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That Syria vote and why I am a liberal interventionist

August 31, 2013

When the result of the division on the Government motion was announced I was stood at the back of MPs crowded at the entrance to the Commons.  So I didn’t see the Labour whips move to the position where the winners of the vote get to shout out the result. The stunned silence quickly gave way to tasteless Labour cheers.  Low politics had collided with complex diplomacy.

The Prime Minister and the Deputy PM had recalled Parliament to stage the first defeat of the Coalition. And I was on the losing side with them.  Everyone seemed pretty stunned by the result.  It may have been avoidable if Ministers had been able to invest more time in winning over sceptical colleagues, like the Obama Administration is doing with Congress.  But that would have depended either on Labour shrugging off the shadow of Iraq or some Tories embracing internationalism over isolation.

So where does this leave Britain’s place in the world?  In the short term, just a bit muddled. But pretty quickly we have to decide whether our future foreign policy is predicated on Britain being an outward looking international player or a shrunken hulk of isolationism.  There are those on the right of the Tory party, haunted by UKIP, who want Britain to withdraw from the European Union and don’t seem to place much value on the US “special relationship” either.  Bizarrely, some of the same people want to increase defence spending and renew Trident.

Labour are desperate to put the spectre of Iraq behind them.  But Syria is not Iraq.  Assad has weapons of mass destruction and is prepared to use them.  When we voted on Thursday it was not at the last moment with hundreds of thousands of UK and US troops poised at the border, as in March 2003.  There had been no “dodgy dossier” or partial advice from the Attorney General. The Coalition Government cooperated with the Opposition on the motion and promised a second vote ahead of any military strike against Assad’s capability to use chemical weapons again.  Unlike 2003, the government was proposing joint action with a Democrat US President, with a Socialist French President on board too.  Labour MPs might think that the defeat of the Coalition’s motion was smart domestic politics, covering up Miliband’s lacklustre summer and putting distance between them and the Blair legacy.  But I think they will soon regret ignoring the case for humanitarian intervention.  It’s a long way from the spirit of the socialist international brigades and Spanish civil war posters saying “if you tolerate this, then your children will be next.”

I voted with the government because I am a liberal internationalist.  I want Britain to play a full role in an enlarged European Union.  The EU’s newest member is Croatia.  Macedonia is next in the queue.  In the mid 1990s I was ashamed that the Major government did not do more to restrain Milosevic’s ethnic clensing in Bosnia.  I applauded Blair for acting swiftly when people were burned out of their villages in Kosovo.

I believe it is the duty of advanced democracies to use their resources to advance and protect human rights around the world.  In the main, that should be through peaceful means.  Trade agreements, cultural exchanges and a generous aid programme are all part of the mix.  I am proud of the fact that the Coalition government will this year hit the forty year old target of 0.7% of our national income being allocated to international aid.  We will have almost doubled the budget of the International Development Department in a time of fiscal austerity elsewhere in government.

But sometimes we have to wave a big stick against regimes that are not interested in diplomacy and human rights. That’s why I voted to intervene in Libya two years ago, to avert a massacre by Gadaffi. That’s why I would still vote to support British participation in a surgical strike against Assad’s ability to mass murder Syrian civilians.  It would not be about regime change or taking sides in a civil war. It would certainly not be an Iraq style invasion.  But it would be about doing what we can to protect the lives of innocent people from the barbarous actions of a brutal dictator.

My conscience is clear after Thursday’s vote.  But I am worried about Britain’s place in the world and whether people fearing oppression and destruction will in future look to us for hope and salvation.

87 Comments leave one →
  1. September 1, 2013 12:02 am

    Considering Obama and Kerry are running the EXACT same argument as Bush and Colin Powell did, I don’t believe them. In fact i’m having a hard time seeing a difference between Obama and Bush at all, other than the skin color.

    • September 1, 2013 7:08 pm

      “Other than the skin color” — come on, grow up.

      • September 1, 2013 7:33 pm

        I’m as grown up as I want to be, thanks.
        Don’t you see that Kerry and Obama are making the same exact arguments as Colin Powell and Bush did?

      • September 1, 2013 9:42 pm

        I think this is the correct way to phrase your point of view :

        “Considering Obama and Kerry are running the EXACT same argument as Bush and Colin Powell did, I don’t believe them. In fact i’m having a hard time seeing a difference between Obama and Bush at all.”

      • September 11, 2013 10:32 pm

        What makes you say that? I voted for Obama mainly because he was black. The fact that he got elected was a significant accomplishment and a genuinely positive one. It was so significant, that it covered up 6 years of crappy policies identical to the guy before him.

    • Chris permalink
      September 9, 2013 2:59 pm

      I was hopeful when Mr Obama got elected…it was a Dr King moment
      Mr O promised to close Guantalamo………….Not done
      He has been got at by congressmen who have personal interests to promote
      The names will change but The Puppet Masters never do
      Monsanto Oil Companies Arms Producers Secret Service Agencies

  2. September 1, 2013 12:27 am

    Bravo Stephen! Liberal Interventionism recognises the place of the UK which stems from the quality of our ideas on the notions of the good society and the fact that we are our sisters and brothers keepers. Good for you, and please keep up the good work.

    • Chris permalink
      September 9, 2013 3:04 pm


      Dont think this idea would work in Damascus when your house is being bombed by either side…………….its a bit different than Leafy Bristol

      Why dont you try writing this on a demonstration banner and walking down the local roads and see if it would stop bullets

      Sometimes ” High Moral Ideas ” need to tempered by pragmatism ????

      Yes / no ???

  3. September 1, 2013 8:13 am

    Excellent contribution, Stephen.

    Am I right in thinking that both the Coalition motion and the Labour amendment condemned the Syrian use of chemical weapons, and both required a second vote to commit Britain to a military strike, subject to weapons inspectors reporting, etc?

    If that is the case, if you add together those MPs who supported the amendment and those MPs who supported the substantive motion, was there actually more support for exploring the pros and cons of military intervention than two defeated votes might suggest?

    • September 1, 2013 9:25 am

      Sadly I think a mixture of poor management by the government and low politics by Labour leadership and some head banger Tory backbenchers has frustrated a clear decision. A sudden one day recall deprived MPs the chance to discuss the issue in depth with colleagues.

      • Philip permalink
        September 3, 2013 3:01 pm

        Not forgetting the dozen Lib Dem MPs who voted against, of course… A properly whipped roster of LDs would have swung it.

      • September 3, 2013 3:20 pm

        Yes Philip. I am disappointed with some Lib Dem colleagues. But the number of Lib Dem and Tory MPs who disagreed with the motion was a small minority. The Labour party was 100% against and I can’t believe that they were all opposed on principle…

  4. Dave Eastham permalink
    September 1, 2013 8:58 am

    I have no problem with being “Liberal Interventionist”. Kosovo, Sierra Leone were cases in point. However, in this particular case of Syria at this particular time, I do have a problem. This has all the hallmarks of the worst kind of a “managerial” response.”Something must be done, this is something (bomb Syria) lets do it”. I frankly struggle with the implied concept of “Humanitarian” Tomahawk cruise missiles!. The Government motion was a true “Coalition” compromise of a motion and I don’t mean that in a derogatory way. It’s just that the Government motion had a number of get out clauses obviously born of negotiation. For all the cant about the Labour amendment, in truth, did add something positive and I regret the obvious Party political wrangling from both sides over it. It demeans us all. Now Obama is going to Congress – good, probably as a result of Thursday. If we are serious about helping the situation in Syria beyond hand wringing, perhaps some more practical support for the refugees would not go amiss?. By helping out the Turks and others who are dealing with the problem. Oh, and going through the UN?.

