Archive for the ‘Syria’ Category

Syria: Iran holds the answer, not Russia

April 11, 2017

Christopher Lee

London11 April 2017

The White House is confused about Syria. It does not know what it is supposed to think which, is a difficult position for President Trump having ordered the cruise missile strike.

It gives every indication that the President of the United States knows nothing about the Syria Situation and cannot measure up to being a real President – one at whom the buck stops. He can be briefed. But he does not understand power beyond running Trump Property Development.

Here then is a simple briefing for the man who has everything but displays nothing.

The Trump Administration (and it seems the British Foreign Office run by Boris Johnson also) believes that the way to fix Syria is to hammer the Russians and then bring them on board.

Wrong.

The people to be sorted are first the Iranians, then the Saudis. It is true that the Russians appear to be the muscle in President Assad’s punch against the rebels. But the real and long term allies are not the Russians. They could change sides any day. The real war chums are the Iranians.

The Iranians are Shias. Assad through his Alawite family are Shias. Iran is the proxy war fighter of the Middle East. Iran sees the battle with the rebels as a battle with Sunnis – therefore this is a proxy war between Saudi Arabia (Sunni ruled) and Iran.

So how do you fix it?

America has to deal with Iran by saying Assad can stay but must run elections with Iran providing security.

A deal has to be done with Russians to maintain its port, the only constant access it has in Med. That is not difficult. Apart from anything else militarily, satellites can have a permanent watch on the Russians alongside and produce on-the-hour Intelligence of capabilities.

Also, by leaving the Russians in Syrian (they were there anyway) America would be tacitly accept that the theatre map of today is the one to work. A treaty would be produced involving Gulf Council. Syria, Iran, Russia and US and it will reviewed in 2 years.

All sounds simple and of course it is not. It could take another couple of years to fix and the real hope of a solution – a palace revolution in Assad’s own house – has to be hoped for. It is the only chance of a long lasting peace.

There is one simple fact that fed to Mr Trump may give a thought to play with: he believes the sarin attack was bad news. Yes. But every day there is worse. Conventional weapons kill more and maim more than a chemical attack.

Last month the Syrian airforce dropped 495 barrel bombs and killed more Syrians doing so than died in the gas attack. Last year the Syrian airforce delivered 12,958 barrel bombs. Mr President ask why the US (and the rest of us) did nothing.

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Why Trump Bombed Wrong Bomb

April 7, 2017

 

Christopher Lee

London 7 April 2017

President Trump called Prime Minister May and said this is what we have in mind. Prime Minister May said Go for it.

Defence Secretary Fallon took a call from Defense Secretary Mattis who said he was putting 59 cruise into the Homs air base. Defence Secretary Fallon said Have a good one.

President Putin sat by the phone. No one called.

This morning (Friday) it was all done. The newly shaped National Security Council of generals in Washington (McMasters, Dunford, Coats, Mattis) had a good day.

The President needed to respond to the gas attack on Kahan Sheikhoun. He needed to back away from Obama policy of do nothing. Mr Trump was, maybe still is, an ideal man in charge on the day for the generals.

Donald Trump suddenly had his top people asking Mr President, what do you want us to do?

Man alone eats hog, was how Willie McCobb used to say it when he ran the Mississippi Delta. Big appetite for power but it fades when you’re the only one at the hog roast. In crude terms that’s what has happened.

So two questions: who gets what out of the US response? What happens next?

Syria: The destructive power of that attack could destroy President Assad’s palace and bunker in Damascus. Assad knows now that Russia cannot be guaranteed to defend him. There were Russian anti-missile systems at the Homs air base. No attempt was made to fire them. The US isn’t afraid of Russia.

Russia: They read Trump wrongly. His policy on Syria has not changed. Still no boots on ground. But his readiness to do something Obama would not do (one-shot game changing) they never anticipated. Putin will need revenge and that can only be diplomatic and he has no options.

Iran: In the Middle East Iran is the most feared state after Israel. Iran controls or backs policies in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen and threatens others in Saudi Arabia and Israel. Iran is protective military cousin to Assad. Iran has failed on this one. It has lost image among other countries. It will try to freeze on bi-lateral agreements with the United States, but Trump is now a tried and tested arse-kicker.

UK: Other NATO and European countries did not get the calls from Washington. The past 24 hours showed Washington regards London as people on-side, trustworthy. Downing Street matters. Mrs May did well to be the first into Trump’s Washington. It rings Thatcher-Reagan times.

