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Thread: Israel confirms talks with Syria

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    Default Israel confirms talks with Syria

    Israel confirms talks with Syria

    Israel says it is holding indirect talks with Syria to reach a comprehensive peace agreement.

    A statement by the Israeli prime minister's office said both sides were talking "in good faith and openly".

    The statement is the first official confirmation of reports in recent months of Turkish-mediated talks.

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    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    Question: why is Turkey facilitating the talks and not, say, the US? Didn't Rice make a trip to the region several months ago with the intention of building a peace conference?
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

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    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Question One possible consideration

    Quote Originally Posted by AmericanPride View Post
    Question: why is Turkey facilitating the talks and not, say, the US? Didn't Rice make a trip to the region several months ago with the intention of building a peace conference?
    Although not necessarily the "right" answer is that when this is done with one of the Neighbor nations as the arbiter it holds less ammunition for other neighbors to ignore it since we're usually much nicer about acting as if we don't notice when they choose to do so. If your looking for accountability sometimes it's a good idea to put someone closer to the problem in the lead.

    Now that doesn't mean we don't pay very close attention to whats being said.
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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Particularly if you're

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Humphrey View Post
    ...If your looking for accountability sometimes it's a good idea to put someone closer to the problem in the lead.
    fairly correctly accused of favoring one of the parties involved...

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    Default Why Turkey?

    Quote Originally Posted by AmericanPride View Post
    Question: why is Turkey facilitating the talks and not, say, the US? Didn't Rice make a trip to the region several months ago with the intention of building a peace conference?
    I am no expert on the region, but Turkey's close relations with Israel, which have not been diluted by the new Islamic government, suggests Israel trusts Turkey. Turkish relations with Syria have not always been good, but Turkish foriegn policy is good relations with all neighbours (leaving aside Cyprus and Greece).

    Look what the Oslo process produced, why was Norway a better intermediary than others? I am sure one reason was privacy and few realised what was happening.

    Regular missions and conferences to promote peace have largely failed. So the Turkish role should be welcomed.

    davidbfpo

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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Look what the Oslo process produced, why was Norway a better intermediary than others? I am sure one reason was privacy and few realised what was happening.
    Yes, absolutely. It should also be said that the Norwegians actually take the effort to go out and pursue mediation opportunities--its remarkable how many countries talk the talk, but don't walk the walk.

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    Council Member bourbon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AmericanPride View Post
    Question: why is Turkey facilitating the talks and not, say, the US? Didn't Rice make a trip to the region several months ago with the intention of building a peace conference?
    The U.S. currently does not have the standing or credibility to undertake such a sensitive diplomatic initiative. Further, this administration has been hostile to Syria since it took office. I have written about my displeasure with our Syria policy before, so there’s my bias, but I think it is safe to say that we are far from a fair mediator on this issue.

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    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bourbon View Post
    The U.S. currently does not have the standing or credibility to undertake such a sensitive diplomatic initiative. Further, this administration has been hostile to Syria since it took office. I have written about my displeasure with our Syria policy before, so there’s my bias, but I think it is safe to say that we are far from a fair mediator on this issue.
    I don't think it's necessarily about "fairness" because I think the Syrians would be willing to talk with us if we demonstrated even the slightest interest in doing so. We can offer significantly more than Turkey as far as being a "guaranteer" of the peace. I raised my original question because I think we've lost a major opportunity to bring a fairly stable Arab state into our camp.
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

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    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Question Thinking about it

    Quote Originally Posted by bourbon View Post
    The U.S. currently does not have the standing or credibility to undertake such a sensitive diplomatic initiative. Further, this administration has been hostile to Syria since it took office. I have written about my displeasure with our Syria policy before, so there’s my bias, but I think it is safe to say that we are far from a fair mediator on this issue.

