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Hague's response to everything is a bit of this and a bit of that, with no decisiveness. That's why he failed as a party leader. That's why he's messed up with the EPP, and that's why you can't understand what he's saying here.

If he'd stick to writing books on history, he could do us no more harm. As it is, he's practically useless at providing any leadership on anything any time anywhere. Why we are still bothering with him defeats me.

I'm sorry to say, William, that much as I admire Hague's wit I'm tempted to agree with you. Perhaps he's misunderstood the 'And Theory' of Conservatism?!

He is clearly saying that Israel has a right to self-defence but it has over-reacted but he is saying so in very diplomatic language.

This may be another sign of the Conservatives abandoning hawkish neoconservatism.

The abandonment may take years, not months, of course but as long as the Czechs are happy with our policy change it will happen!!!

But in mentioning the "criticism of the proportionality of the Israeli response" I think he may - in very diplomatic language - be disagreeing with Israel's tactics.
I disagree with what Israel is doing, and how we are sitting by and just letting it all unfold. If you replaced Israel with North Korea and Lebanon with South Korea, we'd have UN sanctions, and universal condemnation of the attacks. Its a terrible case of double standards, what Israel here is doing here is completely illegal, in invading a country with little provocation.

I'm sure there are many who agree with me, however we must not forget that our party foolishly supported the invasion of Iraq as a pre-emptive strike. Oh what a beautiful standard we have set!

The abandonment may take years, not months, of course but as long as the Czechs are happy with our policy change it will happen!!!

The Czechs, like the Poles, have cause to remember British Conservative politicians !

There certainly has been a large amount of Israeli scepticism over this issue. What I cannot seem to grasp, however, is the decline of 'hawkish neo-conservatism' (Umbrella man) within our own ranks. If I were an Israeli, I would be enraged by the situation and would desire a firm response. The response has been perhaps a touch too firm, but principle behind it was firm.

Whilst we must criticise the Israeli authorities for their incrementally vicious attacks, surely there can be a small amount empathy for the situation they are in, even if the retribution they sought was O.T.T? Soldiers have been taken, Haifa has been rocketed; these people attempting to protect their sovreignty, but unfortunately at the expense of some innocent civilians.

Mr Hague has rightly condemned the over-proportionate use of violence, especially against innocents. But they are fighting terrorists: the same sort of terrorists that were supposed to have been in Iraq, and the action taken there was Tory supported. Lets get in shape chaps, or risk having our diplomatic tongue skewered by the doves of hypocrisy.


Examine the following passage and try to deduce what the speaker meant, what he thought he meant, and what the reader thinks the speaker thought he meant.

The right of Israel to defend itself is clear and its desire severely to damage the ability of Hezbollah to attack the Israeli civilian population is wholly understandable.
Does this mean:
(a) Bombs away, this is where the towelheads get what's been coming to them.
(b) We all know neither Israel nor Hezbollah give a damn what I think.
(c) I don't want anyone thinking I'm a Holocaust denier.
(d) I'd better open with a few platitudes about the right to self-defence; you never know when we might have another run-in with the Argies.

Calling for an unconditional ceasefire on the part of Israel, as the Prime Minister pointed out yesterday, is futile – there is clearly going to be no ceasefire unless kidnapped soldiers are returned, rocket attacks on Haifa and other locations ceased and some hope provided that the international community will assist Lebanon to have a stable future and one without the presence of armed militias inside its borders.
Does this mean:
(a) There clearly isn't going to be a ceasefire until we send in the troops and rebuild the country from the mess we left in Lebanon the last time we were there.
(b) There clearly isn't going to be a ceasefire until we've taken out the Syrians.
(c) There clearly isn't going to be a ceasefire.
(d) Thank God I've found something on which I can agree with Blair; that should spread the blame a bit.

But it is not clear that it is in the interests of Israel, let alone anyone else, to delay for one moment the effort to bring about a ceasefire with these and other conditions.
Does this mean:
(a) You're losing the propaganda war - please at least try to pretend you want a ceasefire or the Arabs will drag in the UN and we'll have all of that nonsense all over again.
(b) True statesmanship only uses force as a last resort and always prefers a peaceful outcome.
(c) If I make speeches advising other countries to use force only as a last resort and to always prefer a peaceful outcome then I look like a true statesman.
(d) There clearly isn't going to be a ceasefire.

