Withdrawal from the Middle East

The Middle Eastern wars under Presidents Bush and Obama have left the USA and NATO divided over their wisdom and efficacy. No one doubts the bravery and resolve of the troops and the successes of various military actions, but many agonise over the failure to build a winning political and diplomatic strategy around them to help create a more prosperous and more peaceful region. I have written recently about why Mr Trump now wishes to end US direct military intervention in Syria and may review activity in Afghanistan as well.

Recent events remind us that if Western actions and inactions do not help create a peace in the Middle East there is a substantial force for wider instability in the form of many refugees, displaced persons and would be economic migrants. It is not surprising that millions have fled Syria during the extreme violence of the conflict, nor that many have fled Libya or are leaving Yemen. It must be dreadful to try to lead a normal life, turn up for a regular job and sustain a family amidst the bombs, the terror, the warring factions and the armed bands. Many are forced out of their homes by violence, others leave their homes seeing no decent future for themselves in their own country.

The West has attempted to receive more migrants into its own economies, and has spent much money on camps and temporary accommodation for refugees nearer to their homes in the expectation that the wars will end and rebuilding will take place. The best answer is to help restore peace and progress in each of the countries, and facilitate the return of refugees and economic migrants to help restore those places. We need greater emphasis on western diplomacy and encouragement of better government, with support for those places and governments that can sustain economic development and gain some discipline and sensible control over their countries. The endless disruption of Middle Eastern regions and nations by dissident and warring factions causes much of the stress, but is not easily resolved if at all by western military intervention. The best the West can do is to assist and train domestic forces acting for regimes likely to offer some control and economic advance, even though these will not always be paragons of democratic virtue. Judging how many compromises to make in the interests of some peace and stability is never easy. What is clear is that the past actions have allowed substantial turbulence and mass movements of people which have made life much more difficult for them, and have proved disruptive more generally.

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134 Comments

  1. Peter Wood
    Posted December 30, 2018 at 5:29 am | Permalink

    To find the reason for Middle-East Conflict = FOLLOW THE MONEY.

    Sorry to repeat myself, off topic, please listen to Mr Jeremy Hunt here: https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1064636/Brexit-news-UK-EU-fears-no-deal-theresa-may-withdrawal-agreement-latest

    He clearly states,’ there is ONLY ONE outstanding issue, … the Backstop….’ THIS IS NOT TRUE, but Mrs. May and fellow remainers wish to make it so, because they already have a solution.
    Please have a counter argument ready.

    • jerry
      Posted December 30, 2018 at 8:06 am | Permalink

      @Peter Wood; Indeed. The post festive MSM charm offensive (and it is offensive to any democrat, whether Leave or remain…) is getting into full swing.

      I see Liam Fox is telling the Sunday Times, echoed by the BBC, that Brexit is only 50/50 unless MPs vote for the WA:

      https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-46713498

      Well I for one want a WTO exit but if we can’t have that I would prefer there to be no Brexit at all than the UK become a vessel state Mr Fox! The WA is not Brexit, it is not even Remain, it is far far worse than merely Remaining in the EU on our current terms with our opt-outs and voting rights. It is, and most certainly will be, the WA that shatters “the bond of trust between the electorate and Parliament” he talks about.

      • Sir Joe Soap
        Posted December 30, 2018 at 11:49 am | Permalink

        Indeed and they don’t seem to ‘get’ that, which as owe how remote they are.

      • NickC
        Posted December 30, 2018 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

        Jerry, Generally agree, but the “Remain” we voted for or against was actually David Cameron’s renegotiated terms, not the “current” terms. Most Remains don’t know that – Remains didn’t know what they were voting for!!! The principal feature of DC’s Remain was no longer being subject to “ever closer union”.

        • jerry
          Posted December 30, 2018 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

          @NickC; But Cameron’s renegotiated terms were never ratified, being over taken by events, first the Leave vote and then Cameron resining, suitable legislation was never presented by the EC to MEPs etc. So the “current” terms are those before Cameron’s renegotiation, unless the EC wish to present the necessary legislation – and why would they?!

          • NickC
            Posted December 30, 2018 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

            Jerry, We didn’t vote on current terms, we voted on Cameron’s renegotiation. It says so in black and white on the first written page of the government’s white propaganda booklet.

          • jerry
            Posted December 31, 2018 at 12:24 am | Permalink

            @NickC; The Govt publication you cite does not state that the agreed changes in the renegotiation deal had already taken place.

            You are also missing the (legal/political) effects of the Leave result, why would the EU bother to even start ratifying such a deal that’ll be utterly irrelevant in two years, even the EU would bulk at such a waste of time a resources! Remember Cameron had originally stated, if the result was Leave, he would trigger A50 immediately -instead he chose to resign which delayed the process but the EU did not know for how long. That is why implementation of the ‘reforms’ were always dependant on a Remain result.

            Five of the seven renegotiated areas need EU legislation to make the reforms legal under EU law, no such legislation appears to have ever been placed before the EU parliament. The other two areas rely on International Law, the UK and/or EU need to register these decisions as an international treaty with the UN, nothing I have read contains any reference/citation to such actual registrations.

          • NickC
            Posted December 31, 2018 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

            Jerry, Nevertheless the government white booklet states: “The UK has secured a special status in a reformed EU …”; and then summarises David Cameron’s renegotiated deal. That new status may not have been implemented prior to the vote, but it was certainly “secured” according to the booklet.

            If Remain had won, presumably Cameron and the EU would have been obliged to implement his new deal, since it was the only Remain deal offered by the government. You may think that is a minor difference, but it is crucial, and there should be no re-writing of history.

          • jerry
            Posted January 3, 2019 at 8:15 am | Permalink

            @NickC; “presumably Cameron and the EU would have been obliged to implement his new deal, since it was the only Remain deal offered by the government.”

            I suspect many on both sides of the argument would be using the same tactics as are being used today against the Leave outcome, after all what did Remain actually mean, there were 19 groups, 19 manifestos all seeking a tick in one box, not just Cameron’s deal, everything from further renegotiation to become a EFTA/EEA member to fully a Federated EU.

            It would also have been played out in the UK Parliament as Cameron’s deal needed to be voted on if I recall.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted December 30, 2018 at 8:24 am | Permalink

      Indeed May clearly has some worthless fudge over the backstop up her sleeve. The deal is totally unaceptable even without the back stop. If she manages to push it through is will be a total disaster for the Tory Party splitting the vote, reviving a new UKIP or similar and a disaster for the economy. Plus it will lead to dire Corbyn/Mc Donnall/SNP disaster on top.

      Why is she being such a complete plonker? Is she really so thick?

