There is a great silence in Westminster. A lack of ambition, a sense of reality and, dare I say, cowardice. After strong support of Libyan intervention the party, apart from Sir Ming Campbell, fell desperately silent on Libya and the Arab Spring in general. Vietnam Syndrome has left a vacuum within the party; an unwillingness to contribute to foreign affairs due to the “anti-war” tag associated to us. Opposition to Iraq should not define our attitudes to foreign affairs or military expeditions in general.
Liberals are becoming a hybrid mixture of the old American “do nothing, know nothing” isolationist movement of the 1930s. Ministers’ would rather give free range to their Conservative colleagues to discuss Afghanistan and Libya; which comes across as extremely disinterested. I’m strongly against our politicians selecting ‘popular’ topics to discuss with the press – it’s insulting to the general public.
Cabinet has collective responsibility and all have a duty to defend/promote the government agenda. Including its foreign policy. Which Cameron, to his best, is building a very coherent and articulate liberal approach to most foreign developments. How ironic, though, Liberal Democrats are unwilling to be associated to it.
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Posted in Foreign affairs, War, tagged Arab spring, arab world, crisis, democracy, freedom, human rights, liberty, Libya, War on August 28, 2011 |
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The ‘mad dog’, grand antagonist of the West and founder of hyperbolic propaganda, is no more. Gaddafi and his tyrannical rule have evaporated over night with the victorious revolutionaries liberating their capital city. An Orwellian state cease to exists; but the war is not over, yet. Whilst NATO special forces and intelligence services search for Gaddafi, the rebels must learn to co-operate with each other; liberals and Islamists is not the perfect constitution for a long term successful government. Potentially, this has all the ingredients for another Iraq-esque sectarian divide and breeding ground for violence.
Libya is divided into three traditional regions; Tripolitania, Fezzan and Cyrenaica. There is a significant danger of the country being torn apart along these lines. With the National Transitional Council relocating from Benghazi, there are many in Tripoli who will object to political dominance from Eastern Libya. Western aspirations and desires for the NTC to become the tutelage for this new democracy is very ambitious and premature. Subsequently, a blood soaked future might be a genuine reality. Yugoslavia and Iraq are warnings from history of potential occurrences when removing authoritarian regimes; power vacuums succumb to turmoil and chaos, with different factions manoeuvring for institutions of control. Whether we object to it or not, the United Nations might have to deploy a peacekeeping mission. There is no guarantee of former Gaddafi loyalists avoiding subversive actions or groups. Remember, Gaddafi came to power by a military coup and NATO will need to prevent another figure arising from the rubble. Currently, no evidence points to the NTC becoming a significant stabilising force for the country – majority of ordinary Libyans are armed. Theoretically, this could be much, much worse than the fall of Baghdad.
And there is one major obstacle for NATO; possible revenge attacks. Frequently over the past few days, reports of British, French and Arab Special Forces have been leading the rebel command structure and the conquest of Tripoli. Firstly, to provide leadership and correct military precision of the operation, but also to ensure revenge attacks and random executions do not take place. I’m not surprised to learn the hunt for Gaddafi and key regime figures is left to the responsibility of the SAS; many Western leaders are fearful what the revolutionaries would do, if they locate the whereabouts of the fallen dictator. That is why I was sceptical of reports of possible capture of Gaddafi’s sons’. Covertly, this is not a realistic revolution, but an NATO inspired overthrow of a tyrant. Libya is effectively Iraq without the jingoistic rhetoric or deployment of Western armies.
Benghazi is almost operating in a parallel universe when compared to Tripoli. The civil war divided the nation in two, and thus creating two rival capitals; dangerously, many governments recognised the legitimacy of the rival NTC administration at the start of the conflict. South Africa, and other African nations, did not. African Union’s timid and some what inept response creates more problems for NATO. What if the African Union refuses to recognise the authority of the new Libyan government? Nobody has considered the outcome. It would be near impossible to coerce the AU leadership into accepting the new Libyan arrangements. Plus, the Libyan economy would suffer as a result. Especially if Libya is suspended or expelled from the African Union.
