Syria: a contrary voice. An open letter to William Hague

The Commentator retains its position that we should strike Syria. But here's a powerful counter-point

by Robin Mitchinson on 13 September 2013 09:20

Dear William,

Pardon the familiarity, but I feel that I have known you since your sensational maiden speech to the Tory Party Conference as a smirking 16 year-old.

Might I offer some advice about your foreign policy?

I think you should have one.

We might begin with a few of Gladstone’s precepts.

It is not our business to tell other countries how they should be governed. In particular, trying to impose ‘democracy’ on people who don’t understand it, are incapable of making it work, and don’t want it, is folly. It will inevitably end in tears, as we have seen in Iraq. ‘For forms of government let fools contest…..’

‘We have no permanent friends; only permanent interests’. In particular, we should stop harping on about the ‘special relationship’ with the US. It does not mean that we follow America like a trusting puppy dog to wherever the master fancies taking us. By all means invoke it when it suits British interests; otherwise forget about it.

No foreign entanglements. The role of our armed forces is the defence of the realm. We have no business chasing folk around the deserts and mountains of far-away countries of which we know little.

Stopping foreign government from slaughtering their own people may seem very virtuous, but the Western conscience seems a tad selective. You may want to put an end to it in Syria, but how is this different from Rwanda, where you watched genocide unfold before your eyes and did nothing? Or the gassing of the Kurds by Saddam? Or the 400,000 deaths in Darfur? Or 5 million in the Congo? Or Pol Pot’s extermination of a whole class?

Every time the prospect of foreign intervention arises, ask yourself just one question. What vital British interests are at risk?

That should just about do it.

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