Next? We are to believe this was a one-off. It happened because Assad, or whoever in his bunker ordered a gas attack and the way the Western world reacted. This in itself compares ideologies.

A gas attack kills fewer people and cause less long term wounds than a 500lb conventional bomb raid.

Yet in the West, still with images of World War One, gas is a far more sinister weapon. It is illegal whereas a conventional warhead that can cause far greater catastrophe is polished and sold to anyone at public annual exhibitions.

Therefore, logically, America should be cruising every Syrian bomber airbase. But warfare obeys made-up rules.

The world doesn’t think about the gassed child who got a shot of atropine in time and will be back at school next week.

The world doesn’t compare that poor wretch with the kid in the conventional and legal bombing raid with both legs blown off for the rest of his or her life and a demolished hospital that cannot save the rest of the family. This is really the story of the past 24 hours. We all got mad with Assad for using a wicked weapon whereas the bigger killer goes unpunished. Trump has not got that far in the moralist’s warfare manual. There may be worse to come.

Trump wanted power. How to respond to the sarin attack was his first experience. It is hoped he did not like it.

What Chance Russia & US Going To War Over Syria

October 10, 2016

christopher_lee180-11

Christopher Lee

New York

8 October 2016

Think about the scenario: Putin needs Assad to win his civil war otherwise Russia will be chased out of Syria. So Putin supports bombing easiest and most telling targets – Aleppo hospitals.

US with help from the UK and France says this Russian tactic amounts to war crimes.  Putin gets mad at that and calls off nuclear warhead agreements.

The next stage? America within the NATO system reinforces that area supporting the Baltic States.  Moscow says that amounts to provocation.  NATO says it amounts to a sensible precaution and shows its Baltic allies as well as Russia that it will not abandon its obligations in the region. In other words: come closer Russia and we will push you back.

The next stage (reached this week)? Russia moves an Iskander ballistic missile battery  with a kilotonage level nuclear warhead capability into Kaliningrad – that is, next to NATO allies Lithuania and Poland.  This, as it is supposed to, raises tensions among NATO states in the region who do not know what next to do and mostly want to do nothing.

Here in New York, to use the diplomatic jargon, Russians and Americans are not nibbling the same canapés.  The negotiations over Syrian peace possibilities are abandoned. Even the never ending margin meetings of low level diplomats are nothing more than individuals reporting back to the Lavrov and Kerry front offices on who is saying what in private.

There was a rare weekend meeting at the UN over the weekend.  The French (one of the five permanent members of the Security Council) tabled a motion to stop the Aleppo bombing and open a humanitarian aid corridor.  It would have gone through if it had not been for Russia.  The Russian delegation had instructions from Moscow to veto any cease fire resolution, whatever the motives. Russia vetoed.

The Syrian ambassador Bashar Jaafari got up to speak and in protest at the whole farrago the British permanent representative, Matthew Rycroft led a largely Western walk out.  Rycroft turned on the Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin and told him, thus Putin, that his veto was a death signature on Syrians in Aleppo.  Churkin did not even look uncomfortable.

Talk to diplomats who spend their lives at this level and they talk in whispers, not to be secretive but to reflect the seriousness facing governments seeking the wisdom for solutions rather than the distinctions of triumphalism.

They talk of miscalculation, not in the UN chamber, but on what could become a battlefield.  A Russian or American aircraft shot down when both aircrews fly with instruction not to back off. An artillery commander unsure of his own rules of engagement and so a calamity occurs, such as the shooting down of the MH-17 airliner.

There are two truths whispered in the UN corridors: the Russo-Syrian offensive will succeed without hindrance from the US because no President is likely to commit a military action just as the nation goes to vote and anyway, no Congress would support it.

Secondly, Putin’s shifting of the Iskander launchers into Kaliningrad will frighten most European members of NATO into taking no action.

They say here that Putin can no longer be stopped in his Tsarist ambitions to have the fear driven respect of all the so-called world leaders.

There is a third truth: tsarism, historically, was so very vulnerable to miscalculation. Putin on the edge could turn miscalculation into determination and yes that is when the extra step that Lavrov, Kerry and the Security Council try to avoid will lead to confrontation.  The weaponry of war is this week in place.  The diplomacy appears very fallible.

 

 

 

Is Putin Committing War Crimes?

February 15, 2016

 

 

christopher_lee180-11

15th February 2016

London

You cannot fix Syria by military means.  That’s what we’ve heard from Western diplomats and politicians for five years. The last year President Putin sent in his bombers. President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron repeated the mantra.  You cannot do it with bombs.