We may celebrate the fall of Gaddafi, which I wholeheartedly do, but the consequences need to be investigated. A possible future is already bleeding into the present and becoming a reality. A power vacuum now exists in the Libyan capital, with no end in sight. A nation created out of violence tends to subsequently exist in that very state; for the sake of Libya and the region, let’s hope I am wrong.
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The Ministry of Defence are implementing 8% cuts over four years. A strategic review has been ordered, and carried out, to draft a modern army; instead of preparing an invasion force to march on Moscow. Currently, we are engaged in two conflicts (Afghanistan and Libya) and on operational standby in the Falklands.
In this climate of austerity, which I welcome, we have spent a near £20 billion on the Afghan war. That’s right, £20 billion – borrowed against the savings of every person in this country. This ludicrous position has to end; we cannot afford to remain in Afghanistan – political or economically. The war must end.
400 troops are to leave this year. 9,500 will remain till 2014 though, and the government will have to pay for the operational costs; which, again, we cannot afford. The country has to live within her means and this has implications on our military and foreign policy. A nation with £1 trillion debt and £150 billion deficit cannot develop a vicious wanderlust to spread democracy and good will to all men.
The madness must stop.
Fact: During the Second World War, economic growth was near 10% and we had full employment. But, Britain’s debt was over 200% of GDP, bankrupt and half a million of our citizens (both serving in the military and non-combatants) were dead after the war. So yeah, wars are fundamentally illogical to prosperity and balancing a budget.
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Posted in Foreign affairs, Leaders, Thoughts, UK Politics, US Politics, War, tagged America, armies, Europe, European Union, NATO, War on June 11, 2011 |
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United States Defence Secretary, Robert Gates, is coming to the end of his term. In fact-I believe-he is retiring from politics.
Before his retirement, Gates continued the arcane American tradition of criticising Europe on departure. His critique was enriched with a threatening veneer; a future American political class might not indulge in romantic nostalgia of the Cold War and thus disband NATO.
The European response was rather muted and somewhat defiant. “And?” was the reply from European capitals.
This is not c. 490AD and we are not experiencing fallout from the fall of the Western Roman Empire. David Cameron has successfully used his intuition to establish a strong European foreign policy. The European Union is engaging in useful, meaningful positions and applying new institution to activate and exert geopolitical influence.
An inevitable United States austerity measures will include reduction of overseas deployment. Maintaining and servicing European bases are expensive for the taxpayer, with many citizens struggling to understand the logic behind preserving military assets in Western Europe.
The beautiful vistas of Europe and the majestic countrysides are not anticipating Russian tanks and infantry invading. If all twenty seven members of the European Union combined and integrated into a single military force, Europe would possess one of the largest armies in the world.
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), in 2008, showed expenditure of a hypothetical united European defence budget. On annual, Europe would allocate greater spending on defence than China and Russia combined.
In the 21st Century, does the European Union really need to rely on American deployments to protect us, or can we defend ourselves? The answer is quite conclusive. We don’t need NATO anymore.
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Posted in Foreign affairs, War, tagged anger, arab world, crisis, democracy, evil, freedom, Gaddafi, human rights, liberation, liberty, War on May 27, 2011 |
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Within the next 24 hours British and French apache helicopters will begin operations in Libya. The Prime Minister has promised to intensify the administration of military force in order to break the Libyan regime.
The Russian Foreign Ministry have aligned with the international community and declared Gaddafi has lost all authority to govern Libya. Russia will mediate a possible transition of power and thus providing a means for Gaddafi to exit.
Reports this morning from British intelligence have uncovered a network being used by Gaddafi. The dictator is hiding in hospitals, in order to prevent a direct NATO strike on his location. A classic archetype of a dictator is cowardice: using civilians as shields.
We are witnessing the final conclusions of this abrupt conflict. It is difficult to envision a prolonged period of conflict occurring; Gaddafi forces are demonstrating possible evidence of capitulation. The regime is no longer in control of basic functions of the state and The National Conference for the Libyan Opposition (NCLO) is increasing diplomatic presence in capitals across the world. Either Gaddafi will accept Russian assistance and voluntarily venture into exile (in South Africa, possibly) or shall be captured by NATO special forces.
