BBC.

        There is plenty of proof that Russia was behind the Salisbury nerve gas attempted murder and much classified information has been released. This has no similarity to what happened in Syria which was not done by Russia.”

        They are not facts. Boris Johnson’s initial claims were rubbished by Porton Down scientists. The Salisbury case gets weaker by the day. It is now claimed it was not even Novichok. The only fatalities were the family pets.

        We don’t know what happened in Syria and Trump was not minded to wait a few days to let the inspectors investigate.

        People in the West are not prepared to accept everything governments say about weapons of mass destruction and chemical weapons anymore.

        Even on Breitbart, which is strongly supportive of Trump, readers reactions indicate they are not happy with what they see as more neocon-style Middle East meddling.

        • A different Simon
          Posted April 15, 2018 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

          The failure of the security forces to find the pets during the initial “search” rather makes one wonder whether they even went in the house .

          Maybe the RSPCA would have something to say about the UK authorities neglect of these pets .

          It’s looking like a fit up and not a very good one at that .

      • cornishstu
        Posted April 14, 2018 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

        re aid, supposedly no government can bind a successive government, so it is a lack of political will that is preventing the ridiculous aid scenario, and that goes for any thing else that is ‘ring fenced’.

  18. Anonymous
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Britain was not under direct attack.

    The notion that fragmentation killing is any more noble than chemical killing is wrong and it was a silly red line to draw in a hot and unstable region.

    Britain helped caused the rise of ISIS. Russia was at least offering a quick (if bloody) end to this conflict.

    Commenters such as Andy stand on principle against the use of chemical ordnance against other people’s children and advocate for a pre-emptive response against a country which has not assaulted us bringing us into to direct conflict with Russia.

    Believe me. Young children in Britain will not know the difference between chemical poisoning and radioactive fallout when they feel it.

    I hope such as Andy still thinks its worth it. I’m betting that we’re going to end up with nuclear exchanges now.

    And if we can have our PM ignore Parliament over a declaration of war against a nation which is not a direct threat to the realm the she can jolly well ignore Remainers and get us out of the EU sharpish. (If it hasn’t been burned off the map already.)

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 14, 2018 at 9:07 am | Permalink

      I’m glad my children are now young men and at least got to enjoy a magical childhood.

  19. Stop the war!
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Today we have proof if proof were needed that the White House has more authority over HM Government than the House of Commons.

    • Rien Huizer
      Posted April 14, 2018 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      In certain respects Trump trumps every government or parliament on earth… Nothing new about that. The UK was once in a similar prosition and very few complaints from the British side then..

    • Mitchel
      Posted April 14, 2018 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

      It might also be a case of FOMO (fear of missing out)particularly with M Macron (Donny’s best friend and Blair du jour) ramping things up!

    • APL
      Posted April 15, 2018 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

      Stop the war: “the white house has more authority over HM government ”

      Something we’ve known since 1956.

  20. Stop the war!
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    John, something needs to be done about PMs launching airstrikes without parliamentary approval.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted April 14, 2018 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

      So far Parliament has decided not to insist on prior parliamentary approval in all cases, and for good practical reasons in my view.

    • rose
      Posted April 14, 2018 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      With all those silly women in the House of Commons don’t you think they would have insisted on her taking us to war? The ones how call themselves pacifists and don’t know any history. The ones who think there is such a thing as international law and an effective UN.

    • acorn
      Posted April 14, 2018 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

      The PM does not need parliamentary approval. As I have said before, the UK PM has more unfettered executive power than the President of the US or the President of France. The latter are Republics, the UK has a non-executive Monarch, that currently has less involvement in anything its government does in its name; to its own or others citizens, than any previous Monarch in history.

      • rose
        Posted April 15, 2018 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

        I would say the President of France had more power than the US president and the British PM. On this occasion he was happy to go on his own.

