Lib Dems respond to US air strikes on Syria

It was quite disconcerting to wake up this morning to see that Donald Trump had launched air strikes. There is no question that Syria needs to be dealt with. You just can’t have any government getting away with gassing its own people. I just feel uneasy about Donald Trump being in charge of this. Does he even have a proper strategy? I also feel uneasy about our Government just slipping into line behind him.

On Question Time last night, Tim Farron was talking about the importance of establishing no fly zones and of humanitarian aid, but made clear that doing nothing was not an option in the face of an attack as horrific as the one we saw earlier this week.

He has since described Trump’s action as “proportionate” but went on to say that our Government’s response was not sufficient:

The attack by American forces was a proportionate response to the barbarous attack by the Syrian government on its own people.

The British government rather than just putting out a bland statement welcoming this should now follow it up and call an emergency meeting of the Nato alliance to see what else can be done, be that more surgical strikes or no fly zones.

Evil happens when good people do nothing, we cannot sit by while a dictator gasses his own people. We cannot stand by, we must act.

I don’t always agree with what they say, but in situations like this, I always look for the views of three people: Paddy, Ming and Julie Smith

On Twitter, Paddy said:

I also had a conversation with Julie on Twitter:

Ming spoke to Good Morning Scotland:

There was praise for Tim Farron from Rafael Behr:

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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71 Comments

  • Interesting that Mr Farron didn’t mention President Trump; merely referred to “American forces”. A distinct that needs to be made, given our extensive positioning on this so far, but it feels a little strained.

    I think he’s broadly right, though, on this. I’m worried that there isn’t a next stage – calling together NATO leaders and discussing what that might be is important. If this strike doesn’t fit into a wider political picture, then that’s especially troubling.

  • The crucial question is always “What do the terrorists, Isis etc., want western governments to do?” Giving them what they want is rarely a good idea.

  • I agree with Mark Wright.

    And my fingers are shaking even writing this, but I have to give credit to Donald Trump, the first thing he has done that is brave and right in my view.

  • Eddie Sammon 7th Apr '17 - 10:17am

    I was against bombing Assad in 2013 but I announced my support immediately for this. He hasn’t put American troops in significant danger and the targets are a military base, not a civilian area.

    When it comes to regime change: I’ll, for what it is worth, consider all proposals on their merits, but this low risk option was favourable for me.

  • I just can’t help feeling we’re being set up for another WMD fiasco, where we act on bad information being spun to justify a military action that some have wanted for years. Personally, I think Britain should pull out of the ME all together, concentrate on home security and only commit to military action where there is a clear threat to Britain. We are not world policemen and should learn to be more like sensible countries such as Norway.

  • It is very much to Tim Farron’s credit that he has come up with a prompt and measured response to the US action. Has there yet been any response from Jeremy Corbyn, and, if not, why not ?

  • Perhaps Caron, Tim and Paddy might like to think back to 2011 when Obama’s ‘airstrikes’ were abandoned…
    “Porton Down, the defence laboratory in Wiltshire. British intelligence had obtained a sample of the sarin used in the 21 August attack and analysis demonstrated that the gas used didn’t match the batches known to exist in the Syrian army’s chemical weapons arsenal. The message that the case against Syria wouldn’t hold up was quickly relayed to the US joint chiefs of staff. The British report heightened doubts inside the Pentagon; the joint chiefs were already preparing to warn Obama that his plans for a far-reaching bomb and missile attack on Syria’s infrastructure could lead to a wider war in the Middle East. As a consequence the American officers delivered a last-minute caution to the president, which, in their view, eventually led to his cancelling the attack…..

    Still, as without any real evidence, we are sure (this time) that it is Assad, why wait?

  • “2011” should read “2013”

  • Matt (Bristol) 7th Apr '17 - 10:51am

    Hugh – Tim was on question time, he was going to be asked about this. He had to have a response.

    Mind you, what is Labour’s response? Haven’t heard one yet.

    I honestly don’t know what I think; a no-fly zone / ‘safe haven’ would appear to be a next step, but any forces creating one will be accused by Putin of lending aid to terror. With the opposition in Syria having crumbled even further into disparate elements, and the ‘moderates’ largely in collapse, it’s harder than it was in the past to argue against this.

    But Assad cannot be allowed to gas his own people, with Russian sanction.

    What worries me slightly, however, about Trump’s response, is his foreign policy story is starting to look a bit like that of W Bush — talk/hint about some kind of isolationism, pulling back from Democrat ‘adventures’ overseas, talk about re-focusing on a new enemy (in both cases China), and then, suddenly, reacting to circumstances, a volte-face … leading to what?

