Sunday, July 30, 2006

Britain can't solve the world's problems

In Prime Minister's Questions on the 19th July, in a response to Ming Campbell, Blair noted that Britain's influence over Hezbollah was "somewhat limited".

He never spoke a truer word. In fact Britain has zero influence over any of the players in the Middle East: Hezbollah, Lebanon, Israel, Syria, Hammas, Egypt, Iran, the USA.

Yet Blair has faced a storm of criticism over Lebanon, all of which assume that he has enormous influence over all the parties and is deliberately choosing not to exercise it.

Yet if you examine what Blair has actually said, he's been very reasonable. He's called the situation in Lebanon "a catastrophe", and called for everyone to "calm down" and that "It's got to stop on both sides". There's nothing exceptional in that. But the press is up in arms about it for two reasons - he's talked about both sides being at fault instead of just condemning Israel, and he's been photographed with Bush (cardinal sin). And underlying it all is the assumption that if only he tried, he could make Bush make it stop.

This is nonsense: he has no more influence over Bush than France or Germany, or indeed me. Even Thatcher wouldn't have been able to move Bush (she was lucky in that Reagan was an affable man, amenable to suggestion), indeed there is no reason to suppose that she would have even tried.

This notion that Britain can solve all the world's ills is dangerous. It feeds into the belief in the muslim community that we are a world power, still an Empire, and that we could solve the problems in the middle east, but are choosing not to and some take it further and conclude that therefore we deserve to be bombed. They are encouraged in this belief by the press, and by parties like Respect and even the Lib Dems, addicted as they are to noble posturing with an eye to getting a "Lebanon bounce" in the polls.

The truth is that we are merely a medium European power, we haven't controlled the world since Empire collapsed some forty years ago. We cannot "make" the rest of the world do anything. British muslims, British jews, indeed Brits in general should come to terms with this and concentrate on things we can do, such as improving the lot of Brits at home, whether they are muslims, jews, christians or atheists. By all means hold the government to account for education and housing in Tower Hamlets, but excoriating the government because they haven't made the guns fall silent in Israel-Lebanon? Get real, our government hasn't got the power to do it. All responsible people should be working to ensure that people see things as they really are. Because if people persist in delusions about Britain's alleged influence over the world, the more likely it becomes that we'll see another event like 7/7.


Hughes Views said...

Quite right; but people do like to have someone to blame for all the world's ills and, especially if you don't much like him, the PM provides a convenient whipping boy. One of new Labour's greatest achievements has been to acknowledge the limited power that a government can yield both at home and abroad and not to waste time trying to achieve the impossible.....

Anonymous said...

You should change the title of this post to "Socialism in One Country", it would have a better ring to it. You're talking complete crap snowflakes, the roadmap and the commitment to a two state solution by the US (a policy shift of massive proporitions for them) happened because of Britain.

If you paid attention to US politics it's pretty clear that Britain does have influence. Yes, she punches above her weight, but thinking that we're impotent says more about your own inferiority complex than it does about reality.

I suggest you stick to economics and avoid foreign policy in the future. Even Magaret Beckett is better than you.

snowflake5 said...

I'm sorry clauswitz, but the Roadmap to Peace has died.

If you had been paying attention to world politics you would have realised by now that Israel has dumped the RoadMap (which is a negotiated solution) in favour of Unilateral withdrawal from bits of the West Bank and Gaza, without negotiating about where the borders should be and or the right to return or the sharing of water or anything really.

It's only fantasists that believe that Britain has any influence over the USA. And these delusions of grandeur are being picked up by the muslim community who swallow the rubbish about Britain having influence, look at the results and conclude that nothing has progressed because we have chosen to ensure there is no solution in Israel-Palestine. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is no peace in Israel-Palestine because we have no influence and haven't been able to convince the USA that a negotiated settlement would be better than a unilateral one.