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Thread: Protect Our Interests 1st

  1. #1
    Actually human rights 6th, but anyway:

    The extent to which Western governments have reverted to a foreign policy of openly protecting their own interests post 9/11 is highlighted by the first ever White Paper on "international priorities" published by the British Foreign Office.

    The Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, briefing reporters on the 62 page document, was quite blunt about it. Asked if "an ethical dimension has to be seen in the context of pragmatism", he answered with a smile and one word: "Yes."

    Such pragmatism includes the use of force (though seeking greater international agreement about it) and the encouragement of "peaceful political and social reform in the Arab world," the latter a version of President Bush's ambition to spread democracy across the Middle East.

    Human rights and democracy come sixth on a list of eight priorities and are no longer seen simply as good in themselves, more as instruments which can prevent scourges like terrorism and threats to energy supplies. In a speech accompanying the paper, Mr Straw says: "To fight terrorism and weapons of mass destruction effectively over the long term, we must actively promote the rule of law, good governance and human rights."
    Compare that to the speech made by the former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook in May 1997.
    "Our foreign policy must have an ethical dimension and must support the demands of other peoples for the democratic rights on which we insist for ourselves" and "The Labour government will put human rights at the heart of our foreign policy" were two key quotes of what he called his "mission statement."

    The use of force is specifically mentioned in this paper.

    "We shall need to be ready to use all the instruments we have - aid, advice, training , pressure and, if appropriate, military force - to protect ourselves and others from harm," it says.
    But, significantly, the paper acknowledges that Iraq produced disagreements among allies about the decision to go to war and says that "we shall need to agree how far we should become involved in problems that some might argue do not directly concern us."

    "And we shall need to agree in the UN the principles on which such action is based."
    Is that a hint that major operations in future need broader international support?

    Asked about this, Mr Straw said he would like to see a "modernised framework of intervention. We have to establish principles for pre-emptive action."

    "You cannot have a situation where on the one hand the international community is paralysed ... or on the other hand capricious military action can be endorsed by international law," he said.

    The UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has also called for greater clarity about the doctrine of pre-emption, which is foreseen in the UN Charter if a threat exists but which is defined differently by member states.

    The eight priorities

    These are the eight British priorities for the next five to 10 years:

        * "A world safer from global terrorism and weapons of mass destruction." There is a commitment to "work with others to prevent the development of nuclear weapons by Iran and North Korea."

        * "Protection from illegal immigration, drug trafficking and international crime."

        * "An international system based on the rule of law, which is better able to resolves disputes..."

        * "An effective EU in a secure neighbourhood."

        * "Promotion of UK economic interests in an open global economy."

        * "Sustainable development, underpinned by democracy, good governance and human rights."

        * "Security of UK and global energy supplies."

        * Security and good governance of the UK's Overseas Territories."

    Origins of White Paper
    It was no accident that this document was proposed immediately after the attacks of 11 September 2001.
    "9/11 changed the risks," Mr Straw told reporters. "We needed to look at how we should better assess them and factor in the blurring of boundaries between home and foreign policy."
    The problem with such lists is that they change so often and usually reflect current concerns, ignoring the unlikely or the crises which are far off.
    With that in mind, no doubt, an update is promised every two years.
    Sorry for the length didn't know what to cut, source

    Is this white paper a good thing, it seems imo fairly open and honest and will probably generate some frank discussions.
    An international system based on the rule of law, which is better able to resolves disputes...
    Seems to be suggesting that the current system is useless or failing?
    Security of ... global energy supplies
    For all those that say the US was just securing oil for itself, Britain admitting it was (or intends) to do the same?

  2. The Drawing Room   -   #2
    j2k4's Avatar en(un)lightened
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Oh, please...
    Originally posted by ilw@3 December 2003 - 10:51
    For all those that say the US was just securing oil for itself, Britain admitting it was (or intends) to do the same?
    Just like you Brits-

    Infringing on our raison d'etre.

    We can't have that, now

    Frank discussions?

    Would these discussions include Chirac and Schroeder?

    "Researchers have already cast much darkness on the subject, and if they continue their investigations, we shall soon know nothing at all about it."

    -Mark Twain

  3. The Drawing Room   -   #3
    Biggles's Avatar Looking for loopholes
    Join Date
    Jul 2003

    We used to call people from that neck of the woods Franks so I guess talks couldn't be anything else

    I found the document depressing but unsurprising and I am sure the French, Germans, Russians and possibly even the Outer Mongolians have similar priorities. I guess they jetisoned ethical foreign policy when Robin left the cabinet - it was a novel and contentious concept for the Foreign Office anyway.

    Of course the first rule (well one of them at least) of Economics is that "wants are unlimited but resources finite".

    Just once I would like to post a message without a stupid typo.
    Cogito cogito ergo cogito sum

  4. The Drawing Room   -   #4
    I think this White Paper is very bad, especially because human rights are so low down on the list.

    All they care about is preserving oil supplies and helping the multinational corporations.

    Pre-emptive action is an extremely dangerous concept and should never be considered as part of a global strategy - it would be like saying "When I walk down the street today, I am going to hit everyone who I walk past, just incase there's a possiblity that they might hit me!!"
    If all countries started doing that kind of thing, imagine how many wars there would be in the world.


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