Tag Archives: foreign affairs

Pan-European solidarity – shielding Ukraine from Russia’s desperation

As I contemplate the current state of the world, Russia relentlessly continues its barbaric bombardment of Ukraine, while, seemingly, the US Republicans play the fiddle as Ukraine burns. Reflecting on the past two years of this disastrous occupation of Ukraine, the initial unity and support pledged by the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and the European Union seem to falter. Certain elements in the United States and Europe, Hungary notably, lean towards a path of apathy and appeasement, potentially jeopardising any efforts to curb Putin’s hunger for rebuilding the Russian Empire.

With each passing day, Russia grows more desperate, seeking weaponry from the hermit kingdom of North Korea. Rumours circulate that Mr. Putin plans to visit North Korea post what is sarcastically referred to as “free and fair elections” in Russia. However, the stark reality is that the special operation in Ukraine has utterly failed, leaving Russia increasingly isolated from the rest of the world. Britain, in response, pledges a substantial £2.5 billion to support the war effort, and the French contemplate the deployment of European troops in Ukraine. A move that I fear might escalate tensions to the point of an all-out war with the Russian state.

My primary concern revolves around the potential re-election of a certain Donald Trump. As an isolationist leader with little interest in the safety of Europe unless a considerable price is paid, Europe can no longer rely on the United States. This realisation marks a sombre day for both European and British politics. In response, the European Union introduces the European Defence Industrial Strategy, outlining the aim to purchase 40% of defence equipment from Europe by 2030. Additionally, half of their defence procurement budget is to be allocated to products made within Europe.

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Ed Davey : I stand in solidarity and support tonight with Israel and all Israelis

Those were the opening words of a powerful speech by Ed Davey at the  Vigil outside 10 Downing Street on Monday evening following the Hamas attack on Israel. Ed was there  representing our Party with Daisy Cooper. 

Ed went on to say: 

The Liberal Democrats stand in solidarity and support tonight with Jewish people across the world and we stand in support and solidarity with the amazing Jewish community in Great Britain.

And I stand in support together tonight with Tom, with Robert, with David .  Let them hear this, the government and the opposition stand in solidarity with Israel and the Jewish people. This most horrendous terrorist attack by the terrorist Hamas must be condemned by everybody completely.

Let us, as we do that, remember the people who were killed. Let us mourn for each and every one of them.

The children, the women, the men who were killed in their homes, killed in their villages, killed as they came together in a festival for music and peace.

That is what the terrorists want to do. They want to kill innocent civilians going about their everyday lives and they must never be forgiven or forgotten that they impose this murderous act on Israel.

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Time for a Distinctive Liberal Democrat Policy on Ending Conflict

The Foreign Office has an unspoken strategy: whenever possible, it frames conflict as a humanitarian disaster, not a political problem requiring a political solution. Supporting UN aid efforts is laudable, but it is also easier than devoting diplomatic time and capital confronting deep-seated issues like systemic corruption, the persecution of minorities or the marginalisation of ethnic groups. No wonder so many civil wars defy our efforts to secure a genuine sustainable peace.  

The current violence in Sudan is an example of how officials respond to conflict as if it were an earthquake rather than a man-made disaster. Twenty years ago, officials treated the ethnic cleansing in Darfur like a disease rather than a racist expression of the Sudanese regime’s policy to eliminate its Black African civilians. The ideology behind the slaughter in Darfur was never acknowledged, just as Milosevic’s plans for Greater Serbia and the Interahamwe’s genocidal ambitions to erase Rwanda’s Tutsi minority were ignored by diplomats at the time. 

Another Foreign Office strategy is to cling to the old, discredited elites when searching for a negotiated settlement. In Sudan, the architects of the violence were seen as the international community’s partners in the search for peace. Over the last two decades, the voices of civilians were largely ignored, while the elite – and the men with guns – made promises they were never asked to keep. No benchmarks were set, and there was no mechanism to deliver consequences for failure to fulfil commitments made to negotiators. It was Bosnia all over again.

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What Xi Jinping is planning on Taiwan

The former Moscow correspondent for NBC Ian Williams wrote an article in The Spectator dated 22nd March, describing what happened when Xi Jinping said goodbye to Vladimir Putin when their summit ended in the Kremlin last month. Xi suddenly turned to Putin and said, which seemed unscripted, “Change is coming that hasn’t happened in 100 years, and we are driving this change together”. Then “The two men clasped hands, smiling. ‘I agree,’ Putin said, briefly bringing up his free hand to hold Xi’s arm. The Chinese leader then added, ‘Please take care, dear friend'”.

What is the “change” that Xi was speaking about? In the last decade, the state media of China has presented the idea of “the East rises, the West declines” to the people, saying that China will become the greatest global power in the foreseeable future. Then the rules of the world will be changed – It was the West who set the rules in the last century, but eventually, the East will become the one to decide. Therefore, Xi was telling Putin: we will overturn those rules together.

That’s why I disagree with US State Secretary Antony Blinken when he said China and Russia are in “a marriage of convenience”, I believe Xi and Putin are soulmates who share the same ideology. The new evidence is the words from the Chinese Ambassador to France Lu Shaye in LCI interview. He reveals Xi’s true thoughts: if the previous Soviet states have no effective status in international law, Putin is righteous to reclaim all those countries. Xi will fully support Putin in doing so; in return, Putin must back Xi to achieve his historical mission, the “reunification” with Taiwan.

US President Biden told the media that he believes there is no imminent threat of a Taiwan invasion after he met with Xi Jinping last November. Reports said Xi promised Biden that China would not take any military action during Biden’s first presidency. Can Xi be trusted? Well, technically, yes, Xi needs time to prepare to strike. We need to know that the failure of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine does not make Xi hesitate but to refine his war plan on Taiwan to justify himself to become the Fuhrer of China.

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Is Pakistan heading for a Sri Lankan-style meltdown

Pakistan, meaning the land of the spiritually pure and clean, is, alas effectively skint.

Ten thousand containers sit at ports unless payment is received, industry has no power for production, and an agricultural state is now importing food..if it can afford to.

A macroeconomic meltdown is underway with all the conventional smoke signals: a collapsing economy, rising inflation of 30%, a run on the currency (thus making imports more expensive for locals), depleting reserves (less than the cost of a decent Premier League side …ie shy of $3bn), fuel and now food shortages, with the staple chapati flour in short supply.

Wages arrears threaten food security, health outcomes have worsened with malaria on the rise, education attainment is appalling, and literacy rates are barely over 50%.

Successive failure of policy since independence in 1947 has led to this outcome – IMF bailouts, Arab largesse, US dollars to keep the Taliban at bay, Chinese mercantilism of late –  none of it has stalled the longer-term trend towards a failing state. The risks of a Sri Lankan-style total collapse are now real, even if there is a short-term sugar rush of IMF support and additional Gulf financing.

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Christine Jardine: UK Ministers’ response to Iran protests “woeful”

Christine Jardine has used her Scotsman column this week to criticise the UK Government for its lack of action in response to the women’s protests in Iran.

She sets the scene:

The international concern over that state’s pursuit of nuclear capability has been at the centre of diplomatic wrangling and, for the US in particular, the focus of decades of tension.

Perhaps what we have lost sight of is that Iran is a country, a people who like any other want to live their best lives. And be free so to do.

This past week what we have seen is that desire expressed on the streets and universities of Iran, provoked originally by the death in custody of a woman accused of ‘improper’ dress.

International observers, including Amnesty International, say they have not witnessed protests of the scale and intensity that have followed the death of Mahsa Amini.

The UK Government response has been muted compared to European countries and the US, she says:

But the response of our own Foreign Secretary and wider government has been woeful in comparison.

The UK Government should use the Magnitsky sanctions regime, where appropriate, for cases in which human rights abuses and atrocities have clearly been committed.

