Sunday, August 03, 2003
Riding two horses - 3rd August 2003, 17.39

Mary Dejevsky, Diplomatic Editor of the Independent, provides an overview of Blairite foreign policy, comparing professed 'targets' with their outcomes. She argues that the dominant theme of the past year has been the war with Iraq. This seminal event witnessed a move by the Blair government away from Europe and towards the United States with consequences for the European Constitution and Britain's reputation.

In order to maintain a position "at the heart of Europe", Blair has downplayed Britain's opposition to the draft European Constitution and has accepted this diminution of sovereignty to attack perceptions upon the Continent that the UK is not a team player. Yet, he does not use his influence to support the Euro.

Mr Blair is starting to mend fences with Europe - he has initiated a rapprochement with France and has limited British objections to the draft European Constitution....It is hard to see Britain being at the heart of Europe unless, at very least, it embraces the euro, yet Mr Blair is still declining to lend the authority of his office to an energetic campaign for Britain to join the euro.

Dejevsky states that Blair has chosen closer ties with the United States and recognises the damage that this causes to Britain's memberhip of the European Union. Her arguments are flawed because they depend upon Blair perceiving British foreign policy as a trade-off between the USA and the EU on a zero sum basis. Why would Blair support the Euro if he knew that he was unlikely to win the referendum? Blair will not expend his diminishing political capital on a this cause.

Blair's statements demonstrate that he sees no distinction between support for the United States and enthusiasm for deeper European integration since he perceives both processes to be virtuous trends, reinforcing each other, and reinvigorating the Atlantic community of democracies. That continental countries do not support this strategy makes Blair even more determined to continue this course of action and save the irresponsible Europeans from themselves.

Nevertheless, the divisions between Britain and Gaullist integrationists are clear. After Hoon's declaration of our new status as an American satrapy, their perceptions are succinctly summed up:

Having joined the US in defying the UN over Iraq, Mr Blair is now trying to rebuild Britain's multilateralist credentials. The rapprochement with the EU is one aspect. The other is the effort that he is spearheading to reform the UN. From the post-Iraq perspective, however, Mr Blair will find it hard to dispel the impression that Britain's foreign policy goes much beyond advising, warning and cajoling its senior partner, the US.


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