Fighting fewer wars is a good idea

I am a supporter of the UK having good defence forces to act as a deterrent to any foreign power that threatens our home islands or our overseas territories. I also wish us to have expeditionary capability to intervene overseas where our membership of the UN or NATO requires us to help in a common cause, or where our own territories are at risk.

I do not wish us to intervene in every Middle Eastern conflict, in the way Mr Blair and Mr Cameron wished to do. There  is little evidence that some of our interventions had long term beneficial impacts, despite the brave and often successful short term military achievements. It needed political follow through, successful diplomacy and nation building, which often proved too difficult for a western country to help bring about.

Both the USA and the UK have been more circumspect about intervening in Syria. In the UK Parliament restrained the government, and in the USA the election of Mr Trump brought a mor sceptical approach to Middle Eastern conflicts to office. The long and disastrous Syrian war has continued without Western ground troops. Had the West committed ground forces it is difficult to see it would have been any less devastating or bitter, with the added complications of tensions between Russia and NATO and possible adverse reactions from many Syrians against  what would have been portrayed as a Western invasion force.


When we as a country  put our troops in  harms way it is most important they are given a feasible task and a cause to be proud of. In Syria there was neither on offer. All out war against ISIS would help Assad, an evil dictator. Trying to topple Assad would have helped ISIS, an evil terrorist group.  UK policy was in danger of veering between two unpleasant sides, or sought the largely non existent third way force that could arise and beat both sides, whilst upholding western values .


Sometimes the West has  to see there  are limits to what force can achieve in places rent by civil war and religious and ethnic strife. In the end these conflicts need more talking and more politics. Assads victory will create a poisoned legacy and leave  many displaced and unwelcome refugees, whilst prolonging the war would kill and render homeless yet more people.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.


  1. Posted March 10, 2019 at 5:26 am | Permalink

    You say:- “There is little evidence that some of our interventions had long term beneficial impacts, despite the brave and often successful short term military achievements.”

    Typically understated JR. Thousands of lives were lost for no sensible reason at all the wars caused huge pointless damage.

    There is a great deal of evidence that they were totally counterproductive and hugely damaging to UK and Worldwide interests. One should only really enter a war if you are confident you can win both the war and the peace that follows. Also the final outcome will be so much and worth the appalling costs of the war.

    • Posted March 10, 2019 at 5:39 am | Permalink

      so much better and worth the appalling costs – I meant.

      • Posted March 10, 2019 at 7:43 am | Permalink

        Hard argument to disagree with, this one.

        I would like to see the U.K is less wars too. I think the world is slowly becoming less warlike over my lifetime, so I hope that will be the case.

        Also, when even the U.S has been hobbled in Iraq and Afghanistan, you have to ask what we hope to achieve by military action.

        • Posted March 10, 2019 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

          Just go to WTO. Leave March starts 16th March 2019.

          MPs must realise that if they thwart Brexit or delay then parliament serves no purpose to the people and the consent by which we are governed becomes void. There is no longer the rule of law.

          The US declaration of independence makes some good points on consent and how people are governed.

        • Posted March 10, 2019 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

          Fewer interstate wars, more civil wars. But the water is already running short, the wheat lands beginning to burn, the deserts growing and the seas dying. Expect great migrations, and with them great wars.

          • Posted March 10, 2019 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

            One big net beneficiary of all this – Russia – as Madeleine Albright allegedly said:”Siberia has too many resources for just one country.”

            Remember that.

      • Posted March 10, 2019 at 7:52 am | Permalink

        Sir John, and most right thinking folk, make the understandable error that going to ‘war’ is to achieve some lasting beneficial effect – it is, in truth, rarely so. For example, Kuwait and Iraq were simply to upset the oil market, to INCREASE the price of oil on the world market. That objective was achieved very satisfactorily.

        • Posted March 10, 2019 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

          Cameron did get involved and spend our taxes on troops and spending in helping “rebels” but not knowing who they were or which side they were on! He was hoping to achieve regime change like Libya.

          People like him prolonged the war and caused suffering far more than what would have happened without intereference from the West. Again, JR, your Tory party furthering the global world order. Hence why the establishment doing it all can to keep the UK in the EU.

        • Posted March 10, 2019 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

          I do not agree with that explation. Where is the gain, unless you are an oil producer or speculator? Even I am not that cynical about motives.

          • Posted March 10, 2019 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

            Take a look at the backgrounds of Cheney and Rumsfeld. It was not the Bush JR administration.

  2. Posted March 10, 2019 at 5:34 am | Permalink

    I fully agree Mr Redwood.

    Far too many times this country has been taken into conflicts which were nothing to do with us.

    We need to have an extremely potent military capability, strictly for our own defence – but including the US and Canada, our principle allies during WWII.

    • Posted March 10, 2019 at 7:20 am | Permalink

      Switzerland is a peaceful nation. It sensibly defends itself by preventing reasons for enmity. The UK also has peacefully intent, yet tries too hard to solve the problems of others across the world.

      Much of nature exists on combat, with one species eating another to survive. If we succeeded in preventing every mortal action of human vs human, might we then attempt to control the free will of animals, to assist them too?

      A nation with an ethos of looking after its own citizens first, avoiding harming others, and assisting some friends & neighbours who need humanitarian support, is sensibly civil.

      • Posted March 10, 2019 at 9:29 am | Permalink

        As an island, the United Kingdom is a maritime nation, not a tiny, mountainous landlocked state like Switzerland.

        The requirements for defence are completely different.

        • Posted March 11, 2019 at 8:38 am | Permalink

          Assailants pursue their enemies relentlessly anywhere. Friendliness dissolves enmity, measure for measure.

