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Tim - does "fully adjusting to the realities of the 9/11 world" mean criminalising carol singing in Parliament Square?

The 'liberation of Iraq'???

From which foreign power were we 'liberating' Iraq?

What one does at home is important. This government gives us a strange combination of authoritarianism (banning protests within a mile of Parliament, seeking 90 day detention), ineffectiveness (losing the right to deport foreign terrorist suspects after bringing in the Human Rights Act; watering down the immigration rules on foreign-born preachers); and political correctness (trying to ban incitement to religious hatred).

In short, the government is liberal where it should be authoritarian, authoritarian where it should be liberal, and concerned above all to recover lost Muslim votes.

How would a Cameron-led government act on these issues?

I had worked out what to say and then I read Sean's comment. It was exactly what I was going to say.

.....In short, the government is liberal where it should be authoritarian, authoritarian where it should be liberal.....

When it comes to civil liberties, the innocent should have nothing to fear, whilst the guilty should be looking over their shoulder at all times.

Tim, like you I am very pleased that Cameron supports the vital work the Allies are doing in Iraq, and has pooh-poohed both the defeatism of the Rifkind/Clarke wet Tories, and the distasteful anti-Americanism (usually driven by grotesque anti-Semitism) which occasionally appears in the far-Right.

But I think what Cameron is trying to do is split, for the domestic purpose of appealing to the Liberal Democrats, is hive off the symbolic potentcy of Iraq from the wider war on terror.

As I understand it, Cameron's line on Iraq in paraphrased form is: "We were right to go to war, but now we have to think about how we improve managing the future of Iraq, and our involvement in it".

I think this is a clever political move, because he is both lancing a major totemic issue which motivates AB social progressives to reject both us and Labour, AND sounding positive about the future, without saying that UK forces should cut and run while the job is still there to be done.

Because Iraq IS a totemic issue, I can understand why some Conservatives would react to a "we're singing from the same hymn sheet on Iraq as the Lib Dems" in the way that Fraser Nelson says. And if there was a sign that Cameron did support cutting and running from Iraq before the job was done there, then I would also be deeply concerned.

But I haven't seen anything to be particularly scared about, and I think playing Iraq the way he is as a domestic issue is very clever without undermining the integrity of supporting the UK-US work in Iraq.

Also, I know that crusty knighted backbenchers frothing in PMQs about Zimbabwe looks a bit blimpish, but I completely agree with them. My country's answer to Ted Heath - Malcolm Fraser - was a great ally of Mugabe in the early days of independence, and Fraser should hang his head in shame for encouraging that dreadful man.

I think we are on the same side now over Iraq.

The arguments over the reasons for going to war have been gone through enough times. Now its important to look forward.

We all (apart from George Galloway)want democracy in freedom now so the arguments should stop.

I think Tim,you are probably being a little unfair on poor Sir Malcolm.Most of the worst decisions on Bosnia were made by Douglas Hurd.I do agree with you 'though,they were lamentable.
It's very difficult to see what Cameron really believes on Iraq.His remarks to the Lib Dems were totally at odds to what he had previously said on the subject.I am starting to get the feeling that he is trying to be 'all things to all men'.
This is I think,impossible on Iraq where one either agrees with position of the coalition as you do or is against it as I am.There doesn't seem to me to be any grey areas.
The matter of Iran is interesting.Western leaders seem to have gone very quiet about what to do there apart from condemning the ludicrous utterances of their president.
I fear that we will probably have to take military action but after all the lies over Iraq I do wonder if Blair and Bush will have the political and moral authority to do so.

Very good piece. In particular your points about the United Nations and selling arms to Saudi Arabia remain very pertinent but suprisingly ignored by the media at large.

The UN needs significant reform (or perhaps abolition) but other than a focus on its role in world development few seem to focus on whether it can ever function effectively as a collective guarantor of security and an upholder of basic human rights.

When the US Ambassador sought to make significant changes to the body all the focus was on the evil US trying to damage our beloved UN rather than the huge chasms and problems that exist within the organisation.

As for Saudi Arabia, we should not sell arms full stop to any undemocratic regime. But we should also be seeking to wean ourselves off Saudi oil and warning the world of the dangers Saudi Arabia poses to us as the financial and religious base of islamic terrorism and fundamentalism.

But the problem seems to be that in this country politicians of all sides are still too in hoc with the defence industry (escp BAE systems) and are unwilling to take tough solutions to the energy problems we face (which by the way does not include the financial incontinent proposal to go nuclear again).

