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Brave to write something in defence of Mr Blair Tim. My guess is that you won't have done yourself any favours with your readers.

Those 'principals' are bland to the point of non meaning. They could easliy be interpreted in so many, non neo con, ways too...idolising a vacuous leader like Blair isn't really what the Tory party was about I would've thought?

Blair's extra-EU foreign policy was his strong point up to and including the invasion of Iraq. After that, he allowed the post-invasion debacle to unman him in dealing with later challenges, and in particular was weak on Sudan and Zimbabwe, as well as not pushing as hard as he might have on North Korea and Iran (though the judgement call in roles between the UK and US here was harder, and the main fault lay in the aftermath of Bush's silly Axis of Evil speech).

We must return to the good period here - 1998 to early 2001 - when Blair's activism was at its height. Conservatives must not learn the lesson from Iraq that disputes in lands far away are not our concern - that was the error of the period of Clinton passivity in the mid-1990s. Instead, I hope that the Conservative government, not directly encumbered by Iraq, can place Britain where it should be (and was in 1998-2001) - as the second global player behind the US, offering troops and intervention in certain situations slightly too messy for the US to want to be involved in, and using its influence to promote British political values around the world. Doctrines of self-preservation and self-interest must be abandonned, and the sense of a need to justify action in these terms must not come back. If we act, it must be because we are right and because we can help; it must be because we understand (correctly) ourselves to be the Good Guys, and that the Bad Guys must and can be defeated.

I have every confidence in Cameron and Osborne on these points - I trust that they will resist the urgings from those that espouse traditional right-wing self-interest and self-preservation doctrines. That isn't where our future should lie...

John Redwood wrote on his blog yesterday that we cannot and should not be heirs to, amongst other things, "Blair’s wars". I half-typed a response to that - happily, Conservative Home has produced a piece on the very subject which I agree with in entirety.

Whatever you think about Iraq, the other three wars look like having been correct. The main flaw I can think of with Mr Blair's foreign policy is his failure to achieve almost anything constructive with Europe - and it shouldn't be forgotten that if it wasn't for Brown, Mr Blair would have led us into the euro. Stopping Mr Blair from doing that should go down in the books as the most worthy action of Mr Brown's career, much as he'd rather receive adulation for his Robin Hood act.

The point is, Mr Blair may have made some mistakes, especially in Europe, but the principles were right; moreover, the Conservatives should not be afraid of using our armed forces for electoral reasons. In the important alliance from America, we may well benefit from a Democrat in the White House - this might help put a damper on the ridiculous but unfortunately fearsome anti-Americanism here and on the continent.

All very well, but invading foreign countries doesn’t help our prospects in marginal Conservative/LibDem constituencies

I doubt that anyone would seriously say that Blair's foreign policy is without substance.

Accusing him of being misguided could be a fair point. But it is an undeniable fact that he has provided leadership in this area and has, if you'll pardon the pun, stuck to his guns.

Whilst vacuous is a fair assesment of some domestic policy, in this area would you not count it as an unfair criticism?

He's right; on foreign policy (save Europe), he always has been. Shadow Foreign Secretary, perhaps? :P

it must be because we understand (correctly) ourselves to be the Good Guys, and that the Bad Guys must and can be defeated.

This is the kind of sanctimonious twaddle that has led us to disaster in Iraq. For starters, Blair is a Bad Guy in capital letters. He and Bush are responsible for so much death and mayhem that both deserve to face a War Crimes Tribunal.

In the days of the dear old British Empire we and other Europeans decided how Africa and Asia should be governed. Rightly or wrongly we then decided that self-determination was the way forward and having made that decision we should stick to it.

The priority now should be to get our troops out of Iraq as quickly as possible and to ensure that the same disastrous mistake is never made again.

If any Blairites (Nulabour or Blulabour) have a taste for further overseas adventures let them stand as the British Empire Restoration Party (or similar) and see how many votes they get.

I can't agree with you Leon. These principles are crunchy. I think there are a good number of people who would like to pull up the drawbridge to the outside world (who think there is no national interest in liberal interventionism), who want to distance Britain from America, who deny that we are entering the Age of terror and who have little confidence in western values.

Traditional Tory@17:43

Yes. It is *precisely* the sort of reason that we invaded Iraq. And the only problem - the *only* problem, at least from the British perspective (for the US failure in reconstruction is not our fault) - is that we have stopped when we faced an obstacle. We cannot expect that every military venture will go perfectly. Also, we cannot expect that, on the whole, values-based remapping of the world will necessarily lead us to become richer or safer. Duty-driven imperialism is not about us promoting ourselves at the expense of others. It is about us using our blood and treasure to help those less fortunate than us.

