Posts Tagged 'International Relations'

Syria intervention – have we learned nothing?

This blog has deliberately avoided any focus on the civil war in Syria.  But that blind eye to the conflict cannot be kept closed any longer because of the likelihood of some kind of formal western involvement in the war.

After weeks of ‘Concrete Willy’ Hague yapping at the door of the White House like a deranged Pomeranian, begging the Americans to support the ‘Free Syrian Army’ with materiel support, the US government has now decided that its ‘red line gamechanger’ on the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime has been crossed and that it will directly aid the rebels.

There is no way this ends pretty.  It is clear that the west has failed to learn a damn thing from previous ill-judged interventions and the needless fighting of proxy wars.

It’s bad enough there is a desire to provide arms, training and assistance to the Free Syrian Army (short of sending battalions to actually engage the Syrian forces and their allies).  The rebel side is badly fragmented with ineffective command and control and finds itself in bed with the very worst Sunni Islamist extremist elements, who hate the west with a passion and want to turn Syria into another Yemen before constructing a hardline Islamic state that would make what is quietly happening in Libya and Egypt look like amateur hour.  Weaponry sent to Bashar al-Assad’s opponents will inevitably fall into the hands of those who will gleefully turn them on the west, or Israel, at the first opportunity.

But making it that much worse is the small matter of US, British and French involvement inviting a violent response by Iranian backed Shi’ite terrorist groups, such as Hezbollah, which support Assad and are currently pushing the rebels back out of areas previously captured from Assad’s military.  It also sets us on collision course to a proxy war with Putin’s Russia, which is keen to re-assert itself as a major world power and sees proxies as the route to redeveloping its global influence in lieu of a re-strengthened military machine.

It won’t be the politicians who suffer the known consequences and known unknowns of involvement in a conflict that does not directly threaten us, but ordinary people who comprise the soft targets these terrorists prefer to target.

We don’t have any skin in this game and there is no need for us, the French or the Americans to get insert ourselves into the Syrian conflict.  It is insanity to hand over weapons to people who are already motivated to turn them on us, and it is insanity to provoke a possible hornet’s nest of terrorist activity directed against us and our interests by groups that currently leave us alone.

When the matter comes before the House of Commons, MPs must vote down the government’s request for permission to arm the rebels at the expense of British taxpayers, some of whom could end up victims of retaliation for our involvement.  We have no place in Syria’s conflict and should stay the hell out.

Britannia waives her duty in Gibraltar

From the Gibraltarian news website, Panorama:

The Gibraltar government has told the UK that ‘the time has now come for action, not simply written protests from London to Madrid’ in defence of British Gibraltar Territorial Waters, following the latest incident where a Gibraltar vessel was boarded by the Guardia Civil in Gibraltar waters ‘and forcibly conveyed’ together with its occupants to Algeciras ‘at high speed and without navigational lights.’

HM Government of Gibraltar has issued a statement calling on the United Kingdom government to turn its words into actions and defend the territorial integrity of Gibraltar by all means at its disposal in a reasonable, measured but effective way.  As the Gibraltarians make clear,  the time has now come for action, not simply written protests from London to Madrid.

The statement reminds people that these illegal incursions by the Spaniards started in 2009 and have continued at regular intervals ever since. Incredibly at one point Spanish Civil Guards even entered the Port of Gibraltar and landed on Gibraltarian soil.  The Spaniards’ behaviour is far more aggressive than anything that Argentinians have done around the Falkland Islands in the same time period, yet it attracts scant attention in the British media and barely causes a ripple at the Foreign Office, which seems more preoccupied today with retweeting pictures of the Olympic torch on the London Eye.

With Spain deliberately provoking Gibraltar by encouraging its fishing fleets to plunder Gibraltar’s territorial waters under escort from Guardia Civil vessels, the Royal Gibraltar Police are scared to take action for fear of sparking an armed confrontation.  The Royal Navy, where it should be defending the territorial integrity of the waters has instead been impotent and instead issued radio messages from the shore in the hope the Spaniards comply.  In Gibraltar it seems Britannia only rules the airwaves.

Ironically this most recent incursion by the Spaniards has taken place just as eight Gibraltar Defence Police Officers are about to be deployed to the UK to helm a fast rigid-hulled inflatable boat as part of the Olympic Games policing and security operation for the sailing events at Weymouth.  Given the level of inaction to date it doesn’t seem as if they will be missed.

