Daily Archives: January 4, 2012


The Ron Paul Effect

On balance, I view Ron Paul as a good thing.

I view myself as a libertarian and, in many ways, my criticisms of Ron Paul are that he is a more consistent libertarian than me. I want to see government provide health and welfare services, and run natural monopolies.

But much more importantly, Ron Paul is infinitely more consistent than the vast majority of those who label themselves “libertarian” in the UK and US, but are in fact just extreme right wingers with no concern at all for civil liberties, and who support the idea of a massive military force controlled by the government to annex foreign resources. Their “libertarianism” amounts to no more than a desire to be allowed to make money unscrupulously, without interference or tax. Paul Staines is the prime example of a false libertarian.

Ron Paul is not a false libertarian. His 21% showing in Iowa is going, for a while at least, to make it impossible to maintain the usual near total exclusion of anti-war and pro-civil liberties voices from the mainstream media. That is a great achievement. Having been given vastly less mainstream air time than Bachmann or Perry, that will now change for Paul – and even as they strive to limit that change, the establishment will hate that.

So, on balance a very good thing indeed. There are whispers about past racial attitudes. I have met Ron Paul, and am obliged to say I did not like him very much. But for a spell Americans are going to be able to hear someone question the trillions spent on foreign wars while US families suffer – and even a raising of the billions given to Israel. That outweighs a great deal of baggage.

View with comments

Working for Peace

A hopeful article in the Guardian claims that peace discussions between the US and Taliban have reached the stage where the Taliban may open a political office in Qatar to conduct negotiations, and that some of their leaders may be released from Guantanamo. Let us hope this is all true.

Those who have read The Catholic Orangemen of Togo will immediately see that the basic issues mooted in the Guardian are the same I was dealing with as UK Representative to the Sierra Leone peace talks, and indeed the very stuff of conflict resolution – the transformation of opposing armed forces into a political process. Demobilisation, rehabilitation, funding of political activity. It all gets very emotive and sticky. There is another similarity with the Sierra Leone process in that ostensibly the main participant is the government (be it Sierra Leone or Afghanistan) but in fact the real decisions are taken for that government in the West.

Sitting here with my laptop in Ramsgate, I believe that I would be able to make a contribution to the peace process. I am a highly experienced diplomat who knows the region. I am almost uniquely placed, as a western person with high level diplomatic background and experience of treaty negotiation, who might nonetheless be trusted by the Taliban. I resigned my career in an effort to stop the persecution and torture of Central Asiam muslims in the “War on Terror” and have campaigned consistently and in public to end the occupation of Afghanistan. I was Ambassador in neighbouring Uzbekistan and have spent the last three years studying Afghan history.

Whether they realise it or not (and I suspect they do) the Taliban will need assistance and advice in dealing with the peace negotiations and drafting of peace agreements. My opposition to neo-con foreign policy means the UK and US would never use me in the peace talks, and would block my role with any mediating agency. The only possible route to involvement – and a difficult one to achieve – would be to offer my services as an unpaid independent adviser to the Taliban side of the talks. I have at present no route of direct contact to the Taliban: if the office in Qatar materialises, I will turn up and knock at the door.

View with comments