  • Richard Underhill 7th Apr '17 - 10:53am

    “surgical strikes” is language we should try to avoid, as Paddy Ashdown did, because it is often claimed but may overstate the accuracy of modern weapons. If the US or UK governments had said this we should be free to criticise.
    There is another issue which reporters have missed: What does Assad think he gets out of doing this? Assuming he thinks he has impunity because of Russian support, the military and territorial effects are local. Terrorising military opposition might be in his thinking, they might fear repetition, but he should also factor in political facts such as the trials and sentencing of Saddam Hussein and “chemical Ali” and the political difficulties of Russia’s diplomats at the UN.

  • However one may justify Trump’s action on this – and one can – I have great concerns that it will encourage the trigger happy side of his nature and escalate this type of activity in a more uncontrolled way in, for example, North Korea. I have no confidence in his sense of proportionality.

  • Richard Underhill 7th Apr '17 - 11:04am

    @Matt (Bristol) 7th Apr ’17 – 10:51am: Labour MP Diane Abbott was unusually hesitant on Question Time, she is experienced on TV, but struggled to say anything about Ken Livingstone’s membership of the Labour Party, except that talking about him is something he likes. A trade unionist from Unite was briefly and clearly for expulsion, as was Tim Farron, but Labour’s NNC (not NEC) may be afraid that Livingstone might go to court and further inflame the issue. He is wrong on the facts and clearly illogical on his interpretation of his own view of the facts. Tragedy becomes farce. Ken Livingstone should apologise, but is reluctant to do so.

  • Matt (Bristol) 7th Apr '17 - 11:35am

    Aha! Corbyn speaks:

    “The US missile attack on a Syrian government air base risks escalating the war in Syria still further.

    Tuesday’s horrific chemical attack was a war crime which requires urgent independent UN investigation and those responsible must be held to account.

    But unilateral military action without legal authorisation or independent verification risks intensifying a multi-sided conflict that has already killed hundreds of thousands of people.

    What is needed instead is to urgently reconvene the Geneva peace talks and unrelenting international pressure for a negotiated settlement of the conflict.

    The terrible suffering of the Syrian people must be brought to an end as soon as possible and every intervention must be judged on what contribution it makes to that outcome.

    The British government should urge restraint on the Trump administration and throw its weight behind peace negotiations and a comprehensive political settlement.”

  • Ed Shepherd 7th Apr '17 - 11:49am

    President Assad knows that he is in a fight for his life. He cannot resign (he will be murdered in exile) and he cannot lose (he and his family will be brutally killed like Gadaffi or Saddam). Those who have supported him (many military officers, servicepeople, many non-combatant Syrians) know that they have no future if Assad is killed and replaced by who-knows-what regime. “The West” never seems to take this position into account. I tend to think that Jeremey Corbyns call for ongoing peace talks is the best solution.

  • Matt (Bristol) 7th Apr '17 - 11:52am

    Ed, yes, but how do we avoid the sort of situation famously satirised by EH Sheppard in the following cartoon?

    http://punch.photoshelter.com/image/I0000.qlT6CSX5r4

  • Andrew McCaig 7th Apr '17 - 12:14pm

    I am with Corbyn on this one. Whenever I see an atrocity committed I ask myself “who stands to gain with this?” The answer is clearly not Assad who is winning the war with his own conventional weapons and Russian support. Instead it is clearly the rebels, who have brought America into direct action against Assad for the first time. Then I ask myself “are they ruthless enough to do such a thing?” Here I say yes to both sides. The “democratic opposition” is not the only force on the rebel side and probably by now no more than a front for Islamic terrorists who are linked to Al-quaeda.

    So yes, a full investigation by the UN should have been an absolute pre-requisite for action if use of chemical weapons is a necessary pretext. Past experience shows that American “intelligence” is certainly not enough.

  • Chris Bertram 7th Apr '17 - 12:23pm

    J Corbyn: “The British government should urge restraint on the Trump administration and throw its weight behind peace negotiations and a comprehensive political settlement.”

    Nice warm words. But what happens when one side positively doesn’t want a comprehensive settlement, on anything other than its own terms 100%? Then there is no foundation for peace. Regrettable, decisive action might turn out to be the only option.

    NB This could apply to Assad, and also to ISIS in this case.

  • Firstly, I agree with Andrew McCaig above. There shouldn’t be action like this without a proper investigation and UN authorisation. Trump should not unilaterally appoint himself judge, jury and executioner.

    Secondly, Tim says “we cannot sit by while a dictator gasses his own people”. We sit by while dictators around the world shoot, bomb, starve and torture their people. The lives of those gassed are not intrinsically worth more than those butchered by other means.

  • Denis Mollison 7th Apr '17 - 2:18pm

    I agree with Corbyn too. We really do need an independent investigation rather than jumping to the conclusion that Assad is responsible. He may well be, but it was such a daft thing to do in his postion. Patrick Cockburn had a piece a day or two ago discussing the various possible culprits.