      • Sir Joe Soap
        Posted December 30, 2018 at 11:50 am | Permalink

        Quite stupid but mainly badly guided.

      • Posted December 30, 2018 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

        But she’s not thick, is she? Is she therefore self-interested? I hope not. Or weak, perhaps, and having her strings pulled by those who put self-interest above the well-being of their country?

        • Lifelogic
          Posted December 30, 2018 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

          Yes she is quite dim, Oxford Geography degree after all – not theoretical physics or Cambridge maths. She is dire in interviews and totally unable to think on her feet. Nor say anything other than the blindingly obvious (so not worth saying) or preprepared sound bytes (Brexit means Brexit) or the obviously dishonest. Where is her uplifting vision for the country?

          She even fought an early unneeded election on a ‘vote for me and I will kick you in the teeth’ manifesto. Just how dim is that unless she wanted to lose perhaps? Why is she even in the Conservative Party she is a dire Libdim at best.

        • Original Richard
          Posted December 30, 2018 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

          Mrs May may be incapable of having any rapport with the public but she is not stupid.

          The reason why we cannot understand her words and actions is because she is following a course set out by the EU elites, the elite upper echelons of the civil service, the corporates and the Conservative Party, the Blairites and Momentum wings of the Labour Party (aka the UK’s “swamp”) as disclosed by Mrs. Merkel at the Konrad Adenauer Foundation meeting in Berlin 21/11/2018 :

          “Sovereign nation states must not listen to the will of their citizens when it comes to questions of immigration, borders, or even sovereignty.”

          Brexit wasn’t meant to happen and they are all doing their best to find a way of grabbing control back and either stopping Brexit entirely, or even better, making sure that the UK becomes a permanent vassal state of the EU, following all the SM/CU/ECJ rules and regulations, making budget payments, allowing unlimited immigration but with no representation.

          • Posted December 30, 2018 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

            But you’re STILL calling them ”elite” – even though you acknowledge that many are conniving, self-serving, arrogant twerps. Where does the description ”elite” come into it?

      • CR
        Posted December 30, 2018 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

        She’s not that bright but thinks the electorate are stupid.

    • Bob
      Posted December 30, 2018 at 11:05 am | Permalink

      WTO
      no £39 billion
      no Irish walls
      Get on with it.

      If you want a deal, prepare for no deal.
      Negotiation 101.

    • Posted December 30, 2018 at 11:10 am | Permalink

      Seconded. I fear we have a few days left before we are enslaved.

  2. Lifelogic
    Posted December 30, 2018 at 5:39 am | Permalink

    That is certainly pretty much how I see it.

    Meanwhile the May Government are using public moneu to pre charter ferries as another part of project fear. Is this a legal use of the public’s money. If so should it be.

    • Stred
      Posted December 30, 2018 at 8:26 am | Permalink

      There should be plenty of cheap tickets to Belgium in April, paid for by taxpayers.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted December 30, 2018 at 9:12 am | Permalink

      Dear Lifelogic–Has liam Fox run mad?–Just read that he thinks it is a matter of honour for MP’s to support Mrs May–Utter drivel

      • CR
        Posted December 30, 2018 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

        May has shown him the MI5 file.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted December 30, 2018 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

        He has alas it seems. How can it be “honourable” to support such an appalling deal and an appalling (essentially socialist) disingenuous PM in almost every single respect. Do they really think they can get this deal through?

        • Leslie Singleton
          Posted December 30, 2018 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

          Dear Lifelogic–If the deal as it stands, meaning totally atrocious, humiliating and unacceptable, goes through without very significant change that would be my idea of a crime against humanity.

    • Maybot
      Posted December 30, 2018 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      They’ll be used to ferry migrants.

      Hitchens is bang on the nail again today. The UK authorities are colluding with people smugglers,not ‘rescuing’ migrants

      The same guys who helped trigger the refugee crisis are pro EU btw.

      (I don’t mind so long as Beaconsfield and Lewes get a much greater share than what they are now. A proportional impact to what poorer areas have taken. No choices about which refugees are sited there.)

    • Bob
      Posted December 30, 2018 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      The govt are literally participating in people trafficking.
      The Italian’s finally figured it out.

  3. margaret
    Posted December 30, 2018 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    Of course : why should anybody leave their comfortable homes and environment in the midst communities which could support each other. Chasing the money is a factor in the continuing presence of military action, however much money is spent in the chasing where money is coming out of different pockets .The internal struggles between monies of state and private monies is open to favours and bias and this is where it begins.Let them make their own mistakes . We can help some , but not all.

    • NickC
      Posted December 30, 2018 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

      Margaret, Perhaps the KSA could help mid-east migrants in the mid-east rather than funding mosques in the West? Just think if the power factions in the mid-east stopped attacking Israel – and stopped attacking each other – there would be no need for any migration and a lot more of their own money to go round. The West must stop feeling so guilty about everything.

  4. Winner
    Posted December 30, 2018 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    Oh. Of course if I had been MP for anywhere I would not have voted for any intervention at all in the Middle East until the combatants on both sides had depleted each and one another in greater numbers in their fighting for territory and dominance. Including the Extremist Islamic Kurds ( all factions of them) b/c there are several unreported by our Fake News ).They will be happy doing that , killing,now in smaller numbers which has satisfied them greatly for the past 3000 years. In fact a pleasure for them, actually,( not for the children to hear ). The world is full of happy loving people!Saves on childhood nightmares that only adults create with a regularity of a Remoaner wailing at the moon

  5. DUNCAN
    Posted December 30, 2018 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    The last president left office with the blood of 1.2m Syrian civilians (shed in wars he involved the US in? ed).

    Obama. An offence on so many levels but praised like a modern day prophet.

    The western media is either naive or deliberately coercive

    And Trump? How many wars as Trump incited to date? Erm, none.

    The west is utterly dominated by the liberal left intelligentsia and we will pay a heavy price for their grotesque dominance in both truth, liberty and freedom

  6. Lifelogic
    Posted December 30, 2018 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    Daniel Hannah sensibly asks:- Why are we allowing the state to put us on a diet? Why indeed because we have a silly nanny in charge who thinks that bloated government knows best – despite all the abundant evidence to the contrary.

    Also a good piece by him on all the billions wasted buying the wrong Christmas presents for people who did not want them. It is indeed far less efficient that buying things for yourself as you are spending your money on something you want or at least thing you do. It is however far, far more efficient than government as they are sepending other people’s money on thing for other people (after wasting a lot in collection costs and inconvenience to tax payers first). They care not what they pay nor what value they get.