    As far as credibility goes I think it very important that we be willing to recognize some of the realities of the world which so often seem to be forgotten. Whoever you may be dealing with in other parts of the world they are not us, and thus what we want and what they want won't always line up. In other words to use the phrase respected when referring to the US in other countries eyes is not always a good choice of words.

    International diplomacy per se is often handled most effectively through means other than talk. The simple reason is that so many have shown they will talk all day and yet do exactly the opposite behind the scenes without one thought towards whether it's right or not. I mean why should they. There are a plethora of those who will give them excuse for failing to follow through on what they promise.

    Ken is right in that the perception of our relationship with Israel can be a hinder to our effective mediations but I think it is still important that we stand behind why this is so. They have not as a habit tried to destroy everything and everyone around while on the other hand those around them have tried to do exactly that. Have they made mistakes, sure. But the difference is that they actually do something about correcting those unlike others.

    Let's quit excusing the bad behavior of those who feel they must enforce some kind anti-Israeli agenda when a majority of the reasons are idealogical
    and when they themselves are unwilling to be a part of the solutions for the Palestinians.

    I for one am absolutely tired of excuses for why governments don't have to care about those they represent, but instead play these life and death games for power and prestige with the poor smucks who fight for them stuck in the middle.

    Quote Originally Posted by AmericanPride View Post
    I don't think it's necessarily about "fairness" because I think the Syrians would be willing to talk with us if we demonstrated even the slightest interest in doing so. We can offer significantly more than Turkey as far as being a "guaranteer" of the peace. I raised my original question because I think we've lost a major opportunity to bring a fairly stable Arab state into our camp.
    You may be right about them negotiating with us , but the one question that comes to mind would be why should we directly talk to them when they are still so heavily involved in fueling some of the major instabilities in the region. I think about criminal security operations like when you send a buch of ruffians around to rough up the neighborhoods and then tell them you provide security as long as they pay. They pay you call off the hounds.

    Same principle difference is that this particular neighborhood is much bigger and thus carries twice the consequences. Better think hard about how you want to approach those involved.
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

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    Council Member bourbon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AmericanPride View Post
    I don't think it's necessarily about "fairness" because I think the Syrians would be willing to talk with us if we demonstrated even the slightest interest in doing so. We can offer significantly more than Turkey as far as being a "guaranteer" of the peace. I raised my original question because I think we've lost a major opportunity to bring a fairly stable Arab state into our camp.
    I agree with you. However, this administration from day one supported regime change in Syria over any kind of reproachment. Secretary Rice engaging in talks with the Syrians would be a repudiation of seven years of aggressive posturing against, and thus a confession of failure, something the neoconservative persuasion is not prone to. Further, in the administrations thinking talking to Syria would "legitimize" the regime, which is in stark contrast to our attempts to legitimize Assad, by at best emasculating him in Lebanon and at worst targeting his regime with the Syrian Muslim Brothers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Humphrey
    You may be right about them negotiating with us , but the one question that comes to mind would be why should we directly talk to them when they are still so heavily involved in fueling some of the major instabilities in the region. I think about criminal security operations like when you send a buch of ruffians around to rough up the neighborhoods and then tell them you provide security as long as they pay. They pay you call off the hounds.

    Same principle difference is that this particular neighborhood is much bigger and thus carries twice the consequences. Better think hard about how you want to approach those involved.
    Ron, I am sorry, but we are backing the Syrian Muslim Brothers. It's hypocritical to hurl criticism for fueling instability in region against Syria, while we are doing this. These guys are intricately connected to the people who killed 3,000 of our countrymen on September 11, 2001. Our support for them is misguided at best, and at worst.....

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    Hi Ron

    I was nodding along in agreement with your post up until

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Humphrey View Post

    Ken is right in that the perception of our relationship with Israel can be a hinder to our effective mediations but I think it is still important that we stand behind why this is so. They have not as a habit tried to destroy everything and everyone around while on the other hand those around them have tried to do exactly that. Have they made mistakes, sure. But the difference is that they actually do something about correcting those unlike others.

