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William Hague: We can act without UN security council unity

26 August 2013

William Hague is keeping his options open on Syria: not just on what the response will be to last week’s chemical weapons attack, but on whether (and how) Parliament will be consulted on any intervention. What is clear is that there will be some form of response, regardless of whether the United Nations Security Council unites over what that response is. Hague said:

‘So, is it possible to act on chemical weapons, is it possible to respond to chemical weapons without complete unity on the UN Security Council? I would argue, yes it is. Otherwise, of course, it might be impossible to respond to such outrages, such crimes and I don’t think that is an acceptable situation.

‘It is possible to take action based on great humanitarian need and humanitarian distress, it’s possible to do that under many different scenarios. I’ve pointed that out in Parliament over recent months before, but again, anything we propose to do on this, the strong response that we’ve talked about, whatever form that takes, will be subject to legal advice, must be in accordance with international law so I can be very clear about that.’

He also refused to ‘rule anything in or out’ on the different options that could be used as part of the response. And on consulting Parliament, the Foreign Secretary was similarly vague, giving only an indication that this could happen:

‘That will depend on the timing and nature of what we propose to do. We have a good record on consulting Parliament, having a vote in Parliament if we decide to take any military action and, of course, we’re conscious of the views of Parliament on these matters and the need to be consulted, so we’re very conscious of that but our decisions on that will depend on the timing and nature of what we propose to do.’

But as I reported last night, MPs are quite keen for Hague and colleagues to be as clear as they possibly can with Parliament as soon as they possibly can. Some might dismiss this as MPs being rather grandiose about their role when the international situation is moving quickly. But the reason Douglas Carswell, Sarah Wollaston, Labour’s frontbench and others are so adamant that there should be a recall is they see Parliament as the chosen representative of the British public, not simply some grand supper club where issues are debated. A failure to recall would signal, in their eyes, contempt for the public, not simply a desire to keep pesky MPs from making the decisions even messier.

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Show comments
  • rtj1211

    I do trust that if others wish to act on the Israeli apartheid in Gaza and their clearances of Palestinian lands, then a US/UK veto at the UN won’t be a block to that either………..

  • disqus_KdiRmsUO4U

    The only reason the West should interfere in the Middle East is to maintain oil supplies.
    Then we should ‘go in’ immediately and hard.

    If peace loving Muslims want to kill one another we should let them ‘get on with it’
    We dont interefere when Israeli forces flatten large city blocks.

    From what I have seen on the news, not much I agree, there appear to many survivors of the alleged chemical attacks.
    Had high explosives been used there would have been many more killed.

    Re the lack of UN security support for action: wasnt the exact opposte required when Iraq was invaded ?

    I never understand how politicians rememeber what is the correct thing to say on any issue.
    There own internalised moral/political values seem to be nowhere.

  • crosscop

    If this report is true – then the Saudis have already bought and sold our leaders and/or terrified them with threats of terrorism.
    The veiled threat to the Winter Olympics should have perhaps prompted Mr Putin to say that similarly he could guarantee that no harm would come to the Kabaa.

  • Terry Field

    Hague is dangerous, seems immature and self-important, and the last thing newly little Britain needs or can in any sense afford is a new war. The place has no naval capacity, no Naval aircraft, and bugger all people or money. This is delusional nonsense. I am a Tory, no ‘white-flag’ leftie, but this is truly insane. Syria is like Iraq, a piss-pot of warring religious and tribal groups – and the Assad regime has been a curates egg- good in parts – not an unmitigated disaster.
    Britain is worse governed that at any time in its history as a modern state; Blair, Brown, Cameron and the little pipsqueak – God can it really get worse?????????

    • Venk Shenoi

      You are no Conservative to be squeamish about such things – I think Cameron is quite good, modern, and realistic.

      • Terry Field

        Conservatives in your mind welcome jingoistic killing?
        You are nearly on your own in this – times are moving rapidly against you.

        • Venk Shenoi

          Watch tomorrow’s news.

          • Terry Field

            WHy bother – more of the same.

  • paulus

    These dead children and their bodies pumped full of poison is the only mandate they need. The monsters who did this thought they were voiceless and defenceless, but now they will soon see. Thinking vetos and mandates would protect them, but not any more. As a great amada will gather and exact justice for these children. Every child in the world will see that they are not defenceless and they are not voiceless. Irrigardless how scarey and bad these men were, they will run like bewildered sheep. As an iron fist comes down on them. And drag them by the feet up to a gallows.

    • Terry Field

      Sounds very worthy. What would you DO to make things better – and HOW do you know who is responsible – why would Assad – clearly winning – risk all to do this; far more likely the action of an agent provocateur.

      • Venk Shenoi

        If you doubt, will sit on the fence forever and get knocked down.

    • Terry Field

      Dreamland; dangerously foolish dreamland.

  • Venk Shenoi

    Consult Parliament, ignore the UN, Bomb Assad’s Military Assets, and target Assad and his personal assets, cease his personal fortune if any in the in UK. the rest will sort out itself if the odds are not against the rebels.

    • Terry Field

      We are no where near as powerful as you imagine. Delusional nonsense

      • Venk Shenoi

        Those who dare win.

        • Terry Field

          Simple minded delusion. Self-regarding, pugilisitic antique thinking from times when the world was in no condition to challenge European power. To believe silly slogans you must be a fool

          • Venk Shenoi

            I suppose you are right – Britain has lost its edge – too much benefits make Jack a dull boy. Best to go back to your Sky-sports.

            • Terry Field

              No – sky is for the childishly credulous – possibly you???

  • fozz

    Now pay attention at the back there. Yes you. Cameron, Obama, Hague. And you Hollande. Stop playing with your phones. You can chat in the playground afterwards. You haven’t heard a word of what’s been said have you? Are you sure you’re in the right class here? It’s called HISTORY. If you don’t learn about it you are going to have to do it all again. And I mean that. So concentrate.

    • Venk Shenoi

      Hi Fozz – we make history – you will teach it next year.

      pp Cameron, Obama, Hague and Hollande.

  • pearlsandoysters

    Why would any country wish to participate in Syria’s civil war is actually beyond my comprehension unless there are some “bigger” strategic points to score. All the European nation states emerged from military activity. I also wonder if Cromwell might have appreciated the UN assistance at some point of English civil wars. Syria has an internal conflict, what on earth it has to do with the other nation states? The very concept of sovereignty seem to have gone up in flames. May be though it was a delusion from the very inception.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      An interesting point. The globalists want to destroy nation-states, obviously. And if they can’t destroy artificially created nation-states like Syria, or at least bring them under the yoke, then they’re proven numpties.

      • Venk Shenoi

        I suppose you would be quite happy if your neighbour kept slaves next door and shot one or two now ant then if they didn’t do his bidding.

        The concept of nation states is a feature of recent history, majority of today’s political borders were drawn up following the break up of Empires, and/or following wars, uprisings, and revolutions – Sovereignty is an ever changing feature, as also allegiances of social groups – was it any different in past centuries? those who had the might and inclination interfered when certain generally accepted rules were broken by those in power.

        Finally, Sovereign states have to defend their hold on territory, and allegiances of those falling within their sphere of control.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          Point proven.

          The gobalist nutters want to destroy nation-states.

  • paulus

    Everyone stands before the law, that is the national interest.We have brought this concept to every corner of the Earth, this is the principle we stand by.When children are butchered in their beds they are not voiceless and they are not undefended. Either we stand for something or we stand for nothing.

    • Tom M

      We do and the way to express these sentiments is at the UN. This organisation was created specifically to prevent precipitate military action (unless in self defence) by states who saw this as a solution to their problems. The dispairing fact that the UN doesn’t work should be a catalyst for countries of the world to get on and make it fit for purpose. Otherwise we will have quite a few countries pointing to the military actions taken by the UK and others as precedents for their own belligerence.

      • Venk Shenoi

        UN is defunct and will disintegrate soon – much like the League of Nations.

        Yes some countries will take it on themself to act unilaterally – was it any different since WW2 with the Soviet Block on one side, and the West headed by the US on the other – look up how many UN resolutions have been ignored over the past six decades since the foundation of the UN and who are the main Security Council Members propping those defaulting. Have power – will go, will do; no power, much waffle in the General Assembly..

    • Venk Shenoi

      Spot on Paulus.

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