Tag Archives: lord ashdown

Paddy Ashdown: It is the coalition being constructed in Vienna that will first of all defeat ISIL

Liberal Democrat Conference Bournemouth 2009 Portraits
Paddy Ashdown

Speaking yesterday in the Lords debate on Syria, Paddy Ashdown made the following speech:

I hope that today marks a watershed not just for the people of Syria but in our battle to remove the scourge and terror of ISIL and in the foreign policy of Her Majesty’s Government. In the last 10 years, since shock and awe, we have been obsessed by high explosives as our singular instrument of foreign policy. We have forgotten again and again and again the old dictum of Clausewitz that war is an extension of diplomacy by other means. So in Afghanistan we relied on high explosives: we did not build the relationships with the neighbours that we should have built, we did not build that diplomatic context, and we lost. In Iraq, we did the same. And we lost. In Libya, when it came to constructing the peace, we did the same. And we lost. And for the last three years we have been doing exactly the same. And we were losing. Maybe we will now give ourselves a chance to turn that around and make success.

Continue reading Paddy Ashdown: It is the coalition being constructed in Vienna that will first of all defeat ISIL

Paddy Ashdown: The West faces a very dangerous crisis – and it’s in part of our own making

Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon
Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon

The Chinese philosopher Sun Tze said “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” In the Ukraine crisis, Putin is playing strategy. The West is playing tactics.

The West lost the greatest strategic opportunity of recent times when we reacted to the collapse of the Soviet Union, not with a long term plan to bring Russia in from the cold, but by treating Russia to a blast of Washington triumphalism and superiority. Instead of opening the doors to a strategic partnership to Moscow, we sent young men still wet behind the ears from Harvard business school to privatize their industries, and teach them the Western way of doing things. The result was a bonanza of corruption, the humiliation of the Yeltsin years and a clumsy attempt to enlarge our “Cold war victory” by seeking to expand NATO and Europe right up to the Russian border. There was always going to be a consequence of this folly and its name is Vladimir Putin.

Full article here

Paddy Ashdown: Paris attacks: We have experienced anarchy like this before. We should not over-react to it (via The Independent)

Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon
Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon

They say that those who do not know history are condemned to repeat it. The “Charlie hebdo” atrocities of last week are many things; frightening, terrifying, atrocious, a horror, an attack on what we stand for. But, as a phenomenon they are not new, or exceptional or uniquely Muslim.

You do not have to be a young Muslim living in the 21 century to be subject to radicalisation. It has always, down the ages been possible to persuade young men (and a few – a very few young women) of all faiths and none to the believe that is noble to kill innocent people in pursuit of what they have been persuaded is a great cause. As far back as the first century, the Jewish Zealots did it against Roman rule. In the 11 century the Shia Muslim Hashashin added another word – assassin – to our vocabulary of terror by their attacks on the Persian Government of the day. In our own time we have had to deal with our own “home grown” so called “Catholic” terrorists of the IRA (who by the way killed and destroyed far more than the current wave of jihadist outrages) – as well as the outrages perpetrated by the anti-imperialist urban terrorism of  young middle class white Germans in the Bader-Meinhof Gang and its successor the Rot Armee Fraktion.

Perhaps the closest parallel to what we are seeing now is the Anarchist movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. All entirely “home grown” and without any kind of formal command structures, they too were a collection of “lone wolves” inspired by texts and prepared to kill and maim to abolish states and replace them with borderless self-governed entities which, leaving aside that they were based on a political idea rather than a religious one, bear a striking similarity to the caliphate model of today.

Full article here

Paddy Ashdown on UK referendum: ‘I’m confident we can win it for ‘yes’’ (via EurActiv)

Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon
Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon

The UK politician and former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown tells EurActiv that a UK referendum on EU membership can be won, so long as the question is framed in ‘yes/no’ terms.

You have been speaking at this TEDx in Brussels on the threat to democracy. Do you see that threat as global, or limited to certain places?

No I think it affects all the advanced democracies, it is not global. All the advanced democracies are suffering from a sort of breakdown of the democratic dialogue. You can look at America, Canada certainly the European countries: you see the rise of the right, or the rise of the left, the rise of demagogues, the failure of democratic governments. I just think what it tells us is that the framework for our democracy – the nation states – needs to change, and what we need is a reform. Democracy has been reformed many, many  times over the last 1500 years. We need to go through another reform of democracy. To my mind, that means redistributing the powers of the nation state. To a British audience I would say we need a Great Reform Act of 1832.

The full interview with EurActive can be found here

Britain’s best defence to the terror threat is international action (via The Guardian)

Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon
Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon

Government talk of returning jihadis and ‘western values’ won’t keep us safe. We need a coordinated international strategy to defeat those who threaten us

It is always easy to persuade frightened people to part with their liberties. But it is always right for politicians who value liberty to resist attempts to increase arbitrary executive powers unless this is justified, not by magnifying fear, but by actual facts.

On Friday, the government announced that the imminent danger of jihadi attack meant Britain’s threat level should be raised to “severe”. Then, from the prime minister downwards, Tory ministers took to every available airwave to tell us how frightened we should be and why this required a range of new powers for them to exercise. For the record, the threat level in Northern Ireland has been “severe” for the past four years – as it was in all Britain for many years in the 1980s and 1990s, when the IRA threat was at its greatest.

I say this not to deny the threat from returning jihadis – though as the former head of counter-terrorism for MI6, Richard Barrett said on Saturday, this should not be overestimated. But rather to make the point that this is not a new threat. It is one we have faced before and one we know how to deal with – effectively, without panic and without a whole new range of executive powers that could endanger our liberties. Indeed, when it comes to facing threats, it was surely far more difficult to cope with IRA terrorists slipping across the Irish Sea than it is to stop jihadis returning from Iraq?

Full article here

Paddy Ashdown interviewed on yesterday’s Murnaghan (Sky News)

Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon
Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon

Dermot Murnaghan: Let’s talk to a former Lib Dem leader, Paddy Ashdown, good to talk to you.  So let’s take that head on, so Mr Blair, it’s not boots on the ground he said but he is still firmly interventionist, is he right to be?

Paddy Ashdown: I’m firmly interventionist because I believe unless we are prepared to intervene internationally to preserve the wider peace when it’s threatened, the world will be a much more turbulent place but I don’t believe it’s right in these circumstances in the way that Tony suggests.  I mean there are other ways you can do it and we might come on to talking about that.

Look, I’m sorry Dermot, I’m having a bit of a difficulty getting my mind round the idea that a problem that has been caused or made worse by killing many, many Arab Muslims in the Middle East is now going to be made better by killing more with Western weapons.  I just don’t think that’s the solution.

Look, let me go back I think it’s a couple of years actually or thereabouts, we were talking about Syria and I was talking on your programme and I was saying the problem is not Syria, please don’t get distracted, the problem is that we are at the beginning of a widening Sunni/Shia religious sectarian conflict that is going to be spreading across the entire Middle East, it will go to Iraq, it will go to Egypt, it will go to Libya, it will go to Mali and that’s exactly what’s happened.

This is more about the preparations, funded by the way by our so-called friends in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to capture and unify the Sunni community, the Sunni umma, for a Jihadist cause in preparation for a widening Shia war and unless we understand that and unless we understand also, Dermot, that we have pretty limited means to influence the progress of that, then I think we are going to get every calculation wrong.  I mean let me put it to you pretty straightforward, personally I think ISIS has over-extended themselves, the next thing I think you’re going to see is ISIS being beaten back in some form or another but that does not alter the reality that in all probability what you are seeing now is the wholesale rewriting of the borders established in the Sykes-Picot Agreement and set in the Versailles Conference of 1918 of the whole Middle East in favour of a new complex of borders which reflect sectarian differences between Sunni and Shia and that’s the danger.  If that is the prelude, and I think it is, to a widening regional war – actually we think we are the targets because we always do but I think actually we may get drawn into this in some form or another but I think the targets are now not the great Satan of the West but the great heretic in Teheran.

My final point here before we talk about what should be done is this,  we need also to recognise that the Russians have a concern about this and a very legitimate one because what they are seeing in those Islamic republics of Dagestan, Chechnya threatening the cohesion of the Russian Federation is exactly the same radicalisation of the Sunni community and the real danger of this, unless we are very careful, is that we are drawn in on one side, on the side of the Sunnis, and Russia is drawn in on the other.  Then you have a regional war with the great powers engaged.  Now I don’t say we are there yet but that at all costs is what we must avoid.

Full transcript here

Paddy Ashdown: Ending the Horror of Rape and Abuse Against Children in Conflict (via Huffington Post)

Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon
Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon

During my years in Bosnia, both during the war and afterwards I heard and saw evidence of horrific stories of mass rape and sexual violence committed during the war. Thousands of women and children suffered terrible abuse and the physical and mental scars could stay with survivors for the rest of their lives.

Years later, sexual violence still remains entrenched in conflict zones around the world and children are often the most vulnerable. Children suffering in conflicts are growing up in a world where they face the daily threat of rape and abuse and sexual violence is considered the ‘norm’.

In Mogadishu, Somalia, Unicef teams treated more than 50 child survivors of sexual violence every single week in 2013. And in the Democratic Republic of Congo an average of 36 women and girls are raped every day – with children as young as six months old being targeted by armed groups.

Full article here


Paddy Ashdown: Lib Dems’ biggest challenge is not to lose our heads (via The Independent)

“I bring you nought for your comfort, Yea, nought for your desire. Save that the sky grows darker yet, And the sea rises higher.”

Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon
Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon

I suspect that many Lib Dems waking on Monday morning will identify with King Alfred’s speech to his ragged army in G.K Chesterton’s epic “The Ballad of the White Horse”.

We Liberal Democrats have endured some sombre post-electoral dawns recently. And this one is going to be another of them. With the election just a year away, this poses some serious questions for us. But they pose questions for the other parties too.

With Ukip on the stage, can the Tories ever win a majority on their own again? They may hate coalition, but is it now the best the Tories can hope for? Mr Cameron famously wouldn’t “obsess about Europe” because he knew it was toxic for his party’s unity. But by helping Ukip put a European referendum centre stage, he has now cheerfully taken the viper to his breast. A 2017 European referendum could be as deadly to Tory unity as the 1975 one was to Labour. Listen to the Tory voices calling for an electoral pact with Ukip and you can already hear the distant thunder.

True to form, Labour’s answer to its difficulties is an enquiry and another outing for its traditional circular firing squad.

Full story here