Thursday, 24 March 2011

Cameron May Rue His Hasty Decision

On Monday night ComRes released the results of a poll for ITV News suggesting that 53% of voters think military action in Libya is an unnecessary risk. I wonder if that number will increase since William Hague's statement in the House of Commons at lunchtime.

David Cameron's debate on Monday was nothing more than procedure and an ego-boosting exercise. What PM in the past has sent out troops to war without the consent of parliament, with the feeble excuse that they didn't have time to consult?  He achieved his goal with 544 MPs in agreement with him and 13 against. Where were the missing 17%? Did your MP ask your opinion?  So many were complacent in their decision making purely on the grounds of the UN resolution.  John Redwood was one MP who did give careful consideration to all contributions to the debate.  I commend him.

This lunchtime it was obvious from Hague's statement that the UK government intend to extend our participation in this war; possibly to the use of ground troops, although he carefully added 'not at the moment' in his statement.  According to Hague the decision lies with NATO who will be required to lead the invasion, because the US has categorically refused to be in charge.  They know Americans would not be sympathetic to their government involving themselves in the invasion of another Muslim country.

Our politicians have deployed our air force in a war where there is no one in charge. NATO is deadlocked by internal disputes so it is not in charge. The United Nations Security Council, which only gave enough authority to enforce a no-fly zone, is not in charge of this now far more aggressive campaign.  The Arab League, which withdrew support within hours of granting it, is certainly not in change and France is calling for a 'steering committee', although it's not clear who would lead it or how it would delegate authority between the Western  powers.  Not only is no one in charge, no one wants to be and no one has any idea who to appoint.

What is causing the confusion?  The US, France and Italy are all coming to Libya with what look to be very different goals, resulting in conduction different missions in different ways. It's said, by those who study North African politics, that France is attempting to make up for supporting the Tunisian dictator Ben Ali instead of giving support to those who desired democracy.

Perhaps most of all, no Western power wants to lead the intervention because that would be to implicitly lead the war against Gaddafi and for that war to succeed it must remain led by the Libyan people.  If led by the outside it becomes regime change and that's something which has resulted in horrifyingly disastrous results.

We're once again involved in a war which has no structure, no proposed end-game and no majority support from our people.  The rebels have no established leader who is both legitimate and competent enough and until someone steps into the leadership role, or until a multinational body such as NATO can organise itself into taking charge, this war will continue without a leader.  But, leader or no, it will certainly continue and David Cameron is quite determined the UK plays a prominent role.

William Hague didn't mention the deaths, in Afghanistan yesterday, of two soldiers from the 1st Battalion Irish Guards although he did condemn the death of a British citizen in Jerusalem.  Was it too much for him during his declaration that our participation in the war on Libya will continue, or did he not wish to draw attention to one of the horrific costs of war - 362 UK military lost lives in a conflict which has been running 10 years?

Germany may yet prove to to have made the right decision.  Libya's war can only be won by their own people.  Already we are hearing repercussions here, making the UK less safe than ever.  Cameron's hasty decision may cost far more lives than those of civilians in Libya.


Joe Public said...

Another decision taken by politicians safe in the knowledge that their own lives are not at risk.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant post, 100% right.

That bloody idiot of a man is not fit to be left in charge of the tennis club raffle.

Why is it we always have money for a war?

Nikostratos said...

Every Prime minister must have a War it increase their status.
I mean now when Cameron lays a wreath at the Cenotaph he can say 'I put some of the Bastards there'

Mr Cameron said:

"It's time for us to rewrite the military covenant to make sure we are doing everything we can.

"Whether it's the schools you send your children to, whether it's the healthcare that you expect, whether it's the fact that there should be a decent military ward for anyone who gets injured.

"I want all these things refreshed and renewed and written down in a new military covenant that's written into the law of the land."

and now

The Government has made clear that the Covenant is being written into law for the first time in the Armed Forces Bill by requiring the Defence Secretary to make an annual report to Parliament.”

Camerons favorite song

Jo G said...

Joe, the thing that frightened me most about the decision was the absolute haste with which it was made. Its been a week and I still can't believe they did it! I'm still in shock that we're out there launching air strikes while, supposedly, enforcing a no fly zone!

I feel reassured that the percentage unsure about this is so high. I think that figure will climb. If it does, let's hope Cameron really does care enough about this "democracy" business to listen.

Let's remember tho, that all the Parties have backed this insane outing into areas where, in my view, we had no business to intrude. That includes Salmond.

Jo G said...

I also think it is far too late for the likes of the UK and France to worry about being seen to lead the attack. They led it: end of story. They are continuing to push for NATO to take charge (which could upset Arab countries). They are desperate to go further. I have really never seen a government so keen to make a situation worse.