    • September 1, 2013 9:30 am

      Dave, we are providing aid to Jordan to help with the huge number of refugees, I think we are the major donor, out of our expanded DfID budget. I agree that low politics has frustrated a proper consideration (squeezed into one day, for which Cameron and Clegg must take the blame) and yes, we are doing what is possible in the UN given the blocking tactics of Russia.

  5. Steve S permalink
    September 1, 2013 9:22 am

    I agree with Dave Eastham’s comment.

    Nowhere in your article is there a mention of what kind of military strike you would like to see against Syria. You don’t appear to have considered the question of whether a military strike would be successful or whether it would lead to greater bloodshed. That is why the majority of the public were against the strike. That is why the vote failed. The only hope for military intervention in Syria to succeed would be for a far larger commitment in the form of a no-fly zone and possibly ground troops in peace keeping roles. That is something that requires a far greater financial and human cost and it would be a very courageous decision for Western politicians to take. What is not courageous is lobbing a few cruise missiles in there from a distance in the belief that ‘something’ has to be done. Not only is it lacking in courage, but it lacks a military objective or rationale that would lead to a more favourable outcome.

    • September 1, 2013 9:33 am

      Steve, I’m not privy to the military advice but I would assume the cruise strikes would be against military airfields, artillery batteries, etc. A no fly zone would be a step beyond the minimum force I support, as that does commit British personnel, which at the moment I oppose.

      • Steve S permalink
        September 1, 2013 10:34 am

        Thank you for the reply.

        How would strikes against targets associated with conventional military weaponry and support prevent the use of further chemical attacks? You use the word minimum – what does that mean? Did you not mean to use the word maximum, as in the maximum amount of force you think tolerable? Did you mean to use the word minimal as in not very much? In the strict sense of the word, the minimum force is no military force. Sorry if I appear to be arguing over semantics but I think this is important. What is the point of a relatively small military strike from a distance that will almost certainly not be able to impact the regime’s ability to use chemical weapons but will probably reduce the regime’s conventional military ability slightly? Is it supposed to be a punishment? Is such a punishment really going to modify the behaviour of Assad’s army (we’re not sure if it the army controlling Assad or vice versa and we are not sure who authorised this attack)?

        The best way to prevent atrocities being carried out during war is to have observers on the ground, whether sanctioned by an organisation like the UN or by having journalists in the area, collecting evidence and documenting what happens. The threat of prosecution is the greatest weapon we have ( just like street crime – the right wing response seems to always thinks of increasing punishment rather than improving enforcement and prevention). If we are serious about using military force to prevent atrocities then it needs to be a far greater use of resources than a few missile strikes – we need peace keeping forces and observers on the ground and the enforcement of no-fly zones and safe areas. A limited missile strike will probably just add to the chaos and destruction of war that the perpetrators of atrocities need to get away with their actions.

        The government seems not to want to go to the effort of proper military intervention (peace-keepers, etc) because of the perceived failures of such measures in the past and the reluctance of the public to get dragged into another war on the basis of human and financial cost. To my mind, that is why a limited missile strike has been proposed – not because it makes any military sense, but because it is much cheaper and less risky in the immediate sense of not particularly risking the lives of British servicemen. However, this ignores the risk of escalating the conflict within Syria and the risk of dragging other foreign powers into what is an already bitter and sectarian conflict.

      • September 1, 2013 11:49 am

        Steve, I think Assad should be indicted for war crimes, like Milosevic and Karadic. But as in Bosnia and Kosovo a military strike is needed to stop them doing more harm in the meantime.

    • Chris permalink
      September 9, 2013 3:16 pm

      Steve S


      If there was no oil there the US would not be interested

      The Middle east is composed of warring tribes whose arguments go back thousands of years and can not be solved by ” bombing some people ”

      There internal problems do not warrant intervention from ” The Democratic West ” who appear to think they are in some way superior

      Their history of civilisation goes back as far or further than ours and definately further back than The USA

      If you look at a world atlas and research the resouce rich nations you will find conflict and intervention on an ongoing basis with the Wests armed forces being used to gain control of the resources

  6. Roger Opie permalink
    September 1, 2013 10:42 am


    Puzzled by the apparent lack of presence and profile by the Foreign Secretary in recent days as opposed to his Shadow Douglas Alexander

  7. KEVIN YORKE permalink
    September 1, 2013 11:19 am

    Well put Stephen however we are no longer at the top table in the world because of one thing. Military cutbacks. We are seen by many as weak and ineffectual. It may be a sad or unpalatable fact to many but if Britain had a strong and effective military then countries would take more notice of us. That is simple logic and it’s no good for you to support the military cutbacks one minute but want to use our military to intervene the next. And please don’t spout the argument that we are the Worlds 4ths largest defence spender because we’re not. We have 30 Infantry Battalions of which 24 are drastically under strength. We have a Navy rusting in Portsmouth and so badly funded that we can’t even provide a Frigate to defend this country. That is fact Stephen. I just wish that you would attend a military establishment and see the problems for yourself. All well and good spending money on International Aid but sorry to say that Aid is needing here in this country. Sorry mate, rant over and very eloquently put in your blog.

    • Chris permalink
      September 9, 2013 3:18 pm



      The US look upon us as their outpost in the Wild West of Europe there to assist in Eupopean maneouvres

      There is no Special Relationship anymore as we have had our emails and calls listened to by the NSA

  8. September 1, 2013 11:26 am

    Whilst I very much admire your stance towards up holding the UKs position in the world, and I also believe it is the duty of advanced democracies to use their resources to advance and protect human rights around the world, even to the point of a missile attack or boots on the ground for the greater good, some times.

    The situation in the middle east is an area where history has placed the UK, US & Israel in a very regrettable position. I always cringe at the labeling of any people, but unfortunately for ‘Arab people’, who have been living in an area of this world for 10’000s years, on land they have farmed for countless generations, to be forced to leave by the British with the Balfour declaration in 1917 through to the continuing march of Israel into occupied Palestine and the refusal of the US to even acknowledge a state of Palestine at the UN. This must hurt and will leave scars…

    Unfortunately in this Syrian civil war and any conflict involving ‘Arab people’ or ‘The middle east’ there is going to be a fear of zionism if ‘The west’ intervenes. It is a very large hornets nest and in this case and until something is done to resolve the situation of Israel / Palestine, it should be left for the rest of the world, Russia / China etc to act as UN police.

    • September 1, 2013 11:54 am

      Phil, I agree with you that the British and French carve up of the Ottoman Empire post 1918 (with the arbitrary Sykes-Picot straight lines on the map) has caused lots of problems that are with us today, including denying the Kurds a nation state of their own. The previous Balfour Declaration actually stated that indigenous Arab rights should be protected. But the mistakes of politicians from the first decades of the 20th century should not stop my generation from trying to do what is right for civilians there now.

      • September 1, 2013 5:31 pm

        Unfortunately it’s the actions of the politicians of our generation in the US/UK towards the continued suppression of the civilian people in Palestine from The government of Israel, which is creating an environment where our trying to help comes across as trying to impose.. I’m sure there will be a great pressure towards your self and all politicians from lobbyists for this situation to turn out in our “economic advantage” as well as your trying to do what you feel is right for the suffering civilians.. but some times we have to understand and accept it is better to stay out of a situation..