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Speeches of #ldconf: Layla Moran’s first as Foreign Affairs Spokesperson

On Lib Dem Voice: Reportage | Contribute
On the official party website: Conference home


Layla Moran made her first keynote speech since taking over the Foreign Affairs spokesperson and showed that she has mastered her brief very quickly. She was as passionate and compassionate as you would expect and called out the Government on its failure to do enough to support human rights around the world.

 

Here is her speech in full:

And the text is below:

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Reformation – without a security and defence policy the Lib Dems are toast

Embed from Getty Images

Uncomfortable as it is for people of a liberal and democratic disposition to face the harsh realities of a rough and tumble world, the government must deal with the bully who disregards the norms of international rule-based peaceful co-existence. The same applies within the nation-state; it is the government which polices the law of the land and in both cases is there to provide the secure infrastructure which supports the well-being of the citizen and society.

In a globalised world, how on earth (literally) as liberals can we perpetuate the emotive implication of them and us? Citizens everywhere belong to the global village, and we need to contribute to the policing of the village rules for co-existence. As a nation-state, we should focus on our contribution outside, or external to, our part of our village.

From an international standpoint, and we are internationalist, aren’t we? The first sacred cow which has to be scrapped is the concept of foreign policy with its implicit narrative of “foreigners”. The second sacred cow for slaughter is to replace the Foreign and Commonwealth Office with a Ministry of External Affairs. Oh dear, I see the massacre turning into a blood bath!

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Jo Swinson: Arms sales to Saudi Arabia must be suspended immediately

Today the Campaign Against the Arms Trade won its legal challenge to the Conservative Government’s decision to sell arms to Saudi Arabia.

Jo Swinson called on the Government to suspend arms sales immediately.

Saudi Arabia is an enemy of British values, including human rights and the rule of law. Their repeated violation and disregard for human rights should have ruled them out as an arms trading partner long ago.

Instead the Conservative government have continued to export arms and equipment to this brutal regime. The situation is inexcusable and cannot continue.

This court ruling is monumental.

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LibLink: Alistair Carminchael: The people of Hong Kong look to the UK to keep the promises we made to them

This week in Parliament, Alistair Carmichael asked an urgent question on the Foreign Office’s lack of action per the conviction of Hong King’s Umbrella Movements’s leaders. The Umbrella Movement had protested for 79 days for free and fair elections in 2015.

This week nine of the Umbrella Movement’s leaders were convicted of rarely used public order offences from the days of colonial rule. Chris Patten, the last British Governor of Hong Kong, described it as being “appallingly divisive to use anachronistic common law charges in a vengeful pursuit of political events which took place in 2014”.

The response of our own Foreign Office was a silence. How embarrassing, and not for the first time.

It was only 1997 that the UK handed Hong Kong back to China. It was a handover that allowed the UK to divest itself of another vestige of empire while entering into a treaty with China which sought to provide autonomy of the former colony and a continued progression towards democracy. It was Chris Patten’s not insubstantial legacy which gave both Britain and China obligations for fifty years until 2047.

He was quick to point out a former Lib Dem leader who had stood up so vociferously for the people of Hong Kong:

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Jo condemns barbaric and inhumane anti LGBT laws in Brunei

I suspect most readers of this site will have been absolutely horrified by the introduction of brutal new laws today  in the tiny nation of Brunei which make gay sex and adultery punishable by stoning to death and theft punishable by amputation.

Situated on the island of Borneo, Brunei is a former British protectorate, and became a member of the Commonwealth in 1984 when it gained independence. Last year there was a UK ministerial visit to Brunei in August and a trade envoy visited in November.

Today in the Commons, Jo Swinson asked the Foreign Office Minister to intervene to stop this:

Afterwards she said:

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LibLink: Layla Moran: It’s time for the UK to recognise the state of Palestine

Lib Dem MP Layla Moran, the first MP of Palestinian descent, has written for Politics Home about why the UK should recognise the state of Palestine:

As things stand now the peace process is nowhere to be found. It is a fallacy to think that there is still an ongoing peace process and the international community are ignorant if they think anything else. The political agenda has been hijacked by extremists on both sides and I am very clear that as a part of that, Hamas must go: their presence is setting the dialogue back considerably.