    Also we have Matt Hancock saying – NEW mothers will get help to breastfeed their babies for longer and more neonatal nurses and specialists will “make the NHS the best place in the world to give birth”.

    Well a very long way to go if he looks at the relatively dire NHS statistics on this. Perhaps he should prevent the some of the many serverely damaged or dead babies from medical negligence first.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted December 30, 2018 at 8:18 am | Permalink

      At least the person buying you Christmas Presents is trying to please you and they are using their own money. The state, in the main, could not care less if it pleases you, serves you any value or just inconveniences you. Why should they? They get paid and rather well pensioned anyway.

    • NickC
      Posted December 30, 2018 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

      Lifelogic, If the UK state carries on failing to obey major referendum votes yet nannying us over trivial issues, it demonstrates its own irrelevance. There is no point in having our own government if the Quisling establishment overturns Leave – we might as well become a province of the EU empire, and scrap the UK government entirely.

  7. Mark B
    Posted December 30, 2018 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    The Middle East has always been in conflict. You can go back centuries and see nothing but endless war. Even a religion was founded on a warrior creed that believed either in subjugation or death for the non-believer. So wanting to make peace when all the people of that region only know is war is really rather futile.

    The Middle East has been fought over due for a number of reasons. Religion, possession of strategic assets and its position as gateway to the East. It is an old and well worn part of the world and will always be fought over.

    China is rising and threatening its neighbours. The US is seeing this as an opportunity to build new (Vietnam) alliances and strengthen old ones (Philippines). The US cannot be everywhere and so has to divide its resources. Asia is where the new growth and trade will be and it is to that we must look and it comes as no surprise that is where President Trump is looking also.

    • Mitchel
      Posted December 30, 2018 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

      It was fairly peaceful under the rule of the Ottoman Empire.The problems probably started with Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign;before then most western powers remembered how they had gotten their fingers burnt in the Crusades.

      • Mark B
        Posted December 31, 2018 at 4:06 am | Permalink

        You can go way, way back further than the Ottoman Empire and Crusades. Never has there been peace.

        • Mitchel
          Posted December 31, 2018 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

          But it hasn’t “always” been in conflict.Like the world’s other fault lines-Eastern Europe,Caucasus,China/Manchuria/Mongolia it has b een periodic over a long time period.

    • margaret howard
      Posted December 31, 2018 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

      Mark B

      “The Middle East has always been in conflict. You can go back centuries and see nothing but endless war.

      Can’t recall them having had the equivalent of WW1 or 2. Nor the endless colonial wars we have waged.

      Or the wars with other European powers over hegemony there. We have little to teach the countries of the Middle East as Europe has in the past been aggressive par excellence.

  8. Stred
    Posted December 30, 2018 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    If the Taliban take over the whole of Afghanistan, there will be even more migrants in inflatables turning up for housing and the social security . Thank goodness the Russians saved a regime that tolerated Christians and other minorities, even if corrupt. The Syrian Christians that I know are unlikely to be going back, but they knew that they were safe under Assad and things were improving. Then our FO got up to tricks and disaster followed. As others have said, follow the money.

    • Mitchel
      Posted December 30, 2018 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

      There will be no peace in Afghanistan without the Taliban being involved in the political settlement.

  9. Butties
    Posted December 30, 2018 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Those wars were not just under US Presidents but also under UK Prime ministers. Don’t ever forget that!

  10. Everhopeful
    Posted December 30, 2018 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    The West ( it seems to me) has interfered ceaselessly in the ME since at least the early 1900s probably driven by need/greed for oil. Proxy wars have ensued, 9/11 changed the world and now it has to live with the mess. Or rather ordinary people do.

    And now here in the UK the sop of “democracy” is exposed for the fake it always was. The elite need to stick to the rules of the “democracy” they bought us off with. We voted to leave!!

    • Posted December 30, 2018 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      They’re not ”elite”.
      THEY think they are. We shouldn’t reinforce their inflated view of themselves.

      • Everhopeful
        Posted December 30, 2018 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

        When Mr Rees-Mogg called John Major “ a member of the European elite” ( because Major criticised Brexit) I don’tthink the word “elite” was meant as a compliment!

        • margaret howard
          Posted December 31, 2018 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

          If anybody is a member of an elite it is the likes of Rees-Mogg, a multi millionaire who no doubt has made sure that when disaster strikes, he and his ilk will be well protected from the fallout the rest of us will have to bear.

          • NickC
            Posted December 31, 2018 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

            Margaret Howard, JR-M may be rich but he is hardly one of the establishment – he wields little power, probably no more than Alistair Campbell.

    • Mitchel
      Posted December 30, 2018 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

      Not just oil but an attempt to secure a land bridge from the Med to India-incorporating the post WWI Ottoman mandate in Palestine and Mesopotamia/Iraq,the southern sphere of influence in Persia but the failed intervention in the Caucasus and Transcaspia during the Russian Civil War left a hole in it.

  11. agrictola
    Posted December 30, 2018 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Certainly the USA’s role as international policeman has been taken for granted and abused, particularly by EU members of NATO. For many EU politicians it is a love hate relationship. They like not having to pay taxes to defend themselves and getting bailed out,witness WW1 & WW2. but hate the thought of their self perceived superior culture being tainted with too much american. Democracy is a good example of what the EU do not want too much of. Witness our withdrawal from their utopia.
    Wealth exists in the Middle East. It could be used to alieviate the suffering in Yemen and largely solve the problems of refugees throughout the ME. As an example they would refuse to admit to, take Israel. They have provided sanctuary for persecuted Jews from just about everywhere and consider the bigotry they have had to face to achieve the only democratic country in the ME . They deserve support. It can be done but are the wealthy oil producers ready to step up. Only when they see their own position under threat I fear.

    • margaret howard
      Posted December 30, 2018 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

      agricola

      Can you tell us who has appointed the US as an ‘international policeman? Who has voted for that?

      And would you also agree that most of the unrest in today’s world has come about as a result of our interference in other countries affairs?

      In the case of the Middle East it started with the illegal war and invasion of Iraq and the murder of its leader by the US with our help and connivance.

      It killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people and destroyed the country’s infrastructure leaving it without a suitable leadership. We haven’t stopped our disastrous policies yet.
      Result of all that intereference on Europe? It has been flooded with desperate people fleeing the destruction of their country.

      How many has America taken in? Or we for that matter?

      • NickC
        Posted December 30, 2018 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

        Margaret Howard, No I do not agree that most of the unrest in today’s world has come about as a result of our interference in other countries affairs.

        The “unrest” in Iraq started with the illegal war started by Iraq.

        The West is damned if does interfere and damned if it doesn’t. My view is that we should not interfere. So no international policeman role for us. For good, or bad. But you wouldn’t approve of that either.