        • acorn
          Posted April 15, 2018 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

          Macron can go as far as the French Constitution lets him. Mrs May has no such impediment. She operates by constitutional convention, which can’t be be challenged in any Court of the Land.

          As I have said before, the UK’s form of government, is at least two centuries out of date.

  21. Norman
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    Given the imperfect system of rules the nations work by, and given the imperfect regimes we have, my impression this morning is that it could be a whole lot worse. And if the targeted strike against Syrian chemical warfare facilities was as accurately and effectively delivered as so far reported, then there is some hope that a ‘respectful equilibrium’ between the world powers will be re-established, without too much fall-out.
    Within this realm of imperfect human realities, I’d say Mrs May has done her job more than passably well. Let’s hope the tensions have been somewhat re-balanced. It’s a relief to hear that ‘regime change’ is not being imposed. Also, on the evidence we have, the message to Russia concerning guilt-by-association would seem to be well-placed.
    However, not much is going to change, given Russia’s strategic association with Turkey and Iran – an indication of what the future holds for the Middle East.

  22. Stop the war!
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Assad Chemical Weapon facilities…
    Syria declared 23 sites to OPCW in 2014. In October 2013, the OPCW directly inspected 21 of the 23 sites. The OPCW was able to indirectly confirm that the other two, unreachable, sites had been abandoned.

    So Trump and May are firing missiles at “abandoned” sites?

    • Dennis
      Posted April 14, 2018 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

      It could be argued that the West is not bothered by people being gassed. The location of those sites bombed last night were obviously know so why weren’t they bombed before the chemical were used?

    • stred
      Posted April 15, 2018 at 5:51 am | Permalink

      May says we have degraded the ability of Syria to research and make chemical weapons by bombing their labs and stores. May says a helicopter dropped a barrel bomb while over the place where chlorine was used on the innocents.

      Chlorine was developed as a weapon in 1915. Chorine is available for commercial uses and is easily manufactured. If the barrel bomb had contained high explosive, also developed by the same German Nobel prize winner early last century, everyone would have been dead and the rubble ignored. Had the US, France and UK waited few days, the inspectors may have been able to determine whether the chlorine was from a barrel bomb or a false flag explosion let of by cornered jihadis. The UK and other EU countries pay the white helmetted ambulance men who were there at the time. Perhaps they could help provide the evidence.

      You know it makes sense

  23. Posted April 14, 2018 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Surely as a sovereign country we make our own laws. There are not international laws but international agreements, and if a country ignores that agreement, it has not broken the law nor has it acted illegally.
    Corbyn, according to today’s media, considers the Prime Minister’s action to be ‘legally questionable”. Can someone tell me what UK law the PM may have broken?

  24. Stop the war!
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    s400 has not been used yet, reports of S200 Russian system shooting down 13 incoming missiles. What is most shocking is this was not just a missile attack, British Tornados flew into airspace controlled by Russia (when we did not need to do that). We could have just fired cruise missiles from a standoff position. So this was a major provocation to Russia, I believe, on our part. I do not recommend the British PM risking unnecessarily our fighter pilots lives like that. If Russia had engaged the S400 our Tornados would have been shot down.

    The next few days will determine if this event leads to WW3 or if it is postponed a while longer.

    • Stop the war!
      Posted April 14, 2018 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      Sorry, that was wrong, British Jets fired long range ‘Storm Shadow’ missiles, 25o mile range. Storm Shadow missiles cost £ 2.4 million each.

      • Prigger
        Posted April 14, 2018 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

        250 mile range hahahahaha. Oh dear me The RAF wishes! hahahaha

  25. Biggles High Flyer
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    We need the names of the RAF four fighter plane pilots .

    It is hard to know which one or two of them fired the two missiles. Just think, a medal awarding jury will not be able to distinguish which one or two of the four should get the highest award.

    I’m for all four getting it.

    But this is probably against the jury’s rules, law…. as it were.