        Anyway, the vote has now passed and hopefully this whole situation has encouraged people to participate in democracy by communicating with politicians like your self, and hopefully we are being listened to as much if not more than the financial elite..

        It has been quite refreshing to find that many politicians were using social media to gain public opinion before the vote, a sign of the strength of our democracy, as it has been the social media helping bring about revolutions in the less democratic lands of our world.

  9. Doug Reid permalink
    September 1, 2013 11:29 am

    A good synopsis of the situation well done for Voting with the Government
    something needs to be done to deprive Assad of the
    use of chemical weaqpons. It’s just Barbarism that we’re seeing now.

    • Chris permalink
      September 17, 2013 7:10 pm


      According to RT 3 days ago …channel 85 on your TV….each of these companies have donated $3 million to delegates with influence in the US Administration

      Raytheon……………Just sold 252 missiles to a foreign sovereign country
      Lockheed Martin…..sells fighter aircraft to foreign sovereign countries
      Boeing………………..manufactures surveillance equipment

      Continued armed world conflict is profitable for some companies

      ? Who do you think sold the chemical weapons to Mr Assad

      Comments ??

  10. September 1, 2013 11:30 am

    The problem with voting Aye is that it claimed Assad used CW before there is any evidence that he actually did it. The UN inspectors should be reporting on their findings in the next couple of days.

    • September 1, 2013 11:54 am

      David, there does seem to be evidence that Assad’s regime is behind the use of chemical weapons, and also behind the napalm-like bombing of children in a school playground? It may not yet be conclusive evidence, but for me it seems very likely.

      Is there a plausible alternative?

      • September 1, 2013 6:25 pm

        A few:
        – rogue general
        – rebels
        – CIA

        What do they have in common? They all stand to gain unlike Assad who, barring another botched vote by Cameron, would be welcoming a British task force in addition to French and US in the next week or so.

      • Philip permalink
        September 3, 2013 10:30 pm

        The most plausible explanation I’ve heard is that Assad’s troops have been mixing lethal chemical weapons into tear gas and using that on civilians, causing some deaths but not on a massive scale. They’ve been doing this routinely for months. Maybe someone got the mix wrong or someone decided to dispense with the tear gas. This isn’t the first time that Assad’s people have used chemical weapons but the first time they haven’t mixed it up with tear gas in order to kill dozens rather than hundreds. Maybe they thought since they’d blurred the line that they could step over it?

      • gary L permalink
        June 30, 2014 10:45 pm

        Liberal interventionist..hmm you mean warmonger? nevermind, the puppet masters have lined up another ‘liberal intervention’ for you with the equally plausible ISIS ISIL ‘the evil jihadists are behind you, boooo!’pantomine

      • Sam permalink
        July 1, 2014 11:46 pm

        If there isn’t enough info already on this blog by constituents without the wool so heavily pulled over their eyes as S. Williams, have a look at ex Ass’t Treasury Sec’ to Reagan and ex Assoc’ Editor for The Wall St Journal, Paul Craig Roberts site to swat up on what’s really going on with US foreign policy

    • September 1, 2013 11:55 am

      Agree. But we have plenty of sources of information, govt and NGO, about what happened. UN is not sole source but it is an important and credible one.

      • September 1, 2013 6:28 pm

        There is zero evidence that Assad ordered it in the JIC report, nor the US report. If you’ve read some secret report, I’m sure we’d love to know.

        Also, it’s about 10 years since the JIC manufactured evidence to invade a different Middle Eastern country.

  11. Richard Fox permalink
    September 1, 2013 1:16 pm

    Stephen, your comments are.”right on” with regard to the moral imperative to hold Assad to account. But the American military plan has no military objective other than “punishment”, which is not a very worthy military goal. The military commentators have said that bombing the suspected chemical stores would be too risky; and clearly the Syrian military will have moved most of their important airplanes and missile launchers to somewhere else by now. So in what way will the tomahawk or cruise missiles put any limit on Syrian use of chemical weapons? What message would we be delivering, along with the missiles, other than temporary inconvenience to the perpetrators (whoever they are) and undoubted fear and insecurity to the mass of Syrian people? Does the Coalition, or for that matter the Lib-Dems, have any thought about what happens the week after the missiles are fired?

    • September 1, 2013 5:34 pm

      I’ve no expert or inside knowledge but I rather hope that the various intelligence services are able to track and trace the movement of war planes, helicopters, artillery pieces, etc.

      • Richard Fox permalink
        September 2, 2013 10:01 am

        Come on, Stephen. The Israelis have been doing “punishment” bombing for years with smart targeting, etc.; what’s the result? And weren’t the Americans doing pin-point accuracy targeting with cruise missiles flying right down the main street and into the appropriate window, right? Didn’t the British spend 10 years and a few thousand lives taking out the “bad apples” in Northern Ireland? Sure the boys with the toys have lots of clever gadgets, but where’s the long-term strategy? The problem that I – – and many other people – – have with the policy you are advocating is that there seems to be no credible strategy or hope of an outcome. Syria is not so poor or so lacking in military hardware that blowing up a few facilities will deter whoever has made up their mind to use chemical weapons.

        I repeat: what is the follow-on strategy in the week and month after your missiles do their business? What is the military objective here? To bring Assad to the bargaining table? To get him to talk to the opposition? And who IS the opposition, now that it seems to be completely fragmented and tribal? To weaken Assad (i.e. regime change)?

        While I sympathise with your desire to do something, and to act to stop the use of chemical weapons, I cannot see how sending in cruise and tomahawk missiles will do this. Are there any examples of such a short-term tactic working somewhere in the world? Surely sending in the missiles, in the absence of any long-term strategy, is nothing more than punishment.

  12. September 1, 2013 1:17 pm

    E Ferh and S Gachter, “Altruistic Punishment”, published in Nature 2002, cited by 2525 –

    Click to access Fehr_Gaechter_altruistic_punishment.pdf

    Real functional international community won’t happen or progress without policing of fundamental human rights and the social contract view of contingent rather than absolute state authority.

    Policing is necessary to create a real functioning stable community at all levels of life. (I’m a biologist, I can’t help seeing biological parallels in everything.)

    I believe there is a real difference between ‘war’ and international communal policing. War is violence with the aim of destroying a nation or a group of people, international policing is violence with the aim of protecting as many people as possible by killing if necessary only the most persistent or powerful aggressors. Military force cannot solve political problems, but it can limit the harm or pause the conflict to force the belligerents to negotiate or, in Assad’s case, flee into exile.

    Such international communal policing does not require the picking of sides or identifying which side is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, it’s just about limiting the harm to civilians and trying to make the process shorter and less traumatising, so that the Syrian people can establish their own peaceful, just, compassionate government of their own choosing.

    Cratering Syrian airforce runways and destroying stockpiles of weapons is not aiming to kill people, but unintentionally killing relatively few people in the process is a likely and foreseen consequence. But in choosing to do nothing militarily, the foreseen consequence is that tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands more people will be murdered and the accumulating trauma will make the sectarian aspect of the violence continue for generations.

    For sure the USA and UK (as well as Russia and China, obviously) have a mixture of genuine humanitarian motives and ulterior profiteering and realpolitiking motives. But we rarely get clear simple choices between good and bad in real life, we tend to have to choose between bad, worse and absolutely terrible. A probably slightly inconsistently humanitarian military intervention in Syria to limit the harm and if possible make the process shorter and less painful, even with inevitable small numbers of civilian casualties, would be relatively less bad than leaving Assad’s forces to continue murdering tens of thousands and indirectly causing the deaths of many more by displacement and disease in refugee camps.