Jo G said...

"making the UK less safe than ever."

Another pertinent point Subrosa. Iraq brought the bombs here to London and unleashed hatred towards us because of Blair's arrogance. Cameron has just gone the same road except, of course, he can say he had a UN resolution. Nevertheless the consequences once again could be dire.

Jo G said...

Sorry to be seemingly going mad here. I keep remembering things I've missed out. Not only do we not know who is in charge of our lot, we still don't know who is leading "the rebels" in Libya. Allegedly its some guy who is one of Gaddafi's former Ministers. Oh, so he is obviously a really nice guy too then eh?

Anonymous said...

Jo G: I think it's a particularly stupid thing to have done considering there is some stupid soppy wedding going on in England, and there are going to be a whole pile of big nobs there. An ideal opportunity for people to show their dissatisfaction. Mind you there are going to have to queue up with the homegrown disaffected for that!

Then after that there is an Olympics in England. Another ideal opportunity for mischief making.

If I can see that I would have thought that it might have crossed the mind of someone who has the finest degree money can buy.

As for who is in charge, well even the English don't seem to be able to work that out. Baldie Vague has one notion about what they are there to do, Eton Mess has another, and the chief of the defence staff yet another.

It's like posh boys playing war games on the playing fields....

subrosa said...

What is it about the last three PMs that they consider themselves Saviours of the World Joe?

subrosa said...

Thanks Tris. It's amazing the way they're able to lay their hands on so much money right enough.

subrosa said...

Niko part of me thinks your anomaly is right.

Oh that song. :(

subrosa said...

The UN resolution is written in a way that it can be interpreted in many ways Jo. The Arabs decided that very early on.

There doesn't appear to be a leader in Libya. The tribes are still arguing amongst themselves and will continue to do so. Those who changed sides should be viewed by suspicion in my view Jo.

Anonymous said...

There does't seem to be much of a leader here. Vague and the moronid bigot Fox say one thing and the chief of staff says something else... Dave hasn't a clue. ... and that's before we take the French, Turks, Americans, etc into consideration.

And what are we doing about the blood shed in Syria? Nothing? Because they don't have oil, their lives are worth less than the Libyans. Did no one think that the rest of the Middle East might go viral too? No. Amateurs.

Which is fine, except people's lives are at stake.

subrosa said...

It seems there's been a breakthrough with NATO tonight Tris when I was out making a fool of myself. :) They may be able to take charge Sky is reporting.

They'll not touch Syria because it is one of the bog boys in the area, along with Algeria. They won't want to rock the boat in these places.

V4V said...

HMS Ocean has been deployed for tactical incursions, US airborne are exercising in Italy, British and French special forces have been redeployed from Afghanistan with Germany taking up the slack and a couple of NATO European troop formations have left their barracks without notice. A new Suez anyone...

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Do not confuse our problems with those of the Libyan people. If we do that we're giving tacit support to the madness of psychopaths, whether they be autocrats or hidden under the guise of democrats or institutions.

The fact is a sizeable proportion of the Libyan people want democracy and rose up against a regime that in forty years has denied them the opportunity and was willing to kill them in order to maintain their abusive power base.

To criticise the competency or otherwise of our governments response is fair game. And the procrastination in the creation of a coordinated response is a clear indication of just how fragile, fumbling and incompetent these so called institutions of alliances and states are when it comes to the crunch. But as a people, we cannot in the name of humanity and irrespective of our governments hypocrisy, stand by and ignore genocide being enacted by despots.

Anonymous said...

Well SR, they only appear to have some sort of a half solution where Nato will take charge of the no fly zone but America will continue to be in charge of the bombarement.

Crinkly. I'd agree that it is hard to watch a government slaughter its own people, but if we can't stand by and do nothing, I wonder why we are not involved in action in any one of a dozen countries. I wonder why we picked Libya for the PM to make an emotive speech about humanity. He seems to be either unaware or unconcerned about the slaughter of Bahrainis and Syrians.

I'd love to hear his explanation for the selective "duty" of care.

subrosa said...

Good to see you RFB and hope you're keeping well. Thanks for the update.

I'm not making any predictions where this is going to lead. There are too many feasible outcomes.

subrosa said...

The problem is that it's also going on in Yemen, Bahrain and Syria Crinkly. Should we be doing something about that?

We can't afford to police the world and we're putting ourselves in a dangerous position.

subrosa said...

As we now know in war cases Tris, the scenarios are confusing - not least for the planners. 'They know not what they do' seems appropriate.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

The problems we have to face and give due consideration to, are the qualities of competence shown by these institutional bureaucrats and our governors.

