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Syria - What East Midlands Liberal Democrats say!

August 28, 2013 11:48 AM
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats

Leon DuveenSome edited Comments from Facebook

Leon Duveen - Bassetlaw

  • One of the reasons I first supported the Lib Dems & later joined was its principled stand against the war in Iraq. It is very worrying to me that 10 years on, when we are in Government, we seem to be loosing those principles and are willing to accept third party intelligence assessments (from Israel & Saudi Arabia) rather than waiting for the UN Inspectors to finish their work and give a report.
  • I hope that in any vote on possible military action, all Lib Dem MPs are given a free vote so that they can make up their own minds on the subject and not be whipped into supporting firing Cruise Missiles on Syria (14 likes)

Comment 1 - Why do we need to be there in the first place? It's not our country and it's their internal issue not ours.

Answer from Leon

  • Innocent people are being killed in horrifically large numbers. Also if Syria becomes a failed state then it will be a destabilising influence right on the edge of Europe. Yes, we should be trying to help resolve the conflict but not by adding to it.

Reply 1- Its an internal issue that they must resolve. We can't afford to expend weaponry at any cost at this present time and to do so would just increase our debt and it will be the low paid and vulnerable in ths country that will be forced to pick up the bill.

Most of the low paid and disabled have never been to Syria and never will so why should they be paying extra taxes to support something they don't even know about? Its not in the national interests to be involved and never has been.

Comment 2 - I suppose on equal logic you would have argued in 1939 that low paid people have never been to Poland therefore we should not fight Hitler .. (though as it happens I oppose intervening in Syria)

John Bishop - Lincoln - Couldn't agree more

Comment 3 - This isn't Iraq. If there is clear evidence that he used chemical weapons then I fully support a strategic strike. At some point we have to make a stand.

Comment 4 - I agree. This is very different to Iraq. I would hope that someone would step in strategically - we're not talking about invasion, occupation or regime change here - to help stop such abuses on innocent citizens anywhere. Chemical weapons are beyond internal issues. They are all our issues.

Comment 5 - The only time I might agree with intervention would be if it were led by the Arab League and backed by both Russia and China. Any British contribution should be restricted to air-cover only.

I find it impossible to reconcile the internationalism and humanitarianism of Liberalism with the statement that 'it isn't our problem'.

My reason for opposing the Iraq war was not that I am a pacifist, it was that the Iraq war was wrong. That does not mean that if military intervention is right, and supported by the international community, I will not support it.

I supported our action in Libya because it was proportionate and right, there was no need for our troops to be on the ground. Equally there is no need for our troops to be on the ground in Syria, but that does not mean we should not assist from the air, and nor does it mean that we can wipe our hands of the situation once a conflict resolution has been achieved.

Our medics, and teachers, and engineers and builders must be in there helping to rebuild as quickly as possible.

Comment 6 - I think if you require that both Russia and China back this, that is actually another way of saying 'never-never'. China might come round, Russia is unlikely to come round even if there are real reasons to go in, because their last foothold around the Mediterranean is at stake.

I don't think that you can logically say that you are in favour of humanitarian intervention under some circumstances (even if the current situation doesn't qualify). but only if everybody is in board. That kind of attitude killed far too many people when Yugoslavia broke up.

A unanimous security council decision is sometimes absolutely impossible. So that can't be the ultimate criterion.

You do have to have a fairly good alliance of regional states. But I am a bit worried about the usual line-up of unpalatable oil-rich Arab regimes on one side, and Iran on the other.

Comment 7 - This is not our business. By all means send humanitarian aid, but do not get militarily involved. Britain is not the world's policeman. Let the Middle East sort itself out.

Comment 8 - I supported the Lib Dem position on Iraq, and always will.

However if it is clear from the UN inspectors that the Syrian gov are responsible for this chemical attack, the most illiberal thing Nick Clegg & our MPs can do is NOT support any action.

How we can just sit back and do nothing after a government, which the very basis of its existence is to protect its citizens, is killing its own by chemical weapons. Surely its a true liberal position that no matter where on the planet you are, if your government is deliberately harming you, we should act!