  • A Social Liberal 7th Apr '17 - 3:13pm

    Expats quotes Seymour Hersh heavily but to date I have seen no evidence (or supporting articles from other media) to back up his claims. I am willing to be convinced – especially if Expats produces the report still sporting the ‘top secret’ heading. Unfortunately I do not hold out much hope of seeing any such thing.

    On the actual attack, I am deeply suspicious that this is a smoke and mirrors stunt.

    *Trump is trying his best to be Putins lapdog. Why would he suddenly burn his bridges by bombing Russias ally and perhaps destroying Russian aircraft and killing Russian personnell?

    *The americans admit that they warned that an attack was going to happen. Why? The obvious response would have been to remove all aircraft from the airfield for the night.

    *Americans are overly fond of propaganda. We should have, by now, been inundated with camera footage of missiles flying from their launchers, explosions in the night and satellite images of aircraft wrecks and buildings in flames. All the press has at the moment though, is a mobile phone sequence showing smoke in the area of a few buildings. This smoke is in itself suspicious. Having worked on airfields for many years I know that fires and aircraft don’t mix, the main concern is to get the fires out COMPLETELY so that operations can be resumed.

    I could be wrong to be so deeply suspicious and as such I await reports showing mangled aircraft, cratered runways and destroyed hangers/ admin buildings with interest.

  • A Social Liberal 7th Apr '17 - 3:17pm

    Nick Baird

    Quite right, we should do our best – by all possible means, including militarily – to prevent the mass murder of people by their governments. The UN, post Iraq, even gives us the legal backing.

  • The 2014 episode, and subsequent investigations, have still not established who used the chemical…We demand “Beyond all reasonable doubt” and here we have two possible perpetrators but only one with motive…As Ron Paul asked, “Why, at this time, would Assad use chemical weapons?”…” Before this episode of possible gas exposure and who did what, things were going along reasonably well for the conditions,” the former Texas congressman stated. “Trump said let the Syrians decide who should run their country, and peace talks were making out, and Al Qaeda and ISIS were on the run.”…Still I suppose he, too, has no credibility?

    The US airstrike in Mosul killed 230 ( mainly women and children)…This attack, whoever caused it, killed 70…Why are those lives in Mosul worth so much less, in LDV ‘outrage’, than those in Khan Sheikhoun?

    Escalation of conflicts, like this ‘retaliation’ (being praised by many LibDems), in the ME, have one common feature; more innocents die!

  • Mick Taylor 7th Apr '17 - 3:45pm

    There is never a justification for bombing. Peace talks will eventually have to be held and bombing will put them off. Start using the UN and stop unilateral action by anyone. Peace talks must start now. Jaw jaw is always better than war war.

  • John Barrett 7th Apr '17 - 5:19pm

    At this stage it appears to be anything but a clear and confirmed case of use of chemical weapons used by the Assad regime.

    The regime have denied it – “well they would say that anyway” some would say. But is there clear evidence?

    It looks like there was a decision to bomb the regime and that this use of chemical weapons provides the excuse. If there is clear evidence that the Assad regime were behind it, and the UK Government are happy to support the bombing, the UK Government should know what the evidence is and be prepared to share it.

    If not, we could soon be dragged into supporting further military action without proper justification.

    We have been here before and it is no longer good enough simply to take the word of an ally without concrete proof to support and justify such action.

    Also those who still support the retention and possible future use of nuclear weapons, yet throw up their hands at the use of chemical weapons, might wish to clarify just why chemical weapons are so abhorrent while nuclear weapons are so acceptable.

  • John Barrett 7th Apr '17 - 6:12pm

    Expats – “The US airstrike in Mosul killed 230 ( mainly women and children)…This attack, whoever caused it, killed 70”

    I don’t remember Paddy or Ming being equally vocal about that event.

    Despite the lessons we should have learned from Iraq, there are still too many senior Lib-Dem party spokesmen prepared to support military action long before the evidence to justify such action has been made clear.

    Why not wait and see if that evidence actually exists?

    Or do those same people not want to wait, just in case the evidence might not stand up to scrutiny.

  • ohn Barrett 7th Apr ’17 – 6:12pm……Despite the lessons we should have learned from Iraq, there are still too many senior Lib-Dem party spokesmen prepared to support military action long before the evidence to justify such action has been made clear……….

    Firstly we voted against military action in Iraq because it hadn’t been sanctioned by the UN….
    Then Tim laid down umpteen ‘tests’ before the UK bombed Syria, yet voted in favour without them being met..
    Now we want bombing without even waiting for conclusive evidence…

    What next?

  • Dave Orbison 7th Apr '17 - 6:51pm

    Haven’t been on here for a while but thought I’d see where LibDems stood on Trump’s bombing. Mocking Corbyn’s measured response, his call for independent investigation of war crimes and upholding the role of international law and the UN. Enough said. Bye

  • Nick T Nick Thornsby 7th Apr '17 - 6:54pm

    Mick Taylor – “Start using the UN and stop unilateral action by anyone.”.

    The three parties taking unilateral action in Syria which has killed the greatest number of civilians are Assad, Russia and Iran. How in practical terms do you suggest the UN (or anyone else) can stop them without any use of force?

  • Andrew McCaig 7th Apr '17 - 7:28pm

    Mark Wright,
    The normal assumption in the “rebels did it” theory is that Turkey supplied the chemical weapons..

    In a court of law it would be hard to establish motive for Assad in either attack. Other than “evil dictators always use chemical weapons”

  • Denis Mollison 7th Apr '17 - 7:39pm

    @Dave Orbison

    You clearly haven’t read all the comments.

  • Richard Underhill 7th Apr '17 - 7:43pm

    Andrew McCaig 7th Apr ’17 – 12:14pm There is a theory extant that the main beneficiary of the death of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was Vice-President Lyndon Baines Johnson and oil interests in Texas.

  • Dave Orbison 7th Apr '17 - 7:45pm

    Denis – fair comment. I’m sorry if I implied all LibDems were of one mind. Perhaps I was depressed more so by the comments if Tim Farron.

  • Paul Murray 7th Apr '17 - 7:47pm

    This morning on BBC Breakfast a former UK ambassador to Syria said that it would have been madness for Assad to use chemical weapons on an area with no military value, and suggested that this heinous act was (in his exact words) a “fake flag”. Now I have no truck with Russian-inspired fake news, but if a former UK ambassador to Syria is prepared to say on national television that he does not trust the establishment narrative then it seems reasonable to ask what *actual evidence* we have that Assad was responsible.

  • In December 2015 Tim Farron voted to bomb ISIS positions in Syria claiming that the government would publish quarterly progress reports on their bombing. The government have not published the promised quarterly progress reports. Now Tim Farron not only supports bombing ISIS positions in Syria but also the Syrian government’s positions – this time without any prospect of scrutiny of the bombing. How bombing two sides of a civil war meets any test of a just war is beyond me.

  • Richard Hall 7th Apr '17 - 10:53pm

    When I heard about this, I like many others had a “Trump was right to do this, did I just think that” moment, and to be fair that hasn’t gone away. Clearly the agreements put in place following the 2013 chemical attack haven’t worked, so this is the logical response to that. In fact I think a President Clinton or a President Rubio or even a President Sanders would of done the same thing because once you let Assad cross a red line you cannot let him get away with it again.

    I worry for the future because Trump is still not someone I trust in a crisis, but I can’t fault his administration on this.

  • John Mitchell 8th Apr '17 - 12:11am

    It depends it if leads to an escalation. That’s what I’m worried about. Today in Stockholm a terrorist killed four people and injured more in a similar attack to the one in London. Western intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya were disasters and the free for all that now exists in large parts of the Middle East is aiding bringing terrorists to Europe in conjunction with porous border security arrangements.

    President’s Trump move will make Europe less secure. I agree with Jeremy Corbyn but the USA doesn’t think anything of the UN anyway and neither do many other nations for that matter. A no fly zone in Syria would likely lead to WWIII. That’s not hyperbole and is a very possible reality.

    One of the most ridiculous things I saw today is not only the US media’s reaction (very Iraq like), but the scary thing is that when Trump kills people he is suddenly liked by the likes of The Washington Post that have been against him since day one.

    Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Turkey all backed airstrikes. It’s absurd to see this coming from Saudi Arabia and Bahrain particularly with their own oppressive regimes and the Saudis continue to bomb people in Yemen and just as in Syria people are dying but it’s far less debated or discussed. I really do believe that a diplomatic solution for Syria is the only way forward in order to remove Assad. There are too many moving parts and complexities that we do not and will never truly understand.

    A military exercise will embolden Islamic extremism. I do believe that’s the desired outcome for neoconservatives. It has been for the past seventeen years and it has worked. John Bolton, John McCain and Lindsey Graham all think Trump did the right thing. They’ve all been wrong about practically everything they’ve ever said.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 8th Apr '17 - 1:00am

    Tim has greater claim to leader of the real opposition whenever there is a key issue like this, as he sticks his neck out , not his ego. A good man always, an excellent leader on these important matters that need statesmanship lacking from Corbyn.

  • Dave Orbison 8th Apr '17 - 4:44am

    Lorenzo – except that ‘falling in line to support the Government” doesn’t quite sound too much like opposition to me.

    Also, when it comes to sticking his neck out; appealing for the rule of International law and for the boring stuff of holding an impartial investigation amid the all-too-familiar sabre rattling of the tabloids as Corbyn has done seems more like leadership to me.