“Just watch me,” said Putin.

He was reminding the Obama-Cameron axis that they had done more hand-ringing than a new widow but had fixed nothing with their tactics – backing useless rebels and thanks to pressure from $contract rich Saudi Arabia failing to back the two states that could take on ISIS, Iran and Syria.

Putin went in firstly because he could see that Syria needed nothing more than back up to beat up on the rebels.  True, or so the corridor Russians agree, he knew he was about to bomb places like Aleppo back to the stone age, but so what?  That is the Russian way.  The Soviet Union and capitalist driven Russia have always done it this way.

Diplomacy?  Fine.  Go along with it. Even suggest 1 March cease fire. In the meantime bomb anyone who thinks Russia is going soft.  When there is an agreement to move in aid Russia is not tactically stupid.  If you move in aid, rebel groups get a breather and move in more weapons.  So just keep bombing.

Putin wants the old days of flotillas Kashins and Krivaks in command of the Eastern Mediterranean.  He would like a submarine loitering anchorage off Hammamet. He wants his bit of the Mediterranean back. It is not an East Ukraine-like  power grab. He simply says he is hand enough of being the guy they are condescending about or shot at when he arrives at G-something phot0-shoots.  Look at his body language when has to get on the end of conference picture.  He is not urbane.  He is Putin, ex-KGB thug in a suit that does not fit his gym-built frame.

All that is understandable and the West has never grasped it and couldn’t do much about it anyway. The West has no power other than to set up yet another Geneva-Vienna meeting to which the main players do not go.

But there is anther question to be asked: has Putin’s bombing operation been so murderous that it is more than a conventional raiding.  Putin is fighting on invitation of the legitimately elected leader of a country threatened by rebellion.  That may get right up the frocks of a lot of anti-Assadists but most international constitutional lawyers would albeit reluctant have to nod that through.

The question mark is the tactic of terror bombing.  Putin’s air force has the hell-fire signature of the Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu written all over it. Civilian communities, hospitals including emergency war surgeries are being bombed repeatedly.

One UN report says the Russians are using un-guiding weapons. They are dropped, they kill and that is the purpose. Death top rebels armed to the teeth by the Western led coalition? Yes.  But also women and children.  UN figures show that more than 50 recorded dead from these raids were under 18.

So maybe the UN should start labelling statistics like this with War Crimes tags.  A waste of time.  That could be the case.  But so far Putin has justified every raid.  Western Intelligence has squadron names and commanders. Maybe, just maybe they do not want the War Crimes indictment.  Putin? Just maybe.  But just watch him.

 

 

 

Five Years On & Hope Became Terror

January 13, 2016

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13 January 2016

London

Five years ago this week the Arab Spring began in earnest. On 14 January 2011 President Ben Ali of Tunisia resigned. The social media went into fast thumb tap and click. The Middle East began to throw off its identity and took to the streets demanding change.

The freedom squares were full of protest within days. Egypt. Lebanon. Yemen.Bahrain. Jordan. Libya. Morocco. Iraq. Less than a month from the going of Ben Ali Hosni Mubarak was gone as President of Egypt.  On 6 March the first shots were fired in Syria. A week on and the Saudi sent in troops to rescue the Bahrainian leadership in case the anger spread to Riyadh.

In that same March NATO went into Libya  not to support their recent ally Gaddafi but to join the rebels against him. By the summer Yemen was in full fire and President Ali Abdullah Saleh fled for his life.  Five months later, October 2011 a cringing Mummer Gaddafi was assassinated.

The change was all to see and just as predictable.  Libya spilled its blood in political anger and still bleeds. Egypt elected Mohamed Morsi as president in June 2012 and then the army  overthrew him the following year and returned to virtual military rule and in 2014 elected former general Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. There was worse, to come

Out of this political and zealous carnage on 9 May 2013 ISIS, IS, ISIL ,Daesh – call this Jahadi as you will – was formed, declared a caliphate and the world quickly witness barbarism that could never have been imagined at the start of the Arab Spring. James Foley was Daesh’s first beheading.

By the autumn of 2014 a token coalition of forces but mainly American went after Daesh with a series of airstrikes into Syria.  The war there had been joined with ‘Western’ nations declaring for the rebellion and calling for the downfall of President Assad.

They are still bombing. Assad is still there.  In 2015 Russia joined in the hopeless of it all and said it was bombing ISIS in Syria but was truly bombing (and not very accurately) anti-Assad rebel positions.

