I bow to no-one in my detestation of the Ghadaffi regime- or the Yemeni, Syrian, Iran or Tibetan regimes – to say nothing at all about the world’s petty tyrannies in such places as the Ivory Coast and Zimbabwi. I am all for assisting peoples caught up in natural disasters and who are the victims of tyrannical regimes wherever they are are – but not by invading their territories in the name of Western democracy. But I do not wish the armed forces of the UK to involve themselves in the civil disturbances of other countries unless it can be proved without reasonable doubt that the happenings in these countries directly involve our national interest and their regimes are a threat to other countries including our own.
In determining our national interest I reject the argument of spheres of influence. When the Soviet Union claimed the right to determine the political complexion of Eastern Europe as being essential to their national interest and within their zone of influence I argued against it. I was still against it when the Russian Federation invaded Georgia. I am against it now when Britain, France and Italy, the former colonial powers, claim a right to determine the political complextion of Northern Africa as being part of ‘their zone.’
It is time to stop all this because the time and geographic horizon is unlimited. William Hague has stated unwisely that other Middle Eastern tyrants need not think that the killing of their rebellious subjects has gone unnoticed. He unfolds for us all a road to nowhere and a decade of ceaseless interventions by Western powers.
The naievity of all this is shocking. Iraq is a highly complex society and a bewidering confusion of ethnic and religious differences. To believe that you could replace a dangerous tyrany with a democracy in a few weeks of military destruction was always absurd. Similarly you cannot realistically imagine a stable future in Afghanistan without a deal of some kind with the Taleban. Left to themselves most divided countries will sort lut their own affairs. Take the so called humanitarian disaster that awaited Benghazi were Ghadaffi to occupy it again. What would he actually have done. The most active of the insurgents would have slipped across borders to Tunisia and Egypt and as for the rest they would do all that was required to survive. The citizens of Libya are used to doing this. Ghadaffi is an old man and cannot survive for ever. Left to themselves the civil war in Libya would now be over. The casualties would have been lower than they will be now and the sorting out would be done by Libyans in their own time and in their own way.
It is time to bring the whole gory adventure to a halt. It is time to stop. Iraq, Afghanistan and Iraq has taught us that intervention to change political regimes does not work and what limited success we can achieve has been bought at huge human cost
Filed under Afghanistan, Arab League, Army, Bahrein, BBC, Cabinet, Cameron, Coalition Government, Colonialism, Egypt, France, Iraq, Labour Blogs, Labour leadership, Lib Dem blogs, Libya, Middle East, Nick Clegg, Politics, RAF, Revolution, Sarkozy, Syria, Uncategorized, Wlliam Hague, Yemen
There are many counties with deplorable records on civil rights and at least two are permanent members of the UN Security Council. In this Gaddafy and his wretched regime are not alone. All this talk by Caneron and Hague about not standing aside while innocent people are slaughtered and imprisoned rings bizarely in the real world. What is the difference between a gun and a black limousine picking up people from their beds and incarcerating them in an unknown prison without trial or the knowledge of their relatives. The reach of the internet is not infinite. We do not get many pictures of tyranny at work in Russia, China, Iran and Tibet. Is it to be supposed that we seek UN authority to intervene in these countries to put things rightthere in a rush of emotionalism and the desire for a get tough image?
It is no good attacking me for being soft on tyrants for I would get tough with them all. What sticks in the crawl is hypocrisy. Oh, come off it, I hear the retort, if we can do something to help why not? Why not indeed. I think the West has acted diplomatically to isolate Ghadaffi and put him in the international dock from whence, hopefully, there is no hiding place. What I am against is armed intervention to remove Ghadaffi and the pretence of a UN resolution to create a no fly zone. I do not like a situation where my government is all puff and no blow. I regard this as humilation for Britain and cheap populiarism. To this you might argue why bother to get hot under the collar if the policy is bound to be empty and unrealisable? In a way the answer is simple. I don’t wish to be led by a braggard fresh from assisting in the sale of arms to authoritarian Middle Eastern states. A bullet is a bullet but in this situation I prefer to know that it was not made in Birmingham.