An ethical foreign policy is like this: In a country with no state, you have a neighbour that beats his wife and children. You are bigger and stronger than he is, and could go round and stop him. But your brother says: "Don't do that - he's just in his own house minding his own business. It'll only cause a fuss and everyone else in the street will think ill of you." So - do you help the woman and children, or do you prefer peace without honour?

A good article Tim, and interesting to read in tandem with Liam Fox's on the platform today. Thank you for posting on a different subject.

It will be inteersting to see the extent to which Brown follows these 4 principles. I would expect him to follow 1 & 2. He will pay lip service to 3 and 4, but whether he has the courage to bear the undoubted cost (non-financial)of taking 3 & 4 seriously remains to be seen.

'values-based remapping of the world...Duty-driven imperialism'

I find the sheer arrogance and hubris contained in those words utterly appalling, and I'm sure I am not alone.

The old colonial empires were also, in part, founded on a 'we know best' policy, and more often than not it was the sanctimonious posturings rather than the strictly business side of imperialism that led to the greatest bloodshed.

Dr Lilco should be aware that the pernicious doctrines of 'regime change' etc are now totally and utterly discredited along with their advocates such as the appalling 'Neocons'. Moreover it is signally unlikely that any more such adventures will obtain a democratic mandate from the people of Britain.

It is up to other sovereign states to learn by their own mistakes. By all means let us offer ex-colonies financial assistance in a spirit of Christian charity but let us rule out all future military adventurism.

I think this is the same as all the policies of nuLab. They worked out what was wrong, and what needed to be fixed (such as the poor in Africa, public services etc). However, their delivery is poor because the PROCESS is based on socialist, autocratic ways of doing things. I wrote on Blair in Africa yesterday in my blog and highlighted the lack of any real delivery for the poor and downtrodden in Africa even in Sierra Leone where we have a military presence so should be able to influence the agenda - another missed opportunity.

Since there is a good chance that Brown is going to get out of Iraq quickly and then enjoy the upsurge in support from voters this would leave the nonsensical foreign policy advocated above as something attracting armchair warriers and colonel blimps.

We need to set good examples to the emerging world powers of China and India by creating global systems that encourage good behaviour. Not bad ones.

Colonel Tim Collins and Colonel Jorge Mendonca might ask why Blair's foreign policy is so screwed up and why he introduced the International Criminal Court Act 2001 prior to sending troops yet again into conflict situations


When the Statute to establish the International Criminal Court (ICC) was being considered in Rome, the United States was concerned that American servicemembers deployed overseas might be tried by that Court. In that event, the servicemembers would not have the benefit of the jury trial and the other procedural safeguards available in a federal district court or in a state court. Nor would the servicemembers be tried in a tribunal that had the understanding of the unique requirements of the military society that the members of a U.S. court-martial would possess. Because the Statute as drafted did not guarantee that the United States would have exclusive -- or at least primary -- jurisdiction to try alleged war crimes committed by American servicemembers, the United States-under strong pressure from the Department of Defense -- declined to sign the treaty. Moreover, unless some solution can be found for the concerns of the United States, it would be surprising if the Senate ratified the treaty, even if the Clinton administration changed its position.

Traditional Tory

You are, fortunately, quite wrong if you believe that the doctrines of the neo-cons (amongst whom I would not include myself) are discredited and will go away. In truth, theirs is the only game in town - indeed, duty-based imperialism or commerce-based imperialism appear to be the only ways it is *possible* for Britain to conduct herself, as her entire 300 year history has shown.

The reality is that we are good and strong, and we must choose between employing our strength and excellence in the service of those less fortunate, or leaving them to be exploited by the corrupt and the wicked. Now: what's it to be?

Now: what's it to be?

Put it to a public vote.

The idea of describing Blair as 'good' or Britain as 'strong' is so bizarre it beggars rational thought.

Traditional Tory, how is describing Britain as 'strong' bizarre? The English language is the global language of commerce and diplomacy; we are a permanent member of the UN Security Council (for all the good that does...); a key member of the European Union, the Commonwealth and the WTO; the fifth richest country in the world; the country with the largest power projection and military funding, second only to the United States.

We're no longer the world superpower, but to say that it is bizarre to describe us as strong or to say that we have any power - and with it, responsibility - is just strange.

Lest anyone think I put matters too simply or starkly, I want to say that the choices we face in these matters are indeed very stark. We must choose: is it

Rwanda or Sierra Leone?
Dafur or Kosovo?
Halabja or Fallujah?
Somalia or Afganistan?
Srebrenica or Basra?
Zimbabwe or Serbia?

Do we go first options here - the choice of limited involvement, preserving our men and treasure, respecting sovereignty, exalting international law, caring for British interests first - or do we go for second - the choice of bringing down opprobrium on ourselves from our friends and from those we seek to help, of losing our men, of making mistakes and killing people we didn't want to, of risking interfering and making matters worse rather than better, of not being ashamed to say that we are right and others wrong, of loving but not always preserving.