Russia had signed up with Iran to defend Assad and equally to defend his constitutional and international right to rule as an elected leader. Iran, a Shia nation saw the fight for Assad (an Alewife and therefore a branch of Shia) as chance of a proxy war against Saudi Arabia and its Sunni royalty.

As to show this conflict could never be held tight in the Middle East, gunmen attacked the offices of Charlie Hebdo the satirical French magazine and then in November of last year other gunmen and bombers killed 130 in Paris.The rest of Europe waits to see who is next.

Where has all this got us? Syria is in ruins beyond its capital. Iraq remains a failed Shia led state with Daesh in its strongholds and moving freely between Iraq and its “capital” Raqqa in Syria. There is hardly a state not spilling over with refugees.

If there is a deep anxiety than this in the region it is in Riyadh.  The ruling royal family, itself born beneath the green flag of Wahhabism and the ruthless of Abdul Aziz ibn Saud, now fears for its own survival. So it should.

There is not a government from Washington to Brussels to the whole of the Middle East that does not fear the collapse of the Saudis.  The manner of its going would be a stage in the Arab Spring totally unthinkable five years ago. The consequences unpredictable and unwanted even among its harshest critics. The ruling family is now unstable in the sense that it is unlikely to be able to defend itself.

Here then the rub of the lamp that whips up the ghoul and not the friendly genie.

If Saudi Arabia starts to go then the United States will have to launch a major defence.  The advanced operation of US military forces are already in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf but not enough to defend the unthinkable. The British are having built (with Saudi money) a new base in the region. London would have to reinforce it if things go the way they so easily could.

Five years ago there was candle lit and iPhone glowing hope in the Middle East especially among the young and the educated longing for new times to come that would give them back their dignity of national identities instead of impossible dictatorships.

Five years ago and Ben Ali went quietly. Five years later no one can go quietly. Before this year is out the US and her allies including the United Kingdom and France could be heading for the biggest firefight since Viet Nam. Hope is done for. Terror has the next move.

 

 

ISIS atrocities, Libya feet first, a new President – here comes 2016

December 28, 2015

christopher_lee180-11

28 December 2015

London

2016 will be a sinister affair. That’s what they say in the darker alleys of Whitehall and across the river on the Albert Embankment.

The oil guys in the Middle East say ISIS is working up a nasty. Big hits in as many European capitals as they can manage on the same day. Make Paris look like a hooligan mugging. The Middle East oilmen having the most to lose and twice that to protect have been known to get it right.

They says something like this: four or five organisers with long placed hitters in seven or eight capitals. Museums are easy targets.  Metros have to be quick. Theatres.  Everyone dies in the third act. Yup.  There’s a lot of black humour out there. Why the third act? Security is sharper in Act I and Act 2.  Act 3 has a It Won’t Be Tonight feel.

On the wider screen for 2016, Libya is the hardest one to tackle. The factions are still spilling blood and revenge is easy done.  France and UK are all for getting in there with air support, intelligence gathering and special forces reconnaissance (SAS’s original role) and smart diplomacy i.e. soft and hard power operation.  Trouble is no one knows for certain where ISIS has got to in Libya and most importantly who is running it there.

In the Middle East proper there is every chance of a strong US-Russia partnership developing in Syria.  Give it a couple of months. Russia without a sign of Oooops-sorry! is intent on whacking as many anti-Assad rebels as possible before going the extra distance on some form of election.  Here’s something that is not going to change in 2016 unless Assad is taken down by his own people – palace revolutions will be a general feature through the world of British interests.

Moscow clearly believes that Assad is the best bet in Syria. A lot of people at State Department could copy that but it is never going to be official policy especially as in Moscow Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov could be running Putin.  Watch those two names next year.

Everything is tugging Washington (and the UK) into further involvement in the big places it has failed during the past decade. More troops and close air support in Iraq and Afghanistan has a ring of the military version of American Old Home Week.

The future of Afghanistan is in the hands of Pakistan – always has been. So watch for higher training programmes and arms supplies from Pakistan military to Taliban. Watch also for Taliban’s biggest enemy in Afghanistan in 2016: ISIS.

It is all heady stuff and somehow makes the UK-MOD headaches low budget stuff. But the work is underway to see how much of a battle group or an force projection the carrier programme could make.  One carrier means six or so frigate/destroyer escorts plus a couple of subsurface vessels.

In spite of promises paying for all this is a hard call.  But the toughie for all three services to be sorted in 2016 is manpower. A great tr-service fighting force emerging from the 2015 SDSR – but fewer and fewer people with on-going training programmes to “man” them.