    • Posted March 10, 2019 at 8:38 am | Permalink

      Inconvenient truth. Russia was arson one of our principal allies

      • Posted March 10, 2019 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

        None of the Three were “really” allies in the true sense-they had different reasons for fighting and different objectives.

    • Posted March 10, 2019 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      Marcus Fysh: “Parties could have a strong case against state aid being allowed to GB defence industries … UK Government support would therefore be hostage to negotiation of any future Defence and Security or trade agreements between the EU and UK, at a time when the EU’s declared intent is for centrally planned EU forces, operations and defence industrial capabilities. …the Withdrawal Agreement is a serious risk and compromise to national security and the UK’s sovereign ability in defence.”

  3. Posted March 10, 2019 at 5:37 am | Permalink

    Simon Heffer is surely spot on today. Time’s up for a PM who has shown herself to be incompetent, indecisive and weak.

    As was Charles Moore yesterday –

    • Posted March 10, 2019 at 8:08 am | Permalink

      She hasn’t gone yet despite her immense failures and shortcomings. It is unlikely she will go in the future unless pushed. There is no evidence that the Tory party has the spine to do so.

    • Posted March 10, 2019 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      “Time’s up for a PM who has shown herself to be incompetent, indecisive and weak.”

      Agreed, TM is well past her sell by date.

      As is much of our parliament, time to restock the shelves!

    • Posted March 10, 2019 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      Maybe. Though onto matters Brexit, I’ve concluded it’s like the Grand Old Duke of York.

      I fear this issue will drag on for my whole lifetime, and we will not be happy when we’re up, we will not be happy when we’re down, and we won’t be happy when we’re neither up nor down.

      • Posted March 10, 2019 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

        Oh,for God’s sake Merlin, grown up and make a decision. Stop sitting on the fence. Stop putting your big toe in and your big toe out and just make your mind up.

  4. Posted March 10, 2019 at 5:38 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    A very thoughtful piece today.

    The MENA is a festering mess of hatred that we would do well to stay out of and leave to itself.

    Civil Wars are the most violent and hardest to resolve. Instead of pitting nations against nations, it pits neighbour against neighbour. It is this that makes it so much harder to have reconciliation as it is so much more personal.

    President Assad is no better or worse than a lot of Presidents or rulers in that part of the world. We do not know all the facts as we do not have a media that is unbiased.

    At the end of the day I think the least worse option prevailed.

    • Posted March 10, 2019 at 8:20 am | Permalink

      The USA wanted rid of Assad because he would not let their proposed gas pipeline cross Syrian territory. Prior to that he and his wife were feted by the West, even having an adulatory article about the wife in Vogue (now vanished down the Memory Hole of course).
      The USA then supported IS via Saudi Arabia, and regrettably the UK connived in that.
      The EU, including the UK, is now conniving with the USA in the overthrow of the elected government of Venezuela. We should not be a party to it.
      Of course the West only likes democracy when it produces the “right result” as we in the UK are now discovering, both with Brexit and in the Labour party.
      If anyone believes the Tories will ever have another Thatcher as Leader they are much mistaken.

    • Posted March 10, 2019 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      Assad is a product of his time, his country and its culture. Yes, he may be a dictator, but he is THEIR dictator. We have no right to decide what’s good for his people, and to judge him by our own standards, or by what the media tells us. He is not threatening another country – though his own people seem to be threatened by many factions and removing him would only have created a vacancy.

  5. Posted March 10, 2019 at 5:40 am | Permalink

    Sir John,

    Let us hope that the votes this coming week (and you did sound rather more upbeat in your posting on that subject) give the UK the choice of where and when our soldiers do battle.

    To cede that choice to the Commanders of the European Army would be a disaster.

    • Posted March 10, 2019 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      To anyone who reads history, the prospect of an amalgamation of French and German politicians being incharge of a “European” army is beyond scary.

      • Posted March 10, 2019 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

        Rid of the Brits and the Americans,Europe is quite likely to come to a collective security arrangement with the Russians.

    • Posted March 10, 2019 at 10:31 am | Permalink

      She has already signed up to much of our defence and security over to Brussels. I do hope when this is all over there will be a judicial review or public hearing into the machinations of the PM, Chancellor and Robbins etc who are openly working for a foreign government.

    • Posted March 10, 2019 at 11:40 am | Permalink

      I don’t know where this European army idea comes from.

      I support the idea of a European army, as a buffer to protect Europe from Russia. I am furious to see it being constantly derailed. Macron proposed it recently and it has been shot down by other E.U leaders again.

      If you’re afraid of a E.U army, I don’t think you have a lot to worry about. If, like me, you’re worried about Russia and think Trump cannot be relied on, then do worry.

      • Posted March 10, 2019 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

        I reckon Trump is solid, he just wants the other countries of Europe that have Nato protection to pay their fair share of the costs. Most do not.
        The removal of the USA from the equation makes Russia more likely to rattle sabres. My belief anyway is that the EU army will be there to quell internal unrest rather than to fight Mr Putin. Just imagine if a country wanted to leave and were denied the democracy of the ballot box and so took to the streets. The EU army would be sent in to sort it out. Do we really want to see a foreign army on our streets fighting those of us that want to stand up for what we voted for? THAT is what worries me.

        • Posted March 10, 2019 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

          And THAT is what worries many of us, MickN.
          Well said.

      • Posted March 10, 2019 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

        Merlin, Trick question 🙁

        Who commands the current Eurocorps with some contingents from the Netherlands?

        And who are its political masters?

