Syria: Look at outcomes, not evidence

North Korea’s Moranbong Girl-Band

North Korea’s Moranbong Girl-Band

It seems that President Obama is basing his case to Congress for action in Syria on “incontrovertible evidence” of the Assad régime’s guilt.

I must say that on the balance of the evidence, it seems to me probable that Assad did it.  On the other hand, my good friend and colleague Godfrey Bloom, whose views I respect, asks what possible motivation Assad could have had, with UN weapons inspectors sitting nearby in a Damascus hotel?  Could it have been a put-up-job by Al Qaeda to incriminate Assad and bring America into the war?

It seems to me that in any case, this is not the key question.  Regardless of who did it, we should ask: will bombing Syria with Tomahawk missiles make things better or worse?  What will the consequences be?  And in any case, is it our job to bomb Syria?  Is it in the British national interest?

It seems to me that the answer to both of those questions is negative, and whether you agree with that assessment or not, the degree of risk and uncertainty over the outcome so great that we should proceed with extreme caution.

Is there a read-across here to the situation in North Korea, where atrocity is piled on atrocity?  It’s now reported that their boy-leader Kim Jong Un had a dozen members of the popular Moranbong girl band, including his former lover Hyon Song-Wol, lined up and machine-gunned to death, with their nearest and dearest forced to watch the execution. If this proves true, can the world “stand idly by”?  Shouldn’t we intervene?  Is it time to bomb Pyongyang?

Posing as the world’s policeman raises some troubling dilemmas.  UKIP argues that our armed forces need better funding.  But we believe that their primary rôle is the Defence of the Realm, against threats which may arise and may not always be foreseen.  We should not squander our limited resources by interfering in other people’s wars in far-flung countries in pursuit of an “ethical foreign policy”.

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18 Responses to Syria: Look at outcomes, not evidence

  1. PJ says:

    You are quite right about the ‘values’ of Britains engagement in bombing and already annihilated country , which of course can only make things worse but I think there are more serious untones here Roger. The internet has provided some ‘evidence’ if not ‘proof’ that it was not Assad at all that introduced the chemical weapons but that they actually came from Saudi Arabia-which sorta ties in wiith Putin declaring that he would ‘erase Saudi’! There is also another line of conflict emanting from the internet which suggests that Obama’s involvement is “oil based”.
    It’s a severely warped world we live in Roger.
    On OUR side of things, did I detect a mere strnd of common sense the other night when MPs defeated Camorons ‘want to go to war’ in the Commons? Has the UKIP brand of political approach been recognised for what it actually is at last-COMMON SENSE?

  2. Graham says:

    Playing policeman brings us into conflict with very nasty people and regimes. In a world where civilised policemen play by the rules and cannot simply exterminate their enemy, retribution often follows. This is particularly evident in Islamic countries and Britain continues to pay dearly in blood and treasure for intervening, however well meant. At home, Islamic nutters continue to threaten us in revenge for killing their ‘brothers’ (not sisters, notice – they don’t count). The irony is completely lost on them that infinitely more Muslims are killed by Muslims.
    So, common sense seems to indicate they should be left to themselves. That’s what they tell us they want. No infidel attacks in their country. I would keep well clear of Syrian conflict, but have our politicians learned the lessons of history? I doubt it.
    Google Pat Condell for a common sense approach to relations with Islam.

  3. Mike Spilligan says:

    Why, in heaven’s name, might anyone think that choosing to bomb one side or other of groups of certifiable Syrians will solve anything that they haven’t managed to solve themselves in a thousand years? Surely, only a group of equally certifiable MPs woud think that.

  4. Me_Again says:

    Thank heavens someone else thinks O’bama’s red line is irrelevant. How refreshing to hear someone look at possible consequence as part of a planning strategy. The fact that throwing a few hundred tomahawks at a country is rather like using a catapult to launch paper pellets at a wasps nest seems to have eluded the deluded Cameron and O’Bama. It is quite scary how little they know and how little they value life, particularly that of British Servicemen. Everyone seems to forget that the Bekaa valley has for decades supplied terrorists with their jump off points.
    Godfrey is quite correct in pointing out the utter illogic of Assad doing what he is accused of. If it turns out that it was Assad’s forces that carried out the attack then I further suspect it was without his consent, he isn’t stupid he’s just not nice.

    Lastly, as you mention North Korea with no one queuing up to Tomahawk them, what about the million Christians killed in the Sudanese civil war, when arab militias were wandering around killing and raping their way across the land -a MILLION. No queue of Cameron’s and O’Bamas then to take on the muslim militias, yet suddenly because someone used a particularly nasty form of death deliverance, there’s got to be retaliation. You can’t call it anything other than retaliation because its aim is not to unseat Assad, nor is it to destroy the chemical to prevent another such incident. I suspect the young women raped for hours and murdered in their tens of thousands or the children who’s heads were smashed against rocks, I suspect they would have chosen Sarin as being far quicker and less painful Who stands up for them?

  5. Anne says:

    I believe-without doubt-that you are right Roger. The UN Investigors have taken samples-but those samples will not tell anyone who fired them or from where. I look at what happened in Egypt (Regime change) and Libya (Regime Change) and look what is happening in Syria. Which of of 16 Southern Mediterranean Countries will be next for REGIME CHANGE?