So: what's it to be?

"In Britain now there are parts of the media and politics that are both Eurosceptic and wanting “an independent foreign policy” from America."

I wish.

We seem to have a choice between selling ourselves to the EU, or selling ourselves to the USA, or in Mr Blair's case selling ourselves to both at once.

Actually "selling" is the wrong word, because we dont receive anything in exchange except mythical "influence" which evaporates in the morning.

Blair's foreign policy choices have been utter disasters, why would any sane person want to emulate it?

Rwanda or Sierra Leone?
Dafur or Kosovo?
Halabja or Fallujah?
Somalia or Afganistan?
Srebrenica or Basra?
Zimbabwe or Serbia?

None of the above?

I am a committed Atlanticist, a friend of Israel, and a believer in a case-by-case interventionist foreign policy where outstanding humanitarian reasons are present. EG, we should have done something about Darfur years ago.

But in order for the special relationship to thrive, it must be fundamentally re-evaluated in Britain's interests. The true and hard-nosed Atlanticist position is to look unsqueamishly at the insults recently handed to us by the United States, to resolve not to accept them, and to start again, taking the first principle of alliance with America and after that clearing the decks.

"Tory T" is a name I made up that stands for "Tory Thatcherite". The Lady was unafraid to rattle the cage of the US in Britain's interests (cf Falklands). When Bair describes the Eurosceptic who wants distance from America, he must have had me in mind - or possibly Lord Tebbit. As the Ed will know, Tebbit said that he was ashamed to see us reduced to clients of the EU on the one hand and the US on the other.

I agree. America owes us for, in their phrase, "blood and treasure" and they have failed to repay their debt.

I read the most important American blog, National Review's "The Corner". It makes curdling reading for a British Conservative looking for justfication to keep the alliance going. I actually recommend not reading it, as the lukewarm Atlanticist will find their doubts hardening to anger pretty fast.

The relationship needs marriage counselling.

I find Mr Lilico's views worrying. He thinks we are strong. Says who. The Tories were far too ready to draw a "peace dividend" and Labour continued to cut and starve our armed forces whilst launching an unprecedented number of wars. I believe we should have stuck with our 19th century approach to foreign policy of no permanent friends or enemies only permanent interests. With the benefit of hindsight Bush senior was right not to advance on Iraq. Today our troops are stretched all over the world. Shame on our politicians and shame on the senior officers who did not have the guts to resign in the interests of their service men and women. And shame on our pc human rights obsessed culture with its unintended often devastating immoral consequences. Still I guess the wars keep the human rights and military lawyers in business.

The International Criminal Court is absolute anathema to me. Britain needs urgently to restablish the supremacy of its judiciary over EU and other bodies of justice.

Tory T reckons "America owes us"; maybe so. But then of course we owe them even bigger time for rescuing us from the Nazis and saving us from Soviet Communism. It's just a shame so many other worthless countries in the EU don't themselves have the shame to recognise their debt to the USA. Twas pretty much ever thus.

"Tory T" is a name I made up that stands for "Tory Thatcherite".

I'm trying to think of some comment that is not so totally sarcastic as to warrant an editorial warning.

Let me simply say that I doubt that a single poster from any part of the spectrum would ever have guessed it.

However I agree with you on the Americans.

Yeah, like the US offering us a carrier during the Falklands. As if we (by which I mean the Toires) hadn't completely screwed the Falklands first. And like it wasn't as if we had sent many signals to our American cousins that we wanted to keep our overseas possessions in the thirty years prior to the Falklands was it.

To be honest, Blair's foreign policy is pretty much the only part of his legacy I feel us neo-Conservatives should openly embrace and continue (though I still think the UK/NATO/US backed the wrong side in the Yugoslav/Kosovo squabble).

We need to be pro-NATO, against our inclusion in any European Union forces; militarily, Russia has been somewhat quiet for 15 years or so but they look to be starting a resurgence and a strong NATO will be needed in future to balance this, specially in an era of energy-supply uncertainties. And we must never forget the burgeoning presence of Mohammedans at the gates.

The only good thing about Russia flexing its muscles is that it shows and will what a bunch of paper tiger wasters the EU are. So keen on their own satellite positioning systems with Chinese support(?). Still let us not forget the brave Belgians who wouldn't supply us with ammo during the Falklands or was it Iraq 1.

Oddly enough when "Tory T" *started* posting on CH, he used, in his cod email address, to spell it out as 'Tory thug'. Hasn't he come a long way?

"But then of course we owe them (the US) even bigger time for rescuing us from the Nazis..."

Only after we'd paid them collosal bribes, taken virtually all our Ports in the West Indies and South America and given us loans at extortionate rates of interest (that we'll manage to finally pay off in October 2007) - oh yes, and after Germany had declared war on America. Hardly entered the war out of choice, did they ??? Even as Churchill suspected, they did it to break up and acquire choice parts of the British Empire.