There was an excellent Conservative piece done on this area. Take a look at this website for more information: http://www.newground.org.uk/

I don't know exactly where Cameron does stand on civil liberties issues but it seems to me that, especially given we are supporting the government on so much else, we should be prepared to take a stand on these matters. The point is that New Labour's radicalism comes out in their disregard for due process and individual freedom. From ID Cards, to jury trial, restricting free speech near Parliament and on religious/racial matters, control orders, complicity in US torture, 90 days, home office control over police forces, an exploision in summary justice, a civil contingencies act allowing the suspension of any Act of Paliament, foxhunting and many other things Labour have gone well beyond any previous government. Many of these measures have nothing to do with terrorism. Conservatives should not join with the government in whipping up a climate of fear and voting for unprecedented attacks on our freedom. We should of course support sensible measures but we should always make sure they are capable of review and appeal eg even if we do support control orders, there is no reason why the Home Secretary should be allowed to make them. It is also worth remembering that though the public tends to say they like strong terror/law & order policies, opinion often changes once the consequnces become apparent eg cost of ID cards or the questioning under Terrorism powers of the man who heckled Jack Straw at Labour's conference. In standing for greater economic freedom and in resisting the government's attacks on our historic political and civil liberties we can begin to string together part of the ideological coherence that we need.

I don't think DC's refusal to appoint Malcolm as shadow foreign secretary is a reflection of DC's neo-con credentials. Rather it's a reflection of Malcolm's lack of credentials....

Sadly I've not heard much from Foxy since his appointment as shadow defence secretary - he seems unusually quiet. Has anyone else?

Of course we shouldn't exaggerate the risks, but nor should any of us underestimate them. The idea of, for instance, a nuclear attack on the UK is truly terrifying. Unlikely I know, but somehow that is a small consolation. Most of us, including those who consider themselves on the libertarian wing of the party, would be prepared to suffer considerable inconvenience and indeed loss of civil liberties if it would help reduce the chances of such an attack being successful. We certainly shouldn't hamper our own security services. The problem with many of Blair's anti-terror proposals - no protests around parliament, ID cards, etc - is it's hard to see how they would help fight terror. We'd be giving up our liberties for nothing. Bush's wire tapping at least has a point to it. Arguably so did 90 days.

Thank you Tom A and Amdrew M. Agree 100%.

"Foxy" might have been quiet "Coxy" because he's just gotten married!

Can I just say that Andrew Milne has hit several nails right on the head with his comment above.

The point about UN reform is absolutely spot-on. If the EU is a 1970s solution to 1950s problems, then the UN is a 1940s solution to 1920s/30s problems with little relevance to the world we live in today. Unlike some, I am a firm believer that the UN has a role of fundamental importance to play on the international stage and should be the chief arbiter in resolving international problems but not in its current form. Without reform, the UN will continue to be strangled by the self-interest of individual members and certain blocs, making it worse than useless and actually serving to exacerbate international problems rather than resolving them.

The points about Saudi Arabia and facing up to the impending energy crisis are also excellent.


Since his apointment, Liam has had the little matter of getting married and going on honeymoon to attend to. I am sure you will hear more from him again come the New Year.

The strategic issue of the Middle East as a threat to peace is connected to the world's dependence on oil. If we press ahead faster with the hydrogen/fuel cell economy, which is close to being cheaper than oil now and in a year or two will actually be, we would kill two birds with one stone.

Hydrogen or biotechnology equally good renewable energy sources with nil carbon release etc.

Joined up government par excellence.

For once 'R UK', I'm in complete agreement with you. One of the things that continues to baffle me about the energy debate is why we are still so dependent on petroleum when the viability of biofuels as an alternative cheap and efficient energy source was proved decades ago.

Socialism/left-wing ideologies are basically end-state theories: they want to build a New Jerusalem; "the end justifies the means" etc etc. That's still the best proof that Blair is some form of socialist, because he's prepared to cut corners and ride roughshod over due process to get the result he knows is best for all of us.

The problem for this approach is that it involves tedious arguments about what the New Jerusalem ought to be, and you tend to thrash around trying to justify what you want to do. Blair's compounded this by his triangulation approach of trying to out-Tory the Tories on law and order for tactical reasons.

Hence: invade Iraq, because Saddam's got nasty weapons (untrue)/because he's helping al Qaeda (unlikely)/because liberating Iraq is a good thing (true)/because George W wants to do it (weak) [delete as applicable].

Toryism for me is more of a "the means justify the ends" approach: rule of law; capitalism; due process; legalism; established institutions; equality of opportunity etc etc. But there are still fundamental ends which are good in themselves, and against which any form of means must be measured.

The problem with this approach is that it gets tied up in a defence of tradition for the sake of it, can get too fond of hierarchies, keeps some institutions going well past their sell-by dates, and often misses major historical shifts (thus our lot got jugged in 1830, 1906, 1945 and possibly 1997).

Hence some Conservatives opposed the invasion of Iraq because it was "against international law" (it wasn't) or even worse "because the UN doesn't like it". Robin Cook; Charles Kennedy; and Ken Clarke - how's that for an AXIS OF DRIVEL.

The correct argument for the invasion of Iraq was: the nature of international relations has changed (the only thing Blair has ever said which has been right) and the Nuremburg/UN settlement is no longer valid - we're going to have to get the bad guys before they get us. I think this is what our esteemed Editor means when asks if someone if a "9/11 person" or not.

So: yes to invading Iraq.

Yes to invading Iran, if they continue to play silly buggers. The mullahs will be expecting us to come over the rivers like Alexander, so let's come down from the north like Tamerlane. (Uncle William's top tip for 2006: watch out for CIA-inspired "orange revolutions" in the central Asian 'stans'.)

Yes to a pre-appraisal of how our criminal justice system handles terrorism, and probably we'll have to have a form of pre-emption against them, too with a national anti-terror police role.

Yes to a complete reappraisal of our foreign policy. The EU looks like a very "10th September" body to me - and as Blair effectively admitted in his spat with Roger Helmer it's all about stopping another WWII/Cold War, and they've gone. Come on DC: how about a Policy Group on this, or a Shadow National Security Council?

No to criminalising carol singers (it's just silly gesture politics).
No to laws against a spurious religious hatred (ditto).
No to 90 day detention without trial (we're fighting the War On Terror to avoid becoming like bloody Saudi Arabia, so why start acting like it?)
No to ID cards (they won't work, and for the money you could kit out most of our town centres with some decent CCTV - and even put film in them).
No to police force mergers involving all their functions (misses the part of the point of what makes an effective police force; the police can't catch criminals as it is, giving them even more bureaucracy will just make things worse).

"adjusting to realities of a 9/11 World"

Give me a break, im going to a pompus here and say I'm far too intelligent to go along with Bush and the neo-cons simple evalustaion of the world and middle east politics.

*evaluation --- sorry getting dark in here, shoud put some lights on really!

William, you cogently debunk all of the arguments put forward for invading Iraq without someone convincingly arguing the positive case. Simply stating that "the nature of international relations has changed" may seem truistic, but doesn't seem to justify the invasion itself. Was Saddam really going to get us? Were further atrocities more likely? Would it not have been better to continue the current policy of effectively crippling his military machine (as the war itself proved) whilst dangling the sword of Damocles quite visibly above his head? The humanitarian case is persuasive, but it is difficult to assess the number of casualties versus the possible *future* victims of Saddam's tyranny (note: not past victims. All the shock and awe in the world won't bring back the dead of Halabja), notwithstanding the fact that on a purely humanitarian axis, more lives would be saved by e.g. investing in AIDS drugs or clean water.

Personally, I find the whole "9/11 person" concept a bit meaningless. What did 9/11 really change? It certainly made people aware of the festering hatred for the US amongst the mad mullahs, but this had existed for many years before (viz. the failed attempt to bomb the Twin Towers in '93). It drew people's attention to the fact that there were a cabal of extremists determined to destroy the West, but this would hardly be surprising to those watching the antics of Tehran and Pyongyang. Insofar as global foreign policy is concerned, the only real shock is that 9/11 produced no change in thinking, but a dramatic shift in the opportunity and the rhetoric. The facts are that the direct precedents for the neo-conservative foreign policy are long-standing, rooted in (more effective) humanitarian interventions in Kosovo (when Robin Cook, of William's AXIS OF DRIVEL fame, was Foreign Secretary) and the intellectual under-currents in the US that have existed for decades.

If I remember correctly, the Libdem policy is for an immediate withdrawal of Coalition troops while the Tory policy is 'stand down as the Iraqi's stand up'.
It is therefore incorrect to suggest that we are on the 'same side'.


In relation to terrorism,I don't think enough attention is being paid to the rise of fundamentalist Islam in Africa.
For example, the war in Ivory Coast has much more 'Jihadist' content than is being reported.
It is also important to note that it was France whose policy of 'stability' that precipitated this war. The same thing is happening throughout francophone Africa. France supports corrupt regimes in the name of 'stability' and the discontent of the people is absorbed by Fundamentalist Islam.
I am not suggesting that others are not also responsible but, I just want to highlight the flaws in 'stability'.

Michael - you, as the future leader of the Nigerian people - speak the truth, as always!

