Clegg, Ashdown, Williams & Hughes set out case for action in Syria

Writing in tonight’s London Evening Standard, Nick Clegg, Simon Hughes, Paddy Ashdown and Shirley Williams set out the case for international action in Syria.

After describing the horrors of  chemical weapons, they declare:

We four believe a strong response from the international community is now necessary.

They also make clear that if the UN cannot reach agreement, that must not hinder intervention:

It will be far better if we are able to reach agreement for military action within the UN Security Council – not least because strong international support will bolster the message sent to Assad.

Hoping that China and Russia “do not hold the Security Council hostage to pursue their own agendas”, the four conclude:

The law is the law. No two nations have the right to prevent it from being enforced. For the humanitarian sake of the Syrian people – and in defence of peace and stability around the world – these laws must be upheld.

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  • jenny barnes 29th Aug '13 - 9:13pm

    Follow the money, follow the Realpolitik…and wonder why we’re on the same side as Al Qa’ida?

  • Is that the best you can muster?

    I remember Blair saying exactly the same about the UN – how things change?

    By the way, it may be rude to ask such eminent politicians, but what is it they want military action to achieve?

    Let us have answers on a postcard:

    i. An ineffective attack that achieves nothing?
    ii. An ineffective attack that Assad laughs at?
    iii. An effective attack which doesn’t lead to the overthrow of Assad and he decides to unilaterally destroy all chemical weapons stocks?
    iv. An attack that leads to the overthrow of Assad and replacement by fundamentalists?
    v. Assad responds by attacking Israel, followed by retaliation and who knows what?

    By the way, we don’t actually know what happened either – the intelligence reports are poor. Also, the legal advice for going without UN approval is already being pulled to pieces (looks shoddier than Goldsmith’s) and the ex-army boys in the Lords are not being very supportive either

    Perhaps we could use the law, we have the ICC – if we want to we can issue a warrant and bring him to justice if we have the evidence.

  • “The law is the law. No two nations have the right to prevent it from being enforced.”

    So the USA, Britain and France are actually going to enforce the law, are they? They are going to prevent any further use of chemical weapons by anyone in Syria?

    That’s interesting, because I had somehow got the impression they were just going to fire rockets at the Syrian military infrastructure from a safe distance.

    The only thing we need to be told now is how they are going to do it. And what the commitment will be in terms of manpower and materiel. And how long this enforcement mission is going to continue.

  • Tony Harwood 29th Aug '13 - 9:27pm

    National Demonstration in Opposition to UK Military Intervention into sectarian chaos of Syrian Civil War: assemble Saturday 31 August, 12 noon, Temple Place, London (nearest tube Temple). March via Parliament, Downing Street. Rally at Trafalgar Square.

  • Welcome to the United Kingdom: the country that only acts on WMDs if there’s no evidence that they exist.

  • Mboy

    So what action do you want and what is the aim of it?

    Cruise missiles that give collateral damage, no fly zone which will mean massive bombing raids on infrastructure leading to Assad’s overthrow, boots on the ground à l’Iraq………?

  • David Pollard 29th Aug '13 - 10:15pm

    No wonder we have heard so little publicly from our leaders. Either we follow international law or we don’t. How is it that Russia and China are against action in Syria? If Milliband had not acted in the way he did the missiles would have been off by now. I’m very disappointed by the stance taken up by Nick Clegg in this.

  • David Pollard

    Normally even Russia and China will let things go through – remember Libya a number of times, various against Saddam but all the permanent members have their own ‘protectorates’

    The US has Israel, China around Tibet and now it seems Russia with Syria.

    I think Russia though is less ‘unreasonable’ than the US has consistently been against Israel who have pretty much nothing to fear from the UN. It is RealPolitik

    If you take Russia’s point of view, they felt very angry after Libya because of mission creep – using similar reasoning as for Syria. Libya was no great strategic concern for them like Syria is so it seems we made some of the problems for ourselves.

