Monday, May 29, 2006

Messrs Blair, Bush and Clinton

Tim Hames has a thoughtful* piece in the Times about the PM's relationship with American presidents. Many people, especially those somewhat left of centre in their political outlook, tend to regard the Clinton era as a golden one. They perhaps forget, amongst many other things, the difficulties Mr Blair had in engaging him in Kosovo; an intervention which is now widely accepted as being rather successful.

The article debunks the golden era myth suggesting that "Mr Clinton’s approach to international relations was rather like his attitude to women: he either wanted his hands everywhere or he ignored the body concerned entirely. .... Too often, Mr Clinton ... spoke with a forked tongue. Whatever Mr Bush’s faults may be, as the Prime Minister has frequently observed, you do know where he stands and where you stand with him."

Mr Blair's foreign policy critics often greatly overestimate Britain's present influence in the world. With less than 1% of the global population and being no longer a super-power even the influence we do have amounts to 'punching above our weight'. The strategy of trying to maintain something of the 'special relationship' with our 'oldest ally' isn't an entirely dishonourable one. It's a complex world.

Mr Hames goes on: "Thoughtful critics of Mr Blair from within his own ranks ..... accept that his room for policy manoeuvre was limited and assert that the liberal interventionism that he espouses .... is right. The tragedy of Iraq, they say, is that it devalued the cause that he champions. ... [but] The idea that there can ever be such a thing as Fairy Liquid warfare — conflict that leaves your hands feeling cleaner and smoother afterwards — is an illusion."

Can't argue with that last sentence.....

* thoughtful piece - blogger speak for one agreed with a bit but not entirely.


At 21:58, Blogger Bloggers4Labour said...

I think I'd agree with that.

Funnily enough, I've always taken "thoughtful" in the blogosphere to mean, "here's something an ideological ally has written. It's third-rate, but it'll push the right buttons with the intended audience and infuriate everyone else". Likewise the dreaded "insightful"!

At 10:14, Blogger Hughes Views said...

Do you fancy collaborating on a little book of blogspeak?! As I mentioned a few posts back, I think the most insulting thing one can write about a politician is that (s)he is "well intentioned" (We need a word for (s)he). But "insightful" is splendid for dissing a journo....


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