    Besides the international moral norm against chemical weapons, more fundamentally Assad’s regime has broken the evolving international moral norm against government by terror. Governments may have contingent delegated authority if people voluntarily entrust their own power to them, but if ANY state turns to using terror and force to impose itself rather than relying on the freely given trust and consent of the people, it deserves to be condemned and absolutely destroyed, and let all of the curses in Deuteronomy apply. I include my own state in this.

    I am a Quaker. I wholeheartedly believe in the Peace Testimony, but not the current interpretation and application of it among Friends. I think policing is really different from war, and sometimes “living in the virtue of that life and power that takes away the occasion of all wars” includes being indifferent to living or dying and volunteering to fight and assassinate a murderous tyrant like Assad.

    Standing state armies and the whole commercial side of the military is very problematic, but in principle that’s a separate question from the moral use of force.

    • September 1, 2013 5:32 pm

      Yes Kester (?) I think a missile strike is the least bad thing we could do. None of the options available are good. In my opinion it would be worse to stand aside and do nothing to actually stop the attacks on civilians. We’re already doing the good option of aid for Jordan for refugees.

      • Hilary H. permalink
        September 2, 2013 11:39 am

        Wouldn’t gathering World partners to apply diplomatic pressure to stop those fueling the situation with arms be a less ‘bad’ and not be ‘standing aside’?

        Have we already tried and failed to pressure all parties involved to negotiate a ceasefire?

        What is the action being taken by this Government to promote a stable and lasting peace in Syria and the surrounding areas?

        A missile strike is knee-jerk strategy and is accepting defeat.

    • September 3, 2013 3:15 pm

      Hilary, thanks. Ideally yes. But the big problem here is that the Assad regime is protected by Russia. Putin has blocked effective UN sanctions. The same problem was apparent with Milosevic in Bosnia in 1995 and Kosovo in 1999, where Russia took the side of the Serbian government. Intervention there was eventually by NATO and has, 14 years on, massively improved the situation there. We now have Croatia in the EU in 2013 and Macedonia next in line. Please see my blog on What has the EU done for us?
      The wider Middle East process needs an active White House to bring Israel to the table and I am more optimistic at the moment that John Kerry as Sec of State in Obama’s second term may be persistent enough to make progress.

      • Hilary H. permalink
        September 3, 2013 7:06 pm

        Thank you for your response Stephen.

        My point was that pressure should be exerted on those countries, such as Russia, to stop fuelling/protecting the conflict. It may feel like this is a hopeless venture, but surely it holds more hope than sending a few missiles in? Do Europe+the US have no influence at all with Russia?

        I don’t dispute that intervention improved the situation in Bosnia and Kosovo but I believe comparing the situation in Syria with these conflicts is too simplistic. This blog post sums it up nicely:

        No sort of peace will be achieved without engaging other parties (regional and global) with an interest in the conflict.

    • S V permalink
      September 3, 2013 9:04 pm

      I think your good intentions are badly misguided. The US, UK are not fit to police the world if you look at their track record and they do not unilaterally stand up for repressed citizens by a very wide margin. Look at the people of Palestine as one glaring example. And the people of Iraq would have been far better off if we had never got involved. We have decimated their country and killed far more than Saddam ever did. Our most disgusting legacy is the depleted uranium strewn over Iraq and the horrific birth defects it causes, just look in Google images. The people of Libya were way better off with Gadaffi in power. You will never get a balanced view from our mainstream media, they would have you believe a complete fabrication that we and the rebels are the good guys fighting evil dictators, which is grossly untrue. In reality the USA funds, trains, and arms foreign rebels in order to destabilize their targets and do the dirty work for them. They’ve done it so many times no, it’s embarrassingly obvious. We don’t know who used chemical weapons but it would be suicidally stupid for Assad to use them, and their are reports of the Saudi’s supplying chemical weapons to the rebels. The USA used phosphor bombs on the people of Fallujah so why didn’t Bush stand trial in an International court. The USA uses torture, and indefinite detention without trial, it spies on it’s own citizens and puts them on no fly lists for trivial reasons. Obama’s Home Land Security has bought more ‘hollow point’ bullets than all the bullets fired during WWII.
      Quakers should no better than to support any kind of violence! The only logical thing to do is to stop the USA starting these false civil wars in the first place.

  13. September 2, 2013 1:11 pm

    Hi Stephen. Great blog. I am 100% with you on this one. Although personally I think this debate came 2 years too late. Assad has managed to murder many of his people without conventional arms. While I understand that the government has a political imperative to act with the use of chemical weapons, I fear that this has merely convinced everyone that the situation is just like the Iraq War, making them lose perspective. If we acted before we could have decisively took the rebels side, but now the rebels are fragmented and needless thousands are dead. That is on our and the rest of the West’s conscience.

    I hear what you are saying about the lost spirit of the international brigades. People are too cynical and fearful today to recognise a genuine fight against tyranny if they ever saw one. I find this quite sad.

    • September 3, 2013 3:17 pm

      Thanks Zachary, entirely agree. Blair, Bush and Iraq cast a long and baleful shadow…

    • Mike Chappell permalink
      September 5, 2013 6:12 pm

      And which righteous side are you on Zachary, Al Qaida or Al Nusra? This is Syria and we do not have a right to tell a sovereign nation how to run things or to take up a democracy that is badly practised by the west – the NSA/USA is run by big business and it is these shills that call the shots making money out of wars!

      Stephen is deluding himself and so are you if you think getting tangled up militarily in this mess is in ours or the Syrian peoples interest. Perhaps you can call for intervention in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain to the biggest sponsors of terrorism! The US has taken the ‘Sunni side’ in a religeous war that will benefit Israel in a war of divide and rule – this is the Balkanisation of the Middle East and Oil Gas water and other resources are part of it.

      • Chris permalink
        September 5, 2013 6:57 pm

        Mr Chappell you are completly correct in your summation of the World View of this “Little Incident ” in world politics.

        The control of seeds , food and water in the next generation will be crucial and with some GM companies like Monsanto trying to control seed puchases you can understand why ” a little oil ” is part of the overall US strategy

        China is buying up land in Africa to grow food for its increasing population

        I have read Sci Fi for many years and all of this has been predicted for 40 years minimum

        Lack of fresh water , power sources , food and even clean air

  14. S V permalink
    September 3, 2013 4:24 pm

    Dear Stephen

    You’re still the naive idiot you were when you voted yes to destroy Libya. I wasted my vote on you but never again! I thought you might have grown up a bit since you mistake over Libya but alas no hope for that. You don’t deserve to represent my constituency.

    How many times must we hear the “Evil dictator using in Chemical Weapons / WMD’s” rubbish before we get it. This is exactly how modern empire building is carried out and how we’re duped into supporting it. The US covertly, or not so covertly, sponsors the rebels against the foreign government (regime) that they want to topple. It is no secret that the US has been arming Al-qaeda, they’re sworn enemies, in Syria, many of whom are not even Syrian. Surely that is an act of illegal war in itself? And now you think it’s a good thing to going in there with our own military to conquer of Syria. And it was Saudi who supplied the Chemical weapons and the rebels who used them, so why don’t you attack Saudi for an act of war against innocent civilians?

    This has nothing to do with democracy or freeing oppressed people and everything to do with military budgets, stealing / controlling resources, and empire.