    It is the Great Game and we are all pawns – Syria will not be sacrificed by Russia just as Israel will never be by the US

  • When are the majority of Liberal Democrats going to wake up and realise that their party has been hijacked by a bunch of right wing / neo-con / orange bookers, who couldn’t give a toss about their Liberal or Democratic sensibilities?

    Yet again, as in the NHS debate, Shirley Williams has proven herself to be a useful fool, wheeled out to add a bit of old school sheen to a permanently tarnished brand.

    As for Simon Hughes, I honestly believe that he would abstain from ever making a decision again if he could.

    What a horrible letdown since 2010.

    Worse than Blair; and you can’t say worse than that.

    Thank you Ed Miliband for saying everything that the Lib Dems should have been saying if they were being led by true Lib Dems, and not Tories in Lib Dem clothing.

  • You can’t have it both ways – either the law is the law – meaning UN support is needed for intervention or it isn’t in which case, any country can take it upon themselves to intervene where ever and whenever they like. If there are real worries about Russia and China blocking UN resolutions perhaps it is time for us to look at the make up of the security council or simply get rid of it all together.

  • @Tony Harwood,

    So is the demo cancelled then?

  • @Dan Falchikov

    And what is so sad about Douglas Carswell’s article appearing in the same edition of the LES?

    Another article providing more background information on the situation in Syria is

  • David White 30th Aug '13 - 2:26pm

    Lots of good and relevant comments.

    What a shame about Baroness Williams. I used to think she was a great (small l) liberal politician. However, her sell-out over the NHS privatisation Bill and, now, her enthusiasm for killing Syrians makes me feel that she should change her name to Tory Patsy.

    I dread to think what Shirley’s Mum and her (honorary) Aunt Winifred would say!

    Of course, none of us would have expected anything better from The Dear Leader, Chairman Clegg. As my former LD member younger said: ‘He marched them up to the top of the hill, and pushed ’em over the cliff.’

    Oh yes, the LD party-line will have pleased many extremist ‘let’s blitz Syria back to the Stone Age’ fans. Inded, I’m surprised that Nigel Farage hasn’t deserted Ukip to offer himself as a body-slave to Clegg.

    To paraphrase a famous dead poet: ‘Once upon a time, long ago, dear beloved, the LibDems were pacific and principled…’ Alas, no more.

    But, at least 9 of Clegg’s cannon-fodder refused to jump with him over the cliff of yet more killing. A BIG well done to them. I would congratulate the 80-ish OldCon MPs who voted against their unloved and unlovely leader – were it not the fact that they, almost without exception, are right-wingers who would oppose almost everything proposed by the ConDem coalition.

    No, I know, that Sara, from Devon, is as OK an OldCon MP as could be found, anywhere, and that she too rebelled against the War Lovers.

  • Tony Harwood 30th Aug '13 - 8:35pm

    Richard: no it isn’t cancelled. A strong message still needs to be sent to the Government that last night’s vote does not simply mean that they can switch to a logistical support role for the coming US attack on Syria.

    Meaningful even-handed peace talks with no regime-change pre-conditions are the only hope for stemming the blood-shed and preventing the region from being dragged into the sectarian chaos.

    Don’t Attack Syria march: Assemble Saturday 31 August, 12 noon, Temple Place, London (nearest tube Temple)

  • Richard Dean 30th Aug '13 - 8:49pm

    In what way will the “Don’t Attack Syria” march distinguish itself from a “Let’s Support Assad” march?

  • “In what way will the “Don’t Attack Syria” march distinguish itself from a “Let’s Support Assad” march?”

    In the way that is a completely different concept described by completely different words.

  • Richard Dean 30th Aug '13 - 9:30pm

    Most TV viewers won’t see that, Steve. Here and abroad, including in Damascus. Perhaps there will be a few “Down with Assad” banners in the crowd? Though of course that would be a call for regime change.

    You do need to make the point that you are not supporting Assad, for otherwise people will say you are – not least Assad and his propaganda machine. How will you make that point?

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