    The European Neighbourhood Policy was first proposed by the Commission in 2003-2004 as a framework policy through which an enlarged EU could strengthen and deepen relations with its 16 closest neighbours. (Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, Occupied Palestinian Territory, Syria, Tunisia and Ukraine) with a view to counteracting risks of marginalisation for the neighbouring countries which had not participated in the historic 2004 enlargement and therefore ensuring the strengthening of a shared area of prosperity, stability and security. (From Commission Communication: A new
    response to a changing Neighbourhood . Foreign and Commonwealth Office 20, June 2011 European Council).
    Quoting from a Debate in our Parliament that “on 14 March 2001, the European council held an extraordinary session to discuss developments in Libya and the Southern neighbourhood region and set the political direction and priorities for future EU policy and action. The council noted that progress and democracy go hand in hand, and all countries in the region needed to undertake or accelerate political and economic reforms, and said the EU would support all steps towards democratic transformation, political systems that allow peaceful change, growth and prosperity, and a more proportionate distribution of the benefits of economic performance”. Etc
    So which Country is next? Is it really all part of a plan?

    • Me_Again says:

      “…EU would support all steps towards democratic transformation, political systems that allow peaceful change,”

      They obviously forgot about that bit. Maybe they just decided it would take too long?

  6. An interesting ethical dilemma has reared its ugly head here Roger. That is to say, the victims of the Sarin gas attack include 429 children. Perhaps you would care to let me know who will speak for them whilst everyone is busy saying “It’s not my country guv”. Your carefully considered answer would be much appreciated.

  7. Anne says:

    To me_again
    Quotes From EU Brussels, 8.3.2011 COM(2011) 200 final

    The Southern Mediterranean is strategically important for the EU in terms of security of gas and oil supplies from some of the countries but also more broadly in terms of transit from the region and beyond. There is clear potential for building an EU-Mediterranean partnership in the production and management of renewables, in particular solar and wind energy, and in having a joined-up approach to ensuring energy security. Joint renewable energy investments in the Southern Mediterranean in line with the EU’s 2050 decarbonisation scenario could offer the possibility of a new partnership provided that the right market perspective is created for electricity imports.

    For Egypt, it would be premature to announce a support package until the authorities are ready to make a request for assistance and define priority needs. The EU is ready to mobilize support in line with those priorities when they are ready.

    In Libya, the EU has been firm in its condemnation of the acts perpetrated by the Gaddafi regime. It immediately suspended negotiations of the EU-Libya framework agreement and all technical cooperation.. In addition to the UN sanctions, on 28 February the EU adopted further restrictive measures such as an embargo on equipment which might be used for internal repression and autonomous designations under the travel restrictions and assets freeze. Additional measures
    have been proposed. End of Quotes Please do read the whole for yourselves.

  8. Anne says:

    To Donald Hedges.
    From Paul Joseph Watson Prison July 9, 2013
    “The Syrian rebel fighter who infamously cut out and bit into the heart of a dead soldier has threatened to commit even worse atrocities “if the Obama administration doesn’t send the FSA heavy weaponry and impose a no fly zone over Syria”. How many more people are like this person? If indeed what is written is true?

    “Al Jazeera: Rebels in Syria have burned and looted the religious sites of minorities, Human Rights Watch says, warning that the 22-month old conflict could become increasingly sectarian”. Is this true? And so many more?

    • I don’t see how your reply above supercedes mine? What I am asking is, who will speak for the children of the conflict? I am asking for a moral and ethical consideration, not for someone to top up with even worse atrocities. I know there are worse atrocities.

      • Me_Again says:

        Donald, as usual no one will speak for the children, we have to wait until the children become men and women and take up arms themselves.
        What gives us the right to intervene in any case? Without listing them there have been recent examples of far more children being butchered in the name of Islam, we did not intervene then, why now?

  9. neilfutureboy says:

    I don’t think there has been any time in history when we were less threatened by conventional military action. The Russians would now have to march over 1,000 miles to reach the Channel. If our military is for defence against that we need not spend very much on it. If it is for projecting power across the world, or some form of SDI, we should be spending it on high tech and space weaponry not regiments. I hope it is not for putting boots on the ground. I sometimes fell it is to boost jobs in Gordon Brown’s constituency (ie the aircraft carriers) and employ 69,000 MoD clerks. This is an area where UKIP policy needs examination.

  10. Would it not be right and sensible for the Arab League, who agree with intervention, to show some teeth and sort out the problems within the Arab world instead of asking the West, who will be villified by the other side whichever one they supported?
    It would seem that a democratically elected political government is not possible in these countries, religion always has to become involved, why should the Western infidels intervene?
    Damned if we do, damned if we don`t. I see that Germany is keeping a low profile on this, maybe future wind farm customers!?

    • Me_Again says:

      The Arab league does not have any Shiite nations as far as I can see. Therefore it is just another Sunni promotion vehicle. Being led by the Saudis it means that they’d much rather let infidels to d the hard work and get all the blame.

  11. Richard111 says:

    Yes to just about all the above.

    What did we achieve in Iraq? I read a report that there were over two million Christians in Iraq before the war. There are now less than half a million. Some achievement!

  12. Roger – what I am becoming increasingly worried about is this:

    I used to go on Conservative Home for the truth. I used to try and go on Labour List to argue the case for living in a fair and equal society. Well, I have been banned from Labour List for some time. Increasingly I find the small talk on Conservative Home completely irrelevant and, yes, meaningless.

    Your blog on the other hand, and the words of Nigel Farrage seem more and more to the point. People like Dan Hannan, Douglas Carswell and Christopher Booker in the Telegraph inspire me.


  13. Anne says:

    I used to vote CONSERVATVE although I have never been in any Political Party or Organisation, mikestallardMikeStallard, but then I admired very much so one Winston Churchill and I foolishly thought other Conservative LEADERS might be like HIM. WRONG! Not one comes up to his ankle never mind knees!

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