      • Posted March 10, 2019 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

        The obvious concern is that The EU Army will be used for internal control – that the Brussels Empire will ‘do whatever it takes’ to rule over its populous the way all previous anti-democratic Empires have ruled.

        An EU Army controlled by an unelected Politburo of 27 & unelected EU Presidents. With the likes of Mogherini, Stoltenberg & Robbins key players driving it. Bureaucratic & inefficient. Despite blue-yellow camouflage, similarities to The Red Army abound.

      • Posted March 10, 2019 at 3:14 pm | Permalink
      • Posted March 10, 2019 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

        The Russians have said they are very relaxed about and supportive of a EU army.

      • Posted March 11, 2019 at 3:55 pm | Permalink


        Worry is corrosive & achieves nothing useful. The notion of the UK joining forces via cooperation solely on special occasions may make sense. However, turning the UK military capability under the control & leadership of the EU would cause an extreme case of jankers.

  6. Posted March 10, 2019 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    Indeed. Blair and Cameron have made the world a far more dangerous place by getting rid of two strongmen, however unpleasant who held Libya and Iraq together, destroyed the infrastructure of both without post war planning, allowing warring factions to fight for power and causing untold misery to their peoples and a flood of refugees.

    Both men in denial, of course. I think we know better.

    • Posted March 10, 2019 at 8:05 am | Permalink

      Both men Remainers and Blair the most ardent Remainer of them all.

      • Posted March 10, 2019 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

        Indeed but I am sure Cameron claimed he was a Cast Iron, low tax at heart Conservative and Eurosceptic surely he would not lie would he?

    • Posted March 10, 2019 at 8:17 am | Permalink

      Indeed. And one was even done on a blatant lie.

    • Posted March 10, 2019 at 8:34 am | Permalink


      “Blair and Cameron have made the world a far more dangerous place”

      The former happens to have become very rich, and evidently very much against brexit.

      Funny, that ?

  7. Posted March 10, 2019 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    Ideas work better than wars.

    • Posted March 10, 2019 at 8:41 am | Permalink

      Lots of trade and lots of people moving freely around also helps. As does democratic government.

      • Posted March 10, 2019 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

        Which is why Brexit is a dumb idea.

        • Posted March 10, 2019 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

          Invasion without a shot fired.


      • Posted March 10, 2019 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

        There is nothing democratic about the EU that is certain.

  8. Posted March 10, 2019 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    Great post John. In full agreement with everything you say.

  9. Posted March 10, 2019 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    The West did intervene in Syria to topple the tribe, which ran the country as a secular state and was headed by Assad. He was an improvement on his father but the same system was brutal in keeping down dissent. The Christian Syrians that I met told me that Assad was the least worst and that they had to pay bribes for planning permission but were safe. When the trouble started, after the West backed the Arab Spring, they said to both sides that it was not their fight. In the end the Islamic extreme elements destroyed their church and murdered anyone who disagreed with them.
    Perhaps, when things settle down, they will be able to go home to the country where they have lived for 2000 years. They may feel safer living in the UK, which, at the present time is nominally Christian. It is interesting that almost all of the refugees chosen to be accepted by the UK have not been Christian. This is very strange.

    • Posted March 10, 2019 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      Certainly the “West” did the Syrian people no favours by extending and prolonging the conflict. And who was the UK Foreign Secretary at the time – Mr Philip Hammond…

      And how are the Kurds going to be rewarded for their part in the removal of IS?

  10. Posted March 10, 2019 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    I have never understood the argument that we must fight abroad in order to prevent troublemakers coming to our shores.

    That kind of logic leads to the obvious conclusion that we must beef up our border security and be more choosy over who we let into our country.

    If even a small portion of the resources spent abroad were spent on improved UK border security and we had been more fussy over who we had let in, I am sure we would be living in a safer, happier country by now.

    • Posted March 10, 2019 at 8:54 am | Permalink

      That’s because you fail to understand the essence of the modern western liberal left politician. They want open borders not border security. Open borders allows mass immigration and the importation of a client voter base. Labour and the Democrats have been using this form of politics for years

      For the EU fewer indigenous Europeans translates into a more compliant, less nationalistic population.

      Therefore the modern liberal left politician embraces border insecurity as it provides a political opportunity

      There very few moral politicians left in the west and that is very dangerous indeed as it encourages political behaviour that some would describe as authoritarian.

      Life and politics is about to doing the right thing. We have politicians in the west who do precisely the opposite. That’s a one way street to a very disturbing future.

      When was the last time a western politician made reference to freedom of expression and liberty? Think about it

      We are on the cusp of a new dark age unless we take another turn. I believe someone like Johnson, Patel or even Rees-Mogg is desperately needed to resurrect those most important of British values of morality, freedom and truth

    • Posted March 10, 2019 at 9:43 am | Permalink

      Absolutely spot on Kenneth. What should we start with on beefing up our security, when dinghies cross the Channel, one of the most radar covered, and busy and dangerous we are told, waterways in the world? They cross with no care at all. As for keeping them out? – the Coastguard even goes and fetches them in. They cost us before they even get to our shores for God’s sake. Just a smaller version of the Ferry Farce from Libya.
      And as you say, if a small proportion of what is spent (or sent in Foreign Aid) which does NOTHING except increase their population, was spent here, we would all be better off, which clearly the govt doesn’t want. They prefer to spend our taxes handing out free everything lives to whoever turns up. Then they wave their whole families in as well.

    • Posted March 10, 2019 at 11:31 am | Permalink


      “If even a small portion of the resources spent abroad were spent on improved UK border security and we had been more fussy over who we had let in, I am sure we would be living in a safer, happier country by now.”