Either way, we are nearing the end game.
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This post will not engage in jingoistic rhetoric surrounding the death of Bin Laden. Instead, I choose to post in memory of those who died directly or indirectly due to Osama Bin Laden:
212 civilians who died on August 7th 1998
17 American sailors on October 12th 2000
3,000+ civilians who died on September 11th 2001
191 civilians who died on March 11th 2004
56 civilians who died on July 7th 2005
War in Afghanistan
1,482 American soldiers
361 British soldiers
155 Canadian soldiers
357 Other NATO soldiers
7,500+ Afghan security forces
200 Afghan Northern Alliance
16,000 – 64,000 civilian deaths
War in Iraq
16,595 Iraqi security forces
4,432 American soldiers
179 British soldiers
139 other coalition soldiers
98,380–107,369 civilian deaths
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Posted in Foreign affairs, Leaders, Protests, War, tagged anger, arab world, Britain, EU, European Union, freedom, French, Gaddafi, liberty, Libya, NATO, rebels libya, US, War on April 25, 2011 |
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Benghazi might have been salvaged from the merciless hands of Gadaffi, but Misrata is still suffering a daily slaughter. Libya is in a tedious and brutal stalemate with the rebel army showing it lacks the strength to liberate Tripoli – without NATO providing additional support.
NATO has continued air-strikes around the country; most notably a devastating strike on Gadaffi’s compound last night, which has led to the questioning of a possible targeted assassination policy from coalition forces. A policy which is effectively illegal under international, or a very controversial area.
Britain, French and Italy have sent military equipment and ‘military advisors’ (read special forces) to provide some level of coherence and validity to the rebel command structure. And the United States have authorised the use of predator drone operations to provide more logistical and military support to ground operations. In other words, we’ve moved away from the UN mandate of a conventional ‘no-fly zone’ enforcement role.
President Obama has great ambivalence on liberal interventionism after his candidacy for the US Senate 2004 was entirely built on the moral equivalence of the Bush administration foreign policy and historical events. The President risks becoming the very embodiment of the symbol he argued against, and he knows it. Throughout his presidency, his conduct of foreign affairs have been rather timid and suffered from a great reluctance to do ANYTHING. The man is haunted by his own fears.
To suggest Obama is behind the curve on the Arab Awakening is an understatement, the European Union – surprisingly – have been more alert to cries of their Arab brethren than tone deaf Washington. Europe, privately, are aware of the possibility of ground operations being required to combat a humanitarian crisis and possible human migration into southern European countries. Diplomats are constructing a legitimate reason to seek UN authorisation and to persuade the Chinese and Russians not to veto such deployment.
And Washington is still claiming the rebels require no real significant means to become victorious. The State Department honestly thinks a small rebel outfit could overthrow the Gaddafi regime without UN assistance. They [rebels] simply cannot and this is the daunting reality now facing NATO.
Either we withdraw to a traditional ‘no fly zone’ operation or NATO declares war on Gaddafi; these are the only two options left to NATO – it has promised not to abandon the Libyan people. There is no such thing as a ‘step up’ war. And it is clear we are already, in all but name, at war with Libya
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Posted in Foreign affairs, War, tagged British Raj, Cameron, Dave, democracy, freedom, liberation, liberty, Pakistan, PM, War, war on terrorism on April 6, 2011 |
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After informing an audience during his trade trip to India, that Pakistan was appeasing terrorists and was reluctant to combat extremism, the Prime Minister felt the need to apologies to his counter parts in Pakistan today; with a £650 million ‘donation’ to help increase standards in the Pakistani education system. In other words, to combat extremism (the private reason)
So, Dave was right then?
Bizarrely, the Prime Minister also apologised for British imperialism and most notably the misconceived and nonchalant approach to dissolving the British Raj. Especially the subsequent disputed territory of Kashmir.
