I still remember that day – 2nd May 1997. Tony Blair entering 10 Downing Street becoming Britain’s youngest prime minister. It was not only his youthful spirit that invigorated me but the “New Labour Manifesto” filled me with a feeling of exuberant optimism. His close relationship with Bill Clinton seemed to usher a new era of social, economic and political progress.
The Blair of today is not the Blair of 1999. However the Blair of 1999 did demonstrate a clear foreign policy doctrine that would culminate in the full scale involvement of Britain in Iraq. Blair’s prelude to Iraq was Kosovo.
Kosovo was fought without U.N approval against Slobodan Milosevic. While Milosevic was responsible for slaughtering his own people, he did not pose any threat to any of the major European or NATO powers. The Kosovo bombing campaign was deployed under the NATO flag, although Britain, like the United States in Iraq, committed the largest force. Kosovo was a success. However had it failed, Clinton and Blair would have been regarded as interventionists and imperialists. Kosovo shaped Blair’s doctrine of international community.
The doctrine of international community is based on the belief a globalized world is like a chain of domino pieces, one event can directly impact and threaten the interests of Britain and the United States. The doctrine called for the major powers (US and Britain) to work through international institutions, intervening more aggressively in the domestic affairs of other nations; to strengthen their financial and public sectors, ultimately ushering them into the world of democracy and capitalism.
The doctrine of international community is as flawed as the Iraq war. First it assumes the United States and Britain own the solution to a nation’s problems, disregarding fundamental issues related to the ethnic, political and cultural history of a nation, well before the emergence of superpowers. As with Iraq, in Kosovo Britain and the United States failed to realise the Albanian and Serbians where caught in a dangerous and long conflict fuelled by nationalism and separatism.
Second, the doctrine of international community assumes the nations in questions will embrace the recipe of capitalism and democracy prepared by both powers.
Third, action taken under the doctrine of international community requires for humane motives rather than military interests to justify intervention. As with Iraq, Kosovo did not fulfill four precautionary measures tied to the doctrine including: right intention, last resort, proportional means and reasonable prospects.
Fourth, the doctrine of international community requires for its leaders to differentiate between policy and rhetoric.
Tony Blair and George W. Bush can no longer differentiate between policy and rhetoric, as their administrