Presentation on theme: "Readings: Riddell. Which themes shaped British foreign policy under Blair? How did the Iraq war affect movement towards these foreign policy goals?"— Presentation transcript:
Which themes shaped British foreign policy under Blair? How did the Iraq war affect movement towards these foreign policy goals? What were Blair’s legacies in foreign policy? How does Brown’s foreign policy differ from Blair? What changes are likely to result from the recent election of a Lib-Con government?
Blair foreign policy centered on: 1) Humanitarian Intervention 2) Maintain Special Relationship with the US 3) Re-Align the UK with the EU All three themes are linked. Humanitarian intervention marked a shift in British foreign policy. Blair saw the UK as a bridge between the US and the EU Previous governments have struggled with balancing commitments to the US and the EU. Relationship came under tremendous strain during the Iraq war.
By the 2005 election, the UK as a bridge was no longer tenable. Iraq damaged UK/EU ties and arguably cost Tony Blair the office of PM Many argued that Blair gave too much to the US without getting much in return. Few changes during the Brown administration: 1) Humanitarian intervention has taken on a more international institutional focus. 2) Despite some initial cooling, US-UK relationship still central. 3) Slowed movement towards further EU integration within the UK. Cameron administration re-evaluating British foreign policy. Conservatives typically more Atlanticist than the Liberal Democrats. Liberal Democrats more pro-European than the Tories.
Mutual dependence has created a world where sovereignty is no longer absolute. Where states were failing to address human rights concerns within their boundaries, their sovereignty could be forfeited. The UK and the international community have a responsibility to intervene in places where human rights are being violated. Foreign aid, protection of human rights, and strategic use of arms sales are the basis of this new doctrine. Banning of weapons such as land mines and torture also key. Combined an “ethical” foreign policy with support for US/UK ties. But what actions trigger intervention?
Blair maintained close connections with the UK during his time in Downing Street. Modeled New Labour after Clinton’s “New Democrat” playbook. ▪ Clinton as “mentor” until impeachment inquiry. ▪ Blair as an equal following inquiry. Worked to maintain strong connections to the Bush administration after Clinton’s departure. Involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan with the US cemented British tied with the US. But they also strained relationships with the EU.
Blair marked a distinct change from the Thatcher and Major years on the issue of the EU. Traditional opposition towards German-French cooperation over ESDI ended nder Blair. Blair believed that ESDI should not duplicate but enhance NATO functions. This would boost European bargaining weight at the international level. Would enhance the UK as a “pivot” power. But Atlantic/European ideals are not always in sync. EU constraints are greater than often admitted. Iraq war damaged UK/EU ties; Brown attempted to reduce suspicion of the UK in the EU. Cameron is not trusted by the EU Clegg on the other hand is quite popular to EU leaders.
Blair’s foreign policy centered on ethics in foreign policy. Formed in part as a response to failures to stop ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. Concept of humanitarian intervention first raised in a Chicago speech in A search for a more “moral” foreign policy.
When should the UK intervene? Blair laid out five questions which must be addressed: 1) Are we sure of our case? 2) Have we exhausted all diplomatic options? 3) Are there military options we can sensibly and prudently undertake? 4) Are we prepared for the long-term? 5) Do we have national interests involved? If the answer is yes, the UK has a right to intervene.
Cook: Focused on violence as a last resort; suggested that force should be used in accordance with international law and should be multilateral. Cook: Should have UN Security Council backing whenever possible. Willingness to use force relatively new for a Labour PM. Used as a basis for UK involvement in Kosovo and Sierra Leone.
Major-Clinton relationship chilly; Blair election improved US-UK ties. US-UK relationship central; but UK could act as a bridge between the US and the EU. Riddell: Clinton as the “older brother” pushing Blair towards the “Third Way” Disagreement over Kosovo; Blair pushed the US to work multilaterally through NATO.