The biggest event of 2016 will be on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November – when the US votes for a new President. On November 9 they will wake in every city anywhere you can name and ask Who Won? They should do.  The new incumbent will be the most important person in the whole world.

On present showing the presidential election will be the most racially influenced presidential election in decades. Latinos, Asian and Black America since Fergusson will pack a  punch this time.

Meanwhile the current tenant on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, the 44th President, will be ending his term by going after ISIS in the biggest way he can: hopeless superpowerdom testing to destruction.

And that is almost it except for the little matter of the election of a new secretary general of the UN. Ban Ki-moon goes on December 31 2016.  Who get’s the job.  No one knows. My money – against all the odds called thus far – is on a Bulgarian, foreign minister Irina Bokova.  But what do I know?

 

ISIS: Think The X-factor

December 5, 2015

christopher_lee180-11

5th December 2015

Washington

Why bomb Syria? Simple.  It is what has to be done until some one comes up with a good idea. Bombing is lethal mood music.

Most of America has never heard of ISIS, IS, ISIL or Da’esh.

Until  a law office pinned the badge on the California shooting a couple of days back ISIS was mostly an unknown here. The rest of America is armed to the teeth to shoot anyone who it thinks needs shooting (more than 300 gun slayings in the US so far in 2015) so does not need the incentive of what happened last month in Paris, France.

Inside the beltway of the Nation’s Capital here the view is broader. Why not? A thousand or so think tankers are making this year’s fortune in personal appearances and consultative values talking nothing else but how to stamp out what we now label as modern fascism.

Yet there is a quiet group that is not yet getting a big hearing because what they have to say is impossible for most to understand.

Executive Washington and not a few on Capitol Hill just as in the UK and France are simple people with little sense of history and even less understanding of what they are facing.

The introduction of the UK bombing in Syria had more to do with the good PR for clean-kill Brimstone missiles than any concept of theatre and strategic concepts that divert the way of ISIL ambitions and what comes next.

The got-to-do-something European notion is more understandable than the American view because Paris could have been in any other of 30 European capitals especially as there is evidence that radicals in Birmingham England were part of the planning for Paris.

In other words, we have a short term plan that cannot work because no one has come up with any true concept of what the threat really amounts to.

Maybe then it is time to work out how we come to live with a thought that has its origins not in post-Paris thinking but in the mind of a man who died ten years ago, George F. Kennan. Kennan was the man who taught us how to handle the ambitions of post-World War II USSR

In 1946 Kennan was the US charge d’Affaires in Moscow. His job was to analyse what Stalin planned for Communist Russia and his establishment of a near abroad of states that would provide a cordon between Russia and Western Europe.  That analysis was in an 8,000 word telegram in 1946 that Kennan sent to the State Department. The shorten version was in Kennan’s conclusion that American policy towards the growing threat must be “firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies”.

The following year, the containment document was published under the nom de plume Mr X in the American journal Foreign Affairs.

Take the model of George Kennan’s report and you will find the kernel of reluctant conclusion of what is going down here in the back rooms of State.

The outline reads like this:

For all the mighty military and political powers of the US led coalition including those in the UK and France, this joint superpower cannot destroy ISIS.

There can be military success with many ISIS killed but the surviving leadership – now across three continents – will continue the threat and consequences in ways that so-called sophisticated Western society cannot handle.

Therefore the Kennan option has to be imagined.  The resources of the US-led coalition has to devise a military and political option to “live with” the threat but as best that can be, keep it in check.  This is the 1946 American policy of containment.

The most remarkable concept is this: containment may be the only part defence the West has but as ISIS increases its success as a caliphate so it will become hogtied by all the restrictions of holding the ground and running a caliphate that in the long term can only be ruled by patronage.

Containment as it was modelled by Kennan and those who followed anticipated three or for decades of Cold War and then the uncertainty of common interests – which is what we have now between Washington and Moscow.

As ISIS moves from an AK-47 enemy to one armed with drones and worse, containment becomes the only option.  The IS move on fellow Wahabi Saudi Arabia can only be imagined.

The weaknesses are obvious in a more complex world than 1946 and powerful regional interests some of which and whom are Western allies. But for the moment this may be the only game in town: bomb to clear the ground for mechanised infantry warfare; the recognition of new boundaries and then the containment of something that is effectively a new world order.

After that? No one could possible know.