    • hefner
      Posted April 14, 2018 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

      Awards, what for? They just do their job. We already have enough citations to the Order of the British Empire for things more important than pushing on a button from 250 km away with all the information previously loaded on the computer and the thingies guided thanks to “the military GPS” information.
      Soldiers on the ground might be heroes, these guys are kind of civil servants, push papers, press switches, …

  26. LondonBob
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    More Kabuki theatre like last time, the Joint Chiefs and Russian MoD coordinated what was acceptable.

    The question is John is what are we doing. The Russians are right about the White Helmets, why are we and have we been pursuing regime change there? Should we allow our regional allies to determine this? Why are we so hostile to Russia? I have lived in Russia and the Russians were Anglophiles, offering great opportunities for British businesses. A multipolar world is emerging, now we are out of the EU should we pursue a more non aligned isolationist foreign policy as I favour.

    Devin Nunes has confirmed a five eyes country participated in spying on Trump on Friday. Add in the Russia nonsense from Litvinenko on, our activities in Syria and so on then we need serious questions asked as to what some people are up to.

    It all seems so incoherent and ultimately damaging to ourselves.

  27. Support for May
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Mrs Merkel and whoever is the present two-week-in-office Italian PM have just said “We are not sending any military resources whatsoever but we are giving Mrs May our support” True to their word they have packed and sent , each, a zimmer frame.

  28. ian
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    You forgot to mention that the UN OPCW was due to visit Douma is Syrian today in the
    morning to investigate alleged use of chemical weapons on Doumas citizens, but had to be cancelled because of airstrikes by allied force last night on Syrian.

  29. Ron Olden
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Trump’s ‘Mission Accomplished’ remarks, suggest to me that this is the end of it.

    So as long as Russia doesn’t choose to escalate it, all’s well that ends well. At least no harm has been done.

    Whether any good’s been done is a moot point. But at least it underlines the principle that you can’t use chemical weapons and assume there’ll be no response at all.

    I know this will come as a disappointment to ‘liberals’ in the US who favour getting bogged down in hopeless wars and causing orgies of death and destruction. Or to Corbyn etc in this country, who were hoping it would all go wrong.

    And the US, UK, France, relationship stays intact

    But there we are. That’s what happens when you have conservatives in the White House and in Downing Street.

    • JBoyd
      Posted April 14, 2018 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

      Absolutely right.

      Whether we should intervene in Syria or otherwise is a different question: this attack was simply a matter of showing that the use of chemical weapons is beyond the pale.

  30. Denis Cooper
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    “The EU will not accept all the US rules, and will certainly not accept US jurisdiction, nor will the USA of course accept EU rules and control.”

    Which is why the EU insists on routinely intercepting and inspecting goods imported from the US before they are allowed into EU territory, just in case they contain illicit items such as the dreaded “chlorinated chicken” – God know how 326 million Americans can eat that stuff without showing any obvious signs of its ill effects – whereas because we have agreed to be legally subjugated to the EU we have the great privilege of “frictionless trade”, even if much more of that trade is actually into our country rather than out of it.

    Of course the question is whether the US could ever pass any law at all, short of a law to actually make the US a transatlantic member state of the EU, which the EU would accept as providing a sufficient guarantee that the US authorities would act effectively to prevent the export of their vile “chlorinated chicken” from the US to the EU.

    And likewise whether the UK outside the EU could ever pass any law at all, short of a law to actually make the UK a permanent vassal of the EU, which the EU would accept as providing a sufficient guarantee that the UK authorities would act effectively to prevent the export of vile American “chlorinated chicken” across the Irish land border:

    https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/britain-urged-to-come-up-with-a-fresh-brexit-border-plan-1.3451985

    “The British side is suggesting that regulatory “equivalence” on both sides of the Border would ensure livestock, food and pharmaceuticals checks could remain the same, with veterinary and phytosanitary checks continuing to be executed on-site in farms and food processing plants.

    However, they are also insisting on the future right to diverge from EU law, which the EU fears could open the floodgates to chlorinated chicken and hormone-injected beef if the UK agrees a free-trade deal with the US that includes agriculture.

    It is understood the EU does not accept standards would be maintained by a voluntary alignment and is unwilling to make an exception for Ireland just to ensure an open Border.”

    So there you go, even if we said to the EU “Trust us, we will make sure that this will not open the floodgates to ….. American “chlorinated chicken” getting into EU”, in fact even if we said “Look, we’ve just passed a new law to make it a serious criminal offence to export ,,,, American “chorinated chicken” across the land border into the Irish Republic, and we intend to enforce that law very rigorously”, the EU would still say “Not good enough, the whole of your country and its economy must remain subject to all our laws and stay under the jurisdiction of our federal supreme court, or otherwise you will be forcing us to erect strong border defences to keep out (items we do not like ed) you may send across to us.”

    This is what they really think of us, that once freed from the constraints of EU law we will flood their territory with all kinds of rotten stuff that we know they don’t want, and as that is their attitude it is just as well we are getting out from under their thumb.

  31. Rien Huizer
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Sovereign states are, by definition, capable of following or changing any rule they like, of course subject to retaliation by other sovereign states that may feel injured. Today, sovereignty of this fantasy type is constrained by alliances (NATO, EU etc) and by “rules”. Those rules desend from WWI and II attempts to impose a world order. Both the rise of Nazi Germany (and its many allies in Eastern Europe) after WWI and the separation of US and USSR policies after their alliance broke down (the cold war) shpwed that barring a world government (not in sight, maybe further away than anytime since the collapse of the USSR) rules are problematic. A bit like the “law” pertaining to war crimes.

    Nevertheless, the past 24 hours have shown that, with a few exceptions (the use of a modern ALCM by Frabce and the UK) the strike on Syria was with obsolete Tomahawks and and 1990s vintage smart bombs, against apparently worthless targets and surprisingly ineffective against Syrian (but USSR-supplied) equally obsolete air defenses. Conclusion: neither side (Russia and US plus client states) did any serious harm to the other and from now on, something better than Tomahawks will have to be used against even weakly defended targets. The vulnareabilities that might have been revealed in a contest between modern US and Russian stuff was clearly avoided..

  32. John P McDonald
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Mr Redwood, I guess your blog 14 April (today) went to press before the attack on Syria, but I would like to focus on the comment “Any Western military intervention in Syria today will need a legal base, made more difficult by Russia’s veto of any UN Resolution which could directly support action.” It would seem to hint that Russia should have agreed to the US,UK, and France bombing Syria, to make the action legal, and it is therefore Russia’s fault that we did not get UN support for the bombing albeit UN certified defunct chemical plants.
    But perhaps we should just look at the UK Governments total disregard for the legal processes of this country and Parliament itself. Even by our own rules we as a country have committed an International crime in attacking Syria not in self-defence. ISIS will be pleased. Keeps the war going.

  33. ian
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    The Russians are smarter than to get dragged into a war of the west choosing, they will wait until the western leaders have done their party piece in the media and patted themselves on the back before they start with a massive attack on the rebels to which isis troops are now hiding behind, paid and armed by western governments, the next move will be economic attack on the west, coming this winter, not a lot but effort and winding it up over the years, China will join in.

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 14, 2018 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

      It’s the accidents, Ian. The rogue pilot who sticks one in on a US cruiser, the wayward missile.

      We should not even be toe-to-toe with Russia.

      This amateur gassing could quite easily have been a rogue Syrian element.

      It is utterly shocking the way Russia was treated after the fall of the Berlin wall. They could have been uneasy allies.

  34. hefner
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    About 100 missiles launched last night at about 250,000 to 650,000 $/£/€ a piece, around $50 million. I feel so much more secure.