Filed under Arms dealers, Army, BBC, Cameron, Coalition Government, Ghadaffi, Guardian, Labour Blogs, Libya, Middle East, Politics, Revolution, United Nations, Wlliam Hague
Thanks Charlie for dropping in. I’m glad of the opportunity to clear up some things about our diplomatic incident in Libya involving the SAS. Instinctively, as you know I am on the side of the rebels. Britain should stand up for democracy in the world and we wish to do all we can to help the rebels achieve it in Libya. But as for the stories that I am addicted to James Bond films on the mere evidence that I land a unwelcome helicopter in the territory of a soverign power without clearance or telling anyone with eight men dressed in black carrying guns together with a spy. Well I ask you Charlie. What a flimsy objection. It is true that I have an extensive library of James Bond films but I have not watched one in the last seven-ten days. So much for addiction.
Dave, I am surprised by this. If you want to make contact with rebel leaders, have you thought of telephoning them? I have Charlie, I have, but do they tell you what you wish to know? Perhaps Dave they tell you what they choose to tell you. Have you thought about that? I don’t understand you Charlie. I don’t think you have really studied James Bond films. What you need to do is to drop your agent in and he sorts it out for you, get’s into trouble on the way out and we rescue him. This time somewhere in the Mediteranean sea. Get it?
Dave, Dave, Dave, come on. This is the real world. Apart from diplomatic and humanitarian help best orgonised through the EU (sorry to use the term) and the United Nations, surely there is nothing we can or should do. To me it looks like a civil war to be fought out between two Lilliputian sets of soldiers. At the heart of this conflict there is nothing for us to do. We don’t want to behave like an Imperial Power, do we? Colonialism has come to an end, or didn’t you notice that? Charlie, sarcasm doesn’t suit you. Britain is an important Imperial power and I am proud of it. I suspect that you were taught in one of those miserable state schools with a twisted sense of British history. The evils of the British Empire and all that. Michael Gove is turning back this unpatriotic tide. Was the British Empire a good thing? I say, yes. And it was governed by Old Etonians to boot. And long may it continue.
Dave, if I publish this you will find that you have opened yourself up to derision. That would be a shame. Some people admire you for your energy and commitment but they are not going to vote for the return of the British Empire. Charlie how little do you know. Did you not observe that in Burnley more people voted for UKIP than for our Conservative candidate? What nonsense this is. Does UKIP stand up for British interests as well as we Tories? How many of them were educated at Eton? Well then, you get my point. And another thing you fail to notice, James Bond is much admired throughout the world. Why not the British Coalition Government, the Tory party and me?
Filed under Arms dealers, Army, Barnsley, BBC, Cabinet, Cameron, Coalition Government, Education, Eton, Europe, Ghadaffi, Guardian, Liberal Voice, Middle East, Politics, Public schools, SAS, UKIP
Q. Dave, when you were a young lad were you a Cowboy or an Indian and why? Answ. A Cowboy, of course. I believed that the Cowboy’s were the winners and the Indian’s the losers, and history proved me right, did it not? Q. Who were the moral winners? Answ. The Coyboys of course, the right is always morally superior. Why do you start with such a question? Q. For good reasons. You have recently approved an SAS and Royal Airforce mission into Libya in what appears to have been a storm in the desert, that is an intrusion into the airspace of another country, the use of ground troops and the involvement of Royal Air Force C130s without the approval of Parliament , NATO or the the UN. Wasn’t that an incredibly dangerous thing to do? When President Carter tried it he made a terrible mistake and became the laughing stock of the world. Answ. Oh come off it. we won didn’t we. The British public love the SAS and we pulled it off didn’t we? Q. What I understand is that a plane was hit by small arms fire and wasn’t some attempt made to slash the tyres of one plane? What if the people firing had heavier calibre weapons, might that not have brought the plane down with the loss of 150 lives including foreign nationals. Answ. I never comment on operational details. Are you saying we should not have acted to save these men? Q. Yes, I am saying that? Answ. Well I think you will find that British people are on my side in this. Everyone loves a winner. Q. Another question Dave. Were these C130s given fighter aircraft cover and if not why not? Answ. Good question. Naturally, I took