Blair government more firmly in the pro- European camp than earlier Labour manifestoes. Much more supportive of the EU than the Conservatives. EU member states cautiously optimistic about the Blair government. Despite a more pro-European stance, Blair obtained several opt-outs from EU treaties. Waiver from Schengen and adoption of the euro two of the most visible.
Decision to avoid entry into eurozone caused irritation in Europe. Government supported euro adoption in principle. But it would be a tough sell domestically. Response: Ensure that the British economy is more in line with the euro zone economy prior to entry. Gordon Brown’s “five tests” Intention was to push off adoption of euro until the second term. Agreed to hold a referendum on entry. This decision also irritated Brussels.
Sought strong agreements on European defense. 1998: St Malo agreement placed Britain with France and Germany on the issue of ESDI. Irritated the Clinton Administration. Won concessions from Chirac that ESDI would not compete with NATO. Summit concluded NATO would be primary actor for collective defense. Blair: building up independent European capability shows resolve to Atlanticism. ESDI can be useful in instances where the US does not wish to intervene.
Blair’s commitment to intervention strengthened in the aftermath of 9/11. He believed that fundamental values were under threat. Focus of intervention arguably shifted. Away from human rights to security. Placed UK squarely within the “Responsibility to Protect (R2P)” discourse. Central to framing the intervention in Iraq. Possibility of WMD in Iraq used to justify intervention.
CRITIQUES 1) Policy is well meaning but flawed. 2) Main objectives strong but implementation problematic. 3) No substantive change in British foreign policy. REJOINDERS 1) International interdependence creates a new normative framework. 2) UN dictates are worthless if they are not enforced. 3) Failed states cannot be fixed without military components. 4) No double standard; self interest can motivate intervention.
Blair-Bush relationship did not have the same elder/younger component. 9/11 refocused Bush Administration foreign policy. Doctrine of preventive war offered as a response to terror. Blair determined not to let the US “go it alone” Attempt to push the US towards international institutions.
Blair’s refusal to speak out publicly against perceived US unilateralism, Guantanamo Bay, led many to argue that Blair was Bush’s “poodle” Blair knew Bush valued loyalty; refused to speak out publicly. Blair wanted two things from the Bush Administration: 1) That the US seek a UN resolution for the invasion. 2) That the US recommit itself to solving the Israeli- Palestine conflict.
What did Blair get from the relationship? Evidence is mixed. 1) Bush did go to the UN; UK as a “bridge to the EU” failed to move France and Germany. French announcement that they would veto any push towards military action gave Bush Administration what they needed to intervene. Blair would try to win Parliamentary approval on the basis of WMD; Bush would push for regime change. 2) Bush did come out in favor of Israeli-Palestinian roadmap for peace. But attention came late in the administration.
2002: Euro currency enters circulation. Blair under pressure to adopt the currency. Brown claimed economic conditions not met yet. Would make a decision within two years. 2003: UK had “made progress” on the “Five Tests” Brown said the UK was not ready to join the euro zone. Many in the EU doubted British resolve at this point Believed that desire to enter eurozone no longer credible. Commitment to referendum reinforced this idea. ▪ Blair’s declining popularity made winning a referendum unlikely.
Early British commitment to Afghanistan raised suspicions in the EU. Blair derided as “too aggressive”. Commitment to Iraq flew in the face of German and French governmental opinion. British stance resonated amongst Eastern European states. Split EU. 2003: Praline Summit attempted to divorce ESDI from NATO. Caused tension between the EU and the US and UK. Blair continued to push for NATO as central to EU defense. Centrality of NATO placed in the draft Constitution. Blair: Recognition that any ESDI without UK support would be useless
Failure to find WMD in Iraq weakened Blair’s position on this issue. Damaged the conception of humanitarian intervention. Also prompted a review of the decision to go to war. Stretching of British military made involvement in other conflicts Burma, Darfur, etc. unlikely. Concept of R2P re-evaluated after Blair leaves office.
