Syria sits in a region in flames. Diplomacy is a must

Comment

Opinion digest: Syrian military intervention, the new energy bill and the Murdoch's power over Blair

LAST UPDATED AT 11:29 ON Tue 29 May 2012

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FOR SYRIA, DIPLOMACY STILL BEATS BOMBS
GIDEON RACHMAN ON MILITARY INTERVENTION
The pressure for military intervention in Syria will increase dramatically this week after the massacre in Houla, says Gideon Rachman in The Financial Times. But savage repression by a government is not enough to justify foreign military intervention. The lessons of Iraq and Libya prompt caution and countries like Russia and China are keen to maintain their relationship with Syria. Clearly a UN Security Council that gives veto rights to Russia and China shouldn't be the last word on human rights. But that is not the point. "Security Council approval is important not for moral reasons, but because it signals that a potentially dangerous division of opinion between the world's major powers has been avoided." Intervention without consensus would be particularly risky, since Syria sits "in the middle of a region in flames". Sanctions will continue, but what is needed is a more ambitious diplomatic effort "to lever the Assads out of power".

BRITAIN'S CLIMATE CHANGE POLICY IS A MESS
GEORGE MONBIOT ON THE ENERGY BILL
Energy policy in the United Kingdom looks like a jam factory hit by a meteorite – a pool of gloop and broken glass, says George Monbiot in The Guardian. The government has a new energy bill aimed at moving away from carbon technologies, while proudly proclaiming applications for new oil and gas drilling in the North Sea are higher than ever. The only hope in reconciling these two positions is in the deployment of carbon capture and storage: technology which removes the carbon dioxide emanating from power stations and buries it. But the bill doesn't oblige energy producers to use the technology, and sets carbon targets so high they won't need to use it. The act which was supposed to guarantee our carbon cuts vaporises all the promises, targets and legal obligations in the power station furnaces. "This is a government of the old and the dirty, committed to the technologies of a previous century, without a wisp of concern for the future."

BLAIR LET MURDOCH SHAPE POLICY
LANCE PRICE ON THE BLAIR MURDOCH RELATIONSHIP
Tony Blair told the Leveson inquiry he didn't change any policy to try to win favour with News International (NI), says Lance Price in The Independent. So did Murdoch influence government policy? Of course he did. "Murdoch was the 24th member of the Cabinet." As Blair explained to the inquiry, if you own papers with a readership of millions, "that's power". That power - to influence, not to decide - was used most often on the issue of Europe. Blair wanted Britain to join the euro, Murdoch did not. We didn't join. Murdoch used any opportunity to speak out against the euro, and had his papers campaign to keep the pound. Gordon Brown can also claim credit for staying out of the euro, but Murdoch had "power". Blair's relationship to media power was like that of an agnostic to God. "He wasn't sure it existed but he decided to behave as if it did just in case." · 

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