    Shame on you!

    • Chris permalink
      September 17, 2013 7:30 pm


      US Corporations influence their Government to pass laws and attack other countries so they can install a leadership that they can bribe and use to either extract minerals or resources

      They seek to set up US overseas business and outlets and set up foreign military bases

      They use bribery by funding the governments they support and attacking and stopping trade with the ones who wont co-operate

      The West must realise that they have no MORAL right to go and interfere with another Sovereign Country

      “Regime change “……Humanitarian relief / support “….”Supporting the oppressed people ”

      ” Democracy ”

      All of these are name tags that are used to convince the citizens of the West that we have a “Moral Duty ” to invade foreign lands for the good of the residents when it is primarily about selling arms and getting contracts to rebuild the towns that the bombs destroy

      The great thing now is that due to world social media the “Silent Majority ” around the world can now not be so silent and report and discuss what is actually happening

      Its about time the citizens of the West started telling their governments what to do and not let some major corporations dictate world policy

  15. Bev Knott permalink
    September 3, 2013 5:08 pm

    The motion you voted for, Stephen, spoke of `preventing and deterring` further use of chemical weapons. This is a sham; there is no realistic way this is likely to be achieved. The only purpose of a destructive limited strike is to wag a very big finger at Assad and co, and so make us all feel better because we have `done something`. Appeasing our revulsion in this token way is neither noble nor good foreign politics. It is only a matter of doing it because we can (well, the USA, anyway; point was well made above about our real military capability). Where we can`t, e.g. N Korea, Iran ( even if some would like to) we don`t. And, very sadly, we cannot make a real difference in Syria; only massive intervention could achieve that, with unimaginable consequences. A gesture will make no difference, any more than did the US `surgical strike on Baghdad some time before the Iraq war, or bombing Gadaffi way way back in time.

  16. Katherine permalink
    September 3, 2013 6:51 pm

    Whilst I might have phrased it rather differently I sympathise with SV’s view point. I am totally disaffected with party politicians who can make spiteful remarks about any opposition parties ‘tasteless cheers’ as though the governing party/parties wouldn’t have done the same in an adversarial arena of aggressive one-upmanship like the House of Commons. The politicians are all in this point-scoring culture together and it is always undedifying. I am angry and sad about the lazy, short-term thinking that results in proposals, investment and action to bomb anything or anyone. Covert as the US in Central and South America or overt as in Afghanistan and Libya, violence breeds violence – always.

    If I were a Syrian mother right now whose children were still alive, would I find it at all comforting to be anywhere near Western ‘surgical’ attacks? Or would I want Western boots on my ground, with the real threat of rape and torture, prostitution and violence? How would they change my children’s lives or deaths for the better? Would I be justified in thinking that the same internecine hatreds and violence would still persist in Syria for decades?

    Has Western hegemonic interference, whether through spying/’diplomacy’, aid with strings attached such as immoral, state-subsidised arms deals, or physical bullying/force ever fostered human rights? Or does only long-term culture change combined with the reduction in economic inequality locally and globally ever institute local democracy and personal responsibility and the respect for difference and everyone’s human rights?

    How many arms deals has this (and every other recent) government made with governments in the ‘unstable’ Middle East? And to ruling parties who do not respect human rights? Wouldn’t the mature democratic choice be to divert all of the Trident budget and most of the ‘armed forces’ budgets; to unhook the aid budget from international bribery, corruption of local democracy when it doesn’t suit the donor country’s strategic dominance and destructive arms deals; to invest long-term those seriously enormous budgets in people’s education and welfare without going through the large aid agencies or national governments but straight to local enterprises with proportionate monitoring? Or at worst to leave them alone to sort out the mess that we have created and maintained for generations?

    Isn’t it a measure of intellectual bankrupty that politicians and others are so concerned to maintain the UK’s standing as a ‘big hitter’, literally as well as ideologically? And this when we have failed to bolster our own democracy with a fair model of equality and human rights that has stood the test of a politically-constructed recession so that the most vulnerable suffer least.

    Why do we want to maintain our standing as one of the world’s largest perpetrators of violence and largest arms traders providing inconceivably large amounts of weapons of oppression to governments that we then assume to ‘punish’? Why do we think that such a proven failed paradigm will solve this atrocity? Why don’t we learn from decades of failure? Why do we think that doing the same sort of damaging thing over and over again is a good idea?

    What would happen if we admitted our failure, agreed on a creative, non-violent strategy for the very long term? What could be more rational in hoping that when the next generations are in government there will be more women and young people making humane, non-jingoistic, non-partisan decisions in this country and and across the world and that the Arab-speaking world will have been given the chance to devise its own way to live with each other in some sort of peace without perpetual Western interference? I realise that in the meantime many innocent civilians will be slaughtered – but they are and will continue to be if we continue in the same dud paradigm. I had hoped for a No vote from my MP. Thankfully others voted Yes and we have time to consider these questions. And in the mean time even more aid, directed to refugee-led groups.

    • September 3, 2013 8:31 pm

      We are the largest donor country to the efforts to alleviate refugee suffering. The UK has spent more on Syrian refugees than any previous humanitarian intervention.

  17. Katherine permalink
    September 3, 2013 7:01 pm

    I should have typed at the end of my piece, ‘Thankfully others voted No and we have time to consider these questions.’

  18. September 3, 2013 10:49 pm

    Stephen, I was very sad to see how you had voted. I abhor violence of any kind and this sort of response seldom leads to anything other than an unplanned and prolonged involvement in a messy civil war. I cannot help but feel that this was more about British political ego than any real concern for these tragic victims. If we really want to help should we not be pressurizing the Chinese and Russians to influence Assad, sending support to Jordanian and Lebanese refugee camps and showing respect for the rule of law? Should we not be standing up against the British arms industry which shames us all when it uses war as a method of income?

    I think this vote has shown that the UK parliament still has value and perhaps we have even influenced our American cousins. If the LibDems wish to continue to exist as a political force they need to embrace the values of clear thinking and wisdom that used to characterise much of their policy. At present these seem to have been jettisoned in favour of shortlived expedient power sharing. I write as a Lib dem voter ( for the last two elections) in your constituency.

    • September 3, 2013 11:04 pm

      Graham, the UK is already the biggest international donor to the Syrian refugee relief effort. Diplomatic pressure on Russia has been ongoing for over a year and I’m sure will be reapplied at the G20 summit later this week.

      • September 3, 2013 11:22 pm

        Thanks Stephen. I think these are really things we can be proud of. However, I haven’t heard any UK political leader publically exhort the Chinese and Russians in this way. Moreover, the £500,000 per bomb fired could go a very long way in providing shelter and food for refugees. “Surgical” strikes are seldom very precise – did we not manage to hit the Chinese embassy on one occasion? How can this possibly help anyone? If your child was killed by an allied bomb in error – and doubtless this will happen – would you care if this was a UK/USA missile or if it came from Assad ( or indeed the coalition of opposition fighters).

        This is a really difficult and complex issue but to resort to ill thought out bombing in the belief that this will produce a precise, discreet and effective outcome with prevention of further gas attacks seems very naive and at odds with the lessons of history.

  19. Mrs Danuta Kellett permalink
    September 3, 2013 11:27 pm

    Myself and my daughter, we prayed for the Parlament in our kitchen.