    What has been achieved from this act? Further destabilisation, increased hostility in the region, more innocent lives lost and the rule of international law diminished. Leadership? I don’t think so.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 8th Apr '17 - 4:52am

    Dave

    I

  • Colin Paine 8th Apr '17 - 7:39am

    I think Tim needed to position somewhere between the unilateral approach of Trump and the “never intervene ever” approach of Corbyn. The military intervention feels hasty and the rhetoric around it from Trump is a far cry from previously more restrained US presidents. Something needed to be done but there was time to gain more international backing and exert pressure on Russia. Now we are in a Trump v Putin macho stand off. I’d have preferred a more nuanced statement from Tim.

  • With the memory of what happened prior to the invasion of Iraq I would be concerned that the gas attack was a False Flag action. It requires an immediate independent UN enquiry. There are other questions like where did the attackers acquire the chemicals necessary to manufacture the gas

  • Bill le Breton 8th Apr '17 - 9:08am

    Creep and slide. These are the words that should be uppermost in our minds.

    A salutary warning is provided in this TV war-gaming programme:

    Kishwar Falkner, the only Liberal Democrat member of the ‘war room’ is foot perfect in her advice. Throughout the process that advice is dismissed or ignored. The end is shocking.

    Today, a Russian frigate is steaming into position. Russia has turned off an important communications channel with the Americans and British active in the ‘theatre’.

    Until 48 hours ago every Liberal Democrat was highly critical of every word Trump uttered and every move he made. Today he has apparently found illumination.

    As usual the big beasts in this Party have reached into their wardrobes for their Cow BOY outfits and we all go singing:

    There may be trouble ahead
    But while there’s music and moonlight and love and romance
    Let’s face the music and dance

    Before the fiddlers have fled
    Before they ask us to pay the bill and while we still have the chance
    Let’s face the music and dance

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 8th Apr '17 - 9:11am

    I agree with Mick Taylor. Bombing will solve nothing. I am inclined to agree with Glenn, that Britain should have a policy of never becoming involved in military action, unless Britain’s security is directly threatened. That would not mean that we were unconcerned about the rest of the world. Britain should be seeking a new role in the world, as peacemakers.

  • The problem is that despite votes against taking military action there has been a constant push from some quarters to involve us in more ME nonsense. It has not worked in Afghanistan. Libya, or Iraq and will never work because the concept is flawed. We foolishly involved ourselves last time and we should avoid more of the same.
    There is an old view that after the loss of Empire Britain struggled to find a place in the world. Every few years this is blamed for one thing or another. But how about just accepting that maybe we just don’t need to be at the big table at all. Then we could possibly spend more time fixing our infra-structure or doing something. else more productive.

  • Paul Murray 7th Apr ’17 – 7:47pm………..This morning on BBC Breakfast a former UK ambassador to Syria said that it would have been madness for Assad to use chemical weapons on an area with no military value, and suggested that this heinous act was (in his exact words) a “fake flag”………….

    In the words of Cllr Mark Wright such claims of ‘fake flag’ lack credibility…But do they?

    First Gulf War…In 1990, 15 yo ‘Nayirah’ was presented to the world media by US senators. She tearfully testified that Iraqi soldiers had murdered hundreds of babies in incubators and a ‘shocked’ George Bush labelled Saddam the “”the Butcher of Baghdad” and”a tyrant worse than Hitler’……..Except that it was all lies. The girl was the daughter of the Kuwait ambassador to the US and was not even in Kuwait at the time of the invasion…That war and subsequent ‘sanctions’ cost the lives of millions of Iraqi children…Still, never mind, an oil rich, friendly, feudal kingdom was restored…

    Second Gulf war…..WMDs..enough said…’Unfriendly ruler’ gone…

    Libya…The UN mandate to ‘protect civilians’ changed into “Remove/kill Gaddafi” within days and, as for all the promises about protecting civilians, with Gaddafi gone, they lasted about as long as ‘faerie gold’…Still we got rid of another ‘unfriendly ruler…

    Syria…Chemical attack mark one….Thankfully Labour and Tory rebels refused to sanction military action and, without another ‘poodle’, Obama backed off…
    Syria..Chemical attack mark two…A US president, embroiled in problems at home, is so ‘shocked’ (sound familiar?) that he unilaterally orders a ‘reprisal’ missile attack…This same president who, until now has been labelled ‘unstable’ on LDV, has proved his stability by attacking another country????? You couldn’t make it up!

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 8th Apr '17 - 9:24am

    Glenn, I agree. Although this may be controversial, I am beginning to wonder if we should withdraw from NATO, as continuing to be a member will be likely to lead to situations in which we are reluctantly forced into involvement in military action which has nothing to do with Britain’s own security. We should find a new role in the world, rejecting war, and acting as peacemakers.