Act, if anybody called themselves Tory T and used that email address, it wasn't me.

America did not "rescue us" from the Nazis. For them the war started in 1941 - when they were attacked. If anything they profiteered from us.

It never ceases to amaze me when I read comments people make after reading the contents of one of Bliar's speeches. After all we know about the man, i.e. an unhinged lunatic of the first order, who has proven to be about the most dishonest, inept, and treasonous Prime Minister in British parliamentary history, people still take what he says seriously. Amazing !

His entire record of foreign policy reads as a great long litany of failure and embarrassment. Through his dealings with foreign powers, he's shown amply that Britain is simply a weak, troubled and powerless country that now barely functions as a nation.

It smacks of the Neo-Con types, newly acquired by the Tories as supporters from New Labour, who are desperate to continue under some delusion that they are right to force their principles on the rest of the world. Bearing in mind the mess that the Neo-Cons have made in Britain - is it any wonder that the rest of the world would say, 'Thanks, but no thanks' to the offer of joining this 'New World Order'.

I agree, Tory T, an annoyingly shallow entry by "Bill", albeit to his usual standard. I think that when he studied the history of World War II, he did the short course.

I was waiting for the attempted riposte re the USA. Firstly, do you think we could have won WW2 without the USA and what of the alternative. Secondly, yes the USA exacted a price for helping us and joining the war, but with the benefit of hindsight would you prefer the UK had attempted to retain for example areas we ceded to it? The USA was and is a sovereign nation and acted in its own interests but also ours. It is not a perfect relationship but it is and has been a damn lot better than the one we have with a lot of entities including IMO many members of the EU. And if anyone doesn't think the USA did not "rescue" us from the USA Nazis they should go back and read some history. And whilst they are at it I suggest they visit Maddingley cemetery outside Cambridge and look at the graves of the USAAC servicemen. Pathetic.

Oh, please, Editor, this is such disappointing cant.

Why didn't you mention the single most important aspect of Mr Blair's policies as they relate to people's daily lives, i.e. his desire to give power to Brussels whenever he can get away with it?

"And if anyone doesn't think the USA did not "rescue" us from the USA Nazis they should go back and read some history."

Clearly, it seems, you've never actually read anything about the balance of power in the Second World War - nor about how the Soviet Union actually beat the Germans, long before the US occupied French beaches.

Anyway, as for your fool-headed assertion that they did it for the benefit of the UK, perhaps you should read accounts of the negotiations that Britain had to go through in order to buy, at exhorbitant cost, materials and food to keep us going. There were most certainly no charitable hand-outs, as you seem to imply there were.

As for the numbers of dead in northern France, America had long accepted that to be globally dominant they could only do so by expending the lives of many of their servicemen in fighting wars to propogate US interests. If you honestly think they did it for Britain, you are amusingly and hopelessly deluded. Infact, as deluded as Bliar and his courtiers.

Oh "Mr Coles", do please give us the benefit of your deep end analysis or was it you who did the "short course". I didn't know there was one when I was at Oxford University.

the fifth richest country in the world; the country with the largest power projection and military funding, second only to the United States.

I think you are being OTT here...Britain has no aircraft carriers, no airlift capability (if Ukraine stops leasing AN124s), nor any helicopter lift capability, nor a particularly large army - without drawing on the shrivelled TA it would be up the creek.

Blair laid off 4000 infantrymen to save money; soldiers are fired before they get to 15 years service to save pension costs, and 10% British Army is a foreign legion. It is frankly subscale and substandard.

In terms of GDP per capita Britain is 13th and Ireland 6th; USA 9th and Germany 19th.

In absolute terms Ireland is 30th and UK is 5th behind China but above Italy

When Britain supposedly had its huge Navy in 1935 many of the ships were old WW1 survivors or battlecruisers from 1920......the Germans had more modern ships built after 1935.

The trouble is Britain has museum-piece equipment and under-equipped soldiers who have no strength in depth.

We delude ourselves if we think Britain is anything other than an appendage of the US Marine Corps which as a fighting unit is better equipped than the entire British Army

Well said TomTom. But then how could the Uk or the EU expect to defend itself or project its power or values when the state wastefully gobbles up so much of the national income.

'His entire record of foreign policy reads as a great long litany of failure and embarrassment'

No, that was John Major from his failure to finish off Saddam Hussein when we had the chance in 1991 to the wretched years of dithering and appeasement over Bosnia.

In his early overseas interventions in Kosovo and Sierra Leone Blair was principled and successful.

The problem came after 9/11 when he failed to recognise, and to persuade Bush, that intelligence wars against terrorist organisations such as Al Quaida are not won by conventional warfare. Getting bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq has hampered his ability to take a stronger line on Zimbabwe or Sudan.

