Ming ‘n’ Hypocrisy – Necessary Consequences? Or Serious Means?

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    Or –

    23rd March 2011

    BREAKING: Foreign Sec, William Hague – trying to undo the ‘You do it, No you’ Libya leadership confusion – is speaking in the House now. Reports that the woman killed in Jerusalem bombing was British citizen. “We need agreement on that (NATO) leadership and expect it soon.” Calls for restraint and dialogue in Syria, Bahrain, Yemen due to unrest. Calls on ALL British citizens to leave Yemen “without delay”. (Tim Marshall at Sky said the British are steering away from ground forces in Libya, which France has suggested this morning.) ANOTHER UN resolution? They won’t get it. No chance.

    Time for some mixing and matching –



    The sheer gall and hypocrisy of Ming Campbell on Libya action

    On The World at One yesterday Sir Menzies Campbell, former Liberal Democrat leader, was asked to respond to criticism that the action being taken in Libya went beyond the terms of Resolution 1973 [click here to see resolution 1973, UNSC OR jump down this page to read excerpt and jump straight back]

    To this question Ming replied:  “what did people think the words ‘all necessary measures’ conveyed?”

    Can I suggest they might have thought it meant “serious consequences”? Resolution 1973 is certainly vague enough to be open to interpretation. The very idea that this coalition government would be party to anything attempting to manipulate their room for flexibility is surely unTHINKable?


    That phraseology and their meanings aside, there is an even more intriguing coincidence that the mainstream press have missed. Purposely, of course. They’re not quite as dull as they often seem to be.

    With reference to re-affirming one of the earlier dozen or so resolutions regarding Saddam, the Iraq Resolution (1441) also mentioned “all necessary means”.

    So, ‘liberal’ minds, screw on your semantic heads: are “means” different from “measures”? Surely they must be different? If not, why is the world (and his Liberal Democrat brother) still in pursuit of Tony Blair?

    (Read excerpts of the Kearney/Campbell interview here)

    Menzies Campbell, Tony Blair, David Cameron. 2006 Remembrance Service, London

    WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE? 1441 c/w 1973?

    On innumerable occasions those of us who support Tony Blair’s Iraq decision asked the same question about the term “serious consequences” used in Resolution 1441what did people think it meant? And on innumerable occasions people like Ming Campbell replied that “serious consequences” didn’t mean military action.

    But “all necessary measures” clearly DOES mean military action, as we can all see. However, it can hardly be argued that its meaning was spelt out clearly. The phrase leaves plenty of room for argument and worse, for error. For instance as to whether civilians dressed in army kit on one side (Gaddafi’s) ARE legitimate targets, while the same on the other side (the rebels, whoever they are) are NOT targets. (Protecting “civilians”?)


    Putting aside the oft-forgotten fact that Mr Blair was the only prime minister EVER to ask Parliament’s permission for military action, and he did so BEFORE the fact, not two days after the action, I realise that Ming Campbell would respond to my drawing attention to this as being wrong-headed. He’d insist that HE and the rest of the Lib Dems had DECIDED (in their unquestionable wisdom) that the Iraq war was “illegal”. That “illegality” conclusion is for the simple reason that the Lib Dems insist (in their infallible knowledge) that Resolution 1441 was one resolution short of sufficient.

    The fact that Mr Blair has not been charged with any illegal action, either at home or abroad, might have sent a clue to them that they are wrong in that “decision.”

    I resolve that on interpreting resolutions, Ming, his party and their conclusions are one penny short of a nine pound note.

    But legalities matter to the high-horsed and mighty. Ming even pulled gentle rank on the Defence Secretary by saying he was giving a legal answer, rather than a political one. By sounding so authoritative on “legalities” he also managed to avoid criticising his Conservative colleague, Liam Fox.  Wily old fox, our Ming.

    What is he? A practising politician or an international lawyer?

    Watch clips of the words of wisdom from Campbell and others here at the BBC website.  Some of us simple voters might be wondering how come Cameron had to go to war and then ask for permission afterwards. Then again, some of us have selective memories and an inconsistent sense of responsibility and values.


