Posts Tagged 'Syria'

Regime change by any other name

It would not be a surprise if John Kerry was being burned in effigy on the White House lawn, at the State Department and in some secure outdoor location controlled by the National Security Agency (NSA).

His ‘rhetorical’ comment about Syria handing over chemical weapons exposed the tiny fissure in the US position that could be exploited by the Russians, to remove the American pretext for military attacks on the al-Assad regime.  Unsurprisingly the Syrians today appear to be very receptive to the idea of giving up weapons to prevent a US/French attack.  If the Syrians comply then the threat of Tomahawk Cruise missiles raining down on Syrian military targets would appear to have been removed.

Or does it?  While Kerry’s loose lips were holding back US ships, and the Russians were handing al-Assad a way out  of being attacked, the US National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, was delivering a speech to the New America Foundation, which underlined that the proposed deal on chemical weapons may not be enough to keep Washington at bay.  For while Rice was taking up US action but denying the US was seeking to effect regime change in Syria:

So, in short, this would not be an open-ended “intervention” in the Syrian civil war.  These strikes would not aim to topple Assad or, by themselves, to effect regime change.  Doing so would require a much larger and sustained military campaign, putting American forces in the center of this civil conflict.  And, as President Obama has made clear, it is neither wise nor necessary to do so.

… she went on to say, in a more round about way, that the US is indeed seeking regime change in Syria:

Our overarching goal is to end the underlying conflict through a negotiated, political transition in which Assad leaves power.   The best way to achieve this is to keep the country and its institutions intact, but all parties have to be willing to negotiate.  So ours is a multifaceted strategy that puts pressure on the regime by isolating them and denying them resources; builds up the civilian and military opposition; and secures diplomatic agreement with other key countries on the principles for transition while assisting those who need immediate relief.

This is a clear signal that while al-Assad holds the keys to the Presidential Palace in Damascus, the US will not be satisfied.  The effort to ‘deny resources’ and ‘isolate’ al-Assad’s regime is still a pretext for some form or other for further American intervention.  The threat of action, direct or indirect remains.  Rice herself was perfectly happy to explain right at the outset what her speech was all about and intended to further – the likely next excuse in the US playbook:

Today, I want to take this opportunity to explain why Syria’s use of chemical weapons is a serious threat to our national security, , and why it is in our national interest to undertake limited military action to deter future use.

We can be fairly certain there are US boots on the ground in Syria or just over the border in Turkey, working with Syrian rebel groups to help train fighters.  The US is not an impartial party.  It is on the side of the opposition to al-Assad, which means anything they do to weaken the regime will give defacto assistance to, and enhance the position of, Al Qaeda and its affiliates in the region.

Rice’s speech underlines the fact that no one should lose sight of.  Chemical weapons were just the convenient excuse available for an American intervention that would weaken one side (al-Assad) and by consequence strengthen the other (Sunni rebels and Al Qaeda).  The upshot is this isn’t going to go away.  The Americans have an agenda that necessitates the removal of al-Assad and, one way or another, they are determined that he will be removed.   Saving civilian lives is just the wrapper the American action comes in.

This is why yesterday, as various outlets described the Russian initiative as ‘checkmate’ we were only describing it as putting the US in ‘check’.  There are many moves yet in this game.  The plunger on the timer has been pressed and the clock is now ticking on the American side of the board.  What they do next, we can be certain, will not be the end of this matter.

Advertisements

Your move, Mr Obama

This blog holds no brief for the Russian thugocracy led by thug-in-chief Vladimir Putin. But we may have just witnessed what could rank as a top drawer geopolitical equivalent of a chess move.

In matters of international relations, when it comes to diplomatic confrontation with the United States and President Obama, the disagreement has just been shown to be one of men versus boys.

Moscow has shown itself to be home of the men and Washington the playground of the boys.


Putin’s move, if it is accepted by al-Assad, has the capacity to completely wrong-foot Obama and Kerry and undermine their efforts to push for authorisation from Congress for an attack on Syria.  If Syria responds positively Obama will struggle to secure the votes needed to let the Tomahawks fly.

Russia has coolly opened to the door to another way of dealing with the chemical weapons threat the US is using as an excuse to intervene in the country’s civil war.  It is a face saving opportunity for the US to back down and stay out of the Syrian disaster.

We could sum up Putin’s communication to the White House and where it leaves Obama in one word.  ‘Check’.

