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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Blair + liberal internationalism « Previous | |Next »
June 2, 2007

Christianity matters to Tony Blair. There was a missionary element to his rhetoric. He looked and sounded like a preacher man. True, there was less religion in Blair's public rhetoric of an 'ethical foreign policy' than the good and evil rhetoric of the Bush administration.

Like many Europeans I always found the religion of the Bush administration a big problem. I just switched off when I heard the God squad talk. If a bellicose nationalism is one of the reasons American political culture is alien, then another reason is the deep religious current in American political life.

Peter Brooks

I was initially attracted to Blair's respect for international law, his desire to go through the United Nations, his emphasis on aid, on the Third World, his support for the welfare state, for social justice, and his approach to Israel and Palestine. Blair was a good advocate for liberal internationalism--- that the West should try consistently to promote respect for human rights, pluralism, democracy.

During the 1990s Blair's Christian ethos of the good Samaritan who should help the stricken suffering from despotism, looked good. Military intervention has a place, particularly in order to forestall humanitarian disasters.

Liberal internationalists see the moral case against despotism abroad as a principle that trumps sovereignty. They reject the monopoly of states over international relations, pointing to other actors, the many international non-governmental organisations, like Human Rights Watch. They want to see international institutions enforce justice against recalcitrant states. So we ought to send troops to Darfur, and that it was right to send soldiers into the former Yugoslavia.

They are in contrast to he realists in international relations who take the nation state, pursuing its interests, to be the irreducible element of international relations, and so set a relatively high store by the concept of state sovereignty. They tend to be sceptical of state-building and democratisation programmes. They counsel the foreign policy objective of maintaining a 'balance of power' and rejecting the idea of permanent alliances.

Yet when liberal internationalism was put into practice by practice it looked seedy, tacky and compromised when it aligned itself with the destructive unilateralism of the neo-conservative Bush administration under the banner of the values of the United West. It became a pro-American stance---an acceptance of American exceptionalism ---because Bush never really listened to Blair and his advocay that international legitimacy should be delivered through a new multilateralism.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 4:38 PM | | Comments (2)


Doesn't the cartoon sum it up? THE example of one cartoon- just a few pencil strokes, what's more!
Worth a trillions of words..
But this is the "civilised"and "Christian"West all over.
Do other readers ever wonder what the "barbecue-stopper" must be on xmass day at the Costello house?

Peter Brookes was voted cartoonist of the year in the UK in 2006.