Of carrots and sticks

Over 100 years ago Teddy Roosevelt referred to what he described as an old adage, namely ‘Speak softly and carry a big stick’. The meaning was clear. Where possible use diplomacy to resolve a dispute and do not rush to confrontation. But ensure you have the ability and willingness to use force if those diplomatic and peaceful methods fail.

Over the years that stick has too often been replaced with something else. The adage today, if modern diplomacy is anything to go by, could read ‘Speak softly and carry a big carrot’.  One man who has often referred to this is the former US Ambassador to the United Nations, the always forthright and entertaining John Bolton.

With that in mind it was interesting to read this thought provoking piece by another Ambassador, this time the former British Ambassador Charles Crawford.  In his post (designed to plug his consulting services) Crawford outlines the complexity inherent in negotiations and how problematic the stick and carrot approach can be.  He then factors in the psychological side of negotiation for good measure.  It offers a fascinating dip into the world of diplomacy and is well worth a read.

The UK’s quisling-in-chief

Anyone who has gritted their teeth and listened to the many statements of Conservative Foreign Secretary William Hague in recent weeks on the Libyan uprising may have noticed Hague has never failed to act as if he were the official spokesman for the EU.

For a man who is a supposed Eurosceptic Hague seems to have been holding a very large candle for Brussels, never failing to mention the EU as a solution to every problem, even though it is NATO that is carrying out air strikes against the Gadaffi regime.  This pro Brussels sycophancy is completely at odds with the carefully cultivated image of a man who will not rest until Britain controls her own affairs.

However Hague has taken his forbidden love of the EU into new ground tonight. In a speech delivered at the Mansion House on the Arab Spring and democratic reform in Middle Eastern countries, Hague has once again advanced the EU as the answer – this time as the solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict:

The EU already has the tools and the resources for the task.  What it has lacked is the will to use them well. We should use the EU’s economic magnetism to encourage and support real political and economic reform. That means a new partnership with the southern neighbourhood with a simple proposal at its heart: that the EU will share its prosperity and open up markets in return for real progress on political and economic reform.

The EU should offer broad and deep economic integration, leading to a free-trade area and eventually a customs union, progressively covering goods, agriculture and services, as well as the improvement of conditions for investment. All of this must should be accompanied by our partners achieving clear and sustainable political and economic reform.

It is stomach churning to see how devalued the role of Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has become.  There is no mention of the role Britain could play, just a fawning fanaticism to cheerlead for a bureaucracy that talks big and delivers nothing. Move over Baroness Catherine Ashton and behold the EU’s true Foreign Affairs spokesman.

No doubt once he has been ejected/departed from office we will see this overhyped money grubbing climber slide into a cosy, well remunerated EU placement. As Hague likes wearing baseball caps, perhaps the one above will serve as a goodbye and don’t come back gift from people who would rather we had a Foreign Secretary representing this country instead of Brussels.

More EU verbal flatulence aimed at Russia

You may be familiar with the saying ‘Speak softly and carry a big stick’. The thinking behind it was that where possible nations should use diplomacy to resolve a dispute and do not rush to confrontation. But by way of a last resort nations should have the ability and willingness to use force if those diplomatic and peaceful methods fail.

When it comes to the EU that old adage has been transformed into ‘Utter meaningless words and carry a big carrot’. Far from a stick and carrot approach to dealing with worrying developments, the craven EU employs a unique ‘carrot and bigger carrot’ approach.

This was evident after the Russian invasion of Georgia. French President Nicolas Sarkozy packaged up and delivered to Russia an EU peace plan to bring an end to the short, one-sided conflict with Georgia.  A quick scan showed the EU plan had more holes than a sieve and favoured Russia disproportionately.  Russia duly flouted the terms brazenly and the EU offered nothing more than a few limp words of disappointment. Within a few months and with Russian troops still on Georgian soil, the EU completed its ‘tough approach’ to Russia in typically hypocritical and unprincipled manner by opening up trade talks with Moscow.

Now the EU is at it again, this time uttering meaningless words and reaching for the carrot sack on the subject of Mikhail Khodorkovsky. As European Voice reported on Monday:

The European Union’s leaders have issued statements warning the Russian authorities about the treatment of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who has been convicted for a second time.