Kashmir is not a good topic for British politicians. David Miliband had to issue a public apology, from the Foreign Office, after somewhat concluding the Mumbai terrorist attack could’ve have been avoided – if India changed her attitude towards Kashmir. Jack Straw intervention was not welcomed, neither, when he once decided to speak on the subject, too. The disputed territory, which involves three nuclear powers, is so fragile that me blogging on it could spark a conflict.
The Prime Minister should know better than to appease a domestic audience by appealing to populists topics. It’s a recipe for disaster. After all, Gordon Brown upset the Pakistani government by telling the Indian press that Islamabad probably were aware of Bin Laden’s location and had no interest in capturing him.
I digress. After increasing aid to the Pakistani education system the Prime Minister is effectively apologising for telling the truth. Pakistan has no intention of combating extremism in or outside her borders. And we’ve resorted to throwing money at the problem.
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Posted in Foreign affairs, Thoughts, War, tagged afghanistan, arab world, democracy, evil, freedom, Gaddafi, liberation, liberty, protest, protests, taliban, War, warning on April 1, 2011 |
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It seems we are, yet again, suffering from selective amnesia on the consequences of providing military assistance to a militia in warfare. Again, officials in NATO are forgetting the Afghan – Soviet war and the Western support for the Afghan mujahideen.
After the Soviet retreat, a subsequent civil war followed; The mujahideen descended into turmoil and inner conflict.
Out of the carnage came the Taliban.
And, not forgetting, the involvement of a young Osama Bin Laden. Who was a key financier of the mujahideen and allegedly CIA trained. By manipulating and assisting a rebel force to subvert an great adversary, of our government, it did help to defeat the Soviet occupation and her military power. But, tragically, no one asked one important question. What are the future repercussions and the motives of this group? No one articulated on that question.
20 years later after training, financing and arming a militia…..
Britain is eight years into a endless war in Afghanistan, against a opponent who we helped arm and train. Do not turn Libya into another Afghanistan.
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Posted in Foreign affairs, Thoughts, UK Politics, War, tagged anger, arab world, Blair, Cameron, democracy, Ed Miliband, evil, freedom, Gaddafi, government, human rights, Iraq, liberal interventionism, liberation, liberty, Libya, neocon, PM, protest, protests, UK, UK politcs, War on March 22, 2011 |
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A strange air was over the Parliamentary debate about military action on Libya. Cameron, who once wrote a critique on neo-conservatism, spoke mellifluously on the subject of intervention and defending British interests aboard. The Project for A New American Century advocated such stance on foreign affairs.
The Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, Ed Miliband, defending the Right To Protect under the United Nations Charter and justified military action, in order to defend and promote freedom of the individual. More surprisingly, Sir Ming Campbell made reference to Blair’s infamous Chicago speech to morally argue our duty to use hard power as a potential force for good.
No one wanted to admit to one potent fact; Blair’s liberal interventionism is admirable and agreeable in its most purist form. But Tony’s position as the avatar for it means no sensible politician will publicly admit support. That is why we saw lukewarm and coded, cryptic and subtle references during the debate.
Regime change is the main principle of the Libyan conflict; the no-fly zone is only a means or product to achieve a greater goal. Targeted assassination is controversial, and arguably illegal, under international law. But if an opportunity arises the coalition would ‘take the shot.’
This is similar to Iraq in all but an invasion and occupation.
Blair might be a great antagonist and a divisive character, but all three leaders of our main political parties see him as a ‘master.’ Even Nick Clegg, during his trip to America, confessed to Good Morning America that he agreed with Blair on “many things.” None of them questioned what he did as Prime Minister – it was the means he did it, that they objected to. And foreign affairs is a prime example.
Nick Clegg said Libya is not another Iraq and that is why he supports it. Translation: If Blair got authority from the United Nations I would have supported military action against Iraq. So would’ve Ed Miliband, too.
Yesterday was an endorsement of Blair’s final public speech before ceasing to be Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Britain had to be able, and ready, to use military force in order to defend and maintain her position as a world power. Only 13 MPs voted against that yesterday; the rest rapturously applauded it and Tony Blair.
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