March 28, 2007

Is Blair about to rewrite his foreign policy legacy?

Writing about web page,,2044281,00.html

From today’s Guardian:

Tony Blair is pushing the United Nations to declare a no-fly zone over Darfur, enforced if necessary by the bombing of Sudanese military airfields used for raids on the province, the Guardian has learned. The controversial initiative comes as a classified report by a UN panel of experts alleges Sudan has violated UN resolutions by moving arms into Darfur, conducting overflights and disguising its military planes as UN humanitarian aircraft.

Iraq undid all of the good work Tony Blair had done in foreign relations before 2001, notably in Kosovo. Cynics will say his embryonic plans for Darfur are nothing more than an attempt to change people’s perception of him, but they should be ignored.

The West should have gone in much earlier, but hopefully the ‘classified report’ will prove not to be another dodgy dossier. If it’s correct, a no-fly zone should be a minimum requirement for the UN, and if they won’t agree to it, then Britain alone. This isn’t Iraq all over again.

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  1. The West can’t keep getting into these open ended commitments where, for all the best reasons, governments want to be seen to be doing something but then find themselves unable to go forward or backward else we will end up overstretched or move from one sort of commitment to another. Taking the present example of Iraq, Desert Shield led to Desert Storm which led to no fly zones which led to Desert Fox and bigger no fly zones and then to Iraqi Freedom and on to the present unpleasantness and, as yet, no apparent end in sight. In the Balkans, the West contrived to get involved but with both hands tied behind its collective back.

    However, I have no ‘good’ advice to offer. Either, we accept that the locals in Darfur just want to kill each other, in which case we give weapons to both sides and make a buck or two and hope it doesn’t spill out into a regional problem. Or we decide who we like the look of best and give them weapons/assistance and hope they finish the other side off relatively bloodlessly and they don’t get too big for their boots afterwards. Or we invade and take over the country and decide if we will be benevolent targets for all the losers or a repressive colonial power that will govern in their best interests. Though the latter would probably require the reintroduction of National Service.

    Blairite hand wringing just ain’t going to cut it, I fear.

    28 Mar 2007, 12:03

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