Obama’s staggering hubris

The sheer arrogance on display from President Barack Obama, in a pathetic attempt at self justification over his stance concerning Syria, is absolutely staggering.

Since last year, Obama has been (in typical American fashion) working to an American agenda on Syria.  His pisspoor attempts to grandstand on heavyweight foreign affairs matters, to compensate for what could be generously described as disastrous performance on the world stage, led to him talking tough to al-Assad and setting a ‘red line’ on chemical weapons.

The Telegraph is reporting Obama’s comment that the world needed to show the Syrian regime that they could not use chemical weapons with impunity.  The paper goes on to explain that Obama defended his assertion that ‘a red line’ would be crossed by the use of such weapons, arguing that he was simply emphasising accepted international laws.  But then Obama elevated himself from President of the United States to self declared spokesman for the entire world when he said:

First of all, I didn’t set a red line.  The world set a red line.

So when I said that my calculus would be altered by chemical weapons, which the overall consensus of humanity says is wrong – that’s not something I just made up. I didn’t pluck it out of thin air.

My credibility isn’t on the line. The international community’s credibility is on the line.

I try to avoid the use of profanity on this blog, but what a load of utter bollocks.  One drawback of being the American President is that a lot of what you utter gets reported.  This can prove rather inconvenient for the President when he takes off on one of his flights of fantastic delusion and denies his own words – which as you can see from his comments last year on this infamous ‘red line’, made on 19/20 August 2012, he has done.  The Washington Post is the journal of record here…

We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus.

That would change my equation. . . . We’re monitoring that situation very carefully. We have put together a range of contingency plans.

The use of the Royal ‘we’ to describe the American position, followed by evidence that the red line is his calculus, his equation.  The world didn’t set a red line, Obama did.  He made no reference to speaking for the world, because he doesn’t.

The red line is Obama’s alone.  Therefore it is his credibility that is on the line – and that is why he is now pretending he was speaking for the world, rather than the bubble inside the Washington Beltway.   Obama is telling a naked lie and exhibiting hubris of staggering proportions.  It is the sign of a meglomaniac and someone who is irrational.  Obama was the choice of the American people, but from an external perspective what an appalling choice they made.

The President of the United States has demonstrated he has no credibility.

And it’s no better for the Russians either.  President Putin seems to have developed a serious case of amnesia about countries who launch a military attack on another country without UN approval, as these comments, translated on BBC 10 o’clock news tonight, make clear:

In line with international law only the UN Security Council can sanction the use of force against a sovereign state.

Any other pretext or method which might be used to justify the use of force against an independent sovereign state is inadmissable and can only be interpreted as aggression.

Just to refresh Vladimir’s memory…

Satan’s little helpers – the media’s coverage of Syria

If you have been watching the news and reading the dead tree press in recent days, you may have thought to yourself ‘Is there suddenly a lot more Syrian humanitarian disaster stories?’.

Don’t worry, you’re not imagining it.  The media really is being flooded with emotive, distressing and heart-string tugging stories.  Following the defeated motion seeking to authorise intervention in Syria, the powers that be have pushed for a concerted – and very one sided – campaign of media coverage of the impacts of war on ordinary people opposed to the al-Assad regime, while giving the impression of an escalation in the conflict.

This is the media playing its role as part of the establishment, supporting the government’s agenda in disgraceful manner and trying to make people regret their opposition to military action.  They know all too well it would take a heart of stone not to see the broken and burned bodies in hospital bed and the tide of humanity that has swept across borders in search of refuge, and not be moved to tears and wish for something to be done to end that suffering immediately.  That’s the power of the media.  We can be certain that some people who last week stood opposed to missile strikes against al-Assad’s forces, have since had second thoughts and wish the motion had passed, as a direct result of this propaganda flooding the news outlets.  Exactly what this media blitz intended to achieve.

But think for a moment about what we do not see.

Where is the footage of broken and burned bodies of people from the part of the Syrian population that supports al-Assad and who are under equally devastating attack by the rebels and Al Qaeda?  Where is the discussion of arms caches and the foreign fighters who have rushed into Syria to carry out violent jihad?  Where is the footage of the shiny stockpiles of Saudi and Qatari funded weaponary that has flooded into Syria as part of the effort to topple al-Assad?  Ask yourself why.  Ask yourself if you are really being presented with the full picture.

