Monday, October 13, 2003

There's been a veritable avalanche of stuff on the impact of Iraq on US foreign policy but comparatively less on what the war and its outcome portend for Tony Blair and Great Britain. I have to confess that I'm a relative neo-phyte when it comes to British foreign policy but it seems to me that after Iraq, Blair is something of a busted flush. It's hard to imagine him backing the US on any major initiative in the near future (not that that is likely anytime soon) and it also seems unlikely that he would commit Britain to the sort of intervention based on humanitarian principles that seemed to be his trademark. For those of us who had hoped that Britain's intervention in Sierra Leone might herald the beginning of re-engagment with Africa, this is unfortunate. Iraq probably marks the end of a particularly Blairite foreign policy and sinks the chance of a more outward looking Britain prepared to intervene in places that have little strategic importance. Charles Grant has an article in this month's Prospect magazine (you may need to dig around a bit) which goes into this in more detail, suggesting that Britain will need to regroup and focus on re-building links with Europe before it moves forward. Nothing much in this for Africa, I'm afraid, except to say that now that Uncle Sam has decided not to play ball in Liberia it seems unlikely that anyone is going to take much of an interest in our affairs for a while. Does France's involvement in the Ivory Coast count? I suspect not. The number of French interventions premised upon humanitarian principles could be counted on one finger!

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