        America, and we, have “taken in” and continue to take in our fair share of refugees (not just from the Mid-East either). However it is normal that refugees stay in the first safe country they reach – that certainly isn’t the UK. The KSA has taken in workers from Syria for example, but according to the BBC no asylum seekers (BBC, Sept 2015). The highest number of asylum seekers in the UK were from . . . . . Iran. Followed by Pakistan, and only then Iraq (ranking figures 2016, Home Office).

        We can do our best but that will always never be perfect. Thereby giving openings to whingers like you to complain. How many Iraqi refugees are you sheltering?

      • agrictola
        Posted December 31, 2018 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

        No appointment Margaret it came about by natural selection. ww1,WW2,Korea,Vietnam (a mistake in my judgment), Cuba ( missile crisis good, Bay of Pigs bad ), counter balance to Russia via NATO in Europe good, Bosnia good,
        When Iraq attacked Kuwait it happened. We are all aware that the USA does not always study the history and at times gets involved for the wrong reasons. If they got it wrong it was not finishing the job first time round and then second time around not having a Marshal plan.
        When things kick off the strongest sort it out in their own interest. You choose Russia, China, or the USA.

  12. Steve
    Posted December 30, 2018 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    We should not be involved in the middle east, nothing to do with us.

    Off topic, but very important I believe;
    The BBC is full of it again. With Liam Fox coming out with some right sh*^.

    According to him, brexit has a 50% chance of occurring if MP’s don’t pass the WA.
    He also says MP’s must vote in loyalty to Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement.

    Wrong on both counts !

    We ARE leaving the EU on 29th March !
    And Loyalty to the referendum result is expected and will be the case.

    No WA and out on 29th March, OR ELSE !

    • Andy
      Posted December 30, 2018 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      Or else what?

      I like Liam Fox. He is really good to laugh at.

      He stands there and bangs on about the wonders of the new Pacific trade deal – and how good it will be for Britain. This is a deal on the other side of the world which we are not part of.

      At the same time he wants to leave Margaret Thatcher’s single market – by far the best trade deal in the world – which includes all of our nearest neighbours and of which we are a founder member.

      He thinks a remote, distant, less comprehensive trade deal is good for us and a close, more comprehensive one is bad. The ideological confusion – and by that I mean incompetence – is staggering.

      In a Cabinet which includes the comically ineffectual Chris Grayling, Andrea Leadsom and Liz Truss – Liam Fox might well be the most incompetent minister, a mighty achievement.

      • Andy
        Posted December 30, 2018 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

        Oh I forgot Gavin Williamson. Aren’t we all glad he’s in charge of the defence of the realm. I am sure he can protect us from someone. Moldova maybe.

        • Richard1
          Posted December 30, 2018 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

          It has to be admitted that there are some very weak ministers and you name some here. Fox does not see trade deals such as TPP and perhaps NAFTA as alternatives to an FTA with the EU he sees them as an addition. The Brexit argument is to have a friendly relationship with the EU based on free trade but to be out of the political structures. When this happens – as I have no doubt that it will, albeit perhaps in some years following WTO exit – there is no reason there should be any diminution in trade at all. Might even be an increase as a more competitive UK will be better placed for the export of goods and services.

        • acorn
          Posted December 30, 2018 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

          “Britain to become ‘true global player’ post-Brexit with military bases in South East Asia and Caribbean, says Defence Secretary”. No idea what he is going to use for hardware or funds. Perhaps a collection of all those little rubber boats on day trips from France?

          If I were Macron, I would be on a Picardie or Flandres beach shouting “get your free rubber boats and a compass here, just head northeast, you can’t miss England”.

        • margaret howard
          Posted December 30, 2018 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

          He’s a caricature of the school swot. Where do they find them?

          • margaret howard
            Posted December 30, 2018 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

            I meant Gavin Williamson

          • Mitchel
            Posted December 30, 2018 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

            He gave the Russians a good laugh on his visit to Odessa with his little spy/survey boat just before Christmas.I won’t quote what Sergei Lavrov said about him!

      • Sir Joe Soap
        Posted December 30, 2018 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

        Yes, we all know you wish to chain yourself to a socialist corpse and ignore the tiger in the opposite corner.

      • Narrow Shoulders
        Posted December 30, 2018 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

        How is paying £12 billion (net) per year and having to accept any EU citizen who wants to live here, productive or not, plus having rules imposed upon those who do not trade in the EU the best trade deal in the world?

        Blinkered much?

      • John Hatfield
        Posted December 30, 2018 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

        In 1988 Margaret Thatcher said, “So far Britain hasn’t done nearly well enough in trade with Europe. True, the direction of our trade has been transformed. Half of it is now with the European Community.

        But the balance is nothing like satisfactory, especially in manufactured goods. The fact is that although we haven’t done very well in Europe, Europe has done very well in Britain.”
        So what has changed since 1988? For Britain, the Single Market is still a dead loss.

      • NickC
        Posted December 30, 2018 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

        Andy, Still not read Margaret Thatcher’s Bruges speech? Really what is the point of you repeating the same falsehood over and over that the centralised dirigiste EU single market is anything like Mrs Thatchers vision? We’ve read her speech even if you haven’t.

        Then you say: “This is a deal on the other side of the world which we are not part of”. I’ve news for you Andy, we are part of that world. For God’s sake, lift up your eyes from your EU enslavement.

    • acorn
      Posted December 30, 2018 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

      Why did Ireland reject the treaty of Lisbon in 2008 and then accept it in 2009? Said Andrew Anthony in the Guardian to Fintan O’Toole about his book: Heroic Failure: Brexit and the Politics of Pain. “Brexit is full of hysterical self-pity” he replies.

      “It’s a real pity that David Cameron didn’t study the Irish referendums before calling one. Because what happens in referendums is that it’s a Yes, No and people vote on a whole set of generalised feelings about their own country, about their own particular situations. They’re sorts of tests of public mood rather than about the substance.

      What happened with Ireland is we said, did we really think through the consequences? Let’s talk about this, then see how the people feel. And in the second referendum, more people turned out. The weird thing in the Brexit mentality is that June 2016 was this sacred moment of history that can never ever be revisited. If you can’t have second thoughts, you don’t have democracy.”

      • Sir Joe Soap
        Posted December 30, 2018 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps a third referendum would have got an even higher turn-out and gone the other way. Or a fourth? Really it’s an odd way to run a democracy and more akin to a banana republic than a democratic institution.
        Unless at the outset of the first referendum the result is declared as “go again until x” or “best of 3” etc., I think common decency should restrict the number to 1.