With this breakdown of the peace process, and the US now missing from the international effort, it is more important than ever that the UK steps up and uses its influence and voice. The UK can help restore a sense of hope for Palestinians, we can help bring the parties back to the negotiating table, and we can help level the playing field. But we can only do that if we recognise the state of Palestine. Saying that we believe in a two-state solution without recognising one of those states ourselves would be laughably hypocritical if it weren’t so damaging.

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Review: Inside the Foreign Office, Part 1

“More than fifty shades of diplomacy.”

So says Britain’s Ambassador talking about the nuances of international relations in a BBC documentary about the Foreign Office, the first part of which was shown last week.

It opens just after the 2017 election, with Boris addressing the assembled ranks in the Foreign Office. Typically, he talks about the fate of the Conservative Party in front of impartial civil servants.

He talked about wanting to go to Tehran – and we all know how his dealings with the Iranians ended up for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

The Permanent Secretary, Sir Simon MacDonald, talked about the nature of diplomacy, describing how 17th century ambassador Sir Henry Wootton “Am ambassador is an honest man sent aboard to ie for the benefit of his country.” MacDonald pointed out the triple entendre –  lying meant lazing about and sleeping around as well as not telling the truth. His modern take was that the art of diplomacy is “letting other people have your way”

Sir Simon talked about the changing status of UK – how we were the biggest, most important power before World War 1. It’s all changed since then.

We’re now in second group of countries not able to do much by themselves. So, clearly, it’s really sensible for us to be leaving an enormous collaboration of nations.

We then went to our UN mission in New York where aides were prepping Boris for talks with the Russians who had requested aid to rebuild Syria – which they have helped destroy. They discussed  various ways of how they could use that request to get rid of Assad and ensuing humanitarian access.

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Observations of an ex pat: Mobilising anger

Anger is a powerful mobiliser. It is also dangerous to control when turned loose on the body politic.

At the moment this raw rage is being drawn out of the American spleen by both the left and right, by Democrats and Republicans.

It is the mid-term elections.  It is the first opportunity US voters have had for passing their  verdict on the Trump Administration and the Republican-controlled Congress. It is a chance to elect national legislators who will block the president and more.

If, as expected, the Democrats, gain control of the House of Representatives, Donald Trump’s hopes for new legislation to further his right-wing, anti-immigrant, unilateralist agenda will be dashed against a Congressional brick wall.

Furthermore, the president can expect a flurry of fresh investigations to be initiated by the lower house.  They will demand to see his tax returns; investigate the conflicts of interest between the White House and his business interests; probe the president’s  environmental and immigration policies; demand inquiries into the multiple sexual harassment claims that he has successfully stalled and breathe new life into the Mueller Inquiry.

It is little wonder that Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence have been criss-crossing the country to attend rallies in support of right-wing Republican candidates.  It is no surprise that the presidential rhetoric has become shriller and more extreme as the first Tuesday in November approaches.

Five thousand American troops are needed to protect US citizens from the Central American immigrant “invasion force” infected with “Middle East terrorists”.  The President promises to override the constitution and decree the end of citizenship for those born in the US of foreign parents. The pipe bombs sent to Democrats was a plot by Democrats.  And the divisive atmosphere of vitriolic hate that led to the death of 11 Jewish worshippers in Pittsburgh had nothing to do with Trump. It was the fault of the Democrats and their allies in the fake news media.

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Tom Brake: Trump “reckless and short-sighted” on Iran nuclear deal

Even Boris Johnson can see the sense in sticking with the Iran nuclear deal.

Unfortunately, his tv diplomacy over the weekend seems to have come to nought as Trump has decided to withdraw the US from it. This news is not going to come as the biggest surprise we’ve ever had but it still makes the world just a bit more unstable.