      The Tories are reluctant to steal too many ukip policies for for of being accused of plagiarism.

  11. Posted March 10, 2019 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    A good idea, certainly, and one undermined if not negated by May’s wretched proposals for Brexit.

    To take one example from the anonymous civil servant’s analysis of May’s Political Declaration: –

    May’s Political Declaration – “101. The Parties welcome close cooperation in Union-led crisis management missions and operations, both civilian and military.” etc.

    What it actually means – “Integration with EU foreign and defence policy under EU law (“Union-led”)”

    Risks and opportunities – “Undermines sovereignty, undermines NATO, compromises our successful defence strategy, lends out military power to the EU’s foreign policy ambitions. Could also be very costly.”

  12. Posted March 10, 2019 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Savid Javid finds himself in a difficult position having decided to revoke the citizenship of a silly misguided teenager. Such decisions are difficult but better stick with them. The carping of labour MPs of consumate hypochracy should be ignored. The only positive decisions they can make are for the benefit of self and family.

    We do not want a stream of jihadis back to in England to cause problems for our security services, better thy stay with their first life choice.

    If we want to help our Kurdish allies, fund a MSF hospital or send a mobile military hospital, and a system for feeding these disillusioned camp followers.

    • Posted March 10, 2019 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      It is not a difficult decision at all. It is illegal to strip someone of their citizenship. Javid was just trying to appease the unappeasable right – and in doing so he probably broke the law. I trust he will held to about like all lawbreakers should be.

      The consequences of his actions are that a British baby died. A child which has done nothing wrong. Now, the child may have died anyway. But the fact that our lousy government did nothing to help him is verging on the criminal.

      • Posted March 10, 2019 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

        The child died as a consequence of its parents’ decisions, just as its two elder siblings did.

      • Posted March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm | Permalink


        Take look at yourself:

        First it was pensioners and the elderly.
        Then it was people afflicted with terminal illness.

        Now it’s the loss of infant’s lives……..just so you can come up with yet more anti British anti Tory vitriol.

        The child in question lost his life as a direct result of his parent’s decisions.

        The child died because of BAD PARENTING ! not because of Sajid Javid, who absolutely did the right thing in revoking Ms Begum’s citizenship.

    • Posted March 10, 2019 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

      MSF have become politicised as all NGOs end up and leeching taxpayer funding. If the want to be a charity, then raise funds from supporters, not taxpayers.

  13. Posted March 10, 2019 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Since the end of the WW2 there hasn’t been a day were there wasn’t a war or conflict of some sort going off on this planet just goes to show how bloody aggressive the human race is, but the only war you want to be aware of is a civil war in this country if parliament goes against democracy and doesn’t take us out of the Eu on March 29th 2019

    • Posted March 10, 2019 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

      Even before WWII there was conflict. It just seems that certain areas of the globe are in perpetual strife.

  14. Posted March 10, 2019 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    Do we actually have the option of fighting wars any more?
    I read that our army is vastly reduced ( and locally I have witnessed that reduction) and horribly undermined by pc.
    Veterans are now being prosecuted for doing what seemed to be their duty at the time.So who would want to fight..when the fickle tide turns who knows what can happen…who can be found “ guilty”?
    ( Is there anything more Soviet than this disgusting retrospective prosecution??).
    We made fools enough of ourselves with Blair hanging onto the US coat tails. Not to mention the untold human misery caused by utterly disastrous regime changes .
    Why does the West always assume the totally undeserved moral high ground anyway?
    Foreign ambition is rarely altruistic is it?

    • Posted March 10, 2019 at 7:54 am | Permalink

      And aren’t we anyway joining the EU army?
      Would explain the running down of ours.
      Oh sorry…tin foil hat….

  15. Posted March 10, 2019 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    Totally agree with you. Every Western intervention I can think of, from Afghanistan to Palestine, whether prompted by greed, guilt or misplaced altruism, has turned toxic.

  16. Posted March 10, 2019 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    Trump has been very good at fighting fewer wars, though from the BBC and MSM you wouldn’t think it.

    It was meant to be armageddon by the first Christmas.

    As for the various Middle East invasions and interventions. We The People told you so but were ignored.

    Here we go again.

    • Posted March 10, 2019 at 8:03 am | Permalink

      “We The People told *you* so but were ignored.”

      By *you* I meant Remainer Blair and Remainer Cameron who both started disastrous wars in the ME and caused the rise of ISIS.

      But they know better, don’t they.

    • Posted March 10, 2019 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      Actually we do not know this. Only when time has passed can we tell if a leader’s actions have resulted in fewer wars.

      Sure – Trump is fighting fewer wars now. But will his policies ultimately lead to more and bigger wars in the future? I suspect they might.

      • Posted March 10, 2019 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

        You’re called Fact Free Andy for a very good reason.

  17. Posted March 10, 2019 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    I agree Sir John. But, under the WA our armed forces could be put under the control of the unelected bureaucrats of the EU. A very dangerous situation.

  18. Posted March 10, 2019 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Diplomacy is dying art – overruled by force in most instances, which is driven by the idea that someone knows best and anyway they have bigger bombs…
    After this, it gets more complicated – the West has intervened because of it’s own interests, oil and money ETC…..and in the process armed rebels and created a hatred for the West by Muslims who saw their own being killed without mercy. This has all fuelled the problems we now have with immigrants and isis.
    This all happens because we don’t have leaders that are totally rational, or that cannot be bought by some inspiring ideology – We need to choose our leaders better, not just by their rhetoric, but by how they live their own lives and what they achieve.

