Friday, July 21, 2006

A progressive foreign policy?

When Robin Cook announced that New Labour would embrace an ethical foreign policy, pundits on the left were ecstatic: at last a British administration would stop handling foreign affairs on a reapolitik basis and introduce progressive ideas into a traditionally cautious and reactionary department. It didn't quite work that way (as right-wing pundits had predicted) for the reason that life is not as simple as goodies and baddies. When I taught modern African history the first thing I tried to make clear was that no-one was wearing a white hat: there were no untarnished heroes.

Blair's subsequent foreign policy has had the attraction of adventure, without the benefit admittedly of much ideological coherence. Andrew Murray, writing in the Guardian, makes a call for a new progressive foreign policy and lays the blame on current world unrest at Washington's feet.

Iraq? US illegal and bloody occupation generating terrorism and perhaps civil war. Afghanistan? US determined to prop up a failing regime - while also sponsoring the Pakistani military government which is helping destabilise Karzai. North Korea and Iran? US pressure for regime change and threats of military action generating an unsurprising response.

Leaving aside the matter of describing Afghanistan as a 'failing' regime (though surely 'new and uncertain' might be more accurate) it does seem a bit much to portray Tehran and Pyongyang as poor little fellows who are only playing up because the bad old US is threatening them. What Murray is doing is setting up a theory of a world war: US v everyone else. Whose side should we be on.

Well, as he makes clear, the other one. He proposes three specific policies: troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and economic sanctions on Israel. He says the Iraqis and Afghans are "well able to sort out their own problems" ignoring what they say themselves. There are arguments to be made for a moral element to foreign policy, though not by the mendacious Murray. As has been made clear many times he and his crowd of STWers are not anti-war in any meaningful sense. They are pro-war, just on the other side.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, tens of thousands of years of peaceful recorded history before the US was created and brought the horror of war upon mankind...

1:50 pm  

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