Two areas of current debate are irritating me. One is what to do about Syria, the other what to do about representing the centre ground in British politics.
The issues are totally different, but they have this in common; futile, even dishonest, hand ringing by politicians.
SYRIA: ASSAD WILL WIN
It gives me no pleasure to write that sub heading. Syria is ill served by the butcher Bashar-al-Assad. He is the main survivor from this century’s turmoil in the Middle East that saw the removal of many of the region’s dictators. In the brutal world of Middle East politics, it was a mistake to depose these dictators who, at least, ensured stability in their countries.
The West was heavily involved in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan in the early years of this century motivated by securing oil supplies, fighting terrorism or introducing western style democracy depending on your point of view. The result was bloody chaos and the rise of the so called Islamic State.
This led to a complete volte face by the West as people in America and Britain understandably questioned why blood and treasure was being wasted on hopeless causes.
When opponents of Assad in Syria rose up and called on the West to help, we did little. As the slaughter became more widespread, President Barack Obama warned Assad not to cross the “red line” by using chemical weapons. They were used, and the USA did nothing. The UK Parliament voted in 2013 against air strikes in Syria.
So, intervention doesn’t work, and the current cautious policy of the West has been an invitation to Russia and Iran to fill the vacuum in Syria.
The sporadic threats and interventions of President Trump are too late, incoherent, will prolong the conflict and could lead to a global confrontation with Russia and Iran. With John Bolton as the new American National Security advisor anything is possible.
Of course, there should be peace talks but, Assad is going to win, so the earlier the violence ends the better. Meanwhile the West needs to decide what its real red lines are in relation to Russia, China and Iran.
And by the way the collapse of the EU, as forecast by an academic this week, would not help with stability.
THE CENTRE PARTY CHIMERA
Tony Blair is never off the airwaves these days. I find his interviews frustrating. They start with an excellent analysis of the polarised state of British politics with the vast centre ground unrepresented.
Then he is asked to take the logical step of helping to form a new party and he goes all coy concluding that he is staying with Labour.
He is not alone. Many centrist politicians are happy to brief the media about £50m being available for a new party and how important it is that voters have a choice other than Brexit Tory or Statist Corbyn. But you never see names attached to these stories.
So, my message to Tony and his friends is either stop this self-indulgent chatter, get on with forming a new party or work with the Lib Dems with whom you have few real differences.
Follow me @JimHancockUK