Friday, August 19, 2016

The suicide competition

The two contenders to be Leader of the Labour party seem to be having a competition to see who can prove himself unfit to be Prime Minister - and both of them are winning.

First Owen Smith suggests he would negotiate with DA'ESH.

Then Jeremy Corbyn indicates that, like Trump, he would not necessarily honour the NATO guarantee to come to the aid of a fellow NATO member who had been attacked.

DA'ESH are the worst bunch of head-chopping, slave-taking and completely intransigent rapists, terrorists and murderers the world has seen since 1945, a group that split from Al Qaeda because it isn't bloodthirsty enough. It is sometimes necessary to talk to the bad guys but for a potential Prime Minister to suggest that Britain might talk to the so-called "Islamic State" was a gaffe sufficiently serious to cast grave doubt on his judgement.

The promise that the members of NATO will come to each others' aid if attacked and that an attack on one of us is an attack on all is, along with the nuclear deterrent, one of the main reasons there has not been a Third World War. To abandon that promise would be lunacy.

We are living in a dangerous world and Britain cannot afford a PM who is capable of the poor judgement both these men have shown this week.


Anonymous said...

We've just had the Brexit decision and the populous demanded a return of sovereignty. Britain out of the EU so we can make our own decisions.
Likewise, remaining a member of NATO, and going to war simply because we are members of NATO (that no one has voted to join) certainly isn't returning our sovereignty. So time to exit NATO or at the very least have a referendum on it.

Chris Whiteside said...

Britain and each of the other members of NATO made a commitment when the organisation was created to treat an attack against any one of us as an attack on us all.

That agreement to stand by each other has done more than anything else with the possible exception of the nuclear deterrent to preserve peace in those European countries which are members of NATO for many years.

This is a dangerous time and I think it would be very unwise indeed to withdraw from that treaty commitment. I also think it would be a breach of faith with our allies which would do far more damage to our reputation than activating article 50, the agreed mechanism to leave the European Union.

Anonymous said...

The government of Britain "made a commitment" not the people of Britain.
In a time when the populous demanded a return of sovereignty it is only right that this inability of Britain to make its own decision to go to war is challenged.

Chris Whiteside said...

On that basis no democracy could make any binding commitment designed to last for more than a short period of time.

I don't want to overplay that argument because, just as the EU Treaties have an exit clause - Article 50 - the NATO commitment is not entirely open-ended either as after 20 years (which expired a long time ago) the North Atlantic Treaty provides that NATO member states can leave giving a year's notice.

I still think it would be incredibly stupid for us to do so. Vladimir Putin may not be quite the existential threat to the West that the Soviet Union was, and neither is he an irrational and genocidal lunatic like the leadership of DA'ESH, but he is still a very dangerous man. If he thinks he can get away with stirring up trouble with one of the Baltic states or other countries which were formerly part of the USSR and that it is in his interests to do so, he will, and the potential consequences not just for the country concerned but for peace in Europe do not bear thinking about. Weakening one of the main constraints on him doing that - NATO's pledge to treat an attack on one country as an attack on all - is not a good idea.

Anonymous said...

Leaving NATO may be stupid for us to do, but the people of Britain have spoken and they demanded a return of sovereignty so Britain can make its own decisions. No decision is more important than sending your citizens to war.

Chris Whiteside said...

The people of Britain were asked a very specific question - should Britain remain in the EU or leave the EU? - and they voted to leave the EU.

That decision must be respected.

The voters were not asked whether we should leave NATO.

Indeed, one of the reasons for Brexit being put forward by some Leave campaigners including a number of former soldiers, sailors and airmen, was that they were afraid proposals for an EU army might undermine NATO.

Since it is clear that at least some active campaigners for Brexit were strong supporters of NATO, I do not think the EU referendum vote says anything one way or the other about British membership of NATO.

By all means let's have the debate but I don't get the impression that there is any burning desire out there, except from Jeremy Corbyn and some of his supporters, to quit NATO.

If Corbyn is still Labour leader in 2020 there is no need for a referendum because I'm sure it will be one of the major issues during the General Election.

Anonymous said...

Playing politics are we, Britain only voted to leave the EU.
Britain didn't vote to leave the EEA, Britain didn't vote to be able to control it's own borders, Britain didn't vote for a return of sovereignty, Britain only voted to leave the EU.

Chris Whiteside said...

I have made precisely that point in a number of other posts.