advice but every Captain must in the end trust his own judgement. I didn’t become Chief Cowboy, if you pardon the mixed expression, by accident. Q. Straight answer Dave, please , yes or no? Answ. Look, you know me well. I’m a politician I can’t give you such an answer. Q. Were the Chiefs of Staff consulted? Answ. Ditto. Look I’m getting rather cross about this. Chief Cowboys are not asked these kinds of question. Q. OK. Let’s vary it a little. Have you had any military resignations over this and are there any in the offing? Answ. Well I can answer that one. No. And I don’t expect any. Q. Last questions Dave. Isn’t this a prime example of the strategic advantage of aircrat carriers. Not in the misty ages to come BUT now? Wouldn’t the Ark Royal and a few Harriers have provided the air cover that a mission like this needed? And secondly, did you consult the Americans? Answ. Look you liver-lilied journalist (a joke, let’s see you smile). A Leader must lead and journalist must follow. Isn’t that the right order of things, the Scheme of things? As for the American’s, all you journalists go on about the inability of Britain to act independently but when I do it you are the first to criticise. And thank you for the session , very invigorating it was too. Now back to the war games. Tally oh, chin chin, and all that. All I need now is a twiddly moustache. Can’t afford the wax in this age of austerity. All the responsibility of the previous Labour administration as I have said before.
Filed under Army, BBC, Cabinet, Cameron, Coalition Government, Defence Review, Economics, Labour Goverment, Liam Fox, Middle East, Obama, Parliament, RAF, SAS, Tony Blair
David Cameron is in Cairo to instruct the Egyptians in democracy. As an impulsive gesture, his visit comes as a surprise. There was hardly time to brief him. William Hague was in Europe carefully coordinating policy with our European allies; President Obama was keeping his head down#; but our Dave was winging his way into the maelstrom. It reminds me of Rudolf Hess, Deputy to Adolf Hitler, who confronted with the German invasion of the Soviet Union flew to Scotland to negotiate peace with Britain. He was promptly put in prison. I have often wondered what Hitler said about it when he first knew.
I have news for the readers of this post. He was briefed before leaving. In the true meaning of the word it did not take long to read the notes. Hague wrote: ‘Don’t do it.’ The Permanent Secretary at the Foreign Office expressed himself as forceably. ‘Remember, he said, the long and troubled colonial background to our relationship with Egypt and our traditional support of Egyptian dictators. Don’t go on about teaching them democracy, they won’t appreciate it. In particular don’t mention the Suez Canal and the unreliability of army generals. George Osborne, as befits a friend in the modern era, tweeted him. ‘Dave, please, please don’t go on about the need for austerity, wage restraint and the imperative need to cut the deficit. Wrong time, wrong place’ . Several Cabinet members, in hope of promotion, urged him to introduce the idea of the Big Society to the Army Council and the attractions of small government. With patience and skill, he would be able to show them that it was a time to look away from the benificence of the state and the advantages of encouraging voluntary action. After all that is what these common Egyptian Jonnies have been practicing in the streets.
It has been rumoured, although I doubt the veracity of the reports, that a Labour Party faction in touch with Egyptian trade unions has urged them to practice a citizens arrest. They might consider that Dave would be a lasting asset to them. Someone with his historical knowledge and awareness of the difficulties of the man in the street would be invaluable on a lasting basis. Of course it would be a loss to British public life to lose our Dave for a prolonged period of time; but we are all social democrats now and we could make do without him.
What we don’t want is national embarassment. Perhaps when he gets there no one will want to meet him. After all not many Egyptian soldiers know anything about the Big Society. Come to think of it not many Britons know much either. If these Generals know anything about Coalition cuts to our armed forces they might exercise caution. Of course there is no harm in a furtive photograph or two. Back in Britain there would be national support for a Unison strike at our airports to keep out Dave. Not for ever of course but for a month or two. I’m sure a whip round to cover lost wages would attract widespread support.
Filed under Army, BBC, Big society, Cameron, Coalition Government, Economics, Egypt, George Osborne, Ghadaffi, Labour leadership, Labour Party, Libya, Politics, Public Services, Treasury, Voting reform, Wlliam Hague