If the Syrian gov is found responsible, get Assad to The Hague, and have the UN / National Coalition oversee a transition to democracy - and that cannot be rushed. Don't hold elections straight away, the country needs to get used to various parties making their manifesto claims.

Answer from Leon

I agree that if the UN finds that Assad is indeed responsible for the use of Chemical weapons against civilians, then the rest of the world should intervene and hold him to account. That is not what has happened. The UN inspectors haven't reported. There is some doubt if it was Assad responsible or it was the rebels behind the use of the gas. Finally lobbing a few cruise missles at targets in Syria without any follow up or meaningful further action will fo nothing to bring Assad or the rebels to account, it will just add to the misery of the civilian population.

If the Syrian gov is found responsible, get Assad to The Hague, and have the UN / National Coalition oversee a transition to democracy - and that cannot be rushed. Don't hold elections straight away, the country needs to get used to various parties making their manifesto claims.

Comment 7 - Of course we can sit back and do nothing - or nothing beyond offering humanitarian aid, which we should do. This is not our business. Have we really not learned that meddling in the Middle East is a bad idea - for the people there as well as for us?

Comment 6 - Well, I am not sure whether Libya counts as Middle East, but a few hundred thousand people in Benghazi, perhaps more, would beg to differ. Libya is not a thriving democracy now, and the outcome was not all good, but on balance, I think that intervention was still worth it because it saved many lives.

To my mind, the same case hasn't been made for Syria, but I don't think blanket judgements are useful in this debate.

Comment 5 - I honestly do not believe that Russia can not be persuaded. The question to ask is what deal needs to be in place that secures Russian support, even if that deal means that the Russians lead an interim administration to get the country back on its feet it would be better than what people there are facing now, and it would also give Russia the opportunity itself to step back from the breech and back into the international fold.

The case for intervention was more knife-edge in Libya than in Syria, thats why the Americans did not intervene there.

Comment 6 - Libya was different. Just pointing out that one can't say that intervention never has any benefits. I was answering directly to Jill. Intervention is *not* always bad for the people there, etc.

As far as Russia is concerned - I don't think they can be convinced. A lot of this is Putin grandstanding to his voters and supporters back home. Syria is an asset for him, but not an indispensible one. Keeping it as it is now is in his interest. The idea that the *Russians* would get involved to lead an interim government is just unrealistic.

But then, why do you think that any imposed interim government would be better? Most of the rebels would start fighting them, backed up by more Djihadis. It would be like the beginning of the first post-Saddam Iraqi government, just starting from a base that's a lot worse. The bloodshed among Iraqis got a lot worse after the war was officially over. Syria could only be worse.

I just can't see any way in which imposing a new government would not lead to a lot more bloodshed than we'll get in the civil war as it is.

Comment 5 - Without the Russians on board that will be the case whatever is done.

Harrish Bisnauthsing - Grantham and Stamford

I was very concerned with Leon's comments on Syria. This is totally different from Iraq. Here we have a Megalomaniac called Assad who is indiscriminately killing his own people with weapons of MASS destruction with no qualm at all. It cannot be let to continue. We have to be stop being quirmish and yellow bellied about it. This action should be taken, with a surgical and strategic strike to show this kind of abuse of power over innocent peoples should not be allowed. We owe it as a moral duty, to show some fibre and be resolute in our determination to stop this sort of attrocities on innocent citizens. I fully support Nick Clegg to support the action the government is about to take. And not to be like Ed Miliband to vacillate continuously.

John Marriott - Lincoln, Sleaford & North Hykeham

I was very interested in the comments about Syria. We should remember that all these so called Arab states are for the large part artificial entities (not much different to the African states which are mainly products of the colonial carve up in the 19th century). States such as Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan etc were created out to the ruins of the Ottoman Empire, created across religious, ethnic and tribal boundaries following the Treaty of Versailles, for the benefit of mainly ourselves and the French. No wonder they lack cohesion.

As far as the aims of the Muslim extremists are concerned, you could do worse than look at what Winston Churchill was saying back in the 1890s!
We in the west created this mess. The best thing we can do is to stay out of it UNLESS the UN shows us the green light. Even then, I doubt whether we can sort out this latest crisis. After all, it's been tried not that long ago. Tony Blair and Dubya, are you listening?