  35. Stop Fake News
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    Listening to Mrs May speech about deterring and degrading the Syrian regime’s capabilities I cant help wondering when she is going to deter and degrade the capability of the EU regime in ruling over us?

  36. Ministry of Drones
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    I quote one RAF guy I knew over 35 years ago responsible for arming UK fighter planes who I asked “How powerful is each missile?”
    “Each one can level about two city blocks”

    The US Defense Department has just announced a total of 105 MODERN missiles including much more powerful cruise missiles were fired at “three” Syrian weapon installations.
    Wow, can Syrians build gigantic, huge weapon manufactures! Shock and Awe. We should sign a contract with Assad as soon as we are out of the EU to rebuild or rather build our military. We only have a weeks worth of Syrian-like military architecture including the un-planed aircraft carrier.
    MPs on Monday should slow hand clap Mrs May out of Parliament before she opens her mouth. Not worth listening to!

  37. Bob
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    @Mr Redwood
    Do the cruise missiles have a “use by” date stamped on them?

    I hope that Mrs May has something more substantial to justify her bombing raid than hearsay and fake photos from the British and American sponsored “White Helmets” (who double up as anti Assad rebels).

  38. Well?
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    I felt the need to look again a few times recently to see what RT says
    “Sergei Skripal, a former Russian double agent, and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with an incapacitating toxin known as 3-Quinuclidinyl benzilate or BZ, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, citing the results of the examination conducted by a Swiss chemical lab that worked with the samples that London handed over to the Organisation for the Prohibition of the Chemical Weapons (OPCW). ” and “The toxin was never produced in Russia, but was in service in the US, UK, and other NATO states.”
    Is this true ?

    • mancunius
      Posted April 14, 2018 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

      Not according to the OPCW, which has clearly stated in its report that they “confirm the findings of the United Kingdom [i.e. Porton Down] relating to the identity of the toxic chemical that was used in Salisbury” – i.e. that the substance was Novichok, of ‘highly pure quality’.

      It sounds as if Lavrov is working backwards from the ‘but they weren’t killed’ scenario to an explanation that might fit it. But the OPCW has supported the UK findings instead. So Lavrov’s account seems implausible, and it is most unlikely he will agree to produce the ‘evidence’.

      • Well?
        Posted April 15, 2018 at 11:52 am | Permalink

        mancunius
        Better to actually read the RT article which deals with the point you make

    • John
      Posted April 14, 2018 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

      Interesting, that does explain why they survived, the symptoms they had when found, and the delay between exposure and incapacitation.

      So probably true.

  39. Helen Taylor
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    So is this her way of saying we need to stay in the eu army. If this is to stop us getting the brexit we voted. My vote will go to another party. I have lost all faith in her and the cabinet.

    • rose
      Posted April 15, 2018 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      We are already in the EU army in effect and Macron has persuaded her to support his military adventures in the old French Empire in Africa. They are his responsibility, not ours, but he appears to be very persuasive, as he was with Trump.

  40. ian
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    There won’t be any accidents and if there are, they will be covered up. At this stage, i am thinking where there was an attack last night or whether it all corporate media talk.

  41. anon
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    Facts. mm. Yes please. Your not likely to get them.

    What was the nerve agent used, where was it manufactured, and by whom
    where and when was it released and possible motives if any?

    These question needs answering not just in Salisbury. If bombing answered the questions it may have a value?

    This is messaging with bombs. Lets hope no one died.

    Highly orchestrated relying on a “cool as ice Russian” allowing them to save face,without triggering escalation.

    I hope May et al see some personal legal blowback.

    Parliament should now demand a public inquiry.

  42. duncan
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

    I see Trump is cleaning up the mess left for him for the man who started the war in Syria in the first place, Obama.

    The entire left in Western politics today is responsible for some of the most appalling incidences committed and yet they merrily trot around like butter wouldn’t melt while the right is demonised.

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    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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