Tom Brake called the decision short-sighted and reckless, and looks to the EU for leadership, saying:

Trump’s decision to scrap US participation in the Iran nuclear deal is reckless and short-sighted. The deal is far from perfect, but

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Brake: UK must build coalition to end Putin’s murderous adventurism

It’s a shame we’re on the way out of a strong international institution just at the time people are carrying out state sponsored executions with military grade nerve agents in our quiet pizza restaurants.

Tonight, we’ve called for a series of sanctions against Russia in the wake of their alleged attack on British citizens.

We agree with the government that Russia is either directly or indirectly complicit in the attack and suggest five things we could do:

  • Boycott the World Cup in Russia and finding an alternative venue.
  • Seize the UK-based assets of those implicated in this attack, and previous attacks through the creation of a UK Magnitsky Act
  • Introduce travel bans for top Russian officials
  • Suspend arms sales to Russia
  • Ensure that the forthcoming register of beneficial ownership trusts is publicly accessible.

Tom Brake gave some advice to the Government and had a swipe at Jeremy Corbyn too:

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Jo Swinson calls on Boris to stand up to Saudi ruler

Back in the day, Vince Cable, then acting leader, famously  boycotted the state visit of the Saudi King 

At the time, he said that

I think it’s quite wrong that as a country we should give the leader of Saudi Arabia this honour.”

He said that although Britain has a “business-like” relationship with the country, Britain would not dream of extending the same invitation to other controversial leaders like Libya’s Colonel Gadaffi..

Eleven years on, the party is still calling out the appalling human rights record of the Saudi Government. Jo Swinson today lambasted Boris on the eve of the visit of the ruling Saudi Prince. She said:

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Boris “a real embarrassment” says William Wallace

Our Lib Dem Peer and regular LDV contributor William Wallace is an Emeritus Professor in International Relations. He is more qualified than most people to comment on foreign policy. In the Lords debate on the EU Withdrawal on Monday, he was incredibly critical about the Foreign Secretary – and that was before Boris’s bizarre comparison of the congestion charge boundary to the Irish border after Brexit.

Here’s the whole of that speech:

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Paddy: Trump’s tweets could trigger war

Paddy Ashdown has been speaking to PoliticsHome about the development of UK foreign policy in the age of Trump and how the US President’s unpredictable actions have an unsettling impact on the world.

“It does not mean that the Atlantic axis is going to be less important, but it ceases to be our primary axis on which to base our defence and probably our foreign policy as well.”

“That relationship must be much more mature, where both sides realise that there will be times when their interests in the world diverge,” he explains, citing US policy on Iran and Israel as two examples.

Beyond these ‘differing interests’ Ashdown presses the Government to  distance itself from the “irrational” Trump approach on “tinder pile” issues like North Korea.

He says the Trump tactic – of mocking and baiting Kim Jong Un on Twitter, alongside battle-cry threats of “fire and fury” – simply creates a space for North Korea to drive a wedge between Washington and Seoul, as shown by its offer of talks and participation in the upcoming winter Olympics in South Korea.

“We are used to a US president who is careful, thoughtful, intelligent and well informed, and we don’t have that now at the moment at all,” Ashdown laments.

“I can see five piles of tinder around the world, any one of which through inadvertence, stupidity or just blundering could be set alight… any one of which could have the capacity to ignite a much wider conflagration. And you want somebody blundering around the world, firing off tweets? In these very difficult circumstances I don’t think that’s the way to make a safer world. In a world as fragile, turbulent and close to war on several fronts as ours, I don’t think that’s a balanced and wise strategy.”

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I hope the Russians love their children too

As I made my way to work I noticed an increased police presence on the Moscow Metro on that frosty April 3rd. A football match? Arriving there, I saw my Russian colleagues scrambling for their phones to call relatives in St Petersburg. A 22 year Kyrgyz-Russian Islamist had unleashed an improvised suicide bomb on a metro carriage near Sennaya Ploshad. The death toll has now come to fifteen, with forty-nine people injured.