  • Dave Orbison 8th Apr '17 - 9:32am

    Colin – wouldn’t it better, if you wish to disagree with Corbyn, and to do so by all means, but by making reference to what he actually said? Instead you disagree with him based on words you have wrongly attributed to him. Isn’t that the role of the tabloids?

  • John Barrett 8th Apr '17 - 10:42am

    Expats – well said.

    Those who wish to rubbish ‘Russia Today’ conspiracy theory’ might wish to admit that we were in exactly the “Russia Today” position when we demanded evidence of WMD before the war in Iraq. The evidence wasn’t there then and so far it still isn’t there now.

    Those who are lining up behind Trump now include many in our party who have previously called him unstable or deluded. Bringing out the big beasts, of Paddy and Ming, has now become the norm to bolster the leader at times like this. Tim’s needs to justify his position on his own.

    Where is their commitment to rule of law, the UN or any of the considerations we held so important in the past? Sadly those days appear to be forgotten by too many in the party.

    As Expats says, “You couldn’t make it up”

  • Lorenzo Cherin 8th Apr '17 - 2:06pm

    Dave Orbison

    I disagree! Tim Farron shows leadership as an opposition leader especially when he seems like someone who could lead in government, which, with messrs Kramer, Clegg, Brake , Lamb, he does, far more than the muppet show, apologies to the Henson family, that Corbyn leads, or does not ! Whether one agrees with Tim on this or not , he is his own man, not Ashdowns or Campbells !

    Catherine Jane Crosland

    My liking for you and your views , and understanding of you and those, makes it all the more poignant when I do so, while very , and I mean , very , strongly, disagreeing with you and your views! Nato is in our preamble, as with European support, but actually timeless, as the EU is written circa 1988 as the EC ! If your criteria for our involvement in world conflicts were supported, we would not have intervened in any conflict , including the Second world war. It is that we did so despite it not being to defend our interests, that makes it a moral stance, especially when so many did so. This is a mainstream party of the radical centre, or moderate centre left. TheGreen party and Corbyns Labour cannot support war ever, is that your view? I on nearly every occasion prefer talk to bombs, yet sometimes, and in Nato it means usually, together , with other countries , like us, we need to intervene. Assad is wreaking havoc, we must my, and most peoples opinion, now see him as not sustainable even by Russia and Putin.

  • Lorenzo Cherin…With remarks such as, ” the muppet show”., you do your cause no credit….

    As for intervention…In every single case, western intervention in the ME has been based on lies and misunderstandings and, in every case we have made the situation worse… Iraq and Libya are have been left without governance and infrastructure…Ask any family (not politician) living in a tent, without electricity, clean water and sanitation what era would they prefer; before or after we brought them ‘freedom’?

  • Dave Orbison 8th Apr '17 - 2:47pm

    Lorenzo “the Muppet show”? Come on agree to differ but name calling? Oh dear

  • Re expats and others above.

    It’s not just Seymour Hersh that concluded that the 2013 Ghouta attack was a false flag. Colonel Patrick Lang, US Military Intelligence and Middle East expert, tells us that Martin Dempsey, then Chairman of the (US) Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Obama that the available evidence didn’t support he view that Assad was responsible.

    http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2017/04/i-told-you-so-idlib-province.html

    So, Obama subsequent inaction when – allegedly – Assad crossed the US’s famous Red Line was not because he was chicken but because he knew it was a false flag operation.

    Of course Obama couldn’t say so outright because, irrespective of the Ghouta attack, it was and remained US policy to depose Assad – and it still is. In support of this policy the US was (and still is) giving huge amounts of aid to the jihadists, always vainly asserting they were supporting only “moderate” rebels despite any evidence of a meaningful “moderate” presence.

  • Tim Farron’s comments quoted in this article are deeply disturbing.

    For one thing there is the rush to judgement long before any investigations started let alone concluded. Are we to conclude that he isn’t concerned about little details like ‘evidence’ or ‘due process’? Moreover the UN, not NATO, is the proper forum to discuss this. He should know that.

    For another thing he has incautiously thrown in with the siren voices of the neocon warmongers whose aim is to depose Assad at all costs despite the evidence that the only alternative is murderous jihadists who encourage their fellow-travellers to strike European cities. Just think how much more damage they could do with control of a state! And let’s not forget that within Syria their goals would likely include genocide of the Alawite community as happened to the Yazidis. That’s several million people.

    Then there is the little matter of a “no fly zone”. Does he have any idea what’s involved? To establish a NFZ you must deny the other side all airfields and destroy their aircraft. So that means taking on some of the best air defences in the world and possibly starting WW3 – and all to provide air cover for the jihadists.