Criticism of the proportionality of the Israeli response, including attacks on Lebanese army units and such enormous damage to the capacity of the Lebanese government, damages the Israeli cause in the long term.
Does this mean:
(a) Exactly what it says: as a matter of fact, criticism of Israel will in the long term undermine its ability to defend itself.
(b) Criticism of Israel will in the long term undermine its ability to defend itself, so critics ought to exercise care in what they say because they are giving aid and comfort to anti-democratic terrorists.
(c) Criticism of Israel will in the long term undermine its ability to defend itself, so Israel ought to avoid creating excuses for criticism.
(d) If I say something mildly critical of Israel perhaps the Guardian will say something nice about my next book.

And it is by no means clear that a continued bombardment of Hezbollah areas will result in military success from Israel’s point of view.
Does this mean:
(a) I don't think much of the Israeli air force, they couldn't hit an elephant at three paces.
(b) Do you really want to go through all the trouble of occupying Lebanon all over again because otherwise the towelheads will just come out of their bunkers once you've gone and start shooting at Haifa?
(c) We all know Syria and Iran are at the bottom of all this, you're shooting at the wrong target, lads.
(d) This is the bit where I give a nuanced avoidance of a straight answer, just like a proper diplomat: a few more speeches like this and everyone will forget I ever wore a baseball cap.

The idea therefore that it is somehow in the interests of Israel or of a longer term solution to these matters for the fighting to go on for several more weeks may prove to be woefully misguided.
Does this mean:
(a) Nothing.
(b) Anything.

This sounds very close to the FO rather than Blair/Bush position. The FO view seems to be that Israel cannot defeat Hezbollah by military means, that the Lebanese government will not be able to disarm Hezbollah even in a weakened state and that Israel will damage the Lebanese state and the civilian population more than necessary in attempting to bomb out Hezbollah.

Despite the FO's perceived Arabism and its uselessness in understanding the impact of the break up of USSR and Yugoslavia there is a lot of truth in this. To defeat Hezbollah means quaratining the Lebanon so that no arms can come in for months, in massive bombing and cross border incursions. This would not be acceptable, even to the US, and has proved unachievable in Afghanistan.

Its not an easy message to deliver as it sounds defeatist and appeasing. I'd prefer an outcome that saw the disarming of Lebanese militia, an enforced security zone and secure borders for both Isreal & the Lebanon but I'm not sure the Israeli's have a strategy to achieve this without mounting civilian casualties and destruction of the means of government for Lebanon.

Sir Humphrey Appleby would have been proud to have delivered Hague's words. Meaningless.

And still nothing from Tim and other CFI trippers on Bibi's celebration of terrorists who murdered British soldiers? Gosh.

Let's be real here,we can do nothing we have no influence on either Israel or Hezbollah.We can only advise and hope someone might listen.Hagues advice to the Israelis is sensible but only the US can try to force them to do anything,I doubt they will

What is the conclusion that you would draw from that Malcolm? Should Britain choose a small corner of the world - part of the Commonwealth? - and concentrate its limited resources/ influence on making a real difference there? In Zimbabwe for example? And/ or should we take one or two big issues like climate change and/or free trade and devote all of the limited resources of the FCO etc to changing other nations' policy in that area? It's a genuine question.

Opposed to all terrorism

I also noted the celebration of the terrorist attack on King David's Hotel. Some Israelis have a tendency to view the acts of terror comitted in 1940's against Britain and Palestinians as glorious parts of their struggle for nationhood. It was especially far fetched to claim the British were at fault for failing to empty the Hotel after reciving a warning - presumably we are meant to believe Irgun intended to destroy only a Hotel not kill anyone.

It's surprising the terrorists and their latter day apologists don't see that their actions both inspired and give validity to similiar actions against themselves. Israel would have greater moral standing if it condemned clearly its own historic terrorism and apologised for it rather than put up plaques celebrating such activities.

The King David's Hotel was a military target, containing as it did British Army headquarters, and the Criminal Investigation division of the police (which had been responsible for the torture of many Jews over the previous 15 years).

The attack was planned so as to minimise the number of civilians present in the hotel, and warnings were given.

Then, as now, the responsibilty for civilian deaths lies at the door of those who place military targets in the midst of civilians.

There is no equivalence between that attack and the bombings carried out by Arabs on solely civilian targets, targeted because they are Jews, which are carried out to maximise casualties and with no warning.

Or the Lavon affair:


Israel committed terror bombings against British/US targets in Egypt, to halt any possibly withdrawal from Suez.