A court in Moscow announced on 27 December that Khodorkovsky, the former head of the Yukos oil company and sometime political opponent of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, had been convicted of embezzlement and money-laundering on top of his existing conviction from a trial in 2005. He has been in prison since the 2005 conviction and a further term of imprisonment is now expected.

Apparently the EU has said that the severity of punishment meted out to Mikhail Khodorkovsky could impact bilateral relations after Moscow courts found the oil tycoon guilty of embezzlement. Oh please. If the EU is capable of turning its collective back on Georgia and appeasing Russia in the self centred way it did in 2008, can we really be expected to believe it will do a damned thing to defend the interests of Khodorkovsky? Why do they bother with this theatre? It is gesture politics and Moscow knows as well as we that the EU will run away at the first hint of any back straightening in the Kremlin.

The EU is only capable of subverting democracy and eroding the rights of people living in its member states. The bureaucracy that thinks it’s a country is nothing but a paper tiger when it involves itself in matters on the world stage. Any entity that consists of more than a few north African tribesmen is just too strong to tackle.

History is repeating itself and Moscow will laugh off the Brussels bleating as the vacuous posturing it is. It would be no surprise if we see a repeat of a major EU power, such as France, announcing a major deal with Russia within a few short months.  The only question is, what does Russia want that the EU will fall over itself to hand over? In the meantime Brussels should do us all a favour and give up the histrionics.

The conspiracy to trump all conspiracies

We are now moving beyond laughable conspiracy theories and into the realm of a genuine conspiracy to entirely subvert democracy.

It sounds so far fetched people will be tempted to scoff at such a suggestion. But Viscount Monckton of Brenchley argues that decisons being made and plans being laid at the Climate Change jamboree in Cancun have sinister implications for the way the world will be shaped in years to come. As Monckton explains:

The 33-page Note (FCCC/AWGLCA/2010/CRP.2) by the Chairman of the “Ad-Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Co-operative Action under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change”, entitled Possible elements of the outcome, reveals all. Or, rather, it reveals nothing, unless one understands what the complex, obscure jargon means. All UNFCCC documents at the Cancun conference, specifically including Possible elements of the outcome, are drafted with what is called “transparent impenetrability”. The intention is that the documents should not be understood, but that later we shall be told they were in the public domain all the time, so what are we complaining about?

Monckton points out a raft of plans in progress on a number of subjects, which everyone should read and understand. Among them are the following:

Finance: Western countries will jointly provide $100 billion a year by 2020 to an unnamed new UN Fund. To keep this sum up with GDP growth, the West may commit itself to pay 1.5% of GDP to the UN each year. That is more than twice the 0.7% of GDP that the UN has recommended the West to pay in foreign aid for the past half century. Several hundred of the provisions in the Chairman’s note will impose huge financial costs on the nations of the West.

The world government’s powers: The Secretariat will have the power not merely to invite nation states to perform their obligations under the climate-change Convention, but to compel them to do so. Nation states are to be ordered to collect, compile and submit vast quantities of information, in a manner and form to be specified by the secretariat and its growing army of subsidiary bodies. Between them, they will be given new powers to verify the information, to review it and, on the basis of that review, to tell nation states what they can and cannot do.

Bureaucracy: Hundreds of new interlocking bureaucracies answerable to the world-government Secretariat will vastly extend its power and reach. In an explicit mirroring of the European Union’s method of enforcing the will of its unelected Kommissars on the groaning peoples of that benighted continent, the civil servants of nation states will come to see themselves as servants of the greater empire of the Secretariat, carrying out its ukases and diktats whatever the will of the nation states’ governments.

Many of the new bureaucracies are disguised as “capacity-building in developing countries”. This has nothing to do with growing the economies or industries of poorer nations. It turns out to mean the installation of hundreds of bureaucratic offices answerable to the Secretariat in numerous countries around the world. Who pays? You do, gentle taxpayer.

At no point anywhere in the 186 pages of the Treaty draft do the words “democracy”, “election”, “ballot”, or “vote” appear.

Delusional and far fetched conspiracy theory, or the explosive distilling of intentionally confusing legalese that reveals the blueprint for a new world order previously considered impossible to construct? Do you feel utterly powerless and detached from the ability to hold these politicians and bureaucrats to account? Just look at what has been taken from you while you slept. Now, how are you going to take it back?