    Then there is Trump’s position he so incautiously supports. The US constitution requires prior Congressional approval for war so Trump has acted unconstitutionally. It’s also illegal to wage a war of aggression in international law so Trump action is doubly illegal and he has reduced the US to a banana republic where the rule of law is disregarded when inconvenient to the establishment.

    Did we learn nothing from the Iraqi WMD debacle? Apparently not. Tim Farron must go.

  • Just an anecdote. My late father, basically anti war, always said that if the UK and France with U S diplomatic support, had acted, with military intervention or threat of, to stop Hitler marching into the Rhineland, things may have not developed in other areas and states as they did. I remember Cuba, 1962, as a teenager. Scared stiff but the stand had to be taken. Have we prevaricated too long. I do not know, but we are where we are and grand philosophical arguments are great but ……………

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 8th Apr '17 - 6:29pm

    Lorenzo, I am always very sorry to find myself in disagreement with you. I did only say I was “beginning to wonder if ” we should withdraw from NATO, not that I felt that we definitely should. I genuinely don’t know. But I do worry about the possibility of NATO forcing us into some future conflict against our will.
    Originally, of course, NATO was intended for defense against Soviet attack. All members agreed to come to the aid of any member that was attacked. This now seems to be expected to apply to any attack by anyone, not just Russia. After 9/11, this led to NATO members being expected to become involved in military action in Afghanistan. The 9/11 attacks were a terrible atrocity, but this was not the sort of attack that the NATO treaty had envisaged. Similarly, after the terrorist attacks on Paris, it was argued that Britain must take part in air strikes in Syria against ISIS, as France, an ally, had been attacked, although the air strikes were unlikely to make France any more safe from future terrorist attack, but were actually likely to place both Britain and France at greater risk of terrorist attack. It just seems that what is expected of us as NATO members has extended so much that we do need to think about whether the risks of being forced into a future conflict out way the protection NATO offers.
    That is not to say that we should never become involved in war in any circumstances. But the decision about whether a situation calls for military action should be ours, not NATO’s. On the whole I do feel that we should decide only to become involved in military action if Britain’s security is directly threatened. Becoming involved in other conflicts is likely to lead to harm that is far greater than any possible good, as was the case in Iraq.
    I just re-read the preamble to the Lib Dem constitution, and it does not actually mention NATO by name. It does speak of working with other nations for peace and security. Rather than becoming involved in further armed conflicts, I would rather see Britain find a role in the world as a peacemaker.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 8th Apr '17 - 9:18pm

    Catherine
    Never worry about disagreeing with me, losing a sense of humour would be worse ! Not that this is what is happening in your case , unlike some ! You are correct on the wording in your mention of the preamble. You are measured in your comments.I just feel very strongly that in this era of uncertainty, alliances, and freedom to disagree within them, are more essential than not ! We can agree or disagree on action now or if at all, but without being in the EU many are worried and uncertain. It is worse on defence than economics or politics in times of peace, another reason the EU and NATO are important, they keep us talking to other significant internationalists.

    Expatsand Dave

    Sense of humour please ?! The muppets, as I said , should not have been mentioned so overtly in regard to Corbyn.

    I am glad I apologised to the Henson family for any offence caused to the muppets, who I adore !

  • This morning it appears that..[B].”Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, has said that she sees regime change in Syria as one of the Trump administration’s priorities in the country wracked by civil war”…[/B]

    WOW! There’s a surprise, NOT….That’ll be three ‘nasty’ rulers gone…

    Only Iran left; any bets on how that problem will be solved?

  • Jayne Mansfield 9th Apr '17 - 10:26am

    @ Lorenzo,
    A sense of humour is indeed important.

    One of my favourite muppet songs was the Robin Frog version of A.A Milne’s, ‘Halfway Down’. I am not sure that taking a halfway down position is a particularly good thing.

    My concern , as it has always been, is whether western intervention has and will continue to prolong the war causing even more deaths to civilians, including innocent children, than if the west we had not intervened at all, and not provided weapons training and moral support to ‘rebel’ groups, many who have used them to cause equally slow and painful deaths as those caused by chemical weapons.

    My struggle is not simply about good and evil, but who displays the greater or lesser hypocrisy.

    Even if it were possible to have a no- fly zone that would protect innocents, ( without there being, as argued by some, the addition of ground troops), has the current intervention by someone who is as erratic as President Trump, made this idea more more or less likely, or will American intervention lead to greater conflict and more rather than fewer such deaths? Nothing about President Trump or President Putin leads me to feel any optimism.