    Let's quit excusing the bad behavior of those who feel they must enforce some kind anti-Israeli agenda when a majority of the reasons are idealogical
    and when they themselves are unwilling to be a part of the solutions for the Palestinians.

    I for one am absolutely tired of excuses for why governments don't have to care about those they represent, but instead play these life and death games for power and prestige with the poor smucks who fight for them stuck in the middle.



    You may be right about them negotiating with us , but the one question that comes to mind would be why should we directly talk to them when they are still so heavily involved in fueling some of the major instabilities in the region. I think about criminal security operations like when you send a buch of ruffians around to rough up the neighborhoods and then tell them you provide security as long as they pay. They pay you call off the hounds.

    Same principle difference is that this particular neighborhood is much bigger and thus carries twice the consequences. Better think hard about how you want to approach those involved.
    If you have read any of my post regarding this area it probably is not a great surprise that I disagree.

    While much of this is uncontroversial in the US I would argue that that is more a function of the brilliance of the pro Israeli lobby and its effectiveness in the media than a reflection of reality. The US and Israel are the only countries on the planet where this would just be accepted without comment.
    “They have not as a habit tried to destroy everything and everyone around while on the other hand those around them have tried to do exactly that.”
    Is this true? As I read this for the first time I genuinely did not know who you were referring to. Israel seems just as bent on keeping all its neighbours in the Stone Age - so they can not become a threat. Israel should in my opinion be answering for crimes against humanity for its behaviour in Lebanon and Gaza. And while the US has Hamas & Hezbollah on its terrorist list (a capricious document which says more about its denizens targets than methods) I am not sure who the holders of the moral high ground in this bun fight are. I would like to be clear I am an atheist with no axe to grind in this dispute I am just very concerned that there is never going to be a resolution to the dispute while the US views the situation with rose tinted spectacles while sipping there AIPAC cool-aid.

    “You may be right about them negotiating with us , but the one question that comes to mind would be why should we directly talk to them when they are still so heavily involved in fueling some of the major instabilities in the region.”

    Ouch.
    Again should that not be the other way round? Is there anywhere that the US is not heavily involved in fuelling major regional instabilities? While there is little doubt that other regional players are involved in supporting factions in the region the US is doing exactly the same but on a larger scale, the only difference being they invariably paint their proxies as the good guys, but I am not usually sure on what basis, on closer examination there seldom seem to be any good guys just a variety of shades of dark grey.

    I view all these issues mainly from a humanitarian stand point. Where in the world are people suffering and dying, if the cause is man made who is responsible? Sometimes the answer is political/military and where it is the US as the world’s largest military, largest manufacturer & exporter of weapons, most active country in the internal affairs of other states and most active exporter of political ideology is often in the thick of it. This is why I participate on this site to try and understand the US military and its thinking and, if I can, try and nudge it into a more reflective role as to the humanitarian consequences of some of its action. I am of course aware it (the US military) only does what its political master task it to but these I generally view as beyond reason or redemption.
    Last edited by JJackson; 05-27-2008 at 11:28 AM.

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    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Question Gentlemen,( Bourbon, JJackson )

    Thank You I knew I could count on responses which lend to a need for more clarification of the realities when it comes to this particular region.

    As such I wish to be enlightened to some of the considerations which put the lie to my comments.


    I will start with several questions.

    1- At what point has Syria ever acknowledged the right of Israel to even exist?

    2- You mentioned the Muslim Brotherhood (Good Point) now what exactly are the options available for working towards change there wihtin the restraints of who or what is available.

    (along those lines)
    What were the current governments actions directly following our honorable speakers attempt at negotiations with the current leaders.


    3- I am curious as to exactly what Israel has done to "keep" it's neighbor's in the stoneage. (Economically, Socially, etc)

    4- Why is it I see those within the Arab world so concerned with ensuring that the Jews not be able to find archeological proof of their existence in regions if things are so cut and dry as many would portray them to be.