When in November two years back terrorists laid siege to a night club in Paris, Muscovites lit up their Ostankino Radio tower in the French tricolour to express shared humanity; when St Petersburg’s atrocity occurred the Eiffel tower did not display the white-blue-red colours of the flag of the Russian Federation. Indeed, when there came a terrible, but less dramatic, attack in Stockholm four days later Russia’s loss seemed to become forgotten by the Western media.

Meanwhile the U.K seems intent on becoming what George Eaton, in the New Statesman, calls `Russia’s greatest foe`. The Tory government has sent out 800 troops and long-range missiles to Estonia. May, meanwhile, has discouraged M.Ps from attending Anglo-Russian parliamentary groups on grounds of the `security risk` (N.S, 11/4/17). Johnson – who Corbyn was right to call a `cold war warrior`- has reneged on a scheduled diplomacy mission to the Kremlin. This is at the same time that May is going cap in hand to the Saudis for trade deals!

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Trump and Johnson on the world stage. What could possibly go wrong?

Sometimes I feel like I just want to get a big, soft cushion with Obama’s face on it to hide behind every time the news comes on after 20th January next year.

The US electorate has put a Twitter troll in charge. You would think that the person in the most powerful job in the world would have better things to do than take to social media to respond to every tiny criticism of him. The other day, for example, he said this of his call with Taiwan’s leader:

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Tom Brake calls for Turkey to be suspended from NATO

As the human rights situation in Turkey worsens, Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesperson Tom Brake has called for Turkey to be suspended from NATO and for the refugee deal between Turkey and the EU to be scrapped.

He said:

Erdogan’s ongoing purge of newspapers, academics, teachers and judges has nothing to do with Turkey’s security and everything to do with blocking any opposition to his increasingly authoritarian rule. Today’s news that dozens more media outlets have been shut should send shivers down the spine of any person who believes in a free and open society.

The preamble to NATO’s founding treaty refers to it being “founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law”, all of which are under threat in Turkey currently.

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Miriam Gonzalez Durantez has a right go at Brexiteers over terrorism claims

Earlier this week, Miriam Gonzalez Durantez took to the pages of the Telegraph to deliver a scathing riposte to those “Leave” campaigners who seek to scare us into believing that being in the EU increases terrorism.

She started with an insight at her feelings over the Coalition years:

Having felt for five full years the frustration of seeing my husband, Nick Clegg, regularly reversing ill-judged Conservative decisions with little public credit, it is tempting to remain silent on the Brexit referendum – yet another ill-judged Conservative government decision that puts at risk the future of all our children just to sort out internal difficulties in the Conservative Party.

She tackles the idea that the EU’s freedom of movement is behind a flood of foreign criminals ending up here. In fact, she places the blame closer to home:

These assertions are made despite the fact that the UK is not part of the Schengen area and that, even for those within Schengen, there are exclusions to the freedom of movement on public security grounds. So if the Home Office has allowed criminals and terrorists into this country, it is nothing to do with EU rules and everything to do with the Home Office itself.

Terrorism, she says, is always the fault of hate-filled individuals, but she cites 3 key foreign policy decisions on Iraq, Syria and Libya as enabling ISIL to expand. Surprisingly, she questions her own role:

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Fighting the war and peace in Libya

MP Tom Brake asked for input on whether we should support a war to defeat Da’esh in Libya. I would support such a war but with these provisos.

First, we must have an unequivocal resolution from the UN Security Council supporting any such action. The paltry effort which usually emanates from the council is not enough. Then the UN in general must put its money where its mouth is, both in gold and in its personnel. Here I do not mean just the usual suspects – the US, Canada, the UK, other european countries and a few from further afield but as many countries as is possible to convince to do so. We cannot do it without the support of the Arab League, the African Union and countries like Russia, Pakistan and others We must also have invitation and confidence from the Libyan government.