The media is helping the government to paint the conflict as a one-sided slaughter of innocents by a brutal dictator – in effect to paint it as a genocide – when the reality is the rebels control most of the country and have carried out terrible atrocities of their own.  Such is the evil of war,  But through such imbalance and bias by omission, the media is supporting tactics to change people’s minds and convert them to supporting the hidden agenda that is driving the desire for intervention.  This is the plan to justify the desired military action.

But think about what has not changed.

There is still only ‘confidence’ and ‘high probability’ – not absolute certainty – that the chemical weapons were used by the al-Assad regime.  Many stories are circulating, with information that has apparently come from people in Damascus who survived the ‘attack’, say that the weapons had been supplied by Saudi Arabia and were in rebel hands when detonated accidentally.  We have no way of knowing for sure.  A significant doubt of the US and UK’s ‘proof’ exists.

Most importantly, there is still only the intention of punishing al-Assad but no idea of the outcome or effects of military action.  This alone should preclude us from getting involved, because there is a significant capacity for harming the very people the military would supposedly be seeking to protect.  And of course the spectre of Al Qaeda is not going to go away.  It takes a special kind of insanity to want to launch an action that could significantly enhance the prospects of Al Qaeda emerging stronger and more capable of terrorism once Syria has calmed down.

A US or French or UK action has but one purpose, helping the rebels to defeat al-Assad.  Our government has picked a side and is using the chemical weapon incident as justification for direct involvement using force of arms, rather than providing humanitarian assistance.  There are plenty of conspiracy theories about this desire to be involved, and some very plausible analysis that aims to connect the dots to construct an explanation for it.  Whether they are right or wrong, there is an agenda at play at it has nothing to do with humanitarian considerations.  As such we should have no part in it.

Good point well argued

** For many months the civil war in Syria has raged.  This blog has barely mentioned it because it was remote and none of our business.  There was certainly no strategic interest for the UK in involving itself in that vicious religious conflict.  So we make no apology for our saturation focus on Syria in recent days, which has been forced on us by the desire of our ‘servants’ to insert themselves directly into the war on the side of the rebels, despite the overwhelming opposition of the general public.

We have no idea if the photo below is of a genuine Chief Petty Officer of the US Navy, or if it’s just someone playing dress up.  But members of the armed forces both in the US and the UK could be forgiven for feeling such a sentiment (via @NewsNinja2012).  It’s a good point, well argued.

Meanwhile, back in the political bubble, pressure is already building for putting last week’s motion before the House of Commons again, EU style.  It seems until the lobby fodder votes ‘the right way’ Cameron and Hague are not going to let this go.  It’s a reputational and authority affirmation matter now.  And it seems no politician’s legacy is complete without a little war with their name beside it noted for all time in the history books.

It seems the apparent reason for resurrecting this obscene rush to visit violence on the Syrian regime, to the benefit of Al Qaeda and other Islamist terror groups in the country, is the supposedly breaking news coming out of Washington, reported by the Telegraph, that:

…the US has evidence that Bashar al-Assad used sarin gas in the devastating chemical weapons attack that killed more than 1,400 people last month, John Kerry, the US secretary of state announced, as he pressed the administration case for air strikes.

This is being presented as some kind of game-changer.  But it’s nothing of the sort.  It is merely a demonstration of the government’s ignorance and refusal to listen.  It was not because of a lack of evidence of a chemical attack that the public stood opposed to attacking Syria and MPs voted down the government in the Commons, but the fact that the proposed military action had no defined outcome and the effects and consequences of such an attack on the Syrian people (and indeed the UK military and general public) are unknown.

John Kerry’s emotive announcement is a call to Congress to vote for military action to punish al-Assad.  That is not a humanitarian objective.  It is not even a strategic military objective.  It is nothing more than a desire to beat up on Syria because the western powers have been offended by the regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons.

For Kerry to then go on and attempt, in the way he did, to link the appetite to attack Syria with protecting the national security of the US is ludicrously fatuous.  If anything, the proposed attack has the potential to aid Al Qaeda, which does genuinely represent a threat to America and the UK.  Even the famously disengaged American masses (when it comes to foreign policy and the wider world) seem to be grasping this fact and don’t want their armed forces sent on a needless military adventure.

And so the political class continue to play their games regardless of the wishes of the public, who are supposedly served by this belligerent and dangerous collection of busybodies.  This is what is commonly and airily described by the establishment as ‘democracy’.  Does it feel democratic to you?

Meanwhile, on planet Hague…


Concrete Willy has also been playing a part in the coordinated whingefest about that lost vote over Syria.

Continuing on the same theme as Hammond and Rifkind, by focusing exclusively on the process story and exhibiting an unseemly and desperate fetish for being side by side with the Americans and wanting to take military action, Hague failed to even mention the Syrian people or the humanitarian drivers that supposedly necessitate military action against one side in the civil war.  But the partisan party politicking agenda was serviced in full in comments reported by the Telegraph as the assault on Miliband and Labour was upped a notch.

It wasn’t the alleged international perception of the UK being weak and the Falklands now being in dire peril as a result of us not showing we can lob missiles at Syria from afar.  No, this time it was that the defeat of the motion and Labour’s role in it has caused ‘serious concerns’ in the US and various European capitals!  Servicing Tory party interests, Concrete Willy, without batting an eyelid, told Dermot Murhaghan in respect of that Commons vote that, ‘On such occasions everyone should be able to rise above any party interests’. He also said about Labour:

There’s some serious concerns in other capitals – not just across the Atlantic but in European capitals as well – about the position they have taken in voting down a Government motion which actually had in it pretty much everything that they asked for.

So all this concern in these ‘European capitals’ is not for the Syrian people, but what it all means for the political elite.  That figures.  There’s nothing like a bit of self interest to exercise the servants of the public is there?  Perhaps that explains why none bar the French are sending their armed forces to bomb Syria.  It is a coalition of the unwilling.

Hague’s comments reek of so much bullshit.  They have most likely been provoked because after all his efforts to whip up international support for intervention on the side of the rebels, he has lost as much face as Cameron after being told by Parliament to put his guns back in their holster.

Showing up this party political, self serving crap for what it is, is as easy as shooting fish in a barrel.  Nothing said since the vote has offered any reasonable justification for intervening in Syria.  The hollow arguments we heard in Parliament were the sum total on offer.  Seeking to launch an undefined, purpose-free military attack on the basis of nothing more than emotion, and the subsequent self justifying bleating that has followed, is frankly disgraceful.

Another Parliamentary man-child exhibits petulant hysteria over Syria fallout

It seems there is no limit to the capacity for self indulgent hysteria among some Parliamentarians as they throw infantile hissy fits about that Syria vote.

Rather than pause and reflect on the shortcomings of their arguments, they revert to petulant jibes at those they believe betrayed them in their effort to project military power without a defined objective to a known or predicted effect.  Leading the tantrums is the pompous former Tory minister, Malcolm Rifkind, who is quoted in the Mail on Sunday.

So distraught is Rifkind about David Cameron’s defeat at the hands of Labour and 30 Tory backbench rebels, he has suggested the refusal to intervene in Syria will result in a perception of British weakness around the world, risking another invasion of the Falkland Islands.  Into the bargain he takes a swipe at Miliband in an effort to paint him as weak on military action, when he said:

This will not affect our determination to defend the Falklands. But that had better be made clear to the Argentinian government – especially by Mr Miliband.

Such a comment is preposterous.  There is no similarity between Syria and any potential Falklands conflict with Argentina.  It evidently does not follow that refusal to use British military power in Syria without a clear objective and required effect, means we would not use military power to known effect to achieve a clear objective in defending the Falklands.

Moronic comments such as Rifkind’s are the consequence and by-product of life inside the Westminster bubble.  As an isolated gene pool that breeds within itself weakens and degrades, so it is that tightly controlled and limited sources of information, along with self reinforcing bias confirmation, narrows minds and results in comparatively uninformed and disconnected political leaders.

All of which explains why moral outrage was the sole driver of the desire to attack Syria and there was no consideration or knowledge about whether such an intervention would have a humanitarian effect or harm those who were supposed to be protected by it.  There are times when intervention and military action to a defined outcome are necessary and appropriate.  This is simply not one of them.

More contradictory clap trap bemoaning Britain not attacking Syria

Some commentary that passes for prestigious, expert analysis is enough to make one exhale, roll the eyes and despair at the author’s sheer ignorance.

