Thursday, January 25, 2007

Paddy Ashdown Thinks Ming Is Wrong

Paddy Ashdown rescued the Liberal Democrats from potential political oblivion. Whatever his shortcomings he was always a staunch supporter of the armed forces. His article in The Independent today shows why he is twice the leader Ming Campbell will ever be. Since he resigned as LibDem leader in 1999 he has been very quiet and hasn' really got involved in domestic politics. But in the Indy article today he has a direct dig at Ming Campbell's stance on Iraq...
When our politicians plunge us into these interventions they nearly always
say: "Troops home by Christmas", metaphorically speaking. We know this is driven
by the electoral cycle, but the fact is you must be prepared to commit over a
long period probably as much or more resources as you committed during the war.
In the days and weeks after the conflict probably more troops are necessary than
were needed during it; Iraq is a classic example of this...

He goes on to pose a fascinating question on the future of military interventionism, to which I suspect, none of us has the answer...
Two things can happen. Perhaps we are going to burn our fingers one last
time in Iraq and then never do this again. That would be a tragedy in an
interdependent world. I do not believe we have reached the end of the era of
large-scale wars and that we will only be left with small intra-state wars. I
think a perfect storm is gathering out there and that large-scale war will
return unless we are very careful. I also think there are times when you have to
intervene because of the effect on world peace. Either we will say "never again"
after Iraq and, particularly, Afghanistan or we will learn how to do it properly
and people will understand that intervention is not a rare phenomenon but part
of the bloodstream of modern international diplomacy.

You can read the full article HERE.


Anonymous said...

Since he resigned as LibDem leader in 1999 he has been very quiet and hasn't really got involved in domestic politics.

Shurely that's because he's been otherwise occupied as Lord High Panjandrum of Bosnia for the last few years.

Ironic really, he's had more power and government experience there than any other Lib (Dem) for generations.

Anonymous said...

You;ve misunderstood the point - the reference to troops out before Christmas refers to the decision to commit forces in the first place - the classic example being world war one. It's disingenuous to commit forces to a 'war' and not expect to have to commit forces to the peace afterwards.

Some Tories (notably Kenneth Clarke) recognised this in 2003. Ashdown himself highlights the failure of the American leadership to realise this too.

It is easy for politicians to say this will be a short war - in reality, it's often never that simple.

Ming Campbell's point is different - we already know our troops are underresourced and overstretched. We cannot continue as we are at the moment without increasing staffing levels and defence expenditure. The question then becomes when do we leave? Seems a reasonable statement to me.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but sucking up to Tony Blair has always been more important to old Pantsdown than loyalty to his own party - even when he was leader of it.

Anonymous said...

I always thought Paddy was in the wrong party. Did he do a Ryan Giggs, who jumped at the chance to play for Wales because he didn't think he'd get a chance to play for England?

Anonymous said...

I happen to think that Paddy Ashdown should be brought back as caretaker leader for as long as in takes for the Lib Dems to come to their senses.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you on Ashdown as LibDem Leader but disagree with him on Bosnia and Kosovo.

Kosovo was the real "illegal war" breaching the 1975 Helsinki Treaty.

The fact is we don't use military force to attain ends, but simply to assuage popular sentiment which then moves on.

We have still not extracted ourselves from Bosnia

Anonymous said...

I clearly remember Jon Snow having a go at 'Chatshow Charlie' saying that when Paddy was leader how difficult it was to keep him out of the C4 studio.

Paddy was a great profile-raiser and hugely ambitious. He was even taken into 'Tony's Big Tent' for a while.
Hardly his fault if Tony then shat on him from a great height once Labour got into power with a landslide.

I'm afraid the Lib Dems have been on the slow train to oblivion since he left - I don't see any rescue plan.

Anonymous said...

Ryan Giggs IS a Welshman, you buffoon!

Anonymous said...

Who said he wasn't?

Anonymous said...

Spot on - and as you rightly pointed out before, Ming the Feckless waivered on Iraq under Chatshow Charlie.

Charlie caused the Lib Dems to flatline when they should have done better, Paddy doubled their seats in 1997.

Ming is making them even less appealing!

Inamicus said...

christ, spare us from "conservative future" bloggers pontificating on things they know nothing about and which happened before most of them were born....

also very obvious that Iain has badly misunderstood the article... and missed the real story.

neil craig said...

I agree that the chance of a real war (ie one in which the other side have weapons that are going to hit us) is becoming a more realistic one & that Ashdown himself will be as responsible as anybody for bringing it about.

The traditional position of international law is that neither us nor anybody else has the right to go invading people's sovereign countries. That is not only the classic liberal (& Liberal) position & a moral one (until such time as we alone have all the answers to how to run countries) &it is also the only one which does not make war almost inevitable.

If it is alright for us to go bombing people to help our Nazi allies then either it is alright for Russia, Indonesia etc to do the same or this right depends purely on the possession of the biggest army. In which case you get defencive arms races & eventually somebody has to prove whose is bigger.

This is what led to WW1 when the Concert of Europe broke down into 2 competing alliance systems drawing lines in the sand which crossed.

By breaching both international law & our most solemn treaty commitments mentioned by Voyager we have made the world a much more dangerous place & made it impossible for peaceful foreign countries to trust us (hence new nukes). By comparison with Yugoslavia, the Iraq invasion is much closer to non-criminal & humanitarian.

Our abuse of the international law process in the Milosevic (& other) "trials" & murder & getting the Hague Court to decide not to rule on whether the Yugoslav war was a war crime, together with current attempts to wrest the soverignty of Kosovo from Serbia despite our word not to further discredits all western influenced international institution (hence the growth of the Shanghai Pact).

Ashdown's role in this from his first lies in favour of the Nazis Tudjman & Izerbegovic to his statement on oath that he had seen, standing on the Albanian border, the ehtnic cleansing of specific villages which proved not to be visible from there (this alone would have had him imprisoned for perjury in an uncorrupt court) should have earned him at leasr several hundred years imprisonment as a war criminal.

When he say "Either we will say "never again" ...or we will learn how to do it properly" he knows what he is talking about. The only way to "properly" ensure that the local population does not need constant policing is the way that we used in Krajina - the deliberate genocide & ethnic cleansing of the population. Ashdown was involved in that.

I find "never again" to be a preferable response to the Krajina Holocaust than this perjurers "lets do it properly".

Law is the necessary basis for any society bigger than the tribe & our survival as a species may depend on us accepting the international law & treaties we have promulgated against stealing one's neighbours country & life.

Anonymous said...

Iain, you fool. Completely misunderstood this.

Anonymous said...

British politics is still split between Gladstonians and Disraelians. Each of the three parties struggles constantly to hold together these competing tendencies. Gladstonians favour unregulated markets, and therefore the use of armed force to secure this global state of affairs, which they see as necessary for the emergence and defence of democratic institutions.

By contrast, we Disraelians see such economic arrangements as subversive both of those institutions and of the values that, among other good things, sustain them; accordingly, we are immensely cautious about adventures abroad. The rising Chinese superpower confirms our belief that the “free” market not only subverts democratic institutions and their necessary underlying values, but prevents those institutions from developing where they do not already exist.

It is simply not possible or desirable to be Disraelian at home and Gladstonian abroad, any more than vice versa.

The Conservative Party has long been hoovering up disaffected Gladstonians: Liberal Unionists, Liberal Imperialists, National Liberals, and so on. Alderman Alfred Roberts, Margaret Thatcher’s father and the pre-eminent influence on such political philosophy as she ever had, was a text-book Gladstonian: a shopkeeper and Methodist preacher who sat as an Independent Councillor while his party collapsed around him, who never joined the Tories to his dying day, and who never seemed to see how the “free” market was ultimately ruinous both of his small businessman’s interests and of his preacher’s beliefs.

The late Arthur Seldon, of the proto-“Thatcherite” Institute for Economic Affairs, always regarded himself as a Gladstonian Liberal, for so he was; while his co-founder of that Institute, Lord (Ralph) Harris of High Cross, although he eventually stood as a Conservative candidate in 1955, originally put up, even as late as 1951, as a Liberal Unionist, and has always sat as a Crossbencher since being ennobled in 1979.

Those who founded the Labour Party were firmly in the Disraelian mould, and much of the new party’s base of support had previously been attached to the working-class Toryism invented by the combination of Disraeli’s social reforms and his doubling of the electorate through the extension of the franchise.

It was mostly a section of Labour’s Disraelians who set off for the SDP. This accounts for the difference in approach between the warmongering Gladstonian Paddy Ashdown (late of the Liberal Party) and the anti-war Disraelian Charles Kennnedy (late of the SDP), who reportedly had to overrule his very Liberal then Foreign Affairs Spokesman, Sir Menzies Campbell, in order to oppose the war in Iraq.

David Lindsay said...

The comment above should not have come out as anonymous, and I don't know why it did.

Anonymous said...

sigh - it seems all Iain did was read the headline and think oooh that would be good to have a dig at Ming.

The question for Iain is - is it a willful misinterpretation (ie spin) or is it lack of comprehension because he hasn't understood the Lib Dem position or Paddy's?

You can read the full briefing paper from the Lib Dems at

Anonymous said...

david lindsay @3.54: If you don't sign in the little green dot stays in the anonymous circle, unless you click the other and insert a name.


Inamicus said...

Furthermore, it isn't a direct dig at Ming; the article in the Indy was taken from a pre-penned article in another journal. Iain's eagerness to get in an attack on Ming and the Lib Dems is not borne out by the facts.

Any comment on Michael Ancram's speech yesterday btw Iain?

Anonymous said...

Iain off topic have you got anything to put up on about the judicury , a judge has just let off a pedo claims on the orders off mr no brains

Anonymous said...

I could never bring myself to like a man who gave off so many sanctimonious sneers.

One of the best moments of the 1992 GE was when a camera zoomed into Ashdown's office to see him distraught as he realised his dreams of propping up a minority Labour Government were shafted.

Anonymous said...

Sky news just breaking news that a second secret email system has been found in downing st.

Anonymous said...

ashdown went off his trolly when he got locked up with Blair for that mammoth flight back from central Asia when Blair bought and sold the Lib Dems off him in the coalition deal which of course came to nothing. Ashdown lied to the Lib Dems about this deal but had it pulled from him very uncomfortably over a period of months, losing him respect from those who had felt previously that he could walk on water. He had to go. Since then, the man has been in denial. Whenever he is not kept busy 18 hours a day on something useful (like playing God in Bosnia), his mind runs to scenarios where he/his country could have a useful effect which far outstrips the realistic capability of either. Sad.

Anonymous said...

"Paddy Ashdown Thinks..."

Evidence please!

Anonymous said...

a judge has just let off a pedo claims on the orders off mr no brains

I thought he had a suspended sentence and was not a child molester but a child pornography downloader

Anonymous said...

I must admit to agreeing with Brian Walden that maybe we should accept that we are just not one of the world's policemen anymore.

At least then we might get the choice to enter conflicts or not like other countries do, rather than apparently being dragged into everything because of the "special relationship" with the US (which the US Government doesn't even seem to regard as particularly special).

Anonymous said...

I lost a lot of respect for Paddy when it becames clear he was all but preparared to sell the party down the river to go in to coalition with Labour. I nearly resigned in 1999 over his "project" and have lost a lot of respect for him ever since.

Anonymous said...

An interesting article. A very prescient piece by Lord Ashdown which is at odds with his leader's view. He is absolutely right to stress the importance of the rule of law over democracy. Democracy is the goal and of course vital. Hong Kong is the classic example of an open wealth society built on the rule of law. So successful in fact that full democracy was long overdue even when Patten became Governor. The rule of law allows states to move from authoritarian cultures to one of justification and government by rules not men. We forget how Axis Europe was run after the war by control councils before elections we held. And these were countries with some experience of democracy. He is right about the importance of economic growth and stability. We rushed elections and a constitution in Iraq. It has an Airfix constitution. Ashdown is also right about the lack of resources and the need to speak to other countries. I was deeply depressed to learned on Newsnight that the US turned down Iranian overtures immediately after the military success of the invasion. Dropping a king sized bollock big time that one.

To reply to some of the points made by others interesting contributions to this debate:

Voyager - Kosovo was not illegal. It was authorised by the Security Council under its Chapter VII powers.

Neil Craig - The traditional view of what goes on inside states is their affair and theirs alone died in 1945. Viz the rise of international human rights and humanitarian law and the role of the Security Council. What goes on inside states is now very much the business of international and a good thing too.

Realpolitik - By sitting on the Security Council as a permanent member since 1945 we accepted the role of world policeman. Are you seriously suggesting we give that up and return to splendid isolation? Because as 9/11 shows the bad guys get on planes these days.

Anonymous said...

Pratt Druid.

Of course what goes on inside countries is not sacrosanct, but whosays that particular countries should pick and choose which ones to invade and for what reason, while other security council members say that nothing should be done? especially when masssive propaganda lies are about. But then you're not at all interested in the truth, are you?

Anonymous said...

I'd still be a Lib Dem if Paddy Ashdown was leading the party. He is that rare thing, a fundamentally honest (ex?) politician - and the best party leader that country has ever had. Paddy would have made an ace Prime Minister.

What Paddy has is exactly what attracted me to David Cameron's new Conservatives. I thought I saw the same sort of honesty and decency in Cameron that Paddy has. Then I learned about the spin doctors...

Anonymous said...

I much prefer somebody with military service making decisions about military matters.

Anonymous said...

Are you seriously suggesting we give that up and return to splendid isolation?

That was the phrase used by Lord Salisbury as Britain drifted into isolation over The Boer War (probably much more unpopular than Iraq) and into the First World War.

Trouble does not need to be comes a'hunting

neil craig said...

Druid you are wrong.

You are being factually incorrect - the Security Council did not authorise NATO's attack & indeed wasn't asked to. As Voyager pointed out our action was illegal under our traety as well.

You are also quite wrong to say say that WW2 established a legal right to invade other countries. The reverse is true indeed the Nuremberg trials establshed that Making Agressive War was "the prime crime from which all others flow". By the standards the British & other Allied states enshrined the purely aggressive war we made on Yugoslavia was a war crime & every politician involved in planning it a war criminal. The sole case in which intervention is allowed (in my view correctly) is, as the UN Charter makes clear, to prevent a proven onging genocide. Since the only genocide taking place in Kosovo was by the NATO armed Nazis, drug dealers & pimps we were bombing civilians to help that does not provide the necessary legal justification.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Neil I didn't say that other countries can invade each other willy-nilly. The UN Charter prohibits that. But equally Chapter VII empowers the Security Council to take measures "to maintain or restore international peace and security." And because the UN has no army it relies on national armies or regional collective security organisations to do its work eg African Union or NATO.

There are plenty of SC resolutions on Kosovo. Sometimes the UN needs a kick up the arse.

Here NATO and Blair to give him his credit were right, as the indictments before the ICTY so graphically show (paras 53 onwards):

I carry no brief for either side. The facts speak for themselves.

As for aggression. Well it might be in the Rome Statute (Article 5) but as no one can agree on its elements etc (and hasn't for forty years) then chances of prosecutions for it are zip.

PS: How would you deal with the genocide in Sudan then?

neil craig said...

There are plenty of resolutions on Kosovo but none of them authorises NATO to attack. The UN did not use Chapter VII to authorise war & as you point out, it could have.

Come to that there are plenty of resolutions on Israel, alleged western exploitation of other countries resources & the Falkland islands but that does not mean Hamas, bin Laden & Galtierri were UN authorised.

Since the ICTY is dubiously funded & run by the NATO countries their "indictments" are not proof of guilt any more than Stalin's were. That in 4 1/2 years of "trial" on 60 counts no actual evidence could be produced against Milosevicis strong evidence of innocence. Hence his poisoning.

That it was NATO that aggressed against Yugoslavia, in flagrant breach of both the Helsiinki Treaty & indeed the NATO Treaty rather than Yugoslavia against NATO is a contention that could clearly be justified in court. Aggressive war was one of the charges on which many of the defendents at Nuremberg were convicted. Indeed Hess was convicted almost entirely on that charge (he had an alibi during most of the Holocaust. I think it is undeniable that Blair, Clinton & the rest are more clearly & directly guilty of war crimes here than Hess was.

As regards Darfur the very real problem is that what we are being told about it is very like the lies that the BBC, ITN & media have maintained about Kosovo & our poor little KLA, Bosnian al quaeda & Croatian Nazi friends. It may be that on this occasion they are not lying yet again to get us to accept bombing another bunch of foreigners - but how can we know?