  20. Mr Brian Powell permalink
    September 4, 2013 12:45 am

    Stephen I would really like to know, whenever in the history of the world, did bombing a nation involved in something like a civil war become a humanitarian act. We ought to keep out because if we do get involved we might change things, which I know is what is wanted, and we might get what we want, only to find out that we don’t really want the change afterall.
    Also the rush to intervene is obscene. What is wrong with waiting to see what evidence comes out of the UN inspectors report. Or is it fear of what might come out of said report that makes things so urgent. There were no shouts for intervention when the rebels used sarin gas on Syrian troops earlier in the year so why now.

  21. September 4, 2013 8:19 am

    While I am waiting for the moderator to read my comment from yesterday, I wish to add this statement from a truth out article published yesterday.

    How Intelligence Was Twisted to Support an Attack on Syria

    “the fact that the UN investigators were already present in Damascus, having been initially requested by the Assad regime to look into a gas attack the regime had charged was carried out by the rebels on March 19. The two-page assessment by the British Joint Intelligence Organisation released August 29, pointed to this question:”There is no obvious political or military trigger,” it said, “for regime use of Chemical War on an apparently larger scale now, particularly given the current presence of the UN investigating team.”

    If this is what Bristish Intelligence were publishing, why was Stephen Williams not reading it.

  22. September 4, 2013 11:17 am

    Stephen, I’m following up on this issue because it is really of utmost importance. There seem to be two points that are missing from your explanation of the importance of missile strikes now.
    1. There is no mention of any strategic plan, or military objective, towards which the missile strike will lead.
    2. Following on from the fragment of the JIC report quoted by Julia Guest, the very next sentence is “Permission to authorise CW [chemical weapons] has probably been delegated by President Asad …”. The very last sentence of the JIC report finishes with “…establish the chain of evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.” So on the one hand the decision is being made on a “probablility” and on the other the chief source of information is aware of the necessity for a “chain of evidence beyond reasonable doubt”. These are two different concepts, and any amateur lawyer will know that the balance of probability is not enough to declare criminal responsibility.

    The decision to support military strikes NOW is like an angry parent who slaps the nearest child because the cookie jar is empty.

  23. Michael Chappell permalink
    September 4, 2013 12:12 pm

    Dear Stephen
    I wrote to you recently to say that I was disappointed that you had neither supported the Labour UN ‘safety’ amendment to the motion to attack a Sovereign state, and had also supported the coalition Motion to do just that. This was without the Chemical Weapons Inspectors report from the UN being available yet and after the UN’s Carla Ponte had said there was stronge concrete suspicions that Syrian rebels had done so in a chemical attack back in May this year :-

    Syria is not 1930s Spain, but the ‘secular’ government of Assad is being brought down like Spain’s Democratic government was with help from outside forces i.e. jihadists from Qatar and Saudi Arabia – Franco used Morrocan Troops possibly as many as 80,000 and war deaths were estimated at 500,000 – no doubt a number that with US military intervention which is talking of 90 days of bombing will be easily achievable in Syria – Iraq Civilian deaths are estimated at 114-125,000 what a wonderful liberal intervention war that was! The LibDem party opposed this war when in opposition which was commendable when war monger Bliar was twisting intelingence on behalf of his Israeli and banking friends friends, it seems that power corrupts!

    Your Liberalist Interventionalism is being used I’m affraid as cover by players in the Region who have their own agendas. To hear Saudi Arabia talking about helping democracy is a laugh, France ruled Syria after the Ottoman Empire fellafter the 1st World War and is of course a military alli of Israel, Turkey has issues with the Kurds it would like to sort – not surprising that Kurds are streaming over the border into Iraq after Jihadist slaughtered it seems something like 450 That Syria has chemical weapons is known, but sitting next to Israel that has 200-400 nuclear warheads it is it’s insurance in an all out war with Israel, who would use battlefield nuclear weapons even though Israel as Obama says has the US’s back!

    This is another Zionist sponsored war, with Saudi Jihadi terrorism being used as in Afghanistan against the USSR. That Russia has interests in the area should not be dismissed, but why not work with the Russians to bring peaceful change to Syria – their Geneva2 talks have been turned down by the US who wants regime change – Russia supported the UN policy of a no fly zone in Libya (I have as well in my letters to you), however this no fly zone was quickly mission creeped into illegal regime change – the Russians felt tricked over this and one moment Qadafi was a friend of the UK and France and the next an enemy, although Libyans at the time had the best living standards in Africa – what state is Libya in now!?

    Liberal Inventionalism is the same as Israel trying to pink wash it self as a democracy respecting minorities – even you will know that Palestinians are treated their as sub humans and displaced daily in a country that claims to be a Jewish state only – now who are the real religeous extremists in the Middle East and who is that this Liberal Intervention is trying to support!

  24. September 4, 2013 1:31 pm

    I am re posting my comment made yesterday, without the links. So the moderator does not have to spend time reading them.

    I am horrified that my local MP voted for something there are endless reasons to oppose. Missiles do not create safety or security. Aid and support for the millions of refugees would be a more appropriate response. Taking the attention away from the power struggle going on. The more effective response to the use of chemical weapons is to go after the manufacturers and suppliers.

    Further that the UN has still not reported on who they think may have used the gas. Reports from earlier this year, suggest that Rebel Forces had been using it, according to testimonies they gathered.
    The UN is waiting on test results from samples they have gathered and will report soon.
    With the only US “intelligence” to support a call for a strike against the regime.. and considering it would be extensive

    “Gen Jack Keane – a retired US Army vice-chief of staff who spoke to key Republican senators after a White House briefing on Monday – told the BBC they had been given the indication that strikes would go far beyond targeting Syria’s alleged chemical weapons.
    “He’s going to deter and degrade – and the important word is degrade – significant military capability of Assad’s regime,” said Gen Keane.

    Surely the lessons of Iraq, where opposition intelligence was relied upon by US intelligence gathering.. are enough to at least wait for the UN. We need the UN to keep the balance in this situation, giving them support to be effective and uphold the Geneva conventions is the way ahead. We cannot allow military super powers to keep making these decisions. The UN is asking for support for the refugees and that’s where the focus should be.

    I would also like to know why Stephen Williams was not reading the British Intelligence described in a Truth Out article below.

    How Intelligence Was Twisted to Support an Attack on Syria

    “the fact that the UN investigators were already present in Damascus, having been initially requested by the Assad regime to look into a gas attack the regime had charged was carried out by the rebels on March 19. The two-page assessment by the British Joint Intelligence Organisation released August 29, pointed to this question:”There is no obvious political or military trigger,” it said, “for regime use of Chemical War on an apparently larger scale now, particularly given the current presence of the UN investigating team.”

    A local MP for Bristol should not be voting on these issues if he does not take the time to read the intelligence briefings he should have access to, instead of worrying about how other people are voting, especially when, as he has acknowledged, he is no expert on the situation. And at the very least having a thorough consultation with his constituents before making any vote to bomb other people.. which ever side of a conflict they are on.

  25. antaine permalink
    September 4, 2013 2:32 pm

    ” I am worried about Britain’s place in the world..”
    Stephen, I think – after this – you can also worry about your place within a more limited geography – the Bristol West Constituency.
    That was an almost incredible statement of yours: “I think a missile strike is the least bad thing we could do” Wow
    Interesting to see that one of your cheerleaders above is sponsored by BAE Systems. Multinational weapons corporation.

  26. Chris permalink
    September 4, 2013 4:24 pm

    The board game “Risk ” is probably in the offices or the US Foreign Policy Department as they seem to use the basic premise in their planning

    My views are quite simple.

    The US politics are based on life in the “School Playground ” which we all remember

    Its 10.00am and the little fat boy has eaten all of his daily food allowance and wants some of the other childrens who have self control and can share nicely

    He asks them for some and they give him a little out of kindness but he wants the lot so he gets “some of the bigger boys ” to go and beat up the little children and steal their food

    Its “All About Oil ” and the US Government dont care about foreign people dieing.

    The US & UK citizens do care but are no longer falling for the US games

    Its beneficial to the armaments industry to have permanent conflict in the world as then both sides need more bullets

    This is my very first foray into the world of blogging and it is only because I am “Incandescent with Rage ” about this incident

    “When People Stop Talking………………….”

  27. aeddon permalink
    September 5, 2013 10:17 am

    1. you cant bomb chemical weapons. Do you expect chemical weapons to be secure after destroying a countries infrastructure. Insanity, they will disappear, they will be used by terrorists

    2. you want to support cannibals? A free syrian army commander met with john kerry, soon after he cut open the chest of a solider and eat his heart and liver and put in on youtube. you want to support cannibals?

    3. March chemical attack was non standard munition, samples indicate rebel use not assad use. “used by Western states for producing chemical weapons during World War II.”

    4. Rebels responsible for chemical useage?: youtube video of rebels launch chemical mortar

    5. Supporting child executors?

    6. good al qaeda, bad al qaeda, you want to be al qaeda air force, you now support al qaeda?

    I do not support Assad, I do not support military intervention

  28. Billy permalink
    September 5, 2013 12:05 pm

    Hi Stephen,

    I’m really disappointed to see you take such an oversimplified view of this situation. I’d be very grateful if you could explain to us how these missile attacks are going to prevent future chemical weapons attacks, either by Assad or the “Rebels”. I won’t bother to repeat the points that have been very eloquently made by various people in this thread, regarding desired outcomes, military strategy, altruism vs punishment etc, but I would very much like to see you respond to them with more that the usual few lines bragging about our aid budget. It seems to me that many people on here have found more time to research the matter than you, who actually have a vote on it, deemed necessary yourself.

  29. Chris permalink
    September 5, 2013 12:59 pm

    Lets take a few steps back from Syria and see the bigger World Picture

    This contemplated attack on Syria is not by Mr Obama but by the lobbyists for American Arms Industry ( and other countries ) who will then be able to sell more arms and the companies that will be given the contracts to re build what the US is just about to flatten.

    Its a Win Win Win situation and world conflict is good business for some and it is always the civilians who ultimately suffer……………the expendables

    Its all about turning foreign countries into areas where Western goods can be sold

    Its only the Company Bottom LIne that matters

    It has nothing to do with “Democracy ” or ” The Use of Chemical Weapons ”

    Wikipedia explains the Geneva Convention and also separately shows 13 states as being producers of chemical weapons

    Who has sold them to Syria ? This is where the UN inspectors should be looking

    I know it is an impossible expectation that the world stops producing weapons TOTALLY but we could start somewhere………It worked with Nuclear Arms partly

    I have posted a petition on asking for the UK MPs to declare annually on which boards they sit so they are not influenced to lobby on the behalf of their own industries.

    Mr Cameron says that we are in debt as a nation and citizens must have pay cuts and lose benefits so how could we find money to attack another Sovereign State

  30. Joe permalink
    September 5, 2013 9:21 pm

    Reading these comments Stephen I am finding it hard to see how you are representing the views of your constituents. Most people on here seem to view your ‘liberal interventionism’ as the childish sabre rattling it so clearly is. The government’s position of ‘bomb them or do nothing’ sounds very much like the rhetoric George Bush deployed during the ‘war on terror’ and the entire argument about Britain’s dimished place in the world is old imperialist claptrap dressed up as internationalism. Very disappointed.

    • September 13, 2013 1:41 pm

      But the motion that I wrote about did not authorise bombing, that would have required a second vote, which given subsequent developments, we would not yet have had. It’s not bombs or nothing, unless you think diplomatic talks and a huge refugee aid programme are nothing.

      • antaine permalink
        September 15, 2013 7:25 am

        Sorry, Mr Williams, without that vote result on Aug 29, there would likely have been no chance for peace. The reaction of the PM and his fuming cohorts gives lie to your claim that this vote was not a vote for war?
        This was the vote that put a spanner in the works of the head-long, gung-ho machine – the machine whose noises are ‘hit’, ‘punish’, ‘attack’, ‘kill’ (before any deep analysis of evidence).
        Despite your protestations, it will continue to be recognised as such for a long time to come.
        We no longer believe you and them, perhaps any of you, or them. We no longer accept the narratives, the spin and the manipulations.
        You may be “disappointed in some of your Lib Dem colleagues”, but they deserve to be named and remembered for this:
        Birtwistle, Gordon: Against
        Crockart, Mike: Against
        George, Andrew: Against
        Huppert, Dr Julian: Against
        Rogerson, Dan: Against
        Stunell, Sir Andrew: Against
        Teather, Sarah: Against
        Williams, Roger: Against

      • Chris permalink
        September 15, 2013 10:46 am


        Very well put and your comments have mirrored my views exactly

        England , Spain , Portugal , The Dutch , Germany , China , Japan and many other nations have over the course of Modern History gone to foreign lands killed the citizens and taken their wealth for themselves or to sell to other nations

        This will never stop entirely but with the help of social comments like ours we can at least put pressure on the people who are supposed to represent our views to do something unusual and ……………..REPRESENT OUR VIEWS ……and not support the Global Companies in the search for profits over the bodies of people !!!

  31. buryzee permalink
    September 6, 2013 2:43 pm

    This is a quote from the “Project for the New American Century (PNAC)”

    “And advanced forms of biological warfare that can “target” specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool.”

    So is someone testing new armaments on real time?

    Another quote

    “Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event––like a new Pearl Harbor”

    Is this another Pearl Harbor.?

    when you see this in wiki page I have heard before that there was a plan to regime change in the following countries.Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, culminating in the most feared of all the Iran.

    “In relation to the Persian Gulf, citing particularly Iraq and Iran, Rebuilding America’s Defenses states that “while the unresolved conflict in Iraq provides the immediate justification [for U.S. military presence], the need for a substantial American force presence in the [Persian] Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein” and “Over the long term, Iran may well prove as large a threat to U.S. interests in the [Persian] Gulf as Iraq has. And even should U.S.-Iranian relations improve, retaining forward-based forces in the region would still be an essential element in U.S. security strategy given the longstanding American interests in the region.”[15]

    One of the core missions outlined in the 2000 report Rebuilding America’s Defenses is “fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars.”
    And to end it all we get information about the capabilities of the opposition to make sarin.

    And that one of our Companies was given permission by this government to go to Syria and teach them how to make sarin and chemical bombs.

    Stephen If we taught them we should have the signature of the sarin made by Syrian government. and there must be the signature of sarin held by the opposition, as Turkish Police apprehended some AL-quaeda terrorists in turkey and found 2 kg of sarin.

    Are these venues being checked up by UK, Us, etc governments. I know that Russians are trying to get a sample of that sarin.

    Conclusion: I am neither opposed to or for this attacks right now. I like to know more about the chemical attacks. I applaud what happened on that, fateful, day to the government and the lobbyist, But very honorable to the parliament itself and our democracy. The 2 motions reflected the mood in the country. Stephen do not forget that we voted for ya. I am sad when i think about your views. Are they a reflection of our electorate may I ask?