    • Posted March 10, 2019 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

      Indeed.not helped,in the USA,by crony appointments of people with no credentials for the job-a practice that has spread to the UK.

  19. Posted March 10, 2019 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    BTW JR, Can you get Ministers Leadsom and Barclay to stop trying to start another skirmish with EU, to look like they are the next PM. Just leave insulting other countries to Minister Hunt, his ignorance of history makes him a natural for the job.

    “I do have to ask myself what games they are playing here,” the cabinet minister told Reuters after Mr Barclay accused Michel Barnier of trying to “rerun old arguments” (Indy). It would be good if they had both read and understood the WA Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland. The Barnier backstop options are already available and selectable without change to the WA.

    • Posted March 10, 2019 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

      John Ashworth of the campaign group Fishing for Leave has suggested that the WA has been translated into English from a foreign language. He says that no British civil servant would have written such gobbledygook”.

      Martin Selmayr and Sabine Weyand, both Germans and deputies to Jean-Claude Juncker and Michel Barnier respectively, have spoken very positively about the Withdrawal Agreement.

      Mrs May is taking us all for fools.

  20. Posted March 10, 2019 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    “In the UK Parliament restrained the government ,,,”

    And it is about to again – ignoring the result of a referendum.

    The only military we need is our nuclear submarines. Just so that anyone nuts enough to help terrorists detonate a dirty bomb here will know in advance that when we find out who did it – we can retaliate

    Two very expensive aircraft carriers going cheap?

  21. Posted March 10, 2019 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    One thing’s clear, next time someone rolls his tanks across Europe’s borders we should keep well out of it.

  22. Posted March 10, 2019 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    This article is a virtue signalling exercise. I thought Sir John would never succumb to that type of political grandstanding so common amongst those that populate the liberal left

    His reference to Assad as an ‘evil dictator’ is beyond parody. He wasn’t so evil in 2002 when the British head of state met him.

    Stand up John and tell it as it is rather than using issues like this to display your virtue. You’re a bigger man than to succumb to this type of nonsense

    Obama stoked revolution in Syria.

    Assad was a dictator and a force for stability in the ME. There are brutal dictators in many nations across the globe. Merkel was holding hands with two of them only a few months ago

    Yes, a politician must tread carefully but if you’re going to write an article then choose the right topic that allows a full expose

    The attempt to topple Assad was an Obama (with a big dollop of support from Merkel) engineered coup d’etat or regime change operation to install a pro-Western government allowing the transmission of gas into the EU and breaking Russia’s grip of energy supplies to Germany. It failed in undermining Russia’s sphere of influence. It succeeded in freeing million of cheap Syrian workers for the German economy

    The SCW was an exercise in globalist geo-political reconstruction

    Tell it as it is or don’t tell it at all

  23. Posted March 10, 2019 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    We are a small island – an even smaller one after Brexit – we do not need much of a military. We certainly do not need nuclear weapons we will never use. And we have a weird defence secretary whose solution to everything it to send in the army or navy.

    But I’m afraid I disagree that it is never the right thing to get involved. The Iraq War was clearly wrong – as those of us who marched against it at that time knew – but we were negligent not to intervene in Syria.

    When MPs voted against taking military action it was not a contest between Assad and ISIS. It was Assad against the people. ISIS came later. We effectively gave Assad the licence to butcher his own people because we failed to take action against him. And that led to the rise of ISIS. In 2013 – or whenever it was – a few strategic bombing raids against Assad could have swiftly ended Syria’s war. But MPs refused.

    Taking military action has consequences – but not taking it has consequences too. Since MPs decision not to act many tens of thousands of Syrians have died. Generations have been brutalised. ISIS has risen and has brought war to our shores too. Millions of Syrians have fled – creating a refugee crisis in Europe which has directly led to the rise of the far right, increased Islamophobia throughout Europe (including in the Tory party) and Brexit. (Which I note is still going well). All this because we failed to act.

    We got Syria wrong. Our country is complicit in a human catastrophe because we looked the other way.

    • Posted March 10, 2019 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

      So every Middle East war where the UK and USA were involved was wrong but Syria when the we didnt get involved it is also wrong.
      Hilarious logic as usual andy.

  24. Posted March 10, 2019 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    As the UK media are now claiming that ISIS is all but defeated and the Caliphate quashed, is it not time to start diplomatic efforts to have Assad repatriate all his own people who have been displaced and are costing aid organisations in Lebanon and elsewhere (and countries taking his refugees) a fortune?

  25. Posted March 10, 2019 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Sir John.

    In the end these conflicts need more talking and more politics.

    I can agree on the talking but not too sure about the politics. Unless you have similar ideas and visions suited to the whole population, there is always the chance that common sense, trust and respect will not be listened to when having discussions. All sides of the argument will have their own political and secret agenda’s. Bit like the Brexit in the House of Westminster!!

    Opened minded common sense and understanding are the best forms of communications when dealing with a crisis. The minute you try to bring in “we do it this way” or creating a divide between religions and beliefs is always fraught with danger. As a nation we only have to look at Northern Ireland.

  26. Posted March 10, 2019 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    The British Army – following decades of Tory cuts – is no longer big enough to fight a war against a world-class opponent. The MoD badly mismanaged the last two campaigns we were involved in (Iraq and Afghanistan) to the detriment of our military reputation; serving soldiers were actually made redundant and withdrawn from theatre whilst engaged with the Taliban, the Army has had recruitment problems ever since.

