War is Coming

war-is-coming-cover‘War is Coming’ by Gordon Guthrie is the first of a new series of ebooks published by Bella Caledonia. It charts the last thirty years of British foreign policy failure confusion ineptitude and cowardice. We launch at the Voodoo Rooms on Wednesday 27th April at 7pm with a presentation by the author and a drinks reception.

Get your tickets here. All proceeds to the Scottish Refugee Council.

Here’s an extract from the opening chapter:

The conflagration is general. We have countries in flames; Afghanistan, Pakistan; Iraq, Syria; Libya, Yemen and Somalia. Meanwhile other nations are smouldering; Algeria, Tunisia; Mali, Nigeria; Kenya, Saudi Arabia; Egypt, Kuwait; France and Israel/Palestine.

Refugees are pouring across the Mediterranean from North Africa and the Levant. There is no road forward from here that doesn’t involve at least a million deaths and probably several.

British foreign policy is paralysed and incoherent. The last two years have seen three major catastrophes which remain unexamined. Firstly, the 2011 Libyan demarché, the great foreign policy success of Cameron’s first administration  –  the one that overcame the post-Iraq paralysis  – crumbled to naught.

It’s hard to believe that the ghastly Ghaddafi state could be replaced by something worse, a broken ruin ruled by gangsters and gunmen, and with a thriving Caliphate. A terrible metastasis of money, guns and Islamist murder gangs spread across the Maghreb.

The second foreign policy disaster occurred within our continent. Putin’s invasion and annexation of Crimea in February-March 2014 revealed our sworn treaty obligations to guarantee the territoriality of Ukraine to be just rubber cheques.

When ISIS burst out of Syria and back into Iraq seizing the nation’s second city of Mosul in June 2014 the nominal strength of the UK and US trained Iraqi army was 365,000.

After two months of fighting against the head-and-hand-chopping, pickup-truck-driving sweepings of minor European Polytechnic Media Studies Departments reduced it to a rump of 10 to 12,000 effectives.

These three foreign policy catastrophes should stand centre stage in British politics, but all are present only by their absence. In this void the Westminster classes wriggled and wangled to get into the Syria quicksand.

For a good two years the frog of war was boiled. News was let slip that, in the normal course of their duties UK servicemen, on secondment to our Nato allies the US, were bombing Syria. Needless to say UK servicemen, on secondment to our Nato allies Turkey, would definitely not have taken part in Turkey’s bombing of Syria  – against ‘our’ kurds.

Miraculously soon after this two British jihadis were subject of a UK drone strike in Syria under the ludicrous pretence of Article 51 of the UN Charter. Don’t get me wrong, if I had to rank the millions who are going to die in this war on some specious spectrum of ‘innocence’ those two individuals would not rank so high. This pretext was gossamer thin, quite the negligee of war, just getting the public used to British forces fighting in Syria.

Pace Tallyrand, we have learnt nothing and forgotten nothing from our lost wars. Not for us any doubts about our catastrophic military failures .

On the other side the jihadis also stand over-confident. Everyone said jihadists could never beat the mighty Soviet Union in Afghanistan, but they did. Everyone said they could never beat the mighty United States, and they have.

When Al-Qaeda led 21 poor Coptic Christians to their deaths on a Libyan beach last year it was to this declaration: “We will conquer Rome, by Allah’s permission”. They mean this.


Gordon Guthrie grew up in the Middle East and has worked in politics through the UK, including a short spell in Belfast during the Troubles. He was a Labour Candidate for the Scottish Parliament in 1999 but resigned in the run up to the 2003 Holyrood Elections in opposition to the, then coming, Iraq War – joining the SNP. He worked on new computer systems and ways of campaigning for the SNP – trialling Activate as a Westminster Candidate in 2005 – before retiring to the back rooms.

Comments (37)

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  1. Paul Carline says:

    Simply dreadful – and I mean the quality of the analysis. Gaddafi may well have been a hard man – countries ‘in transition’ usually need tough government – but the country was one of the most advanced and well run in Africa. He wasn’t “taken out” because he was some kind of evil dictator, but because he had the nerve to challenge Atlanticist imperialism – and because he dared to have ‘their’ oil under ‘his’ sand.
    And no, Russia did not “invade” Crimea or “annex” it. 95.5% of the predominantly Russian-speaking population voted in a legitimate referendum to rejoin Russia. Crimea had previously been “gifted” to Ukraine by Kruschchev to get him out of having to pay a large debt that was due – it was passed to Ukraine. The UN rules include the right of self-determination. The real scandal is that the EU, including Britain, did nothing about the illegal coup in Ukraine and the war crimes of the Kiev junta against the people of Donetsk and Lugansk – not to forget the downing of MH17 by Ukrainian forces.