    UNSC RESOLUTION 1973 (Libya)

    (See Resolution 1973)

    4. Authorizes Member States that have notified the Secretary-General, acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements, and acting in cooperation with the Secretary-General, to take all necessary measures, notwithstanding paragraph 9 of resolution 1970 (2011), to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory, and requests the Member States concerned to inform the Secretary-General immediately of the measures they take pursuant to the authorization conferred by this paragraph which shall be immediately reported to the Security Council;


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    UNSC RESOLUTION 1441 (Iraq)

    (See Resolution 1441)

    Recalling that its resolution 678 (1990) authorized Member States to use all necessary means to uphold and implement its resolution 660 (1990) of 2 August 1990 and all relevant resolutions subsequent to resolution 660 (1990) and to restore international peace and security in the area…

    13. Recalls, in that context, that the Council has repeatedly warned Iraq that it will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations…


    BUT WHAT’S THIS? ACTION AGAINST SADDAM “ILLEGAL”, due to insignificant language?

    On Sunday, the day after the Libya campaign started, which was also the day before MPs were asked to approve, Menzies Campbell wrote this in The Scotsman:

    So what now? The resolution calls for an immediate ceasefire and allows for “all necessary measures” to protect civilians. This language is profoundly significant. It is the formula that permits the use of military force by those acting in the name of the UN. It was the absence of that language which rendered military action against Saddam Hussein illegal, particularly when coupled with the objective of regime change.

    [And here was I assuming it had something to do with there not being a second resolution.]

    Make no mistake; “all necessary measures” expressly authorises the use of weaponry to protect civilians. This could involve shooting down aircraft, bombing tanks and supply columns and attacking troops on the ground. Inevitably such actions would cause casualties, with the risk of that dreadful euphemism “collateral damage” to civilians. To distinguish between friend and foe in battle is difficult enough, to do so in the confusion of civil war a considerably more challenging task. As previous engagements have shown, public opinion can be readily affected by civilian casualties.

    [And here was I, led to believe, that not killing people was more important to the High and Mighty than public opinion.]

    The differences between acting against Libya and the military action against Saddam Hussein will be important. Systematic persecution and worse against those whose only crime is to seek democratic government, regional support for action, and the express authority of the UN, are all distinguishing elements in any comparison between Saddam and Gaddafi.


    You really need to read that again:

    “Systematic persecution and worse against those whose only crime is to seek democratic government, regional support for action, and the express authority of the UN, are all distinguishing elements in any comparison between Saddam and Gaddafi.”

    Saddam had killed thousands of his own people and others with WMD and by assassinations for decades.  The UN had expressly issued resolutions GALORE towards Saddam. He had blithely ignored them for over a decade.

    For some reason best understood by his High Ming Mindedness, the sufferings of the Iraqi people under Iraq for 30 years – which we all knew about – are not to be compared with the sufferings of the Libyan people under Gaddafi.

    Against one of those we are right to act, against the other we weren’t.

    Utterly disgraceful hypocrisy.



    After an interview with John Barron, the only Conservative MP to have voted against the resolution, at around 18 minutes into the programme Martha Kearney asks Sir Menzies Campbell if he accepts the risks that we could be seen to be meddling in a  Muslim country the way that the operation could be portrayed by Colonel Gaddafi as him being a victim of  a so-called western crusade.

    Sir Menzies Campbell: “Well remember the so-called meddling is authorised by a resolution of the United Nations Security Council. If we’d been in there on our own without such  a resolution then I think the meddling charge might have been easier to substantiate.

    Martha Kearney: “Is there still that kind of consensus in the United Nations, though now that we have both Russia and China calling for an immediate ceasefire?”

    Ming C: “Well, but they did not seek to veto the resolution when it was put before the Security Council last week and having done so it’s a little curious for them now, no doubt to respond no doubt to some other political pressures from elsewhere. We and those engaged at the moment carry the authority of the United Nations … […]

    MK:  “But is the issue that perhaps the action that’s been taken by the allies  so far… has been fiercer than some people anticipated?”

    Ming C: “But what did people think the words “all necessary measures” conveyed? These are words not used loosely. They’re the words which make it very clear in United Nations speak that if necessary military action can be taken. And in this case military action for the protection of the people in Benghazi. And I just wonder what the terms of this debate would be today had Colonel Gaddafi been able to enter Benghazi and carry out his threat to go from house to house, room to room showing no mercy. I fancy the debate would be rather different and indeed public opinion would be rather different too.”


