Thursday, August 29, 2013

When is it right to go to war ?

A friend asked me if I would rule out military action in all circumstances without a resolution of the UN Security Council.    Putting on on side the circumstances in which the UN Charter authorises actions without such a vote, I still don't think it is possible to rule out action ever without a UNSC motion, but yes I support the development of international law since the Second World War.  To act without such a resolution I would set the bar very high, much higher than the current situation in Syria.

The ancient Christian doctrine of the Just War is a good guide.  War is a great evil and one should only resort to it on the following conditions:
1) to overcome a greater evil
2) in a proportionate way, i.e. only as much as required to overcome the evil
3)only when there is a reasonable chance of success.

I do not believe that the military options available to respond to the conduct of Assad's regime fulfil those conditions.

Further more, as a federalist I maintain that we have a duty to build supranational structures which provide peaceful means of resolving conflict, law between nations as well as within nations.    Those who advocate the use of force need to demonstrate that they have made a serious effort to provide the world with an alternative.  To abandon steps in that direction only makes violence more likely in the future, as Bush and Blair have proved.

It should have been us

It should have been Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats forcing Cameron to think again on intervention in Syria.   Lamentable performance by Clegg on the Today programme this morning. Gladstone would have got this right. Once again I considered resigning from my party and rejected it.  I will be there long after Nick Clegg has gone. I am delighted that we have a parliamentary and not a presidential system.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Syria: what I told my MP

My MP asked constituents for comments before the Syria debate tomorrow.  I responded:

Dear Julian,

You have expressed all my concerns.   My instinct is that we should not intervene because of the difficulties of any military option, the risk of making things worse rather than better in Syria and the consequences for relations between the Islamic world and the West.    The Middle East today is like Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (but with modern weapons) and we dabble in their religious wars at our peril.   Above all, Liberal Democrats should not support action without a UNSC resolution.  That was our stance over Iraq and we should stick to it.  One final comment - I understand that the UN Secretary-General is seeking more time for the chemical weapons inspectors to do their work.  Sounds strangely familiar.

As ever,


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Pickles' EU Pork Pie

Eric Pickles doesn't just eat pork pies, he tells them, particularly where the European Union is concerned. On Liberal Democrat Voice Giles Goodall reveals a classic tale of inventing and spreading Euromyths, this time the European flag and the birth certificate.  The Sun and the Mail voraciously gobble it up.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Breakthrough on the cat front

Since I moved in my neighbour's beautiful Burmese Grey has always greeted me warmly in the street but run away when encountered in my garden (jungle).   Today she recognised me in the garden and followed me into my study.   This post has been somewhat delayed by her jumping on to my desk and attempting to help me write it.  She has also provided me with another excuse (other my own indolence and procrastination) for not getting on with paying bills and other regrettable incidents of life.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

War and peace

I confess to a liking for Second World War films.  I just watched The Cruel Sea.  Some years ago at a dinner in Brussels I met Frau Von Moltke.  Her husband, a Director-General in the European Commission, was at the other end of the table.  I asked if he was related to the general.  "Which one ?", she asked and then added "actually he's related to all of them."   Relations of his had fought in the Franco-Prussian War, the First World War and the Second World War.   Of course, so had members of my family (except the Franco-Prussian).   Generations of Europeans have died and killed each other in war for centuries.  Their descendants have tried to build something better.

It makes me so angry to hear the nationalist bollocks of UKIP and their friends in the Tory Party.  It also makes me angry to hear the half-hearted, luke-warm, grudging comments of British so-called pro-Europeans.  How do they imagine we can build peace without the European Union ?  For pity's sake, let's learn from history, stop moaning and get on with working for peace in Europe and the world.