In recent years we have had a financial meltdown due to snake oil alchemy being let free to run riot and create ruin - our governments and institutions failed us in their acts and omissions in safeguarding our interests.

We have the UN who fumble about, struggling with the problem of whether they have to power or not to act.

We have the EU, which costs us £45m per day for membership which cannot even get a decision because it cannot decide who should decide the format of a committee to make a decision - so how long will the delay be before they can form an army?

And we have NATO which for 60years was supposedly our defence shield - our instant response force - against the Warsaw Pact. So you would think they would have all the know how and procedures in place to instigate a quick response? But no, it's three weeks now and they're still squabbling.

Perhaps we should just be grateful their procedures and competence were never tested. Because when they are, every damn one of them are found wanting; and their so called experts, no more than fumbling jobsworths.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Rosa & Tris - I'm aware of the hypocrisy, and no we cannot police the world.

My argument is we should have been developing the arsenals of smart diplomacy allied to integrity and that supported by example, rather than the commerce of war, oil and commercial conglomerates backed by the use of smart bombs.

subrosa said...

You're right of course Crinkly. These three organisations are just fronts for bureaucrats who all think they know better than the man in the street.

Their decisions are often wanting and their efforts pathetic, yet we pay for them.

subrosa said...

Crinkly, I think the day's long gone when we could have had smart diplomats. It's dog eat dog nowadays and I don't see that changing.

Jo G said...

"It's like posh boys playing war games on the playing fields...."

Tris, that is EXACTLY it, in a nutshell. Except it will be others who do the dying.

Jo G said...

"We have the UN who fumble about, struggling with the problem of whether they have to power or not to act."

I disagree Crinkly. We have a UN that is controlled by those and such as those. They will intervene where it suits THEM and the humanitarian argument doesn't concern them. Consider Palestine if you will. More than SIXTY years now we have endured that situation. Despot involved? The State of Israel who doesn't have to abide by international law because the US or the UK will veto any attempt to drag them into line.

The UN could have acted without going to war with Libya. And that is exactly what we are doing. Danny Alexander let slip the phrase "the war in Libya" just the other night on Question Time. Russia and China could have used their clout to begin with and some sort of diplomatic route could have been attempted with Gaddafi before it got to this. But no, in we went, literally, with all guns blazing. That proved to me that the likes of Cameron didn't want it resolved: he wanted an invasion. Establishing a no fly zone did not require a bombardment either. It is not, either, a licence to kill Gaddafi and impose "regime change". That would be illegal.

Libya called for UN observers immediately. Where are they? No sign of them. Why? Shall I tell you? Because we're committed to a war. You speak of "despots". We KILLED hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians in an illegal war. Just because it was state sponsored doesn't make it ok.

Again, we don't know who we are dealing with in Libya, none of us. Which is why I view it as totally reckless in the extreme to start arming people. And remember too that those people were parading with banners saying, "NO FOREIGN INTERVENTION".

Finally, if I went out now, got some people together, tore up the flag of my country and demanded the existing set up be abolished do you think it would be tolerated here? We may say Libya has no "democracy": I say it is still a sovereign country and outsiders like us have no business getting involved there. I also say if you're going to take on the status quo you need to know you can truly take him on. Gaddafi has his supporters too, clearly, and we don't even know the numbers on each side which is another incompetence as far as I am concerned. What does the West intend to do with them? Shoot them?

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Joe G -I respect your argument and the points you raise in them but in some instances they are inchoate.

Of course the UN should be able to act but in the present set up it's a talking shop with little executive power. And, should it want to act on any major issue it's pretty obvious for that power to have any chance of being seriously acted on one nation has to agree with it. that nation is of course the USA.

And yes issues concerning the positions of Palestine, Israel, Borneo, Indonesia, at least half of Africa, most of the Middle East; even the shams of democracy we live under in the West are all examples of hypocritical double standards supported by duplicity.

It's a standard endemic in the world we live in which if we argue for its refinement is by definition giving it legitimacy.

That is my argument in essence - while two wrongs will never make a right, all wrongs become entrenched as fact.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Joe G - I respect your arguments and the points you raise in them, but in some respects they are inchoate.

Of course the UN should be able to act but under the present arrangement for any action to be considered it requires the tacit agreement of one nation for it to have any chance of being enacted. That nation is of course the USA.

Equally the hypocritical attitudes adopted towards other world despots are in a word deplorable. Palestine, Israel, Borneo,Indonesia, at least half of Africa are all examples of these deplorable double standards being applied duplicously

subrosa said...

The UN and NATO are talking shops with little power. Remember when Blair went into Iraq and had been initially told it was illegal? Neither the UN or NATO said anything. They were quite happy to allow the US and UK to do the work.