      • anon
        Posted December 30, 2018 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

        Exit to WTO. As per the referendum. As per manifesto pledges.

        How can you have 2nd thoughts when we have not left!

        By all means anti democratic “EU fanatics” can run at the next General Election on a pledge to re-join the EU! after we have left.

        That’s how a real democrat would handle it.

      • NickC
        Posted December 30, 2018 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

        Acorn, Why do you suppose that the second thoughts only apply to Leaves? You see, I think a number of Remains have had second thoughts, having seen the EU for what it really is. Blindly, you also discount Leave winning a second time (assuming the question is not rigged).

        Even if Remain won, why should we accept the second vote when you won’t accept the first? You cannot claim that the second would be a once in a generation decision, because the government’s white propaganda booklet already claimed that for the 2016 vote. Unless Leave is implemented trust has gone. You Remains continue to saw off the branch you are sitting on.

  13. Maybot
    Posted December 30, 2018 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Blair and Cameron were the worst. Bush and Obama were the worst States side.

    Yet Trump is called a war monger and it’s he that the likes of that silly Streisand person write protest songs about ?

    • Posted December 30, 2018 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

      Can you imagine Obama or Bush facing down Mr Kim? Only one person could have done that. Well done, Mr Trump!

  14. mickc
    Posted December 30, 2018 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    The USA, as Britain did, is slowly coming to realise that empire has many disadvantages. Whilst initially a source of profit, it eventually becomes a drain on both blood and treasure. For the USA, that point has long passed.

    Unfortunately the withdrawal from empire is often long, bloody and costly because the possession of an empire has become a psychological prop for the rulers of the imperial nation. The USA seems to be in that phase. We can expect further imperial adventures from the USA (with disastrous consequences mainly for others) until it accepts that its empire days are over. Trump is a start but it may yet take a Suez for reality to impact. That may well be in the Ukraine; the UK should stay well clear.

    Macmillan was not a good Prime Minister; very much in the mould of his admirer Cameron. However he did, at least, manage Britain’s withdrawal from empire rather well, with little loss of blood and treasure.

    • Mitchel
      Posted December 30, 2018 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

      Syria is the “Stalingrad” of globalism.The question is where will be the “Berlin”?

      • CR
        Posted December 30, 2018 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

        Berlin probably.

  15. sm
    Posted December 30, 2018 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    Your last paragraph pretty well sums it all up, John. Western interference (to put it mildly) has only inflamed and aggravated this tribal/religious aggression for over a century.

    From Afghanistan to Yemen, the people must now be allowed to either learn how to live in relative peace, or tear each other to shreds. I would infinitely prefer them to choose the first option, and I certainly don’t wish to see my (and others’) grandchildren in the UK Armed Forces sacrificed in yet further futile interventions.

    • Iain Moore
      Posted December 30, 2018 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      We left Afghanistan alone and ended up with them sheltering terrorists that flew planes into buildings.

      • forthurst
        Posted December 30, 2018 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

        I know it’s the pantomime season, but we are not discussing fairy stories today.

      • CR
        Posted December 30, 2018 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

        I think you mean Saudi Arabia

  16. Dave Andrews
    Posted December 30, 2018 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    “We can sort out the world’s problems” said Tony Blair, combining arrogance and stupidity in one sentence – how efficient.
    I support Trump’s move to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. We should do the same, and from Syria too. Leave them to work out their own primitive fights.
    You can’t make people good by force.

    • GilesB
      Posted December 30, 2018 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      Agreed.

      We have neither the moral right nor capability to impose Western culture on peoples with the right and desire for self-determination.

      Let the rich gulf states sort out their neighbourhood.

      What we can and should do however is be absolutely clear that a Caliphate will not be allowed to interfere with our way of living

      • forthurst
        Posted December 30, 2018 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

        A can assure you that imposing”Western culture” was never the purpose of the Tories and Blairites unprovoked attacks on ME countries; they were doing it on behalf of clients.

        Trump had no choice but to withdraw as the US had positioned itself, by illegally occupying a third of Syria, to ‘defend’ the Kurds from the evil dictator (elected President), Assad only to be informed that Turkey intended to attack the Kurds thereby putting two members of NATO in direct conflict. The irony of course is that facing the US withdrawal and an threatened attack by Turkey, the Kurds immediately turned to the evil dictator himself for protection. It is noteworthy that the Kurds in the so-called Kurdish regions are in a small minority.

  17. oldtimer
    Posted December 30, 2018 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    There is a school of thought that Western ambitions to promote regime change lay behind many of the Middle East conflicts, obviously in Iraq and Libya but also in Syria. These initiatives have failed leaving behind a huge mess as well as a significant loss of influence in the region.

  18. Posted December 30, 2018 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Liam Fox says brexit is only 50 50 if the WA is defeated, doesn’t add up for me, if the WA is defeated then there is only one other way to go, ie. to leave without a deal 29 March- what could be more clear? But for a government minister, a long time brexiteer, to say 50 50 while ignoring the peoples wishes is nothing short of treasonable.

    • Steve
      Posted December 30, 2018 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      Barry

      Fox is assuming government has the right to stop brexit in the event of the WA being voted down.

      Firstly brexit cannot be stopped, article 50 has been triggered.
      Secondly A50 is legally binding and set for 29th March.
      Thirdly they’re either arrogant or just fail to realise what will happen if they dishonour the referendum.

      I don’t like Liam Fox at all, don’t trust him one bit, and now it seems we are witnessing the length of his tongue.

      • NickC
        Posted December 30, 2018 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

        Steve, I agree that the government must implement Leave or face decades of turmoil, and the essential breakdown in trust in democracy.

        The Art50 two year timeline was written in as a maximum (the process could have been quicker but the government doesn’t want to Leave); but even the “maximum” can be extended by mutual consent. And the Art50 process can be stopped unfortunately – the CJEU has said so.

        • Steve
          Posted December 31, 2018 at 1:24 am | Permalink

          Nick C

          “the CJEU”

          Not recognised.

          “even the “maximum” can be extended by mutual consent”
          “And the Art50 process can be stopped”

          Let them dare try !

          They will unleash a Pandora’s box, it will be the end of the conservatives and they’ll take Labour down with them. UKIP will be laughed at…..only one outcome; anarchy, mass civil unrest, collapse of local government, mass civil disobedience especially where EU law is concerned – then a right wing uprising possibly with same in Germany and France if coordinated – EU breaks up.

          Many are warning of potential civil war, personally I prefer to warn of history repeating itself.

          In any event Government MUST get us out on 29th with no further capitulation to the EU whatsoever. If they do not deliver to the will of the people on those terms, all hell will break loose and the EU stooges could very well find themselves running for their lives. They really need to acknowledge they’ll be igniting a powder keg.

