Sunday, April 06, 2003
Understanding Blair (Revisited) - 6th April 2003, 20.27

Glenn Frankel at the Washington Post also recalled Blair's speech in Chicago and the vision of international security achieved through law and multilateral institutions that he set out. Frankel correctly identifies the separate roots of neoconservatism that motivate the Bush administration on the one hand and the Gladstonian moral sense of justice that motivates Blair. Perhaps they read my post from the 31st March. Who knows?

The radical steps that Blair has taken are not recognised. From his support for the United Nations in the past:

The world must deal forcefully, he declared, with tyrants like Iraqi President Saddam Hussein who oppress their own people and threaten other countries with weapons of mass destruction. But he couched his argument in terms of repairing the international community, and called for strengthening the United Nations as "its central pillar."

Yet, the actions against Kosovo and Sierra Leone, retrospectively ratified by the United Nations were precursors and indicators of Balir's current approach in the Iraqi crisis. Our Prime Minister recognises the usefulness of multilateral institutions in obtaining collective security but if they were unable to act, he did not feel bound by their constraints. His record clearly demonstrates that Blair would respect international law but that he did not consider it to be a higher authority than his own moral impulse.

Once the war in Iraq ends, that same battle may be fought over a series of post-conflict issues, starting with the role of the United Nations in governing and reconstructing Iraq. In each instance, analysts say, Blair is likely to wind up as the man in the middle, seeking to reconcile the demands and concerns of Washington with those of its antagonistic European allies, and working in the name of his vision of an international community. "Of course there will be stresses and strains," said an official close to the prime minister. "But he believes this is the only way to go."

Blair remains in contact with European leaders as they are too important to freeze out but it is doubtful that he will allow support for the United Nations to jeopardise his relationship with the United States. On the other hand, his moral impulse may demand that he seeks another resolution from the United Nations to legitimate the war in Iraq retrospectively and providing them with a grandstanding role in postwar administration.

Now that Britain has served its purpose as the 'loyal ally', Bush may decide to sideline this country in the aftermath of the war and ensure that Blair's influence on Iraq is securely channelled to less sensitive subjects like international development and away from security issues. However, given the rise in taxation and dissatisfaction with public services, Blair may find his attention wrested back to the domestic scene, especially as the economy has been run by chimpanzees for the last six years.

(from Conservative Observer)


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