(Private joke friends).

"He also warned that appeasing Middle Eastern states amounted to appeasement."

It would be difficult not to agree that "appeasing ... amount[s] to "appeasement".

It's not clear what any of this has to do with "neo-conservatism". The neo-conservatives, as I understand it, are a group of former liberal (in some cases Marxist) intellectuals who have come to accept some at least of the premises of conservative thought.

However, it seems to have become a kind of bogey-term with no clear meaning on the far left in the UK. And I'm not sure what it means in this article - vide:

"David Cameron is constantly emphasising ... whilst George W Bush ..."

Since this article is about "neo-conservatism" that contrast must be related to it, but, AFAICT, George W Bush is not part of this movement and while some of those who are may have a certain degree of influence at times that only goes so far. Micklethawit and Wooldridge (_The Right Nation_) would seem to confirm that impression.

In any case, do the "emphases" that politicians may feel obliged to make from time to time necessarily have much to do with their outlook? Mr. Cameron is very new on the scene and the gallery he is playing to now may change if the one he's playing to now doesn't present him with the votes he seeks.

If Mr. Cameron is indeed a Neoconservative, my condolences, as you have just elected a man who will surely bring havoc down on your heads. The listed Patrons of the Henry Jackson Society by the way are the same Perles, Kristols, Steltzers who led my rather simpleminded president to invade Araby for reasons that still can't quite bear the light of day. These people are not Conservatives of any stripe but rootless adventurers. In the marketplace of ideas, they are America's worst export.

Spot on Alex W.

I would like to add a few thoughts on this ‘war’ on terror.

Initially, I supported the invasion of Iraq and the subsequent war. However, this was based on the information presented to the public at the time and the alleged threat that Saddam presented to the UK. Most of this threat has proved to be unfounded.

With hindsight, I believe the war was a mistake, and the US and UK have made a complete mess of Iraq. As we have made the mess than we need to sort it out. From this perspective I agreed with Cameron.

I now wish that I hadn’t laughed at friends that told me they went on the anti-war march through London, but instead joined them.

"If Mr. Cameron is indeed a Neoconservative, my condolences, as you have just elected a man who will surely bring havoc down on your heads."

I think we'll be OK, Thomas. Whilst Mr Cameron is undoubtedly 'neo', the jury is still out on the 'Conservative' tag!

Gareth: "The 'liberation of Iraq'??? From which foreign power were we 'liberating' Iraq?"

Iraq was liberated from the murderous Saddam regime, Gareth and the clear message of opinion polls of the Iraqi people is that the Iraqi people are glad of what we did.

For more see...

I'm afraid your misuse of the word 'liberation' demonstrates more clearly than I ever could the fallacies which lie at the heart of your defence of this illegal and unnecessary war.

Definition of Liberate: "To release from restraint or bondage; to set at liberty; to free; to manumit; to disengage; as, to liberate a slave or prisoner; to liberate the mind from prejudice; to liberate gases."


The Prime Minister used the ‘Macmillan Principle’ when he decided to back the US lead invasion of Iraq. This principle stemmed from the Suez Crisis of 1956, and it said that Britain should never again go against American foreign policy decisions.

When Nasser summarily nationalised the Suez Canal, it triggered a British and French military intervention to regain control of the asset they financed. However, President Eisenhower forced Britain into a humiliating climb down, and it is because of this that Macmillan came up with his principle, the principle that took us into another war nearly half a century later.

What Britain failed to understand in the 1950s was that the post-war world would be dominated by the USA and Russia, not Britain and France. Eisenhower understood this. He also understood that the Russians were looking for an excuse to become influential in the Middle East, and the Suez crisis was the ideal opportunity to do so. Eisenhower however showed considerable foresight in the crisis. Instead of becoming directly involved, he understood that the way to maintain stability in the middle-east region was to ensure that sovereign countries were protected from all forms of aggressive intervention.

Compare and contrast this foresight to the foreign policy of the current Washington Administration, where exactly the opposite policy has prevailed. Sovereign countries are invaded and the region destabilised. Most of the insurgency in Iraq is caused, not by Al’Qaeda fundamentalists, but Sunnis resisting becoming a minority faction in Iraq, and British troops are now in the impossible situation of being present in regions of Iraq where the local Iraqis not want them there. The chain of events continues to unfold, Iranians have now elected a radical President, who has recalled moderate ambassadors from around the world to be replaced with those more attuned to current foreign policy. Programs are pursued with the aim of acquiring nuclear weapons. Militias are armed, trained and released to attack British troops in southern Iraq, and another sovereign nation, Israel, directly threatened with annihilation.