    I’ll never forget Hammond, when Defence Secretary, announcing in 2013 that the 7th Armoured Brigade would have its Challenger 2 tanks and heavy armoured battalions removed over the next decade. The Army was dismayed

    It is one thing to have an expeditionary capability, but what is the point if we dont have enough fighting power to engage an enemy and win?

    • Posted March 10, 2019 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

      I was more concerned when Cameron ordered both the Harrier and Nimrod aircraft, all perfectly in good order, to be either scrapped or sold off.

      The thing that disgusts me most is that the Tories wrap themselves in the flag and go all Rambo, whilst at the same time undermining our nation’s defence.

  27. Posted March 10, 2019 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Oddly enough I recently came across this cynical description of British foreign policy from the nineteenth century Quaker politician John Bright:

    “A gigantic system of outdoor relief for the aristocracy of Great Britain”,

    “outdoor relief” meaning the relief or assistance which was then provided for the poor still living in the outside community rather than having been taken into the workhouse:

  28. Posted March 10, 2019 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    The size of the infantry should be much larger. It is far too small for our needs and contingencies.

    But yes less wars thanks.

    And that includes large deployments of special forces, as they are the only ones the government does not reveal to parliament.

  29. Posted March 10, 2019 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    We should also be careful, if we are ever fully sovereign again, how we choose to use trade and economics as a lever/weapon.

    • Posted March 10, 2019 at 9:47 am | Permalink

      … though of course this to is a large cultural change as exemplified by Mr Hammond’s preparedness to effectively ‘bribe’ to ensure votes for the WA. (A sovereign nation and a clean politics, what a thing to have to dream for.)

  30. Posted March 10, 2019 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    It’s just as well we were not faced with a different US President who wanted to rope us into taking action in Syria.

    Apart from the obvious point that we would have been very unwelcome there, the last two Governments, led by Conservatives, remember, have run down our armed forces by a massive extent. Osborne and Hammond have failed to fund them adequately to such a degree that a period doing very little is necessary in order to keep expenditure as low as possible.

    That alone will not be enough, more money is needed particularly to rebuild our surface fleet, particularly the numbers of Destroyers and Frigates which are totally and dangerously inadequate.

    If we wish to be thought of as a Global Player post-EU we need to have a credible naval presence capable of deployments East of Suez and elsewhere. At present, our new Aircraft Carriers cannot go anywhere that is the remotest bit risky as we don’t have a surface fleet capable of defending one carrier let alone two. That won’t improve by the time we get the necessary aircraft either.

    Therefore our shiny new capital ships will only be able to be used in a deployment that is approved and supported by Allies. We could no longer, for example, mount an operation to recover the Falklands.

    That is not a credible Royal Navy.

  31. Posted March 10, 2019 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Off-topic, here is the excellent Tory MP Marcus Fysh confirming what I have repeatedly said, that while the insistence that we must be able to get out of the Irish ‘backstop’ is legitimate it still begs the question of what would replace that ‘temporary’ arrangement:

    “Michel Barnier hinted at it on Friday night, but the Irish delegation told me straight in Brussels on Thursday: they will never agree a subsequent agreement or variation to the Withdrawal Agreement which replaces the backstop that is not a customs union. Whether that is for the whole UK, or Northern Ireland on its own with a full customs border in the Irish Sea, is up to us, according to Barnier.”

    Or as I put it rather more colourfully in a recent letter to our local paper:

    “… once the Irish government had succeeded in placing EU economic shackles on the UK through the presently proposed ‘backstop’ then it would never, repeat never, willingly agree to our release through any superseding agreement.”

  32. Posted March 10, 2019 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Additionally any involvement in the South China Seas by the UK is ill advised.

  33. Posted March 10, 2019 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    What about the UK arms industry selling weapons to those restictive regimes, that is a form of intervention ?

  34. Posted March 10, 2019 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Off topic again, personally I would still prefer it if MPs voted through Theresa May’s rotten deal, UNDER PROTEST, so that at least we could be sure of getting out of the EU. It could not be the end of the matter, but it would be giant step in the right direction. However as the tide of opinion seems to be running in favour of repeated rejection I would say make it as big a rejection as possible, and definitely bigger than last time. As for what would follow, I can only suppose that we must prepare ourselves for another public campaign, either a general election or a repeat referendum, during which we will again find our taxpayers’ money being used against us by an unscrupulous treacherous europhile government.

    • Posted March 10, 2019 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

      . . . personally I would still prefer it if MPs voted through Theresa May’s rotten deal . . .

      Have you completely lost your mind ?

      There is little or no time left for Remain to do anything other than to extend Art.50 up to the Europarl elections. For this to happen there has to be a very good reason. But personally I fail to see it.

      • Posted March 11, 2019 at 8:23 am | Permalink

        Well, I hope not “completely” …

        Did you see the TV reports of Theresa May and her husband coming out of Sonning church yesterday, laughing and joking?

        Not a care in the world for her, and least of all a worry that if MPs vote down her deal then we may never leave the EU at all.

  35. Posted March 10, 2019 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    A measured and sensible post. Thank you Sir John.

  36. Posted March 10, 2019 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    The UK people were circumspect. The UK parliament followed wisely. There were others who wished to support one side more than another. Arms (inc western arms) & money seemingly fell into the hands of others

    Probably more to do with Gas and Oil pipelines, money and power.

    That is another reason for renewables, self sufficiency, and encouraging democracy in the UK, the EU and elsewhere.

  37. Posted March 10, 2019 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    We have to look closer to home. Once we have left the EU, the EU, the Republic of Ireland and Spain, may become hostile. We have to be ready for that. We may well need to build many small, highly mobile warships/patrol vessels in order to take back control of our fisheries. Orders for these in Belfast would prevent Northern Ireland from becoming a basket case economy.

