The Conservatives ‘cautious’ foreign policy….
William Hauge’s speech to the International Institute for Strategic Studies has been widely touted in various newspapers and across the blogsphere. Most significantly it sends a clear message that a Cameron-led Conservative government will abandon the doctrine of ‘liberal interventionism’ something Nick Clegg, like Tony Blair, proudly proclaims he actually is.
Personally,I won’t be too sad to see interventionism ended because I have never felt it has worked and that has been proved in the killing fields of Iraq and Afghanistan. It is flawed in some many ways it is untrue and I am very puzzled as to why Clegg continues to refuse to follow through his observations about Afghanistan to their logical conclusions in deference to a cosy ‘consensus’. Hauge offers us ‘more clearly defined goals’ but not alot on how he would achieve them; is this total military victory by the ramping-up of resources or a negotiated settlement that aims to split the Taliban and incorporate some elements into a new system of government?
In some ways Hauge is looking to follow Obama’s lead especially when he calls for relations with Russia to be ‘reset’ although given the relative balances of power I think that will prove hard and that in fact relations will always be fractious especially given the nature of the Russian regime. Engagement with China is going to be similarly tricky (but equally as unavoidable) and it is a measure of how far both countries have come that it is now Britain and America that are almost begging for this engagement.
Hauge is something of a pragmatist when it comes to foreign policy as can be seen from the list of his stances on Conservative Home which include support for negotiations with the Taliban (something Clegg did initially propose and has rather shyly kept quiet on since he decided the best way to negotiate was to pour more helicopters into Afghanistan).
One area where Clegg does however have the whip-hand is Trident which seems to be something of a blindspot when it comes to the pragmatism of Hauge and the Conservatives. As baffling as Clegg’s blindness is re Afghanistan as is Hauge’s in this area; why it makes sense to pour money into outmoded and increasingly useless (not to mention catastrophically deadly) weaponry is beyond me. It is surely a sign also that the Conservatives commitment to environmental concerns has decisively faded.