I have no time for either organisation because I don't think they protect anyone to any great degree.

This latest UN resolution - even those who 'agreed' with it started to question it hours later.

We're now in a very difficult situation in the UK. We've taken sides in a civil war in a despot's country. It's essential, for the safety of this country, that we win this, yet I have my doubts unless ground troops are used. More loss of military lives would be involved.

What do you think Jo?

subrosa said...

Ah Crinkly I see our assessment of the UN is similar. In the Libyan war the US doesn't want to be high profile but it's the only country which has a big enough military to undertake such deployments.

Our politicians are playing a very dangerous game again. The Arab countries may well turn on us when this is over.

Meantime, India, China and Russia sit watching on the sidelines.

Jo G said...

"Joe G -I respect your argument and the points you raise in them but in some instances they are inchoate."

Crinkly, first off, my name is Jo, not Joe.

Secondly I do not believe my argument is remotely inchoate. It is developed and informed: the evidence to back it up should spring to mind every time we hear Obama or Cameron lecturing others about democracy while allowing the State of Israel to terrorise its neighbours at will on a daily basis and denying Palestine its own state and status. I mean, good grief, even when Palestine held elections we devoted followers of democracy in the West said we wouldn't recognise the result! THAT's how much WE respect democracy when it doesn't produce the result we want. How much aid was cut off from Palestine following that election result, including aid from the EU? Aid that was needed desperately.

Your argument, on the other hand, appears to acknowledge the despicable double standards of the West with no more than a helpless "Its just how it is." shrug. All the more reason, I say, for people to stand up and tell Cameron he was wrong to get caught up in this.

Jo G said...

Subrosa, I think Crinkly means the US is the only one who counts.

In response to your question about ground troops I think it will be the biggest mistake ever. I don't want it to happen.

Where are the UN observers and why are they not in Libya? Gaddafi is not incommunicado. Russia and China should be in a position to use their clout and surely ALL parties should be willing to call a ceasefire now in order to gauge whether anything can be achieved via dialogue rather than the escalation of military action. What disturbs me deeply is the reluctance of many on "our" side to consider this. That's because they want to escalate it and go into an all out war. Of course the clowns in charge won't be doing the sacrificing: as always it will be our military personnel and, if there are repercussions here in the UK, it will be innocent civilians here. And we'll call that terrorism of course.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Jo G - first an apology for the additional e.

But where in any of my posts is the "just how it is" shrug, as either a quote or by inference?

And your understanding of my comment regarding the position of the USA/UN is 180* degrees off.

Consider again the last two paragraphs of my post - I can see no other interpretation that can be attached to them beyond a call for fundamental and radical change in the cesspit of international relations.

subrosa said...

Jo, I don't think Crinkly means the US is the only one (dare I speak for him?) but means without the US any action means little.

Now there's a reason why the UN are quite useless. You're right, their observers ought to be there but aren't.

Russia, India and China are using their clout - by sitting on the Fence, watching and waiting. They'll fall whichever way the wind blows but they're quite safe where they are at present.

Our government don't want diplomatic talks, they want to be seen a tough. Email me and I'll explain.

Jo G said...

Hi Subrosa. I didn't say the US were the only one. I said they are the only one who matters. They are the big shot, the main man and nothing will happen at the UN without their approval. A majority of ordinary UN members want to deal with Israel but the US (and the UK) won't allow it so veto all attempts to do so.

I'm not sure what Russia and China are doing right now. I'm certain they must have direct links to Gaddafi. But I'm also certain that this affair is being treated differently and that is why UN personnel in the form of observers haven't been sent to Libya. Normally you'd have UN observers in there almost right away. Libya actually asked for them to be sent yet the request was ignored. Libya is a UN member yet this failure to respond to that request demonstrates that "democracy" is for only those and such as those.

Tris talked about "posh boys playing war games". What bothers me is that those posh boys won't be doing the dying: our troops will be doing that and God help any of them who are taken prisoner. The US set aside the Geneva Convention for those they took to Guantanamo Bay. We know Gaddafi is capable of the same, if not worse. I despise Cameron for daring to take such horrific risks with our military personnel when there were other ways. I have said before, if Leaders of countries were obliged to join their troops in any war many of them would not so quickly rush to arms but they are quick to put the lives of others at risk.

Jo G said...

And even when the US and UK couldn't get UN support to invade Iraq, what did they do? They walked away from the democratic table and went ahead alone in an illegal invasion.

subrosa said...

Jo, I can understand your anger, believe me. Like you, I think leaders should be made to join front line troops as they did for centuries. Then we would see who believed in their decisions.

Our behaviour is dreadful and purely selfish. What worries me most is that this is pushing this country into a target - more than ever.

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