Clegg the interventionist

Nick Clegg writes an article titled ‘We are asking our troops to do the impossible’yet fails to see the irony of continuing to stoutly defend a ‘liberal interventionist’ perspective. It seems somewhat amiss to me to question strategy and tactics and leave the premise of an action untouched which is what Clegg wants to do. If we were being cruel then we could note that Clegg differs little from Tony Blair in being a ‘liberal interventionist’; of course, he would protest violently on the grounds that he would never have supported the Iraq war because of the lack of legality but that doesn’t change the fact that they share the same credo.

Clegg explains his creed thus;

“I am a Liberal interventionist, who believes military action is justified when supported by reason and the law. I support the aim of our mission wholeheartedly: to stop Afghanistan reverting to a haven for terrorism, with its people oppressed and impoverished.”

Notice that the raison d’ etere is not self-defence but some kind of greater moral imperative and indeed duty to maintain the rule of law. This is the first mistake that interventionism makes; a military action against a foreign power is not the same as the police raiding the local drugs den. For one thing a police action only targets the guilty where as a military action will invariably, no matter how ‘smart’ your bombs are, punish the innocent; something that there are safeguards in any legal system to guard against in police actions.

People don’t like and will always resent their country being invaded no matter what the intent actually is so will never welcome invaders no matter how benign there stated intent is; the fact is also that the very problems Clegg rightly points too stem from the very premise that the war was started from. Full of grand but ultimately impracticable vision it was; apparently, it was to lead to veritable land of ‘milk and honey’ which was never going to arise from a foreign invasion.  

Clegg is right to point to the lack of vision, the lack of resources but all of this flow from a premise he seems so keenly to defend and to not question that at the same time is to offer a deeply flawed perspective. People must have the right to determine their own nations future and while we can assist with that we can never substitute for it because that road does lead down into the quagmire.


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About darrellgoodliffe


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