Saturday, 21 September 2013

Hague and Cameron should resign, because of what they did to Libya and what they wanted to do to Syria

William Hague and David Cameron are both very able men indeed - especially William Hague - but they should resign because of what they did to Libya and for losing the vote on Syria. Mr. Hague at least should go. But they do not face even a vote of confidence.

Bombing Syria would not have been about chemical weapons, as far as Mr. Hague and Mr. Cameron are concerned, but a way to achieve regime change. For Mr. Obama, an
intervention would have been about saving his and the USA's face, since he made threatening noises about not crossing red lines. I dislike the use of chemical weapons, but as Rod Liddle puts it in a characteristically brilliant article here, why is it worse to be killed by chemicals than by a pig falling on your head from a balcony? (He has evidently read  my favourite Graham Greene short story.)

I did not want intervention against the Syrian government, even if it did use sarin, not because I liked Mr. Assad, but because I was convinced that the regime is, by some way, the lesser of two great evils. I believed William Hague was more or less truthful when he said that the chances of the sarin having been used by the rebels, rather the regime, were 'vanishingly small', There were things that he stretched but I supposed mostly he told the truth, even though Miss Carla de Ponte of the UN said some time ago that the rebels had used sarin. That allegation passed almost unnoticed. It was not investigated further and did not lead the Mr. Hague and Mr. Cameron to intervene on the side of the Syrian government. Even though the Syrian government had so much to lose by using chemical weapons and the rebels so very much to gain, I gave William Hague and John Kerry the benefit of the doubt. I am, after all, a deferential working-class Tory.

But today I decided that I do not trust William Hague on this and trust Vladimir Putin, the KGB spy turned butcher of Chechnya, who has almost as bad a human rights record as Mr Assad, rather better. Robert Fisk's article in today's Independent has changed my mind. He seems to have changed his mind too. A few days ago he pointed out that Assad did not call for the rebels to give up chemical weapons, taking  this as an indication that he knew the rebels were not to blame for the sarin attack. Assad has since done so.

Of course, in any case, the chemical weapons are completely beside the point. Great Britain and America have no more good reason for wanting the Assad regime to fall than they had for wanting to get rid of Saddam or Gadaffi. They US and UK are deluded by fear of Iran and they are identifying Western interests with those of Israel - and also Saudi Arabia.  Neither of those countries deserves the shedding of English blood, especially when it is in British interests to see the Syrian regime re-establish some sort of order in Syria. 

My prayer now is that America, Russia, Assad, the rebels and Iran can negotiate a settlement that contains Al Qaeda and - who knows? - even ends the cold war between Iran and the US and UK. 

Patrick Cockburn, the son of Claud, writes compellingly about this here and points out: 

So long as Tehran felt that the US, western Europeans, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies were aiming at regime change in Damascus as a precursor to regime change in Iran, then it had every reason to throw all its resources into keeping Assad in power, regardless of the political or economic cost. Hezbollah in Lebanon saw itself as facing an existential threat, which is unsurprising given that the anti-Assad forces inside and outside Syria were gleefully admitting that the war was aimed at Iran, Hezbollah and the Shia in general.

Cockburn fils is an unflashy journalist whom I trust more than Fisk. Do read the article.

Peace negotiations are only possible because of the British Government's defeat last month in the House of Commons. I cannot think of any other British Leader of the Opposition before Mr. Miliband, with such an achievement to his credit, since Clement Attlee insisted on a vote on the Norwegian campaign in 1940 and thereby brought down Neville Chamberlain's government. But the government won that vote, unlike the vote on Syria.

Had England true Parliamentary government, as we had in the nineteenth century and had in 1940, Messrs. Hague and Cameron would have gone or at least be very insecure. What a monument to the lack of seriousness of today's British political class that, instead, the pair are looking forward to a good party conference.

1 comment:

  1. Dissolution of the Long Parliament by Oliver Cromwell given to the House of Commons, 20 April 1653

    It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.

    Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter'd your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?

    Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil'd this sacred place, and turn'd the Lord's temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress'd, are yourselves gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors.