Coffee House

David Cameron: We can’t let Russia dictate other countries’ foreign policy

6 September 2013

As well as having another extended Hugh Grant moment about how great Britain is (excluding David Beckham’s feet, but including One Direction), David Cameron got his chance to hit back at Russia’s intransigence on Syria this afternoon as the G20 summit drew to a close. Nodding to the lengthy declaration issued by the leaders – which fails to mention Syria or Assad – the Prime Minister emphasised that ‘this summit was never going to reach an agreement on what action is needed on Syria’. When Barack Obama spoke later, he said the discussions had reached unanimity that ‘chemical weapons were used in Syria, there was a unanimous view that the norm against using chemical weapons has to be maintained’, but that only the majority had agreed that Assad was responsible.

But Cameron made clear that while Russia’s view might have made last night’s supper rather tense, it couldn’t stop intervention by exercising its veto on the UN Security Council. He said:

‘If we accept that the only way a response can be made to a country that – let’s say it was massacring half, or more than half its people – if we’re saying there can only be a response if the UN Security Council votes positively, we are in fact contracting out our foreign policy, our morality, to the potential of a Russian veto. Now I think that is a very misguided approach, and that was what was frustrating in some ways about the debate last night, is some of the participants were saying, ‘well, this has to be decided by the UN Security Council’, knowing that they themselves sat on the UN Security Council and could veto any decision.’


Putin has made clear that Russia would stand ready to protect Syria if it came under attack. But there was also a subtext to Cameron’s address. As well as all the fun stuff about sport and music and other lovely things that Britain has brought to the world, he was also showing Russia that firstly Britain does still have a say in international events (even if, rather awkwardly, it can’t have as much involvement as Cameron himself would like), and that this country and others doesn’t need to pay Russia any attention either, when it comes down to it.

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  • spadoink

    should our history be continued as it know longer stands for what it was fought for ?

  • spadoink

    Russia is dictating to the to countries what it can and cant do , question is what can we do about it


    Gaging hypocrisy, with Israel dictating the Foreign Policy of the UK and the USA.

    Give me a break.

  • mrsjosephinehydehartley

    It’s all about blame really..and the capacity of the most capable executive power in the famous five, to get over the technical barrier of what the group thinks. Just because Mr.Assad is supposed to be in charge of Syria ..he is personally getting the blame for this war crime as we can all see, whether this is right or wrong

    ..but to punish the ordinary folk of Syria – the members of the general public with western military might, in order to deter other chemical weapons strikes seems well off the mark.

    So, I don’t think the use of a veto at UN level is misguided..the whole scene is being completely misdirected probably.

  • Terence Hale

    David Cameron: We can’t let Russia dictate other countries’ foreign policy. “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” We will defend the Isle of Wight with all our might. I have directed my secretary to outsource this at once.

  • Phoenix

    The Veto right should have ended long time ago for the five permanent countries in the Security Council….the five have used it for personal interest instead of world interests…the five have used it to avoid punishment of all kind…

    The UN chárter says all countries in the UN have the same rights and obligations…the Veto was supposed to be temporary, when the possible holocaust ended, the veto should have ended too, but to reform it the five permanents have to be agree, and guess What?, they didn’t wanted to lose the biggest priviledge who legitimated their violations to the UN rights…

    If all the countries of the world are equal before the UN…So the Veto has to end and the five who have played for long time to the “Judges of the world”, they have to be judged by the international community

  • Phoenix

    Haha What an hypocrite…the U.S avoid the recognition of Palestina as a sovereignty State, protect the invasion from Israel to Palestina and genocide of the Palestinian..

    The UK uses it’s veto to not return the Malvinas Islands to Argentina, Gibraltar to Spain and the Chagos Islands to the Chagossians…

    I Wish Russia and China veto everything that come from the U.S and the UK so they can feel the same impotence the rest of the world feels…

  • John Furlong

    This article reaches odd conclusions – what the PM is effectively saying is the veto doesnt work – or to put it another way we can’t be bound by a post 1945 allocation of the veto – well that works both ways and the UK benefits from an arrangement it wouldn’t be allocated if these 5 positions were allocated now

    Be careful what you wish for it is often said – well be careful what you undermine – especially if you have a global position that outweighs relative strength

    • Tom Tom

      Samantha Power wants the Security Council reformed and it is clear Britain and France should consider stepping aside especially as ALL UN Peacekeeping costs are paid by the Permanent Members which is why countries like Bangladesh and Ukraine volunteer to get the foreign exchange

      • John Furlong

        Thanks for the reply – and if true I didn’t realise that – is it not paid out of general UN contributions by all members which admittedly means a very large proportion by the permanent members?

        Originally from Ireland so understand your implied point – Ireland makes money from its UN peacekeeping involvement – it does a good job but yes it also finances part of its army from it ( and gains valuable training and experience)

  • Craig Sweaton

    It’s quite simple from what I see. On one side we have an evil dictator who (probably) gasses his own people. On the other side we have a rebellion that includes a liberal sprinkling of known anti western lunatics.
    It seems to me that we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t so, let’s be damned without inviting further terror attacks or risking British lives.

    • Craig Sweaton

      I do realise that this conversation isn’t directly about that issueubut, if you resolve that issue then our “international standing” isn’t affected anyway.

  • starfish

    By the same token we cannot be surprised if Russian foreign policy is not dictated by foreign nations

  • rob232

    This is all a smokescreen.
    The Americans have been wanting to invade Syria for years but couldn’t manage it with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan raging at the same time. Now they have controlled these areas Syria is next on the list. The chemical weapons are a pretext. This incident has been prepared for us. After Syria has been devastated the next in line is Iran.
    This is all part of a plan and we should not have anything to do with it.

    • Ron Todd

      That America has a control of Afghanistan or Iraq is debatable. If they did they could attack Iran from Iraq having Syria or not would be irrelevant. What would America gain from occupying Syria? What would any American president gain either internationally or domestically?

      • rob232

        The simple answers to your questions are I don’t know.But that is not important.
        Afghanistan and Iraq have been reduced to ruins. The US has had Syria in its sights since the beginning of their attacks in the Middle East. At the time it seemed a real possiblity that they would try to invade Syria and Iran looking for WMDs.They didn’t invade because it was not militarily advisable to attempt so much at once.
        Obama has nothing to lose as he is now in his second term but I suggest that these decisions have little to do with him.
        The aim of the US is to dominate all the Middle East. Why? You can speculate.
        The chemical attack was prepared for the world stage. Who by? We can only conjecture. But be assured: we have been set up.

  • Mombasa69

    Putin’s a sly piece of insidious murdering, back-stabbing slime, can’t wait for him to lose his Tartus Navy base in Syria which will result in his total humiliation.

  • Ron Todd

    If we want our own foreign policy that has our interests as a priority first leave he EU. Then work on getting energy independence from the bad people.

    A British PM trying to look patriotic bet the BBC hated that.

    • Tom Tom

      We have energy independence – COAL – noone can afford to burn gas let alone use it to generate electricity. The EU energy market means N Sea gas goes to Germany and Belgium

      • Ron Todd

        Only if we have enough coal fired power stations, and producing fuel for cars from coal is expensive.

  • Mynydd

    “we are in fact contracting out our foreign policy, our morality, to the potential of a Russian veto” What about the British veto, the American veto, the French veto, and the Chinese veto. What Mr Cameron is really saying, British veto good, Russian veto bad. The man should grow up.
    After last week’s vote does it mean that Mr Cameron’s government are in fact contracting out our foreign policy, our morality, to a potential of a party political House of Commons veto.
    The Cameron/Hague foreign policy in respect to Syria was blown out of the water by a combination of MP’s from Conservative, Lib Dem, Labour and Other parties. So really he has no Syrian foreign policy. Mr Cameron and Mr Hague should stop blaming others, and, do the moral thing by resigning.

  • Lady Magdalene

    “We can’t let Russia dictate other countries’ foreign policy.”
    Why ever not. Cameron lets a supra-national organisation dictate our internal governance.

  • rtj1211

    Hopefully he would also agree that it’s not a good idea for America do dictate any other country’s foreign policy either?? Ditto the EU…..

  • evad666

    Twitter should dictate all Government Policies and Parliamentary Votes. Oh sorry it already does.

  • Tom Tom

    Abolish the Security Council Veto so Israel can be held to account and the Falklands can be transferred to Argentina and Gibraltar to Spain. Britain shopuld resign from the Security Council so Cameron does not look a complete hypocrite. If you have weaoons a nation should have unrestricted rights to use them in pre-emptive warfare……Cameron thinks Pearl Harbours are the way ahead

  • Bonkim

    Putin is pretty good looking after Number 1, morality or others’ opinion do not come into it.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    We can’t let Russia dictate other countries’ foreign policy

    We can let other countries dictate our domestic policy

    • David Lindsay

      The second part of that is true, but the first isn’t. Why can’t we, necessarily? And how could we possibly stop it, anyway?

    • Abhay

      Spot on.
      Selling domestic assets to degenerates of Qatar and Saudi Arabia doesn’t seem to worry these guys and then doing their bidding.

      • AJPME

        AGHAY, Hey, Bin Laden was a Saudi but because of Israel we bombed somebody else.

        Stay focused, pal.

  • Graeme S


    • Tom Tom

      Funny that. Saudi democracy in Bahrain is supported by British and Us arms and spyung gear from Gamma in the form of Fin Fisher to intercept emails.

  • London Calling

    A` good speech by Cameron …he has been busy….:)

  • alabenn

    There will be no intervention, this is just a mindless posturing, Cameron because he has not got the military capability, and Obama because he does not have the guts nor the inclination.
    Let the savages be savages, its their culture, its as good an excuse as any to do nothing.

  • Curnonsky

    Russia’s advantage is that it HAS a foreign policy, crude and amoral though it be. Blaming Putin for his and Obama’s lack of results, when their own indecision and ineptitude are to blame, or trying to wrap himself in the Union Jack, just shows that the problem isn’t small island – it’s small leader.

    • David Lindsay

      Quite. Except that Russia’s foreign policy, although fairly simple, is certainly not crude. Nor is it amoral.

      • Tom Tom

        It has a logic that eludes the US and UK as puppets of Saudi gold

  • Wessex Man

    We cannot allow rude, arrogant Eton Posh boys dictate other countries foreign policy either!

  • David Lindsay

    He would more usefully assert by word and deed that we cannot let America, Israel or Saudi Arabia dictate this country’s foreign policy.

    • Tom Tom

      British Prime Ministers rank between Under Secretary and Secretary of State at the State Department in DC.

      • Wessex Man

        Who are you kidding? they’re only there to make the tea!

        • the viceroy’s gin

          …are you implying that Call Me Dave is intelligent enough to do that safely? There’s heat and spilling involved here, you know.

      • Craig Sweaton

        And this is the problem. Why should we be hung up on our standing with other nations, when the pm’s standing within his own party and country is barely tenable?

  • David J Noble

    very cuba crisis like …

    • arnoldo87

      You clearly didn’t experience the Cuban Missile Crisis.

      • Jambo25

        He clearly didn’t. 12 year old me thought I was going to die in a nuclear war. Some years later, working for HMG, I found that large numbers of people in the government had thought so as well.

        • Tom Tom

          Yes but the real war with the USSR had been planned for 1955

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