    If you've read my other posts I hope you've recognized that I really do want to figure out what is truth vs what truth is to any particular group. Please help me to find that truth.
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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Grapes???

    Quote Originally Posted by JJackson View Post
    ...I view all these issues mainly from a humanitarian stand point. Where in the world are people suffering and dying, if the cause is man made who is responsible? Sometimes the answer is political/military and where it is the US as the world’s largest military, largest manufacturer & exporter of weapons, most active country in the internal affairs of other states and most active exporter of political ideology is often in the thick of it. This is why I participate on this site to try and understand the US military and its thinking and, if I can, try and nudge it into a more reflective role as to the humanitarian consequences of some of its action. I am of course aware it (the US military) only does what its political master task it to but these I generally view as beyond reason or redemption.
    May I suggest you take a look at where those problem areas are located? You'll find the majority are along the fault lines of borders drawn by the British and French (plus a few other minor players) as a result of colonial activity and / or WW I. That also includes the 'Great Powers' fiddling in the Balkans...

    Long areas of contention, those locales were deliberately targeted by Agitprop and the NKVD / MVD / KGB to foment more violence and discombobulate the west -- I have visions of a lot of old retired guys (including those that set out in the 20s to infiltrate and tilt leftward education processes in the west) watching the BBC World News in Ekaterineburg and just cackling in both cases at success beyond their wildest dreams.

    Back to the Balkans, I recall the cartoon in the Economist at the time of the little European standing outside his nice house watching the carnage in the Balkan house next door and saying to his wife "Ask the Americans what they intend doing about this."

    You folks sowed; we reap. As they say, it's an ugly job but somebody has to do it. When one delegates a job to another, one loses the ability to precisely define just how that job should be accomplished. Your lack of approbation is duly noted but rings quite hollow.

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JJackson View Post
    @ Israel seems just as bent on keeping all its neighbours in the Stone Age - so they can not become a threat.

    @ Israel should in my opinion be answering for crimes against humanity for its behaviour in Lebanon and Gaza.
    @ So the peace deals with Egypt and Jordan were for what reason? Who do you broker peace with in Gaza and Southern Lebanon?

    @ What other countries should be tried for War Crimes in your opinion? Or is it just Israel?
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Humphrey View Post

    4- Why is it I see those within the Arab world so concerned with ensuring that the Jews not be able to find archeological proof of their existence in regions if things are so cut and dry as many would portray them to be.
    OK, but that does not explain the Elephant in the corner, which the anti-semitism that runs a river through Middle East politics and always has, even before 1948. Something the Arabs deny but is part of historical fact. It is still at the heart of the conflict to this day.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
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    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Default I agree thats part of it

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    OK, but that does not explain the Elephant in the corner, which the anti-semitism that runs a river through Middle East politics and always has, even before 1948. Something the Arabs deny but is part of historical fact. It is still at the heart of the conflict to this day.
    The immediate tendency here will be to beat dead horses or rehash those things which we have all heard before.

    But I think there may be something here to benefit all if we really start breaking the whole down to it's parts. We all know what we already know, the important thing is being willing to test what we know in order to assure it stands up.

    Ken makes great points about predecessors decisions and actions resulting in how things have to be handled now. Lets try to focus an what the exact points of contention are today and we can trace them back. Somewhere along the way we may begin to see some mutually recognized patterns or issues which we can then focus on.


    Let's just take it one step at a time and see what comes of this. I feel certain that I'm about to learn somethin I didn't know
    Last edited by Ron Humphrey; 05-27-2008 at 04:37 PM. Reason: add
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    Council Member bourbon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Humphrey View Post
    2- You mentioned the Muslim Brotherhood (Good Point) now what exactly are the options available for working towards change there wihtin the restraints of who or what is available.
    Hi Ron,
    I would not seek regime change at all. Syria is a secular country that effectively destroys salafi jihadists. Syria was a great help to us after 9/11, providing intelligence that actively saved American lives. Also remember that Syria took part in the first Gulf War coalition in 1991, they have no interest in an unstable Iraq. The huge numbers of refugees from Iraq that they have absorbed is an enormous strain, if not destabilizing to their nation. Syrian cooperation in our Iraq endeavor could have, and should have been secured. However, it is clear that Syria was to be one of the next stops in the administrations efforts to reshape the Middle East.

