December 17, 2001
Duncan Smith's critical support is running a bit thin
has a right to defend herself," was the amazing insight coming from
the leader of the opposition party at a speech
to the Conservative Friends of Israel. What an utter genius
this man is, a sovereign state should be allowed to defend herself.
What next, the earth should be allowed to spin on its axis?
For an intelligent man, capable of thinking the unthinkable and
with a proven record in defence, this is all very much under par.
We would expect Blair to talk nonsense, the man does not understand
how to open a carton of milk; but Duncan Smith? The very inanity
of politics in war is a pain to watch.
is the vigorous debate that it is the duty of the opposition to
provide? This is important for domestic reasons as well, as no one
knows what type of leader of the opposition Iain Duncan Smith will
tend to be. Will he oppose vigorously on all fronts or selectively
pick his fights? Although selectively picking his fights may
sound more intelligent, there is no guarantee that he will pick
the right fights, and more to the point democratic scrutiny is bound
to suffer under that sort of regime.
makes this story worse is that the Conservatives seem to have been
upstaged by the Liberal Democrats. When the first defection of a
Labour MP for almost twenty years happened, where did he go? Certainly
not to the main opposition party. In fact the defector, Paul
Marsden, ended up with the Liberal Democrats, a party with almost
no chance of getting the man reelected for more than a term. The
main reason for his defection was his disagreement with the government's
conduct of the war.
what did the Liberal Democrats say that was so radically different
from the Conservatives? Not much, really. They have
supported the war, but have claimed that there is no "blank cheque"
for the government. They have also opposed highly symbolic
elements of the war, such as the use of cluster bombs. Not
exactly radical opposition, but different enough. This contrasts
with the Conservative approach, which on the war at least seems
to be dictated by American think tanks rather than British needs
or even party feeling.
the fall of Afghanistan, there is an opportunity to change tack.
The widening of the war is clearly not in Britain's interests, and
the leader of the party of the national interest should articulate
that. It is also easy to change horse, as the war on Afghanistan
is going to be seen as very different in the public's eyes when
compared to a war on Somalia or Iraq. It will not be a second
stage, but a second war, and the public will become increasingly
alternative is to be more royalist than the king, with a dash of
independent thought being fed by Washington think tanks. I
am not hopeful.
am cutting down on my column writing to concentrate on other projects,
particularly on this infernal Euro referendum. Over the next
couple of months, I will be doing my columns on a fortnightly basis,
and after that they will be done only occasionally.
you wish to keep up with my writing as it appears you can subscribe
to my e-mail list, or to
daily e-mails on British foreign affairs. There are other
projects, my web log will still be updated
with events and thoughts as they happen and the discussion forum
will not -- indeed cannot -- stop offering fierce debate on British
of course there's Antiwar.com,
which I am sure will go from strength to strength. This is not my
last column so you will not have my last good-bye and profuse thanks,
you'll have to wait for that. In the meantime I would like to say
that the support of the webmaster Eric Garris and the unique Justin
Raimondo has been invaluable. There is more than one side to foreign
affairs, although you often wouldn't know it if it wasn't for Antiwar.com.