  • Richard Underhill 9th Apr '17 - 10:37am

    Is Boris Good Enough? Is This a time when we should be talking to the Russians, if only to repeat to Moscow what was said at the United Nations. Labour’s shadow foreign secretary did not want to make political capital out of his(?) decision to cancel a meeting with his opposite number. The Conservatives have had a number of prominent figures at the FO over the years: Anthony Eden went on to be Prime Minister and invaded Egypt at Suez without US agreement leading to a run on the pound, the aristocratic Douglas-Home was a former Prime Minister, another aristocrat Peter Carrington, a former county councillor, took the heat over failing to forecast or prevent the Falkands invasion and resigned honourably with his junior ministers, thereby saving the Prime Minister’s skin, the diplomatic Douglas Hurd was welcomed by the FO as one of their own and became a candidate for the Tory leadership when PM Margaret Thatcher resigned. We know who appointed Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary, but we need to know who decided he should cancel his meeting in Moscow. Is a reshuffle coming soon? Does the government have a policy? If so what? will be told what it is?

  • …Russia is to blame for “every civilian death” in the chemical weapons attack last week in Syria, Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon has claimed.
    Sir Michael, writing in the Sunday Times, said the Kremlin was responsible “by proxy” as the “principal backer” of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

    So that means we, as a principal backer of Saudi, will accept responsibility for “every civilian death” in Yemen?
    No! I thought not…

  • George Kendall – “If the previous gas bombing had been a false flag, I think we’d have seen some evidence of that by now.

    But the point is we have – see previous links – although the MSM doesn’t like to report that just as it doesn’t like to report other stuff embarrassing to the establishment like banking scandals. And then there is the abundant evidence that the jihadists have access to chemical weapons and the will to use them – many attacks have been reported although again this doesn’t fit the MSM narrative of ‘heroic democrats’. (BTW if that were true why isn’t jihadiland crawing with BBC reporters?)

    And then there’s the question of motive. For Assad there is none at all – he would risk international opprobrium plus it would seriously p*** off the Russians who were out on a limb for him. Conversely, for the jihadists there was every motive: it might (and very nearly did) get the US entering the war on their side.

    Propaganda operations are standard in any war, e.g. Operation Mincemeat and Operation Fortitude for WW2 examples (see Wikipedia).

    For the rest it isn’t a problem with the intelligence services. This is about the way a warmongering politicians seek to twist and pervert their work for political reasons. It’s “facts being fitted around the policy” as someone said of the WMD debacle of which this is all scarily reminiscent. Do you really trust the likes of Boris Johnson & Michael Fallon?

  • Dave Wheeler 10th Apr '17 - 8:12pm

    That we should NEVER be involved in unilateral military action ANYWHERE – but especially the Middle East seems to be a no brainer. That Tim Farron seems to think that this action was ‘proportionate’ simply persuades me that i was right to leave the Lib Dems some two years ago and veer towards membership of the Green Party despite having been a LibDem Councillor for 20+ years. When will anyone realise that ANY intervention from the West in what is now an Islamic civil war is a mistake?

    yours in sadness

    Dave Wheeler (ex Forest of Dean Party)

  • Jayne Mansfield 12th Apr '17 - 7:34pm

    @ Dave Wheeler,
    Very sensible.

    I applaud the Co-Leaders of the Green Party and the membership.

  • Jonathan Brown 12th Apr '17 - 11:28pm

    @Paul Murray “Now I have no truck with Russian-inspired fake news, but if a former UK ambassador to Syria is prepared to say on national television that he does not trust the establishment narrative…”

    The key word here is ‘former’.

    Because Peter Ford is a director of the British Syrian Society, a regime propaganda outlet run by Assad’s father in law, Fawaz Akhras. See Companies House records:

    https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/04619563/officers

    To give you a taste of who the BSS are, they hosted a conference in Damascus last year held under ‘Chatham House rules’ (meaning that they won’t reveal who their international guests were), but here are some choice snippets from their report:

    “Numerous general amnesties were issued and saw the release of political detainees from all walks of life including those with an extremist background.” p10

    “Past events showed how governments in Eastern Europe collapsed following a series of orchestrated media campaigns. Consequently, the same strategy was perceived in relation to the events in Daraa especially since no evidence of the alleged torture of children was ever presented.” p11-12

    “…The assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and the subsequent investigation into his death would be used as a pressure point against the Syrian government.” p18

    “…leading reconciliation efforts in Syria is … Dr. Ali Haidar. It must be pointed out that he is not a member of the ruling Baath Party but rather the once banned Syrian Social National Party (SSNP). Given the prevalence of the Baath Party in Syria’s government, the SSNP is considered to be an opposition party.” p27

    There you have it: an admission that they released jihadists at the beginning of the uprising, a complete denial of the repression meted out to protesters, a denial of any involvement in the assassination of Rafiq Hariri, and a claim that the leader of a party that has been in coalition with the Baath for decades is actually a member of ‘the opposition’. (Incidentally, the SSNP are the Syrian Nazi Party.)
    http://www.syrianlawjournal.com/index.php/ramifications-war-syria-world-stand-full-report/

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