What are Gordon Brown's views on foreign policy ? I have no idea, although he seems to be less europhile than Blair which is good news. I just hope he doesn't allow the foreign office to run the show with its usual effete defeatism.

TomTom and Bill,

If your point is that Britain should have larger and higher-tech armed forces, then perhaps you are correct. But I don't think that's your point - I think you are suggesting that the weaknesses you identify in British armed forces mean that she is not a Great Power. And that is just silly. For if Britain is not a Great Power, who were you thinking was? Iran, perhaps? Russia - a country with GDP rivalling Belgium and Australia and geography that prevents her sending any forces out of theatre? China maybe - a desperately poor country that last sent significant troops out-of-theatre...when...1421, maybe? Oh, I know, I know! You must mean the mighty *Australians*!

No. Our only significant rival for second global power is France. But the Blair period puts us comfortably in second, for now.

Now that's not, in and of itself, anything to be particularly proud of or excited by. But what we *could* be proud of would be putting our power to good use. That's what Blair did between 1998 and 2003. That's what we should do if we are privileged enough to have that power one day.


Yes and no.

I have always been a hawk on defence. I believe we should have larger, more high tech and more less high tech forces. I believe we need numbers. We need to be able to put feet on the ground and I also believe we need to have forces with the high tech ability to out wit our enemies. But just as was recognised after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, we must also understand that technology is not enough. In some circumstances we need to be low tech (just like our enemies). The USA , to an extent, learnt that lesson in Vietnam. For examples in some conditions (Iraq/Afghanistan) we need to have enough pilots and copters (if necessary low tech) to carry on. We learnt this in WW2, Korea, and the Falklands. It is all the more relevant in an insurgency based situation than ever it was during the Cold War. That is why the Typhoon is such a waste of money.
The same applies to the RN. With two thirds of the world sea we need ships. We learnt that in the 18th century.

I do not disagree with all you say. But if we want to be a great power we need not just the moral will and the military means, we need the political will to use our means and not just against easy opponents with the aid of the USA.

"In his early overseas interventions in Kosovo and Sierra Leone Blair was principled and successful."

Eh ? So declaring war on a Sovereign country, like Serbia - for dealing with armed foreign Muslim insurgents into its own country - was a success ? So successful was Mr Bliar in his interference (led around by the nose by Bill Clinton) that Kosovo is now effectively declaring indpendence from Serbia - despite the fact that it is part of a Sovereign state - now that all the Serbs have been ethnically cleansed by the Muslims from their own country - thanks to Bill and Bliar. Not quite what the Neo-Cons had in mind, one suspects. Therefore, Kosovo was a total and utter failure (yet another !).

As for Sierra Leone - we only sent 800 troops to permit the evacuation of Europeans - not exactly an overwhelming triumph for the British, or Bliar.

"As for Sierra Leone - we only sent 800 troops to permit the evacuation of Europeans"

What? So why are the Sierra Leoneans so keen on him then?

"So why are the Sierra Leoneans so keen on him then?"

Ah, I see, so you've been taking straw polls on the popularity of Bliar in Sierra Leone ? No, thought not.

Anyway, so what if they like Bliar, Americans like Bliar - doesn't mean his foreign policy was designed to act in the best interests of Britain, only Bliar's ego. It's failed in the former, and succeeded in the latter.

You seem to think that foreign policy should be wielded purely as a weapon to help the designated victim of the moment - rather than acting solely to fulfill the national interest - even if that isn't seen as being cute and cuddly.


!! Really! I find it hard to know what to say that wouldn't be...well...rude and not constructive. I'll honestly try my best, so if I sound rude please understand that I don't mean to.

First, Sierra Leone. Are you seriously suggesting that our intervention in Sierra Leone was not "an overwhelming triumph"? When we entered the fray, rebel forces, which had hacked off the limbs of literally tens of thousands of people, including children, were rampant. The UN operation, in place for some six months or so, had totally collapsed, and a large number of their peacekeepers had been taken hostage. It was on the point of turning from an outrage to a holocaust.

Then the British arrived. Almost immediately the situation was turned around, and when the West Side Boys rebels unwisely took a dozen British soliders hostage, the British raid annihilated them - and they never returned as a significant force.

This was indeed one of the greatest triumphs of British military intervention of the second half of the twentieth century. We saved the lives of tens of thousands of people and restored order and freedom where before there had been anarchy. What is it that you want from a "triumph"?

Then as for your thought that Blair was "led around by the nose" by Clinton, that really is so far from the facts that it's difficult to believe that you really believe it yourself. Are you seriously saying this? Really? What everyone else in the world that knows even the slightest thing about it believes is that Blair persuaded Clinton to become involved in Serbia when he would have far preferred to stay out.