Second, in order to properly play our part and still be able to defend ourselves adequately, we have to take our Armed Forces establishment to the levels of before the coalition. The equipment we supply to our troops must be correct for first the war fighting and then afterwards the peacekeeping. We have to learn from our experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq. In Afghanistan, Urgent Operational Requirement notices were used to replace equipment which was failing our troops, or to fill a need existing equipment didn’t cover. This must not happen in Libya, our troops must have the best equipment on offerWe also have to have the willpower to keep the necessary troops in theatre to stop the debacle of our time in Helmand, when we were unable to hold the ground we patrolled and so took unnecessary casualties.

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Tom Brake MP writes: Do you support military intervention in Libya?

Libya is in crisis. After the removal of the brutal dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has unfortunately disintegrated into a state in little more than name, without the stability and leadership of any government. The country is being held back and fragmented through tribal infighting and most worryingly Daesh has established strongholds around Libya, including the cities of Sirte and Sabratha and even in areas surrounding Benghazi.

It is reported that the vast majority of Daesh fighters based in Libya are not Libyan nationals and the movement does not have roots within the country. Daesh is deeply unpopular with Libyan citizens and they have struggled to motivate and indoctrinate Libyan citizens.

The American military are currently conducting airstrikes on Daesh targets within Libya. The Secretary of State for Defence has personally authorised the use of RAF Lakenheath to allow these airstrikes to be launched from within the United Kingdom. The UK Government has been coy on what role, if any, our military will take to support the US military in their fight against Daesh in Libya, however the likelihood of the UK Government committing to military intervention in Libya is increasing.

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Lib Dem peer takes part in World War Three

Kishwer Falkner has taken part in a gripping and chillingly realistic BBC Two TV programme.

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Tim Farron responds to UN resolution

Tim Farron has commented on the passing of the UN Resolution 2249, which had the UN Security Council recognise that

Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Da’esh), constitutes a global and unprecedented threat to international peace and security,

Tim said:

I warmly welcome United Nations Security Council Resolution 2249. The fact that Russia did not use its veto is an important first step towards creating the broad coalition that the Liberal Democrats have been calling for as the only effective context for considering proposals for military action.

The UK should now use all its diplomatic skills to support the efforts being made in Vienna to assemble an anti-ISIL coalition including Russia, Turkey, Iran and other key states in the region.

At the same time, the Prime Minister must address the questions raised in the Foreign Affairs Committee Report when he presents to parliament the long-term strategy for any military action in Syria. That must include the planning for post-ISIL Syria, which has so far been absent amid the calls for UK planes to be engaged in strikes.

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Foreign affairs – facing up to failure

20th Sep 2015 conference LDV fringeLiberal Democrat Voice hosted a very stimulating conference fringe meeting yesterday evening. Our editor, Caron Lindsay chaired the session discussing how we forge a liberal foreign policy in these challenging times. The panel consisted of Hannah Bettsworth, Julie Smith, William Wallace and Nick Tyrone. My photo above shows the panel while Hannah was speaking.

Thank you to the panel for each providing extraordinaryly thought-provoking inputs. Thank you also to the representatives who came along and asked excellent questions or made superb points.

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Tim Farron’s TimTalks: Foreign Affairs

This week we are re-running new leader Tim Farron’s series of TimTalks from the leadership campaign so that those of you who don’t know him well can see what makes him tick.

Today, it’s Foreign Affairs. Now we have a caption, a soundtrack (which is, to be honest, a bit annoying) and a proper introduction at the beginning:

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Paddy Ashdown: It is no longer the case that the nation state, acting alone, can determine its future

In the comments to an earlier post, Bill Le Breton mentioned a speech by Paddy Ashdown in the Lords yesterday. We had a look and thought it deserved to be reproduced in full. In it, he outlines the threats we face, the changes to the balance of power across the world and how we need to change our attitudes and foreign policy to meet these new realities. Enjoy.

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