Stacked head and shoulders above the claque today is a steaming pile of dung produced Andrew Roberts titled, ‘Hideously amoral Little England has stepped through the looking glass’, which the Mail on Sunday publishes and promotes as ‘A top historian’s deeply personal – and inflammatory – critique of where Britain now stands on the world stage’.  Let’s have a flavour of it before we evidence Roberts’ sheer stupidity:

Britain has stepped through the looking glass into a weird and distorting new world, and one from which I fear she will never step back. By refusing to punish a foreign dictator for his despicable use of poison gas on unarmed civilians, we have deliberately relinquished our once-cherished role as one of the world’s foremost moral policemen, and joined the ranks of global spectators, merely tut-tutting from the sidelines rather than taking an active part in defending decency.

A huge cultural shift has taken place in our country and historians of the future will focus on Thursday night, in the House of Commons, as the time that the new Britain emerged in all its hideous, amoral selfishness.

There is more nonsense where that came from.  What is weird and distorting is Roberts’ failure to reference anywhere in his rant what the proposed military attack on Syria is supposed to achieve and evidence of consideration of the effects of the attack on the people we would be supposedly looking to protect.  Surely such a heavyweight historian would have learned and would now understand that when looking to use military force there has to be a clear objective.  Doling out punishment is not a clear objective where success can be measured and it is certainly not a responsible use of force.

But it is when one looks back at Roberts’ previously published opinions that we see just how much of a shallow fool Roberts really is.  Consider this extract from his 2007 essay ‘At stake in the Iraq war: survival of a way of life’:

In Iraq and Afghanistan, meanwhile, English-speaking forces ignore such pusillanimity and get on with the vital job of fighting those who would turn the Middle East into a maelstrom of jihadist anarchy and terror.

We know that Al Qaeda cannot be appeased, because if they could, the French would have appeased them by now. Al Qaeda is utterly remorseless, even setting bombs (detected by authorities in time) on the Madrid-to-Seville railway line in April 2004, after Spain decided to withdraw its troops from Iraq.

Fortunately, however, the English have been here before. Thrice. Their history provides a number of apposite lessons about how to defeat this latest fascist threat.

Since 1900, the English-speaking peoples have been subjected to four great assaults: first from Prussian militarism, then by Axis aggression, then from Soviet communism. The present assault from totalitarian Islamic terrorism is simply our generation’s equivalent of our forefathers’ successful struggles against the three earlier fascist threats. But in this fourth and latest contest, victory is not yet in sight.

In researching my book, “A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900” – a coda to Winston Churchill’s classic – I visited the papers of 200 individuals in 30 archives on three continents. While there, I could not help concluding that this struggle against Islamofascism is the fourth world war. And I was repeatedly struck by how often common themes from the four struggles emerged.

So here we have a man who views us as being in a righteous ‘fourth world war’ struggle against Islamofascism, a battle being waged against an enemy that cannot be appeased – namely Al Qaeda.  Yet he has been hammering on his keyboard in foam flecked fury for the Mail on Sunday, because the handbrake was put on a military attack, the aim of which would be to punish a brutal dictator who is fighting against… Al Qaeda.  You could not make this up.

Roberts not only has no concept of the effects of military action per se, he is incapable of recognising that the Al Qaeda Islamic fascist threat he says we have to fight could only be aided by the British attacking the very forces that are actually fighting them.  And yet this buffoon is given copious column inches in the Mail on Sunday as a supposed expert.

This is yet another example of the shallow, superficial and uninformed substitute for reason and critical thinking that underpins the government’s emotionally driven rush to violence.  They are long on indignation, short on wisdom.  And as Roberts shows, their partisan and politically motivated cheerleaders are no better.

Are these the UK’s real motivations for wanting to help the US attack Syria?

If anything effectively underlines the self serving interests at play and the paucity of thinking about the effects and consequences of military action in Syria, it is summed up by the Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond.  These are some of his thoughts about not being alongside the Americans in combat for the first time in 30 years:

I’m disappointed and if I’m honest I’m slightly apprehensive because we have a very close working relationship with the Americans.

It is a difficult time for our Armed Forces – having prepared to go into this action  – to then be stood down and have to watch while the U.S acts alone or perhaps the US acts with France.

What exactly was the real reason for wanting to participate in an attack?  Listening to Hammond you would be forgiven for thinking it was a combination of wanting to suck up to the Americans by following them into a poorly defined and questionable military assault, ensuring our armed forces didn’t feel left out as the missiles flew, and wanting to retain our position as Washington’s wingman instead of giving our back seat to France.  So much for our sole focus being on the Syrian people.

These are extraordinary and disturbing comments by Hammond.