Now there *is* a case that says that the KLA were muslim terrorists that we should have been opposing rather than aiding, and that the ethnic cleansing of the Kosovan Albanians would not have happened without the KLA's fomenting trouble. It isn't an argument I agree with, but it's at least an argument. But your case seems to be one of defending Milosevic's Serbia - a horrifically unpleasant regime responsible for fomenting the first officially "genocidal" wars after World War II. What's *that* about?

It seems to me that your antipathy towards Blair has made you see evil in all he did. But life isn't like that. People that get many things wrong get some things right - for example, I suspect that there will be other conversational threads on which you and I agree...


"Anyway, so what if they like Bliar, Americans like Bliar - doesn't mean his foreign policy was designed to act in the best interests of Britain, only Bliar's ego."

Indeed. In the sense you mean it, Blair's foreign policy may not have been in Britain's "best interests" (I think that he would disagree, but I hold no brief for defending him, so I'll just say that he is wrong in this.) But New Labour didn't *claim* to have a foreign policy directed solely at Britain's interests. Instead it was intended to be an "ethical" foreign policy. And that is at it should be - and indeed is what Cameron will do, also, if he wins. We have the privilege of not needing our policy to be directed purely at our survival. Instead, we use policy to export our values and to offer other burdened people a little of the liberty that our people enjoy here.

To try to avoid this becoming simply a philosophical stand-off, with your saying "Oh, no it shouldn't!" and me saying "Oh, yes it should!", answer me this: Why would we in Britain need a foreign policy directed solely at British interests (narrowly defined)?

Kosovo was stupid...the KLA conned the West into giving them an airforce through NATO.

The 1975 Helsinki Final Act was violated; NATO bombed a European capital last bombed in 1941.

It humiliated Yeltsin and laid the foundations of Putin's determination not to let the West walk over Russia in Central Europe as it did with a Russian cultural ally in Orthodox Serbia

Blair roped Clinton into the mess in Kosovo and had Alistair Campbell prepare a few propaganda issues for the media to use.....and Scharping in Germany pretended Germany was going to remove another Hitler rather than the reality of the case that Germany was going to attack Serbia again after dismembering Yugoslavia so its Croatian allies could get independence and thus exposing Bosnia to disaster as the Federation was smashed.

Major had traded the Working Hours Directive opt-out for recognition of Croatia as a quid pro quo with Kohl.....

There is nothing but calamity flowing from the incompetent foreign policy in The Balkans - it did not start with Blair


I don't want to disagree with you too vigorously (though I do disagree), but I want to say: When we tried to keep out of the Balkans conflict, it went on and on and on and involved hideous outrages that we are ashamed of not having tried harder to prevent. When we intervened decisively, it ended fairly quickly and has subsequently recovered well - indeed Slovenia is now part of the EU, and Croatia is likely to follow. I know which of these phases - stay out, or get in and get dirty - seems to me to have worked better.

Regarding Stephen Tolkinghorne's views on foreign military interventions - how many casualties did we suffer? Was the monetary cost so very high, especially compared to the amounts wasted on various aid or benefit schemes? It is very much in our interest to promote a positive view of Britain abroad, and to build goodwill towards us. A stable Africa is in our interests on many counts, and I do believe in a certain degree of "community of man".

A mentality of dogmaticly adopting only the policies of the immediate national interest ingrains a damaging narrowness and is in any case immoral.

We aren't rich enough to do the nice-and-cuddly thing and walk round the world keeping the peace, but strict nationalism is almost as dated as the protectionist and isolationist policies advocated by some Tories a hundred years ago.

Always suspected that this site was infested by Blairites.....

I'm sick and tired of American soldiers dying in vain, thinking they're helping people of other countries live better lives by getting rid of their brutal governments, when the world really doesn't give a damn. "America owes us"? All we ever do is give our blood and treasure around the world. As for acting in our own interest, name a country that never does that. I'm beginning to wish that the worst dictator ever would take over the world and America to never lift a damn finger to stop it. I guess that's what the world really wants anyway and probably deserves. After all, war is just so wrong, right? Even if it's with the devil? Oh wait, I forgot. In this new religion, 'secularism' I guess there's no such thing as the devil or evil. Silly me. :(

it ended fairly quickly

That is Gazprom Diplomacy. As I recall Viktor Chernomyrdin visited Belgrade and asked Milosevic to pay outstanding gas bills.

Had the British Army been used as Blair proposed (Clinton would commit no ground forces) Blair would have been ejected from office. The losses would have been horrendous.

When the Yugoslav Army withdrew from Kosovo NATO was stunned at how much equipment was there and how little (apart from civilian buses) the NATO pilots had managed to destroy.

The British invading forces would have been minced by entrenched Yugoslav positions designed in the 1950s to ensureTito's survival - we all know how hard it is to dislodge a well-dug in army on its home territory unless the invader has a 10:1 advantage and is ready to take losses..........all Blair could cough up was 50.000 men after scraping the barrel

As I recall Eden faced a run on Sterling and US blockage on oil imports in 1956 plus some Soviet threats........that situation ended very quickly too.