WikiLeaks lays bare the games of the political class

The drip feed of revelations from US diplomatic cables being published on WikiLeaks and via several selected media outlets will make interesting reading. Already the cables have shattered the default thinking of some people.

The supposedly bloodthirsty Israelis have shown concern about collateral damage if Iran’s nuclear facilities are not attacked before the end of this year. A number of Arab states have been pressing the US to deal with the threat of their fellow Muslim nation, Iran. David Cameron may have emulated Obama’s ‘change’ meme during the election campaign, but the Americans are not impressed by him. And there is much more besides. It will take time to distil much of the information so titbits will take days to emerge.

While much is being made about the assertion that publication would place at risk “the lives of countless innocent individuals … ongoing military operations … and cooperation between countries” it is becoming clear (unsurprisingly) that the main driver of protests about the publication of these cables is a desire to avoid embarrassment about the often inane games played by the political class. Let the contempt and oppobrium be heaped upon them.


Jack Straw, Tehran’s special friend?

‘Straw Endorses Iran’s Right for Peaceful Nuclear Program’ says the headline in the Iran News Daily. As propaganda goes it’s very rough and ready. But it underlines how a mouthpiece politician like Jack Straw can talk his way into trouble and hand a propaganda coup to a country that actively supports terrorism and has supplied insurgents in Iraq with the weapons and explosives to commit mass murder in an effort to keep Iraq unstable.

Our rent-a-quote man of Straw is quoted thus, and there is more besides:

Britain’s “continuous and apologetic support for the shah long after he lost credibility in the eyes of Iranians” had gravely strained the two countries’ relations for the past 30 years, he also said.

The former foreign secretary said that he read a lot on Iranian history and politics and continued to enjoy its distinguished literature.

With regard to Iran being discriminately singled out over its nuclear program, he accepted that in contrast Israel has a “clear nuclear capability.”

“They deny it but they do, so let’s be clear about that,” he added. Unlike Iran, he also said that it was not a member of the NPT but rejected inferences that this was permissible as was the case with regard to both India and Pakistan’s nuclear arms capability.

In line with the British government, Straw suggested that the issue of Israel’s nuclear arsenal should only be tackled after resolution to the Middle East conflict.

“People can argue if Israel should have been formed but it was,” he said. He also referred to the “perfidious role of UK” in its creation when reaching secret agreement.

“There was no argument for Israel to pull back from stealing people’s land. In the West Bank, the continued encroachment is terrible,” the former foreign secretary said, distracting away from the issue of Israel’s illegal stockpile of nuclear weapons.

No doubt Israel will be delighted to see a former British Foreign Minister offering Iran handy soundbites that give succour to Ahmadinejad’s regime. Let’s not forget Iran is a country that is enabling the stockpiling on weaponary by terrorist groups on Israel’s border in preparation for yet another conflict, yet Straw hands them a warped justification for their actions. Straw’s ‘it wasn’t me guv’ hypocrisy is sickening.

Polanski escapes justice for sex with 13-yr-old

The film director, Roman Polanski, has been freed from house arrest by Switzerland after an extradition request by the United States was turned down.  The Swiss seem to be suggesting there was some kind of fault in the US request.  Polanski can consider himself unjustly fortunate for not suffering the consequences for effectively raping a child. 

Just think, if Polanksi had been arrested in the United Kingdom his extradition would have been a certainty.  Just ask the NatWest Three, Gary Mulgrew, David Bermingham and Giles Darby, who were carted of to the US without so much as a prima facie case being presented to a UK judge.  In contrast, Polanski had been found guilty and fled the day before sentencing.

When people say there is no justice in this world they might just have a point.

UN appeases North Korea over Submarine attack

The United Nations has once again demonstrated fundamentally dysfunctional it is.  For today the UN’s Security Council has given an exhibition of appeasement to rival all others, by unanimously condemning the sinking of the South Korean warship, Cheonan – but bandying words to avoid blaming the aggressor, North Korea.

In fact appeasement is not the right word.  What the UN did today was nothing short of cowardice.  It backed down in the face of threats of further naked aggression by North Korea if blame for the sinking was laid at Pyongyang’s door.  The mighty international community has been pushed around by the playground bully, caved in and promised not to tell the teacher.  The dead members of the Cheonan crew were killed in the Yellow Sea and have now had their memories disrespected by craven yellow bellied diplomats.