    Why we overlook these shared interests of stabilizing Iraq and destroying AQ, and instead dwell on Syrian aide to legitimate resistance movement’s, boggles my mind.

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    Default I don't think we are as far apart as it may at first appear.

    Ken I completely agree that most of the areas of conflict have a large irredentist element and unsuspecting colonial cartographers have ended up creating carnage generations later. My ancestors may well have been among them. My country painted most of the world map pink and then drew lines on it which said much more about colonial administrative areas of responsibility than the religion, ethnicity or traditional allegiances of those who lived there. In their arrogance one assumes that they did not foresee a day that these peoples would be other than subjects of Empire but history should have taught them otherwise. I don’t shirk my share of responsibility for what – with the benefit of hindsight – I view as wrong and am very aware that my relatively comfortable existence is in large part due to a form of international political and economic inertia. The UK would not warrant a permanent Security Council seat today, much of its wealth can be traced back to slavery & empire, and while in ascendancy it – and the others with privilege – set up the rules of international law, global trade and financial markets in ways that were beneficial to them not the third world. It was ever such, but I think we should acknowledge the bias we benefit from, and have a care to try and redress the balance a little when we can – perhaps that is my duty as penance for the crimes of my forefathers.

    “You folks sowed; we reap. As they say, it's an ugly job but somebody has to do it. When one delegates a job to another, one loses the ability to precisely define just how that job should be accomplished. Your lack of approbation is duly noted but rings quite hollow.”

    It is not that I dispute who did the sowing I do disagree about how the reaping is being done, and who is doing it. I do agree with the general trust of the ICISS report (linked to earlier) which makes R2P interventions the prevue of the security council, with an effective override by the general assembly should they feel the SC was wrong, and the UN constitutional allowance for the use of force but only on its authority. Wars by NATO, or some other military coalition, should have no more legitimacy than if the Warsaw Pact had self-authorised the invasion of somewhere it accused of fermenting democratic uprisings in Poland. The underlying problem is no country should be authorising interventions in any other country only the UN – in its capacity as the planets council of countries – can do this. Taking this right upon yourself - for any nation - is hubris (and before you point it out - yes the UK are at least of guilty of this as any power current or historical).

    Ron, happy to have obliged.

    1] Never to the best of my knowledge but then I am not sure why they should or that acknowledging any countries right to exist is or should be a prerequisite to anything.

    2] Firstly let me reject your implied premise. Why do you think you should be ‘working toward change’ in another countries government? I am not a fan of the US’s current administration but I am not sure - as I am not a citizen - that I should be trying to replace it. It is for you to decide and me to try pick a government for my country and then get ours to influence yours diplomatically. If I were to accept the premise then I would want to know why you are not also backing the MB against Mubarak in Egypt which is just as badly in need of regime change.

    3] Lebanon a few times. Blockaded Gaza so the Palestinians have no way to become self-sufficient. UN figures have 70% of Gaza on 1$ a day which is about what the US gives in aid per capita to each Israeli.

    4] This I know nothing about, but I am interested in why archaeological proof of anything should be relevant today. That there was a Jewish population in this part of the world in the past is – as far as I am concerned - a given, as is the existence of a Muslim population. As Ken pointed out map makers over the centuries have much to answer for and each party in a dispute is going to pick their moment and cartographer but the current disagreement centres on the creation of the modern state of Israel and the period since. Was enough – or any – attention given to the indigenous Palestinians? Did the young Israel ethnically cleans itself of Palestinians? Did the powers of the day really have the moral or legal authority to create a new state for migrants in an area that was already populated? The final impetus for its creation was a collective pity, or guilt, for the Holocaust but if that is the case might Bavaria or the Rhineland not have been more equitable?