    MK: “Do you think that the mission has a clear objective … purely to help the civilian population or is there an ulterior motive of regime change?”

    Ming C: “First of all regime change is illegal and if you remember formed a very substantial part of the debate round about the legality of military action against Iraq. The legality of the action depends upon the terms of the resolution, back to the resolution in every case.  My view is that so far as Colonel Gaddafi is concerned it would be highly desirable were he to step down, if he were to be persuaded to leave or something of that kind, but we have no legal authority to seek to remove him by way of regime change.”

    MK: “So you disagree with what the Defence Secretary was saying on the radio on Sunday ….that getting rid of Colonel Gaddafi would be a possibility?”

    Ming C: “Well … let me offer you a legal opinion rather than a political one, it’s this – if Colonel Gaddafi is for example in the lead tank in a column of tanks attacking a town filled with civilians then that tank and Colonel Gaddafi would be a legitimate target. If he were in a command  and control centre exercising detailed and overall responsibility for military action contrary to the terms of the resolution then he would be a legitimate target. But he’s not a legitimate target from the point of view of assassination.”

    Back to “What’s The Difference?”


    WORLD AT ONE information



    National and international news from BBC Radio 4. Thirty minutes of intelligent analysis, comment and interviews. To share your views email: wato@bbc.co.uk or on Twitter: #wato.


    In the Parliament debate on Monday Sir Menzies Campbell said, “I thought the action against Saddam Hussein was  illegal. It’s a view I have never had occasion to alter.  But this action is necessary, legal and legitimate.” (BBC video)


    After criticising Blair for “regime change” regarding Saddam, which was never his policy, Menzies Campbell is now admitting that “all necessary action” covers a multitude of sins. But they will be necessary, legal and legitimate. So that’s all right, then.

    It’s not regime change, but we’re all hoping it’s regime change.

    For readers unfamiliar with British slang this is the meaning of “minging”



    Lest you think that I have little regard for any Liberal Democrats, please be disabused of this.

    In a discussion on Radio 4’s ‘Unreliable Evidence this evening’, Sir Alex Carlile was outnumbered two to one by those who think we have lost many of our civil rights, due, of course, to Tony Blair. Two of the guests insisted that much of the UK terror legislation of recent years and the pressing for extending detention without trial periods was unnecessary and against our civil liberties. The barrister Alex Carlile, who advised for 10 years on anti-terror concerns under Blair said they should not criticise Tony Blair for “politicising” the issue of terror legislation without criticising other parties for also politicising the issues.

    A very good point and one that is seldom made.

    Carlile on Tim Owen, QC: Tim is a brilliant lawyer but he has not had to make political decisions (on control orders etc.) They are “not an outrageous injustice”.

    I am sure that Alex Carlile has gone down in the estimation of some of his colleagues in the Liberal Democrats for having gone “native” under Blair. It may be little compensation to him, but he has gone UP in my estimation.

    Sir Ken Macdonald, Sir Alex Carlile, Tim Owen, QC appeared with Clive Anderson on “Unreliable Evidence”, 8:00pm Wednesday.

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    3 Responses to “Ming ‘n’ Hypocrisy – Necessary Consequences? Or Serious Means?”

    1. Stan Says:

      A brilliant piece of forensic analysis which clearly exposes the hypocrisy of Campbell’s position on Libya. It deserves a place in the mainstream debate on this issue but of course it will be ignored because it does not fit the media’s anti-Blair agenda.

      PS How is regime change not an objective in Libya when according to the French the action is now about “destroying Gaddafi’s military capacity” ( news item today) which will leave his regime unable to defend itself from an armed attack by the rebels?

    2. bluemoon1982 Says:

      Good blog. The evidence you have put together highlights how mainstream politicians can switch opinions and allegiances, seemingly with ease. This appears to be made even easier if your political party wears yellow.

      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

        Thank you for your comment. What is most disconcerting is that people don’t always notice these switches. Especially, MAINLY, if the mainstream press has an input, which it invariably does as the conduit for our news, views and “opinions”.

        I’ve just seen a video which also shows how press influence feeds into this. The character says, “Obama is only human. He can be wrong without lying”. BUT she says “No Bush lied. I saw it on the news”.

        It’s here:

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