Tuesday, 31 January 2017


I have elsewhere described Brexit as "the revenge of the appeasers" in that Chamberlain and company in the 1930s deliberately disengaged from Europe and "faraway countries of which we know nothing". It took Winston Churchill and a world war to bring the reality home. However, I do baulk at labelling Mrs May as "Theresa the Appeaser" as one Labour MP did in the Commons yesterday. As Boris Johnson pointed out, Trump was democratically elected and is held to account by a democratically-elected Congress, both by electoral processes similar to that of the UK. He is hardly a dictator. If there is an appeaser in this matter, it is president Trump himself. He suggested in his election campaign that he would tolerate Russia's annexation of Crimea and Donbas. Putin may theoretically also have been democratically elected, but there are many doubts about the freedom of the process. Fortunately, Mrs May seems to have persuaded the President that it is necessary to maintain NATO.

Another point that was made by several Conservatives in questions to the Foreign Secretary yesterday was that there are eighteen countries which refuse to recognise Israeli passports or even allow entry to holders of passports bearing Israeli visas. This has been going on so long that one tends to forget about it, but for the record I believe that this is wrong. Israel was created by the United Nations a lifetime ago and the eighteen should accept the fact, just as they endorse the UN resolutions against Israeli war crimes and extra-territorial settlements. Two wrongs do not make a right, though, and in any case the logic of the two bans is different. Trump's is aimed at potential terrorist immigrants from predominantly Muslim nations. The objection of the eighteen is that Israel stole the land which she occupies and that she is an illegal state. This may be wrong-headed, but it is coherent, divorced from religion and unlikely now to stir up global unrest. The opposite is true of the Trump executive order. Fortunately, this will expire in spring.

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