2006: Speeches on roadmap for peace drowned out by British refusal to condemn Israeli incursion into Lebanon. Some shifts in Bush’s second term attributed to British pressure. Pushed for US engagement with Palestine. Removal of Rumsfeld and public pressure pushed Bush to soften tone against Syria and Iran. Blair/Merkel did win concession from Bush that global warming was “real” 2007: US commitment to dialogue with China/India on reducing carbon emissions seen as positive.
2004: Decision that the UK would put the European Constitution to a referendum made in response to public pressure. Blair supported the treaty but winning approval in a referendum unlikely. Call for referendum caused further irritation in Brussels. ▪ Some EU states argued that if the UK failed to adopt the constitution, the EU could adopt a “two-speed” approach. ▪ Others suggested pressuring the UK to leave. Decides to hold a referendum towards the end of the ratification process. Defeats in France and the Netherlands removed political pressure on Blair to hold referendum. ▪ European treaties require unanimity. 2007: Government contends that the Lisbon Treaty differs from the Constitution and would not necessarily be subject to a referendum. Method of approval would be left up to Brown. ▪ Passed in parliament.
Took over from Blair on 27 June Began re-evaluating R2P: R2P should occur within an institutional framework. Support for UN reform key under Brown. Miliband: “To assert shared values is not enough. We must embody them in shared institutions” No active repudiation of British involvement in Afghanistan or Iraq. Judge withdrawal on the basis of facts “on the ground” But acknowledged that the British military is stretched too thin to be active in future conflicts. Tied further deployments to Afghanistan to commitments from other NATO countries.
Evolving consensus around a new test. Lord Malloch-Brown: 1) Are interventions rule based? 2) Are we willing to sustain them in the long-term? 3) Is there adequate burden sharing? 4) Will they actually curtail the loss of life? ▪ Not clear that either Iraq or Afghanistan would have met these criteria.
UK maintaining presence in Afghanistan; drawing down troops in Iraq. Initially pulled away from Bush; spurned the term “special relationship” Late push towards multilateralism heartened Brown administration. Maintained centrality of special relationship. Brown did not refer to the UK as bridge, however. Revived relationship under Obama More popular amongst British citizens than Bush. Obama a bit more reserved on connections to Brown.
Was believed that Brown would be more pro-European than Blair. In office, not so obvious this was the case. Favored further enlargement of the EU and opposed deepening (similar to Blair). Decision to sign Lisbon Treaty after others did was seen as problematic in Brussels. Made political sense domestically. Effectiveness in Brussels limited. Not seen as “likable” Referendum still required for euro adoption. Never occurred.
Humanitarian Intervention: 1) Formed an initial basis for entering Iraq and Afghanistan. 2) Iraq war made forays into other “failed states” (e.g. Burma and Zimbabwe) difficult. 3) Maintained under Brown but with a new emphasis on international institutions and a downplaying of hard power. Probably dead under the Con-Lib coalition Military forces are stretched too thinly. Liberals opposed Iraq war anyway.
Special Relationship 1) US changed tack and sought UN support for the Iraq war. 2) Bush did get involved in the Israeli-Palestine conflict. ▪ But late involvement limited influence. ▪ Blair was appointed Quartet envoy. 3) Blair arguably did push Bush on the issue of climate change.
Blair paid a much higher political price than Bush did for maintaining the relationship. Bush administration rhetoric did not help Blair’s political cause. Brown sought to maintain the relationship. Particularly after Obama took office. Re-evaluation of relationship occurring under Cameron. Cameron believes the relationship is special but should be re-evaluated. Clegg believes the UK should focus more on the EU.
Re-Orienting the UK 1) Blair’s bridge strategy failed; Iraq proved too big a bridge to cross. 2) Brown did not adopt this bridge discourse. ▪ But he was also not as warm towards the EU as was anticipated. 3) Brown did not really shift from Blair’s positions on the EU ▪ Did not push for euro entry Adoption of the euro unlikely under Lib-Con. Both favor a referendum before any power is shifted to Brussels. Liberal Democrats pro EU; Tories more euroskeptic.
Conclusions: Britain after Blair Readings: Dunleavy CH 16 and 17