    To reiterate, the UK’s defence is not about sending our one and only aircraft carrier to operate in the South China Sea. Rearm the Japanese and let them do the job of containing China.

    • Posted March 10, 2019 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      So you are suggesting that your Brexit will lead to conflict with Europe. It is the gift which keeps giving.

      • Posted March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

        Fact Free Andy

        “It [Europe] is the gift which keeps giving.”

        Says it all really.

      • Posted March 10, 2019 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

        And the absence of Brexit will lead to increased dictatorial powers for the EU. What do you think the Macron/Merkel summit was all about?

  38. Posted March 10, 2019 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Interesting to listen to that great strategist David Davis on Marr this morning. The great negotiator is now trying to weasel his way away from his own responsibility on the mess we are currently in. He still thinks the EU is going to buckle at the last moment- but they won’t.. it’s becoming clear now they want UK outside as a third country so that they can start talks again anew in a few months after the EU elections..that way we’ll get whatever deal they want to give us..great!

    • Posted March 10, 2019 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

      I agree with that. Trouble is, if it proves that there really is no ‘Cliff-Edge’ as we have been led to believe, then I fully expect public opinion to harden towards the EU. If the government then start to go all soft again we may very well either see a new PM or, a new government entirely.

  39. Posted March 10, 2019 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Interesting to read MoS today. The editorial urging MPs to accept Mays deal and a feature telling us not to let EU scare stories prevent a UK/US trade dea. Surely they are aware with Mays dreadful deal we can never pursue an independent trade policy or in fact pursue no independent policy on environment, social, fiscal, security or any other field you care to mention.

    • Posted March 10, 2019 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      Sure we can. As soon as you come up with a solution for the Irish border or sell Northern Ireland out.

      I hope you put chlorinated chicken and Frankenstein foods in your manifesto though. The people deserve a say on it.

      • Posted March 10, 2019 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

        Andy – has it never occurred to you that, in a free country (as we are, unless your EU masters dig their evil claws even more deeply into our lives) you can eat what you want? And if you don’t want to eat ”chlorinated chicken” or ”Frankenstein food”, then don’t eat them.

  40. Posted March 10, 2019 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Fighting no wars is a better idea

  41. Posted March 10, 2019 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    I strongly opposed Gulf War 2 even though I’m an avid supporter of British Armed Forces and Just War – and got called a ‘Commie’ for opposing the war.

    A war in which:

    1) Hans Blinx hadn’t been given proper opportunity to finish finding WMD
    2) There was no long-term post war plan
    3) Saddam was acting as a counter to Iran
    4) Gulf War 2 would open up other kinds of worm cans i.e. Islamic terrorism in the area

    But one of the biggest errors of Gulf War 2, was that it was the wrong war. We would have been in a much stronger position for some kind of military intervention in Syria. But that was all gone because people were war weary from Gulf War 2.

    Me the ‘commie?’ I believe my views, in hindsight, were the closest to sensible, British Conservatism. Not trying to say what a great and clever chap I am. But how dangerous it is when people follow the bandwagon and don’t think tings through properly which was exactly the case with Gulf War 2. Plus a lot of hubris.

    And I might be wrong, but I strongly believe in Brexit (for Sovereignty reasons – and that it’s the most ethical and practical) but only as long as we have a proper plan (similar to planning for the aftermath of Gulf War 2 – which DIDN’T happen) (as well as a strong leader, the finance to support Brexit, a good positive message why we should leave, getting strong wide support in the country and Parliament -0and so on).

    Lastly, I feel really let down by Sir James Dyson and Sir Jim Ratcliffe – taking all their billions out with them before we leave the EU. They were the main reasons why I thought we might be OK in the short to medium-term outside Europe with no deal (I think long-term we’d be fine in or out of the EU). And then I did some more research on Sir James Dyson and found out he’d once been a strong support of the UK joining the Euro … But anyway, once I found Sir James and Sir Jim were effectively leaving the country before Brexit, this dashed my hopes that we would be OK economically in the short-to-medium term.

  42. Posted March 10, 2019 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    What they must also realise is that the weaker enemy forces have found an effective counter to traditional military action by simply avoiding pitched battles and fighting guerrilla wars.

    There are now better, more effective, ways to ‘fight the good fight’.

  43. Posted March 10, 2019 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    Jaw jaw remains better than War war

    • Posted March 10, 2019 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      Of course – with a big stick behind your back.

  44. Posted March 10, 2019 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    All very sound ideas and logical considerations from SJ, as usual. A pity that Number 10 had chosen to ignore his obvious talent. Perhaps it is because of his personal knowledge of life before and outside of Westminster and Whitehall which would put them at a disadvantage. Never mind that the country would benefit from it.
    Nobody wants wars except, maybe, those in the Arms industry but I shudder to think of what an EU Army might be ordered to do by those ‘Kings’ of Brussels who really are a law unto themselves. The whole of Europe should beware of such a plan especially when the long-term tried and proven NATO forces are already in place. I suspect Brussels now want to take full control though.
    We are mindful of an enemy in both World Wars and we now know who controls the Euro and all but commands the Brussels 27 with their newly Junker-appointed Secretary-General, M Selmayr, now apparently running their Administration. It does not take too much logical thought to picture a potential outcome in the years to come if such a plan was effected. Hopefully nothing of the sort will come from it but I’d rather Europe remained under the protective umbrella of the experienced NATO rather than rely upon a new and untried EU defence force.

