The other reshuffle

Baroness Warsi resigns over a matter of principle. Good to know there’s still a government minister not entirely without principles.  Oh .. erm .. hang on ….

But what took her so long?  It’s not as if Gaza is the first foreign problem in which our government has behaved disgracefully on her watch.  It’s not even as if this was one of the conflicts for which we bear the most substantial responsibility – at least not in our times. Not like those heavily provoked in the first place by western agents provocateurs (like Syria or Ukraine), or the legacy of actual military action (like Libya). Maybe she protests her principles just a tad too much?

How will history view her?  I guess precedents like Robin Cook show that a resignation can do a lot to redeem a reputation, even if it comes long after your hands are covered in blood.


Posted on August 5, 2014, in politics, uk. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. It may sound naive, but I would guess – in those other situations you mention, she could bring herself to accept the rationale behind the government’s position. But in the present case, she can’t.

    As a foreign office minister, I assume she’s quite well briefed as to what that rationale is in each case. There were solid reasons for intervening in Libya, even if the post-war mess was entirely predictable, and Ukraine is more America’s mess, and to a lesser extent Europe’s, than Britain’s. Syria I’m not sure about, but it seems plausible that the government has at least acted mostly in good faith, if not the best possible advice.

    I see two likely possibilities: one, that she knows, from her own experience/knowledge, that UK policy towards Gaza has been unscrupulously influenced by the UK arms industry. Or two, that she was a big fan of William Hague, and he could sell most things to her, but his successor can’t.

  2. As a secularist I am glad she has gone.

    I fear I’m out of step with many folk on the Gaza question, for all the problems and insanity of the current Israeli action, I don’t think any state would stand idle whilst 3800+ rockets packed with high explosives rained down, certainly I don’t know of any that have.

    The UNRWA has also I feel discredited itself, uncritically reporting Hamas information, allowing its building to be used to store weapons, handing those weapons back to be fired at Israeli civilians, permitting tunneling under its sites, permitting booby trapping of its establishments etc. The mistake I suspect was not withdrawing UNRWA after the battle for Gaza, or not providing their own military presence to protect their establishments from being exploited.

    For all the criticism of the last “school” strike. It wasn’t being used as a school. It wasn’t directly hit, and the immediate surrounds of the building were being used repeatedly to fire mortars into other parts of the city, the three targeted Islamic Jihad members were killed. I don’t think we would expect our military to hold their fire in such circumstances, indeed we used similar tactics against the Taliban in Helmand, except we used rockets as well, something the IDF is not prepared to countenance due to the civilian causalities that would arise.

    Its insane because it won’t work, but unless folk have a good answer for the Israelis they will do it to mitigate the rocket attacks. They are using the same tactics as Operation Cast Lead, and it will have similar civilian casualties (about 40% despite reports from Hamas to the contrary).

    Is Israeli action disproportionate – probably objectively – but I don’t think other countries would do anything different, indeed fairly sure if these rockets were falling on Washington or London there would be a big smoking crater at the launch sites. I’m not sure cutting of arms supply to Israel will make much difference, the US is funding Iron Dome for its own reasons, and hamstringing it will only result in more dead civilians, now and in the future. If we radically impact Israelis ability to conduct the operation, best case is it will switch to weapons it has with held for humanitarian reasons, worst case is we destabilize the only functional democracy in the region.

  3. Oh dear. I guess you’re a little too young to have been following international affairs at the time of the 1993 peace agreement, and when Netanyahu tore it up? Other “right wing” leaders Begin and Sharon made genuine efforts towards peace; this one tore it up and will do whatever is necessary to prevent it.

    What’s happening in Gaza is Netanyahu’s reaction to the deal between Fatah and Hamas. He wants to scupper that, before Hamas could come in from the cold and deprive him of his best bogeyman. Of course he has the levers to provoke it: agents provocateurs and Useful Idiots within or with links to Hamas. The kidnapping more-or-less flopped, so he had to escalate.

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