  19. Caterpillar
    Posted December 30, 2018 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    A way forward is just not obvious. The conservatives in Iran will continue to wish to spread the theocracy model, Rhouani and MbS will not be sitting down together, drones ( home grown or Chinese made) will continue to spread in the region, UK and EU will continue to act against Trump’s Iran strategy. Qatar, the Muslim Brotherhood and Saudi Arabia?

    The small positives – US relationship with Iraq, and Iraq with Iran might be a channel (if US concentrate on keeping ISIS out of Iraq and economy improves then this could be a big win and might help the moderates in Iran). US-China trade relationship might be improving, perhaps this might allow conversation on midEast. The MbS reshuffle following the Khashoggi murder may allow a less confrontational approach. And perhaps secularised under 30s Iranian migrants to Europe may offer an external support to those in Iran wanting change.

  20. majorfrustration
    Posted December 30, 2018 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Train local domestic forces – well, good luck with that. Once the West inserts itself between waring forces it becomes the enemy of both. Best thing to do is let them fight it out to a standstill.

  21. JPM
    Posted December 30, 2018 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Congratulations, Sir John. Another reasonable take on unreasonable situations.

  22. Frances Truscott
    Posted December 30, 2018 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    High birth rate misogynistic cultures lead to overpopulation war, pestilence, famine and unemployment. We are now put in too close contact with failing cultures because of mass communications and mass travel. Its the accident brought about by new technology.
    Diplomacy wont fix it. Military options are cut and come again. What we should do is name the problem (high birth rates and child marriage) and not accept “refugees” from failed cultures. We had to fight to make a decent place to live so do they and it may be fighting primitive culture not just other factions.

    • Tweeter_L
      Posted December 30, 2018 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

      Frances Truscott:
      Yes: why do we see tiny babies suffering in any famine or war situation that has continued for longer than nine months? Who would wish to bring a child into such desperate hardship? The charitable (sentimental) view is that optimism prevails in even the direst situation, but I fear that in reality it tells us much about the place and perceived purpose of women in many cultures: the resultant babies are merely “collateral damage.”

  23. Frances Truscott
    Posted December 30, 2018 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    And congratulations Sir John. The remainer press are being predictably bilious about it. Keep supporting Brexit please.

  24. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted December 30, 2018 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately, following our intervention in this area, once we retreat there leaves a vacuum which fanatics and tribal leaders can exploit. We have weakened the existing order which kept the various factions in check.

    Withdrawal will only make things worse in the long run but maybe it needs to get worse in order to get better. There is a conundrum for the bleeding heart liberals, maybe they will finally take refugees into their own homes and pay the resultant costs. Alternatively we can fund safe spaces in the area so these refugees do not have to be overly displaced.

  25. Iain Moore
    Posted December 30, 2018 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    The population of Syria in the 1960’s was 4.5 million, 1980’s 9m, 2000’s 16m, recently 20m. They have massively depleted their aquifers , this combined with the Syrian regime removing fuel subsidies and hiking up the fuel costs meant a lot of peasant farmers couldn’t afford the fuel for their pumps , which resulted in a movement of people to the cities, and that was the backstory to the civil war that kicked off. Same with the Yemen, probably worse, its been known for years that Yemen has a water deficit problem, for the water resources they have cannot sustain their population. This is the story across the Middle East and North Africa. The West loves beating up on its self thinking that their problems must be the result of our actions, but its not, the underlying causes to lot of the problems of the area are very high birth rates and overpopulation, unfortunately our political classes think the solution is to import their problems to our countries.

    • CR
      Posted December 30, 2018 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      Yemen and Syria have coastal regions. They could build solar powered desalination plants like the Saudis.

      • NickC
        Posted December 30, 2018 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

        CR, Yes, but that requires them to stop blaming others for their self-inflicted misfortunes; and to stop inflicting themselves on others; and to build their own countries up.

    • Adam
      Posted December 30, 2018 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

      Moderating population growth using forward planning is a sensible path to happier families of nations. Moderating over-growth by savage conflict is an backward way of reaching the same purpose; wildly errant & too late.

  26. fedupsoutherner
    Posted December 30, 2018 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    Off Topic. Liam Fox says that Brexit will only have a 50/50 chance of happening if MP’s don’t vote for Mays agreement. Apart from the fact that sounds like a bribe, the agreement is not leaving the EU anyway. What plonkers we have in charge and in parliament today. Where are the true patriots we had many years ago? Have they no pride anymore in their own country or any faith in their citizens? If and when the EU goes bust then they’ll all be sorry. Too late then.

    • Maybot
      Posted December 30, 2018 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

      We are witness to the Tories on knife crime, drones, mass immigration and now vassalage.

      Prepare for Corbyn. He couldn’t possibly be worse.

    • Posted December 30, 2018 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      As facts4eu points out – the EU trades under WTO terms, but it’s speaking for 28 countries. So where’s the problem? We’re already a WTO member, and at least we’d only be speaking for ourselves. It suits the ”plonkers” to make out the little people are too stupid to know it can be simple.

      It’s not rocket surgery.

      • Steve
        Posted December 31, 2018 at 1:32 am | Permalink

        L. Jones.

        “It’s not rocket surgery”

        Ahem.

    • Turboterrier.
      Posted December 30, 2018 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

      FUS

      Liam Fox it would be perceived to have been turned around by his colleagues in cabinet.

      He if a genuine leaver he would have done the noble thing and resigned his post.

      The same could be said about his other “leaver” colleagues who it seems do not want to bite the hand that feeds them.

      If this all goes belly up and May gets her way this will be marked as the time when the English democracy finally collapsed due to the self centred aspirations of weak two faced members of parliament.

  27. Man of Kent
    Posted December 30, 2018 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    Although titled the Middle East there is considerable relevance to Africa too .

    We (UK and EU ) refuse to allow coal fired power stations to be be built in Africa but are only too happy to finance ‘renewables ‘ .
    This Government policy spills over to NGO s eg Christian Aid who in order to retain Government subsidy tailor their policy accordingly.
    Without cheap energy , unless provided by China , there is little hope of Africa developing .
    Young people there can see there is little hope in remaining in their own countries and try to reach Europe for a better future .

    Part of the solution to the Migrant Crisis must be to get rid of the Climate Change Act and abandon this globalism agenda which nobody can afford .

    • Andy
      Posted December 30, 2018 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

      And the prize for most ridiculous post of the year goes to ….

      Here’s a helpful guide for you. Once its built solar energy is FREE. Yep. Staggering eh? Once it’s built wind energy is FREE. Also staggering.