    • Posted March 10, 2019 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

      Den – very well said. In this PC world, people are afraid to draw conclusions from past experiences when it means we have to acknowledge that those who wish to rule us now are the same ones who wished it in the past.
      We all know who runs the EU. We know who has the money and power to do so. In the great scheme of things, and in an evolutionary blink of an eye, those dark days are still very close, with that very enemy still at our gates, just as aggressive and just as determined to dominate.
      Once we’re free of them completely, we should be fair neighbours and speak softly – but carry a big stick of our very own.

  45. Posted March 10, 2019 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    I have said all I wish to on unnecesary wars, the elephant in the room is Brexit.

    By any measure it is now unanswerably clear that not only do we have a PM of unparalled incompetence, but one who lives in an intellectual vacuum. All of it exacerbated by the incomprehension that she is the one wearing no clothes. In mitigation she has been stupid enough to surround herself with guidance that only believes in remaining in the EU, as does she. The Robins headed a society at Oxford University that advocated a federal Europe.

    God knows what drives 200 tory MPs to want to remain in this prison. Are they all suffering Stockholm Syndrome. Whatever,it runs counter to the escence of being conservative. Some I concede may be sheep but many are quite virulent in their love of this anti democratic totalitarian concept. What has happened to their love of the Union, belief in democracy, considered movement to an inclusive society. They have rendered themselves unelectable, pariahs in a middle of the road traditional conservative sense. Within the EU I can understand their encredoulity that we should not wish to be part of their Alice in Wonderland fantasy. Their experience of democracy is at best 70 years old, excepting Greece. Ours is a good 500 years of careful evolution. The two are incompatible.

    Our team also show a dumbness beyond belief. Who,swapping marbles in the playground, would take, Leaving without a Deal off the table. I’ll tell you, 200 conservative MPs would. Where have they been all their lives. Bemoaning the loss of marbles no doubt.

    I am fearful about the level of incompetence within our legistature, but I suspect that a disilluioned public will take it in their own hands to redress this vacuum at Westminster. I do not want Venezuelan politics on our streets but I can smell it coming.

    • Posted March 10, 2019 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

      Greece ceased to be sovereign in 338 BC and didn’t re-emerge until 1825 AD and even then as a not-very democratic monarchy.

      Our democracy is only c100 years old with the introduction of universal suffrage-it should best be described as an oligarchy before then.

      • Posted March 11, 2019 at 8:10 am | Permalink

        Academic comment ignoring it as an evolving process. You accept strawberry jam but not the picking of the strawberries.

        • Posted March 11, 2019 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

          Evolution or self-preservation?I think seeing the European revolutions of 1848,the spread of left wing doctrines (be it socialism or anarchism) during the second half of the century and the Russian Revolutions in 1917 might have had something to do with that jam!

  46. Posted March 10, 2019 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    I hold back for good reason on this topic. But knowing what I do, the one thing I can say is that the UK should avoid getting dragged into conflicts dictated by the EU.

  47. Posted March 10, 2019 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    According to Missouri University, I am a Remainer for which the only evidence they have is that I got full marks in their Arithmetic test. I’m also impulsive and follow authoritarian figures, not to be confused with legitimate authority figures such as Obama or Cameron or Jean-Claude Druncker.

    I cannot see what is wrong with less well educated people voting to leave the EU; after all they are the ones whose jobs have been taken, whose wage levels have been undermined and can least afford overpriced food.

    If one deprecates universal suffrage, then who should be allowed to vote or should voting be banned entirely as it runs the risk of yielding the ‘wrong’ result?

    • Posted March 10, 2019 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

      As Mark Twain or Phillip Berrigan or Emma Goldman or whoever might have said: “If voting made any difference they wouldn’t let us to do it”. And you know what even if we leave with WTO/“no deal” on 29 March 2019, the above will continue to apply…

  48. Posted March 10, 2019 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    The title is Fighting fewer wars is a good idea. According to Robert Spencer, who has the accolade of being banned from this country by Mrs May, Jihadis consider themselves to be only the latest wave in a 1,400-year war, a war they will pass on to their children and grandchildren. Further, Jihadis throughout history have never given up and accepted defeat, because their impetus to warfare is based on what they consider to be a divine imperative.

    But there is no chance, to put it mildly, that our political elite will even consider this view. If they still read, his book is available.

    • Posted March 10, 2019 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

      Do you mean Richard Spencer? Western interventions have failed because of the aversion to allocating the large human resources necessary to occupy a country successfully. Although dropping high explosives from a height can kill people and destroy buildings, it cannot achieve control, especially as, with the case of ISIS, bombs intended for them persistently hit the SAA. When the Moors invaded Andalusia, they were delighted to find that an enemy within the gate threw them open time after time. So to recap, a successful invasion requires a lot of men, particularly of fighting age, and is facilitated by an enemy within the gate whose role is ensure that no effective resistance is capable of being put up to occupation.

      • Posted March 10, 2019 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

        Sometimes when a civilisation is dying,an invader can provide a welcome release and rejuvenation.Happened in Italy when the Ostrogoths took over-the roads and aqueducts got repaired.

  49. Posted March 10, 2019 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    I wonder why there are not more rebellions in the middle East in the name of humanity. So many people dying. I cannot understand why collectives cannot overcome these dictatorial forces.

    • Posted March 10, 2019 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

      No money in it for them, perhaps?

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

  • John’s Books

  • Email Alerts

    You can sign up to receive John's blog posts by e-mail by entering your e-mail address in the box below.

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

    The e-mail service is powered by Google's FeedBurner service. Your information is not shared.

  • Map of Visitors

    Locations of visitors to this page