No doubt when Putin becomes Chairman of Gazprom future British actions will be circumscribed by gas delivery problems


Hmmm...I remember all this stuff about how foolish it would be to take on the Yugoslavs, about how many German divisions had been tied down for years, and so on. I also remember that in 1991 Arafat predicted that it would take three years fighting to defeat Iraq. I don't pretend any particular tactical-level military expertise, but my relatively-uninformed perception is that the idea that set-piece battles between the formal armies of US or Western European forces and others would end in anything other that overwhelming victory for the Westerners disappeared in Kuwait in 1991.

That we would win the formal phase of fighting is never any longer in doubt. That doesn't mean that we can hold what we win against irregular resistance, but that's another story (and would never have been an issue in Serbia)...

The Bliar years have seen a decade of ego-tripping interference in whatever he decided needed to be fixed. There are no principles behind anything New Labour does because it has none. We absolutely need a principled foreign policy, but Bliar and Broon won't bequeath us one.

How is it right to intervene in Kosovo and Somalia but not Darfur or Zimbabwe - aren't they all facing humanitarian disasters? Why do we attack Aghanistan and Iraq but not Iran or Syria? Aren't they sending people and weapons to attack our soldiers?

And what's so principled about giving aid to Tyrants to oppress their people? Wouldn't it be more cost effective to deal with the root cause of Africa's problems than pumping aid money into the foreign bank accounts of the ruling elites? Which is the better long-term option: Let them starve and give them aid, or Make them free and give them trade?

We need to get back to basics. We can't become the world's policeman and change things overnight. But we can make a difference by focusing our will on a few countries and backing them for the long haul, then exporting their success to their neighbours.

We need to be stronger, do less and make sure we win - we must never be seen to be weak because the weak have no influence (as Bliar now knows only too well).

That should apply to every international relationship, including the EU and America. We must pursue economic and social policies that make us richer and stronger, not sacrifice growth for conformity with our socialised, low-growth "European partners".

Self-sufficiency makes for sub-optimal economics, but we should be more careful about who we rely on for our food and energy. As a strong economy with military capability, we could increase our trade with Africa and Asia. Investment in those countries would increase if people thought that no-one would interfere with their wealth production.

That would lay the foundations for foreign relations based on mutual respect and interdependency.

The great shame of John Major's premiership was the Anglo-French approach to Yugoslavia. If you go back to the beguinning of the break-up the US, UK & France had just won the Gulf War, Russia was governed by a friendly President and the US & UK still had major armed forces in Germany. A display of power then - probably less than the NATO bombing of Serbia a decade later - would have meant the genocide in Bosnia, the massacre at Srebrenica, even the Serbian actions in Kosovo would not have happened.

Thank God the British elected Blair and consigned Major's approach to the dustbin - the Balkans would still be rumbling on but with Putin's Russia playing a more prominent role.

Douglas Hurd's mantra about no military intervention (echoed by Straw regarding Iran) let Serbia know it could get away with armed repression, leading to the horrors that followed. Mrs Thatcher, to her credit, urged action at the time.

There is a time when force is necessary - Sierra Leone might still be poor and in a worst state than at independence but a few hundred British troops have bought peace. Afghanistan might not and might never be won but at least there isn't a government there protecting terrorists and supporting huge training camps.

The UN &/or US & allies should have taken action in Sudan years ago, probably too late now as China is interested and Iraq has stolen legitamacy.

Iraq was the mistake - yes it was a dictatorship but having failed to finish off Saddam in 1991 and support the Shia afterwards, we had at least finished off it's threat to the region. If Iraq had been occupied in 1991, when the US had 500,000 troops, then its likely democracy could have been installed. Unfortunately the much smaller forces of 2003 and lack of planning for the aftermath has left us weakened and exposed and the world a more dangerous place than before.

More importantly its left the West facing an increased threat from Iran, an emboldened Russia, led by an unfriendly regime, a China keen to capture influence in the producer countries to protect its oil, metal and other needs.

I agree with Griffin - lets focus on where we can make a difference. As a strong economy, backed by professional and well equipped forces and a belief and desire for freedom and democracy we can both influence and improve parts of the world to our mutal benefit.

The UK doesn't only belong to the UN, NATO & EU - we also belong to the Commonwealth. There are many African Commonwealth countries with at least the appearance of democracy and with still a legacy of British based legal institutions. In the Caribbean we have even stronger ties - why is it the US or more to the point Cuba and Venezuala who are the countries building influence there. Why is it Cuba who helping repair the hurricane damage in Grenada? If we focused on the Commonwealth, with support from India, Australia, Canada & New Zealand and South Africa we could achieve much.