      Amazingly the sun shines and the wind blows. Who knew?

      • Man of Kent
        Posted December 30, 2018 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

        Andy,
        Yes free while the sun is shining and ,or the wind is blowing .
        At other times there is no power and operations cease .
        These may be medical caesareans or factory production but there can be no meaningful development without local fossil powered power stations connected to a grid to allow import and export of electrical power .
        Renewables just do not work on their own .
        Just ask the ‘Gilets Jaunes ‘ , Frau Merkel and her energiwiende and look at your own domestic bills some 15% higher than need be because of the cost of renewable subsidies .
        Imagine the common sense of building a power station directly above a rich coal field and then replacing the coal with wood chip imported from the USA.
        We have managed to do that at Drax .
        Now that is ridiculous !

        Reply Wind power is not free after the initial capital coast. There is the cost of maintenance, replacement of parts, inspection etc

        • Stred
          Posted December 31, 2018 at 11:57 am | Permalink

          And running gas stations up and down inefficiently. Plus to high energy in/energy out involving lots of coal and gas to make the steel and concrete=CO2.

      • Narrow Shoulders
        Posted December 30, 2018 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

        Award for the most simplistically pompous post of the year goes to Andy (not necessarily this one but it makes the shortlist).

        The funders of solar and wind power negotiate a generous rate per megawatt for the future otherwise they will not fund it. Then similar to a PFI contract they milk the population on maintenance costs and billings.

        Free my @r$£

      • Martyn G
        Posted December 30, 2018 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

        Free, Andy? Are you quite mad? The huge construction costs and enormous subsidies paid by us – including you – to keep them going, whether or not they are producing power (not much sun in the UK at night or during the autumn and winter), is paid for by you and us. Then if the wind is too strong, they are paid not to produce power, so ‘free’ it most certainly is not. How on earth did you manage to grow up without finding out that there is no such thing as a free lunch? Astonishing!

      • Steve
        Posted December 30, 2018 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

        Andy

        Would you be addressing a fellow remainer in the same tone? I doubt it.

        Here’s something that will cheer you up; over the Christmas break a pensioner staggered out in front of the Jag (yes he was pie eyed and probably got so using your money) I had to avoid collision and in doing so hit the kerb of a central refuge, writing off one front tyre.

        In addition to that I’ve had a burst outside water pipe.

        Do you think I should attribute these occurrences to ‘my’ brexit, as you would call it. Or blame the pensioner ?

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted December 30, 2018 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      Man of Kent. You are absolutely right in all you say. All this expensive renewable rubbish is not fit for a developing country like Africa. Unless they can develop a really cheap way of storing the energy then forget it. Batteries are massive and expensive. What is going on in Western countries is just virtue signaling to the NGO’s and government trying to be all things to all people. It just doesn’t work. They should be thinking more of the economy. I was only saying to my husband today that when you consider how high the emissions are keeping some of these biodigesters going it’s madness. All the equipment and lorries used to harvest trees are run on diesel and the tractors near us are running up and down the road all day trying to keep fuel in the digestor. Nobody has really thought this through.

    • NickC
      Posted December 30, 2018 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

      Man of Kent, Spot on. If we did not impose our ridiculous Climate God onto Africa but helped them develop cheap energy Africa would become richer and therefore have fewer economic migrants.

  28. Sakara Gold
    Posted December 30, 2018 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    The middle east has never been the same since the Suez fiasco and the British military withdrawal. Anthony Eden should have made sure that Eisenhower agreed before he launched the (successful) invasion with the French and the Israelis.

    • mickc
      Posted December 30, 2018 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      Eisenhower could not agree; there was an election due and he did not want the complications that being involved would entail. In fact, Eden believed that the USA had agreed, but he was misled by Macmillan (who had probably misread the situation anyway)

      In any event, the USA wished to diminish British power and Suez was the perfect opportunity. Of course, when the USA embarked on its own madcap adventure in Vietnam it sought military involvement by the UK. That supreme political operator Harold Wilson refused, to his credit; he surely has little else.

  29. Andy
    Posted December 30, 2018 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    One good thing about Brexit is that we won’t ever be involved in Middle East conflict again.

    As an irrelevant and comparatively poor small isolated island, with zero influence in global politics, what we say and think will not matter.

    The Security Coucil seat will obviously be going before long too.

    • Richard1
      Posted December 30, 2018 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

      On the contrary Brexit guarantees we will keep it. France is already under pressure from Germany and other EU powers such as the commission to give up their seat for the EU, which no doubt will happen. The EU being a state / empire in the making, contrary to the repeated assurances of EU supporters in the UK over more than 40 years.

      • NickC
        Posted December 30, 2018 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

        Richard1, Well done, that’s nailed Andy good and proper!

    • NickC
      Posted December 30, 2018 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

      Andy, Why do you spend your time idolising a petty bureaucracy in Brussels? Haven’t you got anything better to do?

  30. Shieldsman
    Posted December 30, 2018 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    Apologies for harking back to Theresa’s W.A., but the Conservative Leadership is in trouble and Lidington is getting a pasting in the D.T.

    David Roy Lidington, where did he come from? Been the Member of Parliament for Aylesbury since 1992 (26 years), but no one seems to have heard of him.Popped up as Secretary of State for Justice of the United Kingdom (2017–2018), Lord Chancellor (2017–2018). Was Theresa short of Cabinet appointees? Resigning in great numbers recently!!

  31. formula57
    Posted December 30, 2018 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Entanglement and bad outcomes in the Middle East ought to hold lessons for the European commitments, unexplained and unsanctioned by the people, that Mrs. May has been busy assuming for the UK.

  32. Posted December 30, 2018 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    When I complained of despots around the world Enoch Powell said ‘it was always thus’. Often the interfering west supports the wrong side. Rather than do damage best to mind your own business.

  33. The Prangwizard
    Posted December 30, 2018 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    The pressing issue is what to do with the illegals attempting to cross the Channel and get into England by deception intimidation and force.The answer is to intercept them and take them back to France IMMEDIATELY.

    We’ve had enough of those wishing to subvert our soveriegnty making all the decisions and ensuring they get taxied here.

    • Maybot
      Posted December 30, 2018 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

      Visually more important than it is in reality.

      After the balls up of Brexit, knife crime, high tax and spend, drones… this really is the death knell of the Tory Party.

      Who will they put first ? Our people or others ?

      (Having visited Italy recently I have seen with my own eyes the train of young men making their way here.)