 

 

ISIL: why Cameron needs a quick kill

December 1, 2015

christopher_lee180-11

1 December 2015

Westminster

Prime Minister Cameron needs a quick missile kill in Syria – an ISIL leader rather than a playgroup. But in warfare, there are few guarantees.

The Royal Air Force is on standby to go with a reinforcement of two Tornado bombers – making ten in the Akrotiri squadron and six multirole FGR4 Typhoon jets.

The RAF Reaper drone crews in Kuwait have been tracking targets for weeks. The dry runs have been done. The Brimstone laser tracking missiles have already been used from the Tornado and the Americans in particular cannot wait for them to go-strike in Syria. The special forces to laser spot targets deep inside alien territory know the job.

The operational brief is signed off.

All that remains is for the Speaker of the House of Commons to call The Ayes Have It! The Ayes Have It! The green benched chamber will erupt with a roar to rival a Typhoon afterburn and 3,589 kilometres away the Akrotiri base will be on go.

Prime Minister Cameron will then wait.

In a meeting at Westminster after the Friday 13 November murders in Paris Cameron was overhead fuming that he intended to ‘kill the bastards”. Not the tone of the cool calm and collected but that soon returned. He, his whips and a leaderless Labour Party have, barring Parliamentary coup de theatre given Cameron his prize.

Cameron needs a Thatcher moment that will restore him to the sanctum sanctorum of the American and French leadership. President Obama, with finer sense of history than the British regards France and not Britain as America’s oldest ally. That hurts in Downing Street.

And so Cameron needs a Tornado’s Brimstone or a Reaper’s Hellfire to bring him the news he longs for: Al-Baghdadi down. That in Number Ten would be perfect although it is hardly clear that the RAF knows the exact location of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Cameron wants it this week. His bendy people (aka spin-doctors) want the political victory roll any time very soon after the Commons vote. Cameron wants to hit the networks with a good kill.

He wants the video play of a scurrying ISIL team disappearing in a silent puff as their Toyota – surely the most photographed rebel/terrorist truck of the decade – is no more and they even less so.

The Prime Minister has taken the UK into another stage of war that has like all warfare, few promises of success. No military commander nor tactician believes bombing does it for them. A mythical follow on ground force is just that – wishful.

So Cameron needs a fireball. Truck. Oil tanker. Command centre. Dodging 4-wheel caught in the laser track. Strike one makes him right. Forget what happens next. Strike one is everything. He got it wrong over Libya. He needs another chance at the toughest of all shots a Prime Minister gets to call. It makes him a political hero – a euphemism for I told you so.

What he does not need is a mistake. He does not need a school bus. He does not need the world broadcast of a solemn spokesperson of Medecins Sans Frontiers.

War produces no guarantees.

 

 

 

UK Bombing Syria: is it legal?

November 20, 2015

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20 November 2015

London

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The Blair-Cameron Rule of War

November 18, 2015

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18 November 2015

Westminster

Those who criticised the way Tony Blair took the UK to war may reflect that the present Prime Minister David Cameron expresses similar sentiment.

Here at Westminster, in the mother of all parliamentary democracy Mr Cameron announced that as far as he is concerned it is not necessary to get the consent of the United Nations to start British bombing in Syria.

Of course, that is an image of the transition to war adopted by Tony Blair in 2003.  It was an apparent flagrant sweeping aside of the authority of the UN.  So it is again.  The bigger picture is different but there is one disturbing similarity between the Blair and Cameron reasoning.

In 2003 Tony Blair had been told by the then US President George W Bush that if there were to be political hassle for him (Blair) then there was no need to send in the British forces.  Political support would be just fine.

Blair believed that if the UK military was not on the start line then his famed support of the US after 9/11 would be meaningless.  He must have known also that Britain and he personally would be seen as what the former US Secretary of State Dean Rusk called a nation that had lost an empire but  had not found a role in the world.

Blair would be a second team player. Nice guy but what the White House would always see as someone in the Unsigned Christmas Card column.

And Cameron?  Go back to the intervention in Libya. There is every indication that Cameron joined the Libya operation in a hurry because the then French President Nicolas Sarkozy was leading on this, had decided to go in and that Cameron was being left behind. That could not happen again.

So Cameron told the Commons this lunchtime that whatever the UN said and presumably however his law officer the Attorney General described the legality of bombing, he Cameron would be going to the House to say the UK was joining the A Team of the US, France & Co.

Cameron may be right in what he said but best to remember four things: the UK’s bombing capability will make little difference to the campaign; a military role that has status value only  is not today needed – best stick to reconnaissance; re-read Dean Rusk and most importantly, mission creep.