    Like you I hope I am not coming to this with a closed mind or fixed position. I too want to understand and regret it seems so difficult to have a discussion on this subject that does not degenerate. A lot of the data does not seem to be in dispute but the variety of conclusion that manage to be drawn from it are strange.
    Last edited by JJackson; 05-27-2008 at 06:29 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    @ So the peace deals with Egypt and Jordan were for what reason? Who do you broker peace with in Gaza and Southern Lebanon?

    @ What other countries should be tried for War Crimes in your opinion? Or is it just Israel?
    Hi Wilf - thought you might show up.

    1] I think the deals with Egypt and Jordan were for the security of Israel and to the second part of that question Hamas & Hezbollah respectively.

    2] Many inc. UK, US & NATO.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default We can agreeably disagree...

    Quote Originally Posted by JJackson View Post
    ...It was ever such, but I think we should acknowledge the bias we benefit from, and have a care to try and redress the balance a little when we can – perhaps that is my duty as penance for the crimes of my forefathers.
    While I agree with the first statement -- and will add that the US has not done many things well -- I strongly disagree with the last one.

    Your prerogative of course but I feel absolutely no need to to do penance for people who mostly did what they thought was proper in accordance with the mores of the time and based on the information they had available and do not believe anyone should feel guilty about that (though I realize a good many people profess to do so for some aberrant reason). It is entirely too easy to sit in modern comfort surrounded by masses of information with absolutely no responsibility and pass judgment on the decisions of others who had none of those luxuries and a vastly different standard That, IMO, is intellectually bankrupt regardless of the moral rectitude.

    Learn from their mistakes and attempt to avoid repetitions, of course; apologize or be penitent -- not at all...
    It is not that I dispute who did the sowing I do disagree about how the reaping is being done, and who is doing it. I do agree with the general trust of the ICISS report (linked to earlier) which makes R2P interventions the prevue of the security council, with an effective override by the general assembly should they feel the SC was wrong, and the UN constitutional allowance for the use of force but only on its authority.
    We can disagree on that. Again, strongly. While it obviously your right to believe that the how and who are wrong; others would not agree. The US obviously does not nor do a number of other nations. Nor, I suspect, does everyone in the UK...

    As for the UN, an organization that supports evil, is riddled with corruption (in the eyes of not just the west...) has no legitimate standing to dispense holy water on the use of force.
    Wars by NATO, or some other military coalition, should have no more legitimacy than if the Warsaw Pact had self-authorised the invasion of somewhere it accused of fermenting democratic uprisings in Poland.
    All war is 'illegitimate' and immoral. All -- however, some wars are regrettably necessary and the debating club that is the General Assembly and the stacked deck that is the Security Council has little legitimacy to my mind. The UN was established to deter war and to remove colonialism from the world scene. It has been totally unsuccessful at the former (as could have been and was predicted) and arguably entirely too successful at the latter. It needs significant reform before it can be trusted with the roles you wish.
    The underlying problem is no country should be authorising interventions in any other country only the UN – in its capacity as the planets council of countries – can do this.
    Again, strongly disagree. You might have a point if the bad guys in this world would accede to that or the UN was up to and did the job (they are not and do not); to tie the hands of those who mostly mean no harm to a bureaucratic folly for the 'right' to defend one self is the only hubris herein. I'm aware that the UK has recently removed the common law right of self defense from its citizens. Pity, that. Fortunately, most of the rest of the world has not. The US certainly has not.
    Taking this right upon yourself - for any nation - is hubris (and before you point it out - yes the UK are at least of guilty of this as any power current or historical).
    No, it's not hubris -- it is logical and the application of common sense that applies to the rights of man to the problems of the world, no more.

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