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Tuesday, 27 August 2013 01:00

No more new wars

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's warning that any military action launched against Syria without UN security council agreement would contravene international law should be taken seriously.

But the brazen attitude of Western governments is exemplified by William Hague's comments.

The Foreign Secretary deploys bizarre argumentation, insisting that attacking Syria "without complete unity on the UN security council" would be within international law because otherwise "it would be impossible to respond to 'such outrages'."

Hague's contention boils down to an assertion that, if Nato concludes that the Assad regime used chemical weapons and decides to bomb Syria, anything that stands in the way should be ignored.

He displays similar disregard for legality as Tony Blair and George W Bush did over Iraq.

His Blairesque justification for an act of war being "based on great humanitarian need" is equally galling.

In what way will the deployment of aerial bombing and ship-launched cruise missiles against military bases, airfields and other targets ease the suffering of the Syrian people?

If the scale of the attacks is restrained, hawks will decry it as derisory, while if it tips the balance of the war towards the religious sectarian extremists sponsored by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, the consequences for the entire region are incalculable.

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The British and French governments are intoxicated by bloodlust, but they know that the US must be on board and in the driver's seat for their martial dreams to become concrete.

Barack Obama has spoken more cautiously, but US politicians, including officials within his administration, are already setting the military intervention wheels in motion.

Despite posturing by the political elite, there is little appetite among the public here, in France or in the US for yet another imperialist assault on the Arab world.

Over 80 Tory MPs have already written to Cameron seeking recall of Parliament before any military escalation.

That should become a generalised demand to restrain government from embroiling Britain in a new war that can only end in greater problems for all concerned.

The UN inspectors must be left to carry out their work and there must be no devaluation of the UN security council's responsibility to decide upon the international community's attitude towards the Syrian crisis.

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Sinister move

Colombia's government poses as a paragon of democratic normality when it negotiates trade agreements with the US and the European Union.

But its reputation as the most dangerous country in the world for trade unionists is fully merited.

The tendency of government ministers to identify trade union leaders, political activists and peace campaigners as creatures of the Farc liberation movement puts them in mortal danger.

Bogota's decision to arrest agricultural union Fensuagro leader Huber Ballesteros on the trumped-up charge of "rebellion" is a sinister move.

Colombia's working people are taking action in ever greater numbers, with 300,000 rice, coffee, maize, dairy and potato farmers joining lorry drivers, miners, journalists, teachers, health staff and, most recently, oil workers in indefinite strikes.

The government ought to recognise its responsibility for the worsened conditions the working class is suffering.

However, it prefers to rely on repression, with over 200 protesters already arrested, justifying its rejection of negotiations by strikers' blockage of some roads.

Trade unionists should contact the Colombian embassy demanding that the Bogota government enter negotiations and release Huber Ballesteros and other prisoners without delay.

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