Of course, it didn't work, as Nasser seized Suez. Israel thus instead attacked Egypt (completely unprovoked) in 1956, co-ordinated with Britain/France of course.

Strange how these are rarely mentioned in the US media - it's always "poor little Israel, always being attacked".

The Lavon affair - no injuries, no deaths, and little damage caused. Known about by Egypt in advance.

Clearly attacks by Israeli militants are extremely deadly.

The Egyptians had been sending fedayeen attacks into Israel for years, prior to Suez. All of which were acts of war. To say that the attack in 1956 was unprovoked does not stand up to serious examination.

I used to think Hague was good. Now, as with the EPP debacle, all we get is more fudge and "inclusive" waffle. This meaningless "all things to all readers" stuff is the sort of tripe I thought only the UN spouted. Sad to see it coming from the Conservative "we want to run the country" Party. Get real guys, and start speaking english - and having some VIEWS and beliefs about the world.

I believe we should continue to attack Hague regardless of what he says. If Hague ever challenges Cameron, he'd win hands down with the current membership and even with the parliamentary party. Unfortunately for the Conservatives, Hague isn't a vote winner. Hague is Brown, Cameron is Blair.
When I read the transcript from Hague I felt it read exactly as you would expect from a Tory - it could have come from anyone; Portillo, Coe or Cameron, I agree with the aims of the posters on this site. Stop Hague.

Wikipedia: 'Terrorism' refers to a strategy of using violence, or threat of violence to generate fear, cause disruption, and ultimately, to bring about compliance with specific political, religious, ideological, and personal demands. The targets of terrorist attacks typically are not the individuals who are killed, injured, or taken hostage, but rather the societies to which these individuals belong.

Israel's action in Lebanon therefore equal ...

Personally I don`t think you will ever defeat terrorism by military action agaiinst the terrorist. I believe they have to be forced to accept the democractic, political way of changing things and I think the only way of doing that is to go after those who supply them with weapons and money.
Starve them of the means of terrorism and they will soon see the right way forward.

Sorry Tim didn't see your question until this morning. Both your ideas have value of course but the primary purpose of the FO is to protect British citizens abroad and promote British interests wherever we can.We can advise and cajole other countries and try to persuade them to adopt our World view but unless we are prepared to use force that,I think,is all we can do. Perhaps sadly, our days of being a policeman to the world are long over.

Jack Stone

Fair point, but in the absence of us taking military action against Iran, China and North Korea at the moment, how should we go about starving them of the means of terrorism at present?

Since when has foreign affairs lent itself to hyperbolic language or the taking of black and white positions? I'm pleased that Hague, who aspires to be our senior diplomat, uses nuanced, diplomatic language when discussing sensitive and complex issues. The alternative is the childish goodies vs. baddies view of the world that has got Dubya into so much trouble.

Oh, please God, can this be another nail in the Hague coffin? The man seems to know as much about fighting wars in the Middle East as he does about winning general elections in the UK. Yes, one can criticise the Israeli government without being either Israeli or anti-Israeli, but the Israeli government's duty is to protect the people of Israel, and it is not clear how it would be in Israel's best interests to let a precedent develope whereby fascist and radical militias can kidnap Israeli soldiers without appropriate punishment. My own view is the Dubya view that it's Syria and Iran that are the problem and that therein lies the solution. Regime change in Damascus ought to be reasonably straightforward, just as soon as the Sunni terrorists in Iraq give up there and turn around and head back to take out the Shi'ite, secularist government in Damascus. I still predict either US or Israeli bombers over Tehran by Christmas. And with Syria and Iran in trouble, Hezbollah will have other things to think about than killing Muslim toddlers in Haifa.

'Regime change in Damascus ought to be reasonably straightforward' -ehat world do you live in Oliver?Have you really learned nothing in the last three years?

Yes Malcolm, when we and the French created the Middle East out of the ruins of Ottoman Decay the minority tribes came out on top - Sunni Muslims in Iraq; Christians in Lebanon; Alawites in Syria; Wahabbis in Saudi...........so long as they controlled the armed forces things worked well. Demographics made such a mess of things as these countries found they could not increase living standards and population both so they needed a scapegoat.

I very much doubt William Hague has much clue as to foreign policy, probably about as much as Beckett..........but since the Us is tilting towards Angela Merkel and Steinmeier at present I doubt Hague will be that important, and with a hung Parlament in prospect it may not even be a job in the gift of the major party.

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