As a strong economy, backed by professional and well equipped forces and a belief and desire for freedom and democracy we can both influence and improve parts of the world to our mutal benefit.

What a fantastic plug for Blair and his tinpot dictatorship - provided of course by one of our resident Cameroons.

Since British democracy has been virtually destroyed by Blair and his pack of scoundrels we are hardly in any position to export it to the rest of the world.

Every country has the government it deserves and that's true ten times over in our case. It's time to ring down the curtain on any more sanctimonious foreign adventures and deal with our own multiplying problems.

To anybody who thinks otherwise the word 'Iraq' is sufficient reply.

So - from a number of contributors here we have the allegation that those of us in favour of being engaged in world affairs, wanting our military to be strong, and wanting us to stand up for liberty and to rescue those denied it are thereby some kind of closet lefties - "Blairites" or some other abuse term. Now we may be wrong, we may be stupid, we may be dangerous, but lefties?! That thought doesn't pass the giggle test.

between the formal armies of US or Western European forces and others would end in anything other that overwhelming victory for the Westerners disappeared in Kuwait in 1991.

I think you should stick to writing research reports. Anyone who thinks battle tactics in the desert are the same as The Balkans is somewhat out of touch.

The US Commander-in-Chief refused to commit any US ground forces and Hoalong Blair volunteered the entire infantry strength of the British Army.....which would have taken very heavy casualties.

Just for the record Dr Lilico had Saddam dug in properly to resist the invasion of Iraq he could have seriously blooded US/British forces which were understrength in armour with the US main forces at sea.

Had he cut a deal with Iran he could have pinned down the invasion force and caused real casualties - you forget the Allies thought they were facing chemical weapons and had soldiers wearing chemical weapons gear.....

Do not try to draw conclusions from desert warfare about battle conditions in Europe....very bad move

I didn't try to draw any such conclusions. But it's really a debate for a military strategy forum, rather than a politics forum, so I shan't press the point any further here.

Do any of these detailed points affect whether Blair's principles, or the international foreign policy goals that I and others have suggested, are feasible? I suggest not. It remains the case that strong good countries have the duty to assist those suffering under correct and oppressive rulers. Britain has recognised that duty for some centuries. The US came to recognise it in the twentieth century. And that is, by and large, what will be done - barring only those unfortunate periods in which the advocates of self-interest, self-preservation, and selfish isolation have their way, which have been (and will continue to be) mercifully infrequent and short.

It remains the case that strong good countries have the duty to assist those suffering under correct and oppressive rulers.

I disagree. It is our duty to look after our interests, and to form such alliances as serve our interests.

My point was that Blair is full of grand gestures but the old saying about fine words butter no parsnips shows that between the word and the deed he tended to economise on resources.

Had Defence Spending increased as rapidly as Health or Education he might have had armed forces capable of matching his rhetoric.

Blair talked big and hung onto American coat-tails leaving British forces attenuated and improvising in a way that has cost lives and destroyed morale in anything but the unit. We have a disaffected armed forces - hardly a clever move for a Neo-Imperalisist Prime Minister.

I tend to view Palmerston as the better guide than Wilsonian interventionism. We are a small country and no longer a major industrial power, bootstrapping as we have done in Iraq and Afghanistan will, if repeated, see us routed in a major disaster

As ever with Blair, one has to separate the rhetoric from the reality.

He is absolutely right to recognise we are in a fundamental struggle with elements of Islam. It is about freedom. Yet he has been the greatest freedom-destroying Prime Minister we have ever had.

It is important to be a player in the world and be strong. Yet he has run down our armed forces so that we now get humiliated by the Iranians. And his dislike of personal confrontation (also seen in botched Cabinet reshuffles) means he gets walked on by foreign leaders. We got stuffed on the EU rebate where he gave in, he never stands up to Bush by all accounts (see Christopher Myers' account) and his fawning policy towards Putin has resulted in Russia cancelling gas contracts with Shell and murdering people on our soil. Embarrassing. I'm all for the special relationship but the extent to which we have become associated with one particular political agenda in Washington has reduced our standing in the world.

And of course Blair has handed over sovereignty to the ICC and EU.

Then there is the sheer incompetence. Iraq, the country without WMD, now in a mess while the disastrous war has hamstrung us in our efforts to control North Korea and Iran. Blair has made it harder for any furture British government to lead us into what may be necessary wars. Incredible decisions, such as disbanding the Iraqi army, were allowed to go by. Even his 'successes' are overplayed. For instance, the Kosovo war probably caused more carnage than it purported to solve. Even today they have unreliable electricity there.

Yes, we should stand up to Islamism and for Britain. But we don't need to praise Blair in doing so - a liar, hypocrite, incompetent, a man whose hubris trips him when dealing with the weak and whose gutlessness makes him unable to take on the strong.

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