    • buryzee permalink
      September 11, 2013 4:40 pm

      Perhaps not I think. Funny when you have to answer your own question and Mr Williams has no time nor the intention of a reply to this.

  32. antaine permalink
    September 6, 2013 4:08 pm

    The aftermath of this vote in Parliament is so revealing – a mixture of childish tantrums, name-calling, wound-licking, blame-casting, and even more scheming…
    Frankly one sees more maturity in an average nursery.
    Irrespective of the wrongs and rights in Syria (which is an immensely sad tragic mess), the vote reflected due process, as well as the public mood. The G20 majority (for all their faults) are calling for due process in the diplomatic realm, and thorough dissection of evidence for a range of crimes against humanity, villages, individuals. If it weren’t for the UK/US preconditions, it is likely that there would have been peace talks by now.
    And – despite all his/Labour’s faults – if it weren’t for Milliband, it is possible that bombs would be raining on that poor country by now.

    Here’s hoping that Obama will respond to his parliament’s and peoples voices with more humility, honour and maturity than the Cameron-Clegg brigade?

    Strangely quiet on the Williams front?
    Is this public dialogue too toxic?

    And, out of interest, what is your view on the deaths of 40-70,000 Tamil non-combatants in Sri Lanka in 2009, and the intention of the PM to visit there for a Commonwealth summit in November, despite widespread calls for a boycott by heads-of-state, and proper investigation of the crimes?

    • Chris permalink
      September 6, 2013 4:41 pm

      In one of my previous submissions I likened the world stage to a “School Playground ” with bullies and victims.
      Think we are on the same page

      • antaine permalink
        September 9, 2013 8:35 am

        And not just a ‘school playground’; a ‘parallel universe’ perhaps?. Mr Williams it seems is far too busy – posting online photos of himself, posing with plastic Gromits and Gorillas, and pictures of rainbows from his bedroom – to answer questions posed on his blog.

    • September 13, 2013 1:48 pm

      I’ve read your comments. I deplore all attacks on civilians by their own governments, whether in Sri Lanka or Syria. It’s easy to attack politicians with a “and what about…??” line. But you don’t want to intervene in Syria, where there clearly has been a breach of international law.

  33. David permalink
    September 9, 2013 3:25 pm

    We still do not know who was responsible for the Ghouta attack, but rebel groups in Syria have previously been caught using chemical weapons in Aleppo ( Maybe I missed it at the time, but I do not recall Mr Williams ever calling for British military intervention on the side of Assad. Why then, on the flimsiest of evidence, is Mr Williams so keen to enter the war on the same side of brutal al-Qaeda terrorists who are ethnically cleansing Christians ( Maybe our best course of action would be to stay out of a conflict that does not concern us, and that we do not understand. Indeed, I would go further, and suggest that attacking a small, far-off nation that does not threaten us is deeply immoral. I was disappointed that Mr Williams voted for intervention in the recent Commons vote, but delighted that most of our representatives voted against war, in accord with the clear wishes of the British people. Calls for a second vote should be vigorously resisted, but if it happens, I would again urge Mr Williams to vote against any British involvement in the Syrian Civil war.

    • Sam permalink
      May 6, 2014 11:00 pm

      He’s incompetent. The people writing comments here are so much wiser and better informed, if he had any decency he’d resign.

      Our political system pretends to be democratic to keep us powerless but in reality the major decisions benefit multinational business, banking, arms, pharma, energy etc. Our politicians either go along with it knowingly hoping for some kickbacks or are dumbed down.the same way the general population is supposed to be The only thing that will ever keep them in check is constant pressure from an aware public.

      I am very encouraged by the comments here but never wait for politicians or elections or institutions to do the right thing good people either together or alone should always follow what their conscience tells them to do.

  34. antaine permalink
    September 10, 2013 8:57 am

    The war vote (29 Aug 2013)

    Alexander, Danny: For
    Baker, Norman: For
    Beith, Sir Alan: For
    Birtwistle, Gordon: Against
    Brake, Tom: For
    Brooke, Annette: Did not vote
    Browne, Mr Jeremy: For
    Bruce, Sir Malcolm: For
    Burstow, Paul : Abstained
    Burt, Lorely: Did not vote
    Cable, Vince: For
    Campbell, Sir Menzies: For
    Carmichael, Mr Alistair: For
    Clegg, Mr Nick: For
    Crockart, Mike: Against
    Davey, Mr Edward: For
    Farron, Tim: Did not vote
    Featherstone, Lynne: For
    Foster, Mr Don: For
    George, Andrew: Against
    Gilbert, Stephen: For
    Hames, Duncan: For
    Harvey, Nick: Did not vote
    Heath, Mr David: For
    Hemming, John: For
    Horwood, Martin: For
    Hughes, Simon: For
    Hunter, Mark: Did not vote
    Huppert, Dr Julian: Against
    Kennedy, Charles: Did not vote
    Lamb, Norman: For
    Laws, Mr David: For
    Leech, Mr John: For
    Lloyd, Stephen: For
    Moore, Michael: For
    Mulholland, Greg: Did not vote
    Munt, Tessa: Did not vote (illness).
    Pugh, John: Did not vote
    Reid, Mr Alan: For
    Rogerson, Dan: Against
    Russell, Sir Bob: For
    Sanders, Adrian: Did not vote
    Smith, Sir Robert: For
    Stunell, Sir Andrew: Against
    Swales, Ian: Against
    Swinson, Jo: For
    Teather, Sarah: Against
    Thornton, Mike: For
    Thurso, John: Did not vote
    Webb, Steven: Did not vote
    Williams, Mark: Did not vote
    Williams, Roger: Against
    Williams, Stephen: For
    Willott, Jenny: Did not vote
    Wright, Simon: For

    • Joe permalink
      September 12, 2013 6:01 pm

      Perhaps he’s busy wondering how MPs have managed to get away with a 10% rise in their expenses this year whilst the government continues to cut support from the most needy. Parallel universe indeed

  35. Joe permalink
    October 6, 2013 9:33 am

    Nothing for Sept stephen? How about a nice piece for Oct defending the bedroom tax?

  36. antaine permalink
    November 16, 2013 10:15 am

    The war vote, 29 Aug 2013 (REVISITED)

    Alexander, Danny: For
    Baker, Norman: For
    Beith, Sir Alan: For
    Brake, Tom: For
    Browne, Mr Jeremy: For
    Bruce, Sir Malcolm: For
    Cable, Vince: For
    Campbell, Sir Menzies: For
    Carmichael, Mr Alistair: For
    Clegg, Mr Nick: For
    Davey, Mr Edward: For
    Featherstone, Lynne: For
    Foster, Mr Don: For
    Gilbert, Stephen: For
    Hames, Duncan: For
    Heath, Mr David: For
    Hemming, John: For
    Horwood, Martin: For
    Hughes, Simon: For
    Lamb, Norman: For
    Laws, Mr David: For
    Leech, Mr John: For
    Lloyd, Stephen: For
    Moore, Michael: For
    Reid, Mr Alan: For
    Russell, Sir Bob: For
    Smith, Sir Robert: For
    Swinson, Jo: For
    Thornton, Mike: For
    Williams, Stephen: For
    Wright, Simon: For

  37. buryzee permalink
    December 31, 2013 12:34 pm

    I am really surprised to see that you have ignored this blog since end of August 2013. Now we are beginning the 2014. So sup William? Are you getting scared of our comments I wonder.


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