The spin from the talking shop that the supposed condemnation shows the international community has taken a strong stance that no provocations against South Korea will be tolerated is just laughable.  Where is the lack of toleration of North Korea for the provocative act of sinking a South Korean Navy warship, killing 46 sailors?  Don’t do it again North Korea, or else you will be told in somewhat uncertain terms that if you do it again it won’t be tolerated, and that line will continue ad infinitum.  Yeah, that should do it.

No doubt there are some who will rail against this description of the UN’s action as cowardice.  Perhaps they will prefer to call it by its weasely alter ego currently so beloved of politicians and diplomats today, pragmatism.

What is the point of the United Nations?

When it comes to being critical of the United Nations (UN) one is generally spoiled for choice as to which particular incidence of incompetence, corruption or idiocy should be focused upon.  In that respect the UN is the gift that just keeps giving, as Helen Szamuely at Your Freedom and Ours demonstrated earlier this week.  The expression ‘it defies belief’ is generally an over used descriptor when applied to ridiculous actions or decisions.  But in this case it is entirely appropriate. 

What other organisation could convene a Commission on the Status of Women and include representatives from Iran – a country where women can be raped by a violent male yet receive brutal corporal punishment for it, or be stoned to death for an adulterous sexual liaison; and the Democratic Republic of Congo – a country that doesn’t have even a fleeting idea of democracy and where women are systematically brutalised by lawless militias and even serving UN personnel stationed in the county.  Women may be forgiven for feeling this breathtakingly stupid decision by the lavishly funded and utterly useless international talking shop sends a less than convincing signal about the seriousness attached to the protection of women.

No doubt we will soon see the UN and many media outlets performing contortionist acts to avoid stating the fact that under the watchful gaze of UN observers, Hezbollah in the Lebanon has been able to re-arm itself with ever more sophisticated weaponry from its sponsors in Tehran and Damascus, which it will again put to use attacking Israel under some imagined provocation.  The UN response will be to urge Hezbollah to be nice, while condemning Israel for disproportionate response or investigating it for alleged war crimes for having the temerity to do no more than defend its population from a determined and premeditated assault.

Too many of the nations treated with kid gloves by the UN are not nations we want to be united with, in any way.  The Security Council is hopelessly deadlocked on vital matters, such as Iran’s nuclear proliferation.  What is the point of continuing to bang our heads against a wall and fund an organisation that serves the interests of the international community so poorly?

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Our former friends the Americans

Writing on his Telegraph blog today, Alex Singleton had this to say:

The special relationship is over. We gave America years of unwavering support after September 11. And now we see how Barack Obama’s administration repays us.

First, Obama declared that America was “neutral” over the sovereignty of the Falklands, ignoring the clear wishes of the islands’ population. And, second, his Assistant Secretary of State, Philip Crowley, snubbed Britain by failing to use their proper name and instead calling them the “Malvinas”.

I don’t know where Obama learned about diplomacy, but his stinks. I’m normally pro-American, but Mr Obama’s seeming support for Argentinian aggressors, who have no legitimate claim over the Falklands, is gratuitously offensive. So from today, I’m boycotting America as a tourist destination. This summer, I’ll be going to France, not California.

Let me be clear: I’m not normally in favour of boycotts, and I love the American people.  I holiday in their country regularly, and hate the tedious snobby sneers against the United States. But the American people chose to elect an idiot who seems hell bent on insulting their allies, and something must be done to stop Obama’s reckless foreign policy, before he does the dirty on his allies on every issue.

If our American friends want to stop Obama shredding the respect the rest of the planet has towards America, they need to stop Obama’s destructive policies – and fast.

With the exception of believing in the ‘special relationship’ and holidaying in France, ditto.  The election of Barack Obama as President was the most astonishing example of gesture politics in history. His election was the end in itself and the hysteria and unquestioning fealty evident among many voters and across the media deserves all the ridicule that can be mustered.  Rarely has so much power been secured by someone who campaigned not on policy, but on the meaningless and undefined idea of ‘change’.  What that change actually means is now becoming clear around the world and as Obama’s administration shows its banal vacuousness his popularity and credibility is rightly going into freefall.

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