Seeing the Defence Secretary speak in such terms and not even mention the Syrian people, and our government’s supposed humanitarian concern for them, completely vindicates the rejection of the motion to permit in principle our forces to participate in any attack.  It reinforces our observation that no thought had been given to the effects of such an attack and the almost certainly negative and damaging outcomes.  Instead there was just a spiteful and childlike appetite for not wanting to miss a scrap.  Pathetic.

What the Syria vote tells us about the state of democracy in the UK

Since last night’s vote rejecting UK involvement in any military action against Syria, MPs from all parties have been rushing to the nearest microphones and telephones to offer their tuppence worth to local and national media.

In an attempt to appear relevant and maintain the impression of democratic legitimacy, we have heard MPs reported as saying this was a good day for democracy and that Parliament followed the wishes of the people.

The fact is these assertions are nonsense.

While the media is happy to report such comments uncritically, the reality is Parliament was not bound by the wishes of the people at all.  Instances of genuine common sense among some MPs, and some MPs acting on the basis of representations from their constituents, was combined with the far greater impact generated by manoeuvring for party political advantage to see the motion defeated by the extremely slender margin of 13 votes.

When one considers opinion polls showed public support for action at various levels between 11% and 21%, yet almost half of MPs who voted in favour of the motion, we can see that public influence was quite minor.  Add to this the flip flopping of Ed Miliband.  He was originally and conditionally in favour of the motion, but flipped later.  Had he flipped back, many Labour MPs would have followed his lead and the motion would have been carried.  Right now, work up drills at RAF Akrotiri and somewhere below the waves of the Mediterranean would be underway in preparation for an attack on Syria.

The wishes of the public were not paramount among our elected servants.  This underscores a vital flaw in our democratic process – namely the lack of ability of voters to control the actions and voting of their MPs.  If MPs were genuinely bound by the wishes of their constituents, barely any of them would have been able to vote in favour of the motion.

David Cameron, William Hague and Nick Clegg wanted to attack Syria using as justification evidence that falls well short of the need in criminal cases to prove a case beyond all reasonable doubt.  Instead they contented themselves that on the balance of probability Assad was guilty of launching a chemical attack, and so the British armed forces would kill and injure Syrian soliders and civilians in order to make a point.  There was no reference back to the public, no mandate sought for our permission.

We do not have a democratic system in this country.  We have no control over MPs once they have been elected to Parliament.  The whims and emotions of those who wanted to have a political career and made it into Parliament still determine the actions carried out in our name.  Even despite last night’s vote, Cameron could still use Royal Prerogative to force armed intervention if he was so minded.

Only a wholesale restructure of our methods and manner of governance, of the type advanced by the Harrogate Agenda, would result in a genuinely democratic state of affairs.  As such people should not be taken in by the gushing self praise of MPs and the superlatives about how wonderful our ‘democracy’ is.  Last night was a fluke.  Next time MPs will continue to vote as they see fit, regardless of what we want.

Syria: The intervention issue summed up simply

An email exchange I have had this morning with Richard has generated the neatest summary of issues surrounding the proposed Syria intervention.  In a nutshell…
The government (Cameron, Hague and Clegg in particular) feel that, because the reported chemical attack in Damascus was so horrible (it was) something should be done about it (desirable, but there are many options).  But they then divorced action from outcome and fixed upon a single option – military action.  But military action should only be deployed to achieve a known or predictable effect – and the effect was, by common acceptance on both sides of the argument, unknown.
What we saw yesterday and what was narrowly defeated in Parliament, was the government simply wanting to express moral outrage… by shooting off missiles in a howl of rage, triggered by something by which they were hugely offended, with no idea of the likely effects, and most importantly, with no certainty of it having a humanitarian effect.
This is the politics of the playground, not the actions of cogent and rational adults in positions of responsibility.  Opposing the intervention on that basis was the right course of action.  However there still needs to be a focus on humanitarian relief for those who are being caught up and affected by the fighting.

Exclusive: ‘We must do something’

That, according to my extremely well placed and utterly reliable source close to the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, is the sum total of Clegg’s understanding and insight into the issues surrounding the possible launch of military action against Syria.

The document issued by the Joint Intelligence Committee, upon which the government has made its decision to attack Syria, clearly accepts that there is no ‘smoking gun’ that proves al-Assad and his forces were responsible for the presumed use of chemical munitions.  We are witnessing a frightening absence of strategic thinking, and an almost childlike simplicity that passes for examination of the issues and the consequences of participating in strikes against Syrian military targets.  The obsessive focus of this country’s political leaders – the lightbulb around which the Ministerial moths are circling and against which they are butting their heads – is the word ‘chemical’.   Nothing else, including evidence or origin of the reported attack, seems to matter.

