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Denis MacShane Attacks Western Military Interventions (Yes)

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MacShane Against Western Interventions.

Under the headline, “L’interventionnisme militaire occidental est un échec permanentDenis MacShane former European Minister under Tony Blair attacks Western interventions. (Le Monde  10.12.2013).

MacShane begins by citing Kipling on the ‘White Man’s burden and reflects that President Hollande is now taking on this weight with his intervention in the Central African Republic.

While wishing him success he notes that,

Depuis l’expédition de Suez en 1956, aucune intervention militaire menée par les forces européennes en dehors de l’Europe n’a obtenu les résultats espérés. Dans tous les pays où elles ont établi une présence, elles laissent derrière elles plus de problèmes que de solutions.

From the Suez Expedition in 1956 onwards no European military intervention – outside Europe itself – has achieved the aims set for it. In every country in which it has established a presence it has left behind it more problems than solutions.

MacShane covers the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, and reflects that “Le droit d’ingérence et la doctrine de l’intervention sont des concepts qui remontent à l’ère de Francis Fukayama et sa thèse sur la fin de l’histoire.”, the doctrine of the need  to interfere and to intervene (Note, called humanitarian intervention in English) are concepts which belong to the time of Francis Fukayma, and his theory of the End of History. Bernard Kouchner in Paris, Michael Ignatieff at Harvard and Tony Blair argued that this was necessary when countries ignored United Nations norms.

He asserts that interventions failed in Sudan and Rwanda, though worked in Kosovo.

Because of the latter, and the intervention in Sierra Leone, Blair backed the invasion of Iraq.

MacShane observes that far from being just the decision of Bush and Blair  419 left’ MPs in the British Parliament voted for that war.


“Dix ans plus tard, je préfère dire comme Benjamin Franklin que « la pire des paix vaut mieux que n’importe quelle guerre ».

Ten years later I’d rather say, like Benjamin Franklin that “the worst peace is better than any war whatsoever.”

The balance sheet of wars in Afghanistan, the Arab world and in Africa is completely negative. Libya in particular is a disaster, with militias and Salafist warlords in control.

The attitude of the British Labour Party, under Ed Miliband, towards these expeditions, has also changed. They refused to support Prime Minister Cameron, and the French Socialist-led Government, to meddle in the Syrian civil war.

The disgraced former Minister then quotes Churchill, “« Jaw jaw is better than war war »

Sometimes such interventions are justified, as in Sierra Leone.

But while every country should back its army, rare are the occasions when history justifies armed interventions.

MacShane Parliamentary Record.

  • Voted very strongly for the Iraq war.
  • Voted very strongly against an investigation into the Iraq war.

Wikipedia says of MacShane, “Denis MacShane (born Denis Matyjaszek; 21 May 1948) is a former British Labour Party[1] politician who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Rotherham from 1994 until his resignation in 2012.[2] He served in the Labour Government as Minister for Europe from 2002 until 2005.

On 2 November 2012, he was suspended from the Labour Party after the House of Commons Standards and Privileges Committee found that he had submitted 19 false invoices “plainly intended to deceive” the parliamentary expenses authority. Later that day he announced his intention to resign as MP for Rotherham.[3][4][5] On 9 October 2013, MacShane was removed from the Privy Council and stripped of the right to use the title of The Right Honourable.[6] On 18 November 2013 he pleaded guilty to false accounting at the Old Bailey, by submitting false receipts for £12 900.[7]


2 Responses

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  1. I personally think Dennis is laying it on a bit too thick there.

    ” In every country in which it has established a presence it has left behind it more problems than solutions.”

    Well of course, but any country which has needed foreign military intervention is by definition so screwed up that there are bound to be long term problems which the interventionists haven’t solved. There’s no happy ever after in the real world.
    Without even discussing Iraq, it’s clear that the Libya episode has left the place worse than it was before, but how would it have looked if we’d stayed out? Gaddafi was a bit of a loony by anyone’s definition, and he’d have slaughtered a fair few Bengazi residents at the least. There’d be a bunch of furious jihadis ranting about western betrayal, probably an ongoing insurrection in various areas, cynicism about how we’d left a friend of Blair alone and blowback of one sort or another was ineviatable, what ever we did.

    I thought at the time we intervened reluctantly, but when you look at the blizzard of dis-information that was coming out of the place- mercenaries landing at airports, troops given viagra so they could rape as many women as possible, air strikes on demonstrations, blah blah, all lies, I now realise otherwise. What I find striking in retrospect is how the likes of the ICC, Amnesty and HRW went along with it all, and of course no-one ever calls them to account, let alone the MSM cheerleaders. Precisely the same sort of thing is happening in Syria.

    We shouldn’t write off the possibility of foreign intervention, but we should certainly look far more closely at who precisely we’re intervening on the side of. In Libya, that was the semi-house trained ex-al qaeda linked opposition (wtf?) and a bunch of radicalised tribal militias. In Iraq it was supposedly Ahmed Challabi for goodness sakes.

    Paul J

    December 13, 2013 at 1:01 am

  2. I am also reluctant to judge what’s happening in the Central African Republic.

    It’s clear that leaving things as they were developing before the French intervention was not a good idea.

    Andrew Coates

    December 14, 2013 at 11:55 am

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