  34. Bryan Harris
    Posted December 30, 2018 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    The situation in the ME is all about failed diplomacy and greed…
    While we still heap esteem on certain ex-leaders, their failures – their terrible mistakes have cost us dearly, and continue to do so… We should have a better way of holding to account those that help to create so much chaos – the ballot box is no longer adequate in this respect. This might make new leaders think twice before engaging in unwinnable confrontations or ventures. Referendums should certainly play a part in future governments, with Parliament leading the debate, with Honesty (Capital H).
    If the UN wasn’t so bogged down in pc games and corruption, they would have led the way in creating homelands in the Middle East for refugees, under their protection, but are incapable of such logic.

  35. Steve
    Posted December 30, 2018 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Maybe we should be concentrating on things like cracking cold fusion, synthetic petrol or hydrogen conversion.

    Eliminate the dependence on arab oil.

  36. Nigel E
    Posted December 30, 2018 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    “The best the West can do is to assist and train domestic forces acting for regimes likely to offer some control and economic advance, even though these will not always be paragons of democratic virtue.”

    Best of luck with that. The West supported Saddam Hussein in Iraq’s war against Iran (in the ’80s?) and that led eventually to the Bush wars in Iraq.

    How many true democracies are there in the ME, other than Israel? Any? And how long has this situation existed? A very long time. The peoples of the ME appear not to want democracy.

    Solutions? Well, diplomacy would help. Not selling them arms would also help, but there are too many vested interests in the West including their Govts. Them becoming industrialised would help, as it was a primary factor in developing democracy in the West.

    I do not know what to suggest to help displaced persons. Inviting them wholesale into the West is not the answer, as many appear unwilling to integrate and often seem to blame their host country for their condition.

    Perhaps a big asteroid and letting the ants have a go second time round, is the only option.

  37. LukeM
    Posted December 30, 2018 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    What’s the Middle East got to do with anything? We should be down playing our involvement in these foreign countries to save whatever taxes we can for spending more on our old people here.

    • Steve
      Posted December 30, 2018 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

      Luke M

      “….to save whatever taxes we can for spending more on our old people here.”

      Shh, don’t let Andy read that. You know he gets upset with pensioners.

  38. Posted December 30, 2018 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    So where do you stand now Sir John, are you still on for WTO rules as first choice..as the only choice?

    So just what on earth is L Fox thinking about? sounds like somebody got to him with this 50 50 rubbish..so better straighten him out at first opportunity..also M Gove who’s been softening his position lately..wonder what he’s been promised?- remember the days of “we need to be confident, positive, pragmatic, open minded”- seems like a long time ago now.

    • Steve
      Posted December 30, 2018 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

      telltale

      “So just what on earth is L Fox thinking about?”

      Himself, probably. Watch the space.

      Either that or he’s insufficiently informed as to believe a right to overturn the will of the people and stop brexit, actually exists.

      Liam Fox and others need to take heed; We ARE leaving the EU on 29th March, and we ARE leaving without Withdrawal Agreement.

      Dare to sell this country out and see what Pandora’s box awaits.

      Frankly any fifth columnist MP or minister who attempts to subvert UK sovereignty, verbally or otherwise, should be thrown out of their ivory tower by the scruff, publicly shamed, no pension, nothing. Then handed over to the electorate to decide what to do with them.

      If these fifth columnists want themselves to be seen as enemies, they should be treated as enemies.

  39. Ronald Olden
    Posted December 30, 2018 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Outsiders can ‘agonise all they like about a winning political and diplomatic strategy to create prosperity and peace in the region’.

    These are internal conflicts within the Middle East and there’s nothing we can do about it.

    The only outside party who can do anything about all this, is Russia, and that’s because they are willing to exert cruel force there, which nevertheless works, and have a compliant client state there to work through.

    So what do ‘liberal’ Western warmongers do in response ? Condemn and incite Russia, pour petrol on the fire, and make things worse by, as the whim of the day, takes us, alternating our cowardly, militarily ineffective, remote control bombing, of all sides in the conflicts.

    You cannot get peace ANYWHERE in the world unless either one side has been defeated completely, or all sides are ready and willing to pursue peace.

    If meddling foreigners like us had been around in the 17th Century and since, we would still be fighting the English Civil War, as meddlers alternately weighed in on the side of who was losing, or against whomever had committed an atrocity that week.

    With the exception of some limited success in Afghanistan, Western activity in the Middle East is making any sort of peace less and less achievable.

    Even, if and when, peace is restored, the economic damage caused to the affected areas by the loss of best people to emigration, will be long lasting.

    When our most skilled or economically successful people emigrate, we call it a ‘brain drain’ and worry about it. When we cause the same to happen in impoverished economies, and welcome the individuals concerned, we call it ‘humanitarian’ and ‘progressive’.

    The Middle East can thank Western ‘progressives’ ‘liberal’ and ”neo’-conservatives’ for this outcome and most of the physical damage to their infrastructure as well.

  40. dave roderick
    Posted December 30, 2018 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    well if the usa and the uk had not supplied weapons training and money to all those so called friendly terrorists the syrian war would have been over a long time ago all for a change of who was in charge wonder who has egg on their face know and it is we the people who have to put up with the flotsam etc as usuall

  41. ChrisShalford
    Posted December 30, 2018 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    It is so true that there are no simple answers. As an example, western perceptions were that Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak was a good guy, then with the Arab Spring he was a bad guy, but now maybe he wasn’t so bad after all.

  42. Norman
    Posted December 30, 2018 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    Russia – the one word missing from all these comments. We may not have to wait long to see it isn’t all about M E culture. Also, not one word about Jerusalem? Certainly, Field Marshall Allenby understood back in 1918, when he dismounted from his horse to enter that great city!

  43. BR
    Posted December 30, 2018 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    “The best answer is to help restore peace and progress in each of the countries, and facilitate the return of refugees and economic migrants to help restore those places.”

    While that’s true, the problem is that they won’t go back if they get permanent status somewhere with an easier life, such as here.

    My view is that refugee/asylum status should be temporary, until whatever dangers have passed, then you go back.

    That would reduce people coming here, pretending to be in danger. Our bleeding-heart approach to these issues is the reason our society is falling apart.

  44. Javelin
    Posted December 30, 2018 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

    I have just checked the UK Gov link to “what you get as an asylum seeker” via a number of Proxy servers in France, Syria, Iran and Turkey – and it can be seen.

    https://www.gov.uk/asylum-support/what-youll-get

    Why are these pages available from countries not bordering the UK as international law only requires unsafe bordering states to allow asylum seekers. As far as I can tell making this webpage available outside Eire is encouraging people trafficking.

    • Stred
      Posted December 31, 2018 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      Free dental and health care with housing, but not necessarily in London. This seems to be in line with the non legally enforceable UN Pact for Migration.

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