“… I believe that we cannot stand back and let a dictator whose people have rejected him kill his people indiscriminately. To do so would send a chilling signal to others.”
But we can and we do. In Zimbabwe. In China. In Burma. None of whom have been persuaded by past cases and signals of Western intervention to change their behaviour. We live with murderous dictatorships every day. We bargain with them and do business with them. We collaborate with them. We won World War Two that way.
There may be a good argument that we should intervene where we prudently can, and that inconsistency and selectivity is an unavoidable part of international relations. But that argument is different and more subtle than Cameron’s latest spasm of morality, elevating one case to a universal doctrine without bothering to think about its implications for our policies elsewhere.
It is disturbing at this critical moment in world politics to hear our leaders makes statements that are so diplomatically innocent.