It is on the basis of supposition, suspicion, and a desire to somehow aid the rebels (beyond the provision of ‘non lethal’ equipment and support) that David Cameron and William Hague wish to engage in hostilities and rain missiles down on Syrian territory.  There is no proof.  It is nothing more than an article of faith and wishful thinking that the government asserts only al-Assad could be responsible for the use of chemical weapons, despite the certainty that the ‘rebels’ also have them.

It is profoundly disturbing, from the available evidence and debate in the Commons, that this country’s supposed leaders are incapable of exhibiting even the level of critical thinking and reasoning skills that would be expected of a Sixth Form debating society, particularly when the subject has such grave implications for the safety and security of this country’s armed forces and general population.

Syria – put the dogs of war back in the kennel

When seeing Concrete Willy Hague and Cast Iron Dave Cameron talking tough on Syria and angling for international intervention on the side of ‘rebels’ of the Free Syrian Army – and inevitably if unintentionally, Al Qaeda and a raft of their smaller terrorist client organisations – I am reminded of an episode of the West Wing and Toby Ziegler reviewing Will Bailey’s thoughts on foreign policy for a passage in President Bartlet’s forthcoming inauguration speech before he demands Bailey re-write it:

This language proposes a new doctrine for the use of force. That we use force whenever we see an injustice we want to correct. Like Mother Theresa with first-strike capabilities.

There is a time and a place for humanitarian military intervention, for acting like Mother Theresa with first-strike capability.  Syria is not it.

Syria is not, despite the efforts of sections of the media to paint it as such, a genocide.  It is not another Rwanda where a one-sided slaughter of one tribe is being conducted by another.

Syria is a brutal civil war being waged between the vicious regime of a devil we know and an assortment of equally vicious groups of devils that we don’t.  Getting involved in this conflict would be a madness that will assure only one thing, that at some point in the future it will work out badly for the UK – be it through the loss of life of British servicemen in action, or innocent citizens in terrorist reprisals, or simply through the waste of yet more of our treasure on a campaign that is none of our business.

With remarkable and curiously convenient timing, the suspected chemical weapons attack on the outskirts of Damascus crosses the so called ‘red line’ and opens the door to Barack Obama, Cameron (who is exhibiting yet more hypocrisy) and Francois Hollande (who particularly seems to have a disturbing appetite for getting his guns out) to initiate missile strikes against the al-Assad regime… just as the Syrian military and Hezbollah militia are gaining the upper hand in the conflict. There is a nasty stench surrounding this.

For Hague to argue that there is ‘no other plausible explanation‘ than al-Assad’s forces being guilty of using chemical weapons, is ludicrously disinegenuous.  Numerous Syrian army establishments have been over run during the conflict, there have been defections, and the media has rarely tired of saying that with the exception of Damascus and some other urban pockets, the whole country is under ‘rebel’ control.  So surely the chance of al-Assad opponents capturing some of the country’s chemical stocks is fair to good.  But it seems the political elite has an agenda and nothing will be allowed to get in their way.

There is a real risk that the kind of murderous assault by Hezbollah terrorists that has been previously reserved for Israelis and Jews, could soon be directed against British citizens should we take part in a strike against Syria.  If you think the staggering brutality exhibited by the two cowardly Islamist murderers of Lee Rigby was shocking, wait until you witness the imaginative ways of terrifying and brutalising a population and killing defenceless people Hezbollah has in its playbook.

There is a wider political agenda being pursued here that goes well beyond removing al-Assad from the board.  Getting entwined in Syria with a military intervention is not in Britain’s interest.  Doing so without even having the issue debated and voted upon in the House of Commons underlines the death of democracy and accountability in this country.  Cameron needs to pull us back from the brink.  It’s time to put the dogs of war back in the kennel and stay out of matters that are none of our business.  Send humanitarian aid, medicine, food and shelter to the region to help those forced to flee the fighting, but keep the missiles locked in their magazines.

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.


Enter your email address below

The Harrogate Agenda Explained

Email AM

Bloggers for an Independent UK

AM on Twitter

Error: Please make sure the Twitter account is public.

STOR Scandal

Autonomous Mind Archive