Blair should not have followed the ‘Macmillan Principle’ in guiding his decision over Iraq, but instead, as Eisenhower did, looked to the ‘Treaty of Westphalia’ (1648), which gives predominance to Sovereignty. This centuries old principle, thanks to Bush and Blair, is now in tatters; and the green light is now on for any Country to begin interfering in any other Country’s affairs, as and when it wishes to cobble together an excuse for doing so.

Oberon - I think you're mixing issues of policy and law (but perhaps your argumetn is that so is Blair). One question: is the Westphalia model of the state (and international law) any longer applicable? Cujus regio ejus religio went a long a time ago. Westphalia was once an innovation itself.

Or put it another way: 18 yr olds didn't get the vote until the 1970 General Election. Does that mean that British democratic institutions were illegitimate before 1970, or that they are now? Neither: laws change. International law is a legal system where there isn't really a prosecutor and there aren't any police and there isn't really a jury and there isn't a parliament and it's difficult to know when there's been a conviction, but it's still a legal system. And laws change.

English law recognises the individual automony of all of us - until we break the criminal law, at which point we have a rather more circumscribed freedom of action, although we still have procedure rights to justice. From time to time the criminal law (and hence the grounds for criminalisation) change. States are autonomous people for the purposes of international law - until they break it. The Yorkshire Ripper got a fair trial, and so did Saddam's Iraq. Both got their just desserts from the legal systems.

PS - Here's a Christmas Quiz. Using your skill and judgment see if you can work out the connection between the following:
(a) 1956: Eisenhower blocks Suez adventure.
(b) 1956: Syria signs pact with Soviet Union.
(c) 1958: insurrection In Lebanon; Eisenhower forced to send marines.
(d) 1958: coup in Iraq leads to murder of king and regent, unstable republic etc etc

William, I was stressing that the US has created a precedent for declaring war based on pre-emption, which any Country can now use. Kissinger said...

"It is not in the American national interest to establish pre-emption as a universal principle available to every nation"

Although, it should be stressed that Kissinger supported the invasion, however he did not like the way it was justified because other nations could now use the same principle, one simple example would be a pre-emptive strike by India on Pakistan.

Legally, the United States use of "pre-emptive self-defence" to go to war with the objective of disarming Iraq, could not justify widespread harm to the population, even if weapons were present. In the event no weapons of mass destruction found and it is now clear that regime change was the principle reason for invasion, which is illegal under international law.

The doctrine of pre-emptive defence also challenges the foundations of the modern international legal order and the primary rationale for the founding of the UN after World War II - the prohibition on the unilateral use of force to settle disputes.

Furthermore, even when force is used, there are restrictions on how it may be applied. The Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their 1977 protocols set out some of these limits: for example, the prohibitions on targeting civilian populations and infrastructure and causing extensive destruction of property not justified by military objectives. Launching an attack knowing it will cause "incidental" loss of life or injury to civilians "which would be clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated" constitutes a war crime under international law. Given that 250,000 Iraqis have died in this conflict, there a possibility that the coalition could be challenged in the international courts over the execution of the war.

Finally, there is mounting evidence that the US may have broken international law over the torture of suspects.

Legally, it is unclear if these developments will require a re-writing of international law or the existing agreements are still valid, in which case the US will need to be successfully challenged to avoid these agreements becoming fatally weakened. I believe that this will not happen, therefore they have already been critically undermined, and that as a result the world is a much more dangerous place. For this I blame the Bush administration, and in particular Paul Wolfowitz and Dick Cheney.

O.H.:"William, I was stressing that the US has created a precedent for declaring war based on pre-emption, which any Country can now use."

But you know aswell as I do that it isnt available to every nation, simply because most other nations are and would be restrained by a set of vastly different consequences and factors were they to take some form of unilateral military action themselves. Saddam didnt need a precedent to defy the international community for 12 years and I very much doubt we would accept 'pre-emption' as an Iranian justification to wipe Israel off the map.

O.H.:"Legally, it is unclear if these developments will require a re-writing of international law or the existing agreements are still valid, in which case the US will need to be successfully challenged to avoid these agreements becoming fatally weakened. I believe that this will not happen, therefore they have already been critically undermined, and that as a result the world is a much more dangerous place."

The world is a more dangerous place because international law and decrepit, corrupt talking shops such as the UN have been allowed to continue unquestioned for so long. The Bush administration merely exposed all this as the farcical and dangerous theatre it is and was. I can't help but conclude that you're blaming them because these redundant institutions have been shown to be valueless in the 21st century and you'd rather we went back to pretending otherwise.

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