    1. Valerie says:

      Well said. I think what some forget, is that many have made a point of reading far and wide, before forming an opinion. It’s not helpful to use the Western characterisation of Ghaddafi or Putin, as nothing but bad.

      Similarly, the media and the West have demonised Assad, and punted propaganda, to justify their illegal actions, to try and overthrow that regime.

      I disagree with the author’s assertion that UK foreign policy is paralysed. We are more than happy to sell huge amounts of arms to various to pursue killing, and more than happy to follow America into every misadventure.

    2. Antoine Bisset says:

      Yes, you are correct and succinct.

    3. Robert Graham says:

      a fair analysis PAUL and very close to what i have learned recently ,Ukraine just another CIA mission to add to the many our friends across the Atlantic insist on embarking on every few months to keep Lockheed martin – Halliburton -Boeing and hundreds more arms producers in business , The USA probably the most dangerous nation on earth , maybe renewing Trident isn’t such a bad idea to protect us from them , That is after we change any codes required to fire the damn things .

    4. Zorro says:

      Indeed. He comes across as a fascist masquerading as a Liberal. Nauseating stuff.

      1. He’s really not and the allegation is both disgraceful and ridiculous.

        Gordon Guthrie has written an important and interesting book.

        I’d urge critics to read the book before passing judgement and keep an open-mind to its contents.

        Let’s try and have a grown-up conversation about British foreign policy and possible alternatives?

        Thank you.

  2. Kevin Brown says:

    I agree with the comment above. Rather than attend this, I would rather attend a demonstration against it, if any is on offer.

    Take this statement:

    ‘The second foreign policy disaster occurred within our continent. Putin’s invasion and annexation of Crimea in February-March 2014 revealed our sworn treaty obligations to guarantee the territoriality of Ukraine to be just rubber cheques.’

    Putin neither invaded Ukraine nor annexed Crimea. The US, with the UK obediently cheering it on, did depose the elected government of Ukraine in a coup d’etat. No mention of that? And following from that, no acknowledgement that the Ukraine is legitimately within Russia’s ‘sphere of influence’ very much as Canada and Mexico are within the US empire’s sphere of influence.

    And yes, Gaddhafi’s Libya was a well run country, in North African terms, until ‘we’ destroyed it.

    Really, it is very sad to read this here.

    1. Kevin I’m confused. When you write: “that the Ukraine is legitimately within Russia’s ‘sphere of influence’ very much as Canada and Mexico are within the US empire’s sphere of influence.” Do you mean that you’d approve of the USA ‘annexing’ Canada?

      Can you clarify?

      1. Kevin Brown says:

        Sure Mike. Easy to do. Generations ago I read history at uni. There I learned over years of reading that spheres of influence really, truly do exist; and in a more or less well ordered world free from war, this is recognised and accepted. Canada is so much in the USA’s sphere of influence that there is no need for it to invade — we Canadians just obediently do as we’re told. As a reward for that sometimes we’re given a long leash. I heard it remarked once about the 49th parallel that it is the longest unguarded border in the world because one side can’t defend it, and the other doesn’t need to. So true.

        If however Russia tried to invade Canada across the arctic circle, what do you think would happen then? I’ll give you three guesses… ergo, ‘spheres of influence’ really do exist and that fact is USUALLY recognised, but not in the case of the Ukraine. Why? Because of the ‘Project for a New American Century’. Google it. The NeoCon governed US is out to overturn any nation that might POSSIBLY pose it a challenge; and right now that’s Russia and China (see their defence doctrine ‘pivot to Asia’).

        A more apropos example than the one you cite would be Cuba, who have just had the US embargo lifted after — a geological age. Why was that originally imposed? Because Cuba is a part of the US sphere of influence that was ‘violated’ by the USSR when they proposed to place missiles there.

        I trust I have clarified?

        1. Not really. Under what conditions would it be okay for US troops to operate in Canada?

          1. J Galt says:

            Perhaps if Canada invited in forces utterly hostile to the United States, forces that made no secret of the fact that their ultimate goal was the subversion of and destruction of the said United States, then the United States would have justification in intervening to defend themselves.

            This more or less is the situation as regards Ukraine and Russia with the difference perhaps that Russia has shown great restraint in circumstances that are clearly designed to lure her into over-reacting and bringing about her own destruction.

            Sure black and white is rare in this world, but there is a struggle between light and darkness and all forces are more or less on one side or the other. You have to make up your own mind who are on which side but one thing I know for certain is that the creatures ultimately controlling Washington are very dark indeed and have nothing to do with the majority of the American people.

            Any force, warts and all, that makes a stand against the dark side deserves support.

        2. “in a more or less well ordered world free from war” – which world would that be?

          1. Kevin Brown says:

            Och aye! My tired auld brain. First of all, J Galt, well said and spot on.

            In terms of my tired auld brain, there have been periods in world history where equilibriums of various kinds have been struck: ‘you stay out of my back yard, and I’ll stay out of yours’ (now, racking my brain for an example). Hate to cite this particular one, but how about the ‘Pax Britannica’ (19th century). I recall speaking to lovely Alasdair Gray about periods of history when the working classes put enough fear into the British elite that good equilibriums were also struck in domestic policy — for example in post war Britain, when the welfare state was created.

            But periodically, forces of madness are unleashed. National Socialism is an example; or Thatcherism in this country, that put paid to the post war settlement. Or indeed, the Project for a New American Century of 1998, which gave us Iraq; and which believes that since the US empire succeeded in breaking up the USSR, the ‘exceptional nation’ should now follow up by breaking up Russia in the interests of immeasurable profits for foreign corporations.

            Guess what? This is madness. Russia has nuclear weapons and a much, much cleverer ruling elite than the US deep state. Take as an example Douglas Feith, a charter NeoCon and PNAC theorist, an architect of the Iraq invasion, and per US General Tommy Franks, ‘the dumbest asshole on the planet’.

            When you sign on to narratives like the one in the article above, you’re with Doug Feith, Dick Cheney et alia. I hope you don’t have small children, and wish for them some them decent future? Because by signing on to with the Project for a New American Century to fight ‘Russian revanchism’ (see article above) you certainly won’t be contributing to their futures, or to anyone else’s.

          2. Robert Graham says:

            With all due respect both the contributors Kevin Brown & J Galt are correct in their assertions , the flaky statement it’s ok for the USA to invade Canada then ? is in my opinion plain stupid , others might question your entirely neutral unbiased promotion of this book and its launch as being a little suspect with of course no vested interest on your part ,i couldn’t possibly comment . Please feel free to amend grammar punctuation etc , just a simple pensioner you understand .

          3. Of course we are promoting the book we are publishing! But we also think the pro-Putin, pro-Assad, pro-Qaddafi lobby are very confused.

            When you read the book (as we have) I think you’ll see its a nuanced analysis of British foreign policy.

      2. Zorro says:

        Stop the childishness. Just look at the % who voted to join Russia.

        1. J Galt says:

          “Everyone said the Jihadists could never beat the mighty Soviet Union in Afghanistan but they did”

          Who’s “Everyone”?

          The CIA who armed them to the teeth via their man Bin Laden presumably believed they could or at least cause them significant damage.

          “Everybody said they could never beat the mighty United States but they have”

          How so? I wasn’t aware the US was a defeated smoking ruin.

          They continue to arm the “Jihadists”, or at least the ones who are carrying out useful destabilisation work for them.

          “After two months fighting against the head-and-hand-chopping, pick-up-driving sweepings of minor European Polytechnic Media Studies Departments reduced it to a rump of 10-12000 effectives”

          What does that even mean?

          Bella this is simplistic, rank-amateurish rubbish.

          As simplistic as the notion that anyone who questions “Western” policy is a Putin/Assad/Qadaffi worshipping loon.

          1. I question “Western” policy as does the author. In detail.

            I suggest you read the book.

            There are plenty of Putin/Assad/Qadaffi worshipping loons on here who will appear within moments to explain themselves.

            Are you suggesting Britain and the US have been ‘winning’ in Afghanistan, whatever that means?

          2. J Galt says:

            Britain is/was in Afghanistan as window dressing as were/are the other non US contingents. Their “success” or otherwise is really of no consequence or interest. It’s US policy that matters.

            What the ultimate goal of US policy there is I do not know, and I respectfully suggest neither do you or Mr Guthrie. This is one of those occasions when you would have to have been in the room where the decisions were being made to really know the truth.

            Therefore we can only guess. I suspect the U.S. policy in Afghanistan is some kind of “holding operation” and they may well be where they want to be rather than being “defeated”, who knows.

            If they really wanted to be in a more “successful” situation in Afghanistan they would throw resources at it until they were.

  3. Helen Lomas says:

    I was incensed to read of Russia invading Crimea….so inaccurate. There was a coup in Kiev and the Crimeans swiftly organized a referendum, after seeing who and what was coming.They voted overwhelmingly to go back to Russia. The Donbas was slow off the mark and are probably still being bombed by Kiev, for daring to decline the new leadership. By the way, Russia has over 1 million Ukrainian refugees in their country, escaping the stupid war.

  4. JohnEdgar says:

    “War is coming”, but where and, more significantly, by whom and for what reasons?
    Wars do not come just as there is no “voice of history” just voices of historians.
    Actions and counteractions by politicians , official or otherwise, have intended and unintended consequences.
    It is the blurbs that one constantly hears from “think tanks”, the myriad of “institutes for strategic this and that”, blimps and retired experts and military, butters who talk about ” manifest destiny” ( which only ever is made manifest to the inhabitants of the particular country, never to anyone else) and the “red tops” bleating “they don’t like it up them” that muddy the thinking.
    We do not know where war will come from; we will only know when it happens, if it happens.
    The examples of warring places in the article indicate and imply that we seem to be driven by “foreign policy” as if that were a consumer choice in the free market. When we hear guff like, “It is in Britain’s interest to…”, we must ask not Britain but which Britons’ interests are being hinted at? Other guff spouted comes in the firm of citing some past leader like Churchill on, for example, the special relationship with the USA and citing it as if it is etched on the firmaments of history and is a sacred immutable truth. Answer is actually that Churchill was biased. His mother was American! We don’t hear much of that now. Perhaps not a good thing with Trump around.
    The only thing missing from the introduction is any indication of ” internal wars” and “internal tensions and friction within countries”. The Brexit issues are highlighting underlying xenophobic “hatreds” towards groups and migrants and other EU nationals dangerous or otherwise. The issues around Scotexit in 2014 and growing divergent views on the UK “unwritten” constitutional settlement post 1707, make one wonder if the establishment will go to war levelling charges of sedition against those proposing further constitutional change.
    In the 1790’s the powers used that statute to war on the “radicals” aiming to widen the franchise.
    Clausewitz said war is politics by another means. It does not simply occur or rise up or come. It is consciously and deliberately declared.

  5. Gordon Guthrie says:

    Perhaps you need to read the actual text a bit.

    The US, UK and Russia signed the Budapest Agreement guaranteeing the borders of Ukraine – British Foreign Policy was the territorial integrity of Ukraine – that foreign policy has collapsed.

    British Foreign Policy was to somehow transition Libya from Ghadafi’s fiefdom to a democratic Arab state – that policy has collapsed – destroying Libya and letting ISIS gain a hold in North Africa.

    British Foreign Policy was that a unitary Iraq should have a large army – and that army actually collapsed.

    Do I think British Foreign policy is and was correct in all aspects? Clearly no.

    It is hard not to describe Russian actions in Crimea as an invasion – as he sent the army in. The referendum happened after the troops arrived, not before.

    This book is about the collapse of the UK (and the US’s) foreign policy in the Middle East and the spreading of fighting and chaos.

    But make no mistake I am also not a ‘fan’ of Putin – a man who murders his political opponents and loots Russia for his cronies.

    1. Bob says:

      The book sounds interesting Gordon. I’m looking forward to reading it.

      I don’t think I’ll attempt a reply to the comments above – at least till I have read your book. The comments seem on the dogmatic side – a dogma one might call eccentric, if dogma can be that!

    2. J Galt says:

      “British Foreign Policy was to somehow transition Libya from Ghadafi’s fiefdom to a democratic Arab state”


      I thought British Foreign Policy on Libya was tae dae exactly whit they were tellt by Washington!

      Then again maybe I’m just being “dogmatically eccentric”

  6. Anton says:

    While I don’t disagree that dreadful things have happened overseas, and that often the UK has been involved, it would have been helpful to know what foreign policies and principles Mr Guthrie would recommend for the future.

    It’s easy to condemn past mistakes. It’s more difficult to address the future.

    1. Gordon Guthrie says:

      Indeed Anton there are recommendations for the future. Personally I would have preferred this fiasco never happened, but the fire has been set and we have to live with that. The future is not going to be pleasant however it works out I think.

  7. Josef O Luain says:

    Probably not for a “dogmatist” like me.

  8. J Galt says:

    “before retiring to the backrooms”

    Let’s hope this person has no input into the Foreign Policy thinking of senior SNP figures.

    Who ultimately pulls your strings?

  9. J Galt says:

    What will you be publishing next Bella?

    “How we freed Ukraine or frying tonight in Odessa!” by John McCain and Victoria Nuland

  10. Kevin Brown says:

    ‘Perhaps you need to read the actual text a bit.

    The US, UK and Russia signed the Budapest Agreement guaranteeing the borders of Ukraine – British Foreign Policy was the territorial integrity of Ukraine – that foreign policy has collapsed.’

    Yes Gordon, we know all about the UK guaranteeing the Ukraine’s borders by treaty in the 1990s. No doubt you can give us that chapter and verse. But the US and its European satraps in Brussels (and in London) also guaranteed free elections in Ukraine in May of 2014, and then engineered a coup d’etat. No mention of that? Methinks your selection of treaties is tendentious — another propaganda mouthpiece.

    And yes, the Russian army was in Ukraine before the referendum, by treaty arrangement to do with their warm water port in Sevastopol, which is the NeoCons big prize that got away. No mention of that treaty either.

    My advice: don’t waste your time on this book. Follow Robert Parry on Consortium news instead. Free delivery online, and a much more balanced account than the one above.

  11. Antoine Bisset says:

    I may attempt to read this book. There is obviously so much in it with which I will disagree.
    While the UK has been the poodle and catspaw of the US we have carried out some extremely stupid actions. The US is interested in oil and pipelines and pushing them through sovereign countries, and if the countries don’t like it then it is obviously time for a regime change.
    Call the CIA.
    Anyone know if the radios being used in the field by ISIS, are the ones that William Hague sent to the soi-disant moderate rebels against the legitimate Syrian Government?

  12. deewal says:

    War is not coming. It’s here. Don’t look for anyone to protect us.

    If the unwritten” constitutional settlement post 1707″ is challenged by the SNP MP’s and is formally ended by them the SNP MP’s go home to the Scottish Parliament and refuse to sit in an institution they do not see as legitimate as do Siin Fein then let’s see what happens. If there is to be a war and occupation then let it be. Maybe it will eventually bring about a free Scotland.

    There will have to be a Civil war in Scotland in any case should the above not happen as can be observed by the bitterness between different Scottish Tribes even on this “civilised” blog.

  13. majestic12 says:

    I’m scratching my head here at the naivete of the author. As far as my researches and conversations with Middle Easterners, including Syrians, are concerned, the US and UK foreign policies have not collapsed at all, but are going exactly to plan. The removal of secular regimes and strong leaders has always been the goal. To do that we use our own WMD – Islamic extremism. The ultimate, obsessive goal has been the neutralising of Iran and consequently the influence of Russia in the whole area.

    But…..they underestimated Putin. He’s being playing a masterful chess game, out manoeuvring the West at every juncture. He has a right, just as the West has, to protect his sphere of influence. He’s performed so well- psychopath or no-that most Scots I speak to admire him more than any Western politician. How times are changing!

    1. “He’s performed so well- psychopath or no-that most Scots I speak to admire him “

      1. Valerie says:

        What I think about Putin, is that he really queered the pitch for America and followers, with his timing in intervening in Syria. Assad is currently holding a democratic election in the country, USA said they won’t recognise it, before any outcome.

        FFS, Bella, what more do you need? Clinton leading the troops in herself? These things are far more nuanced, and you need to read some international writers.

        I’m not cheer leading for Putin, he has his own reasons for supporting Assad. Look beyond the Western press.

        I would have thought we had all learned that lesson! Calling folk loons for stepping back, and looking at the whole picture, makes you look sour. You are really putting folk off this forum.

        1. majestic12 says:

          Yeah. Reminds me why I switched to WOS. If you take the trouble to search out the “bigger picture” and accept that everyone in politics (and many journalists) are either lazy or lying or both, then you become a loon or an apologist for evil dictators or a conspiracy theorist. So predictable!

  14. Alf Baird says:

    I am less interested in Westminster foreign policy (which we know only too well) than I am in what a Scottish foreign policy would be like. Time for a shadow Ministry? And for shadow Ministries of Defence, Energy, Trade, Treasury etc etc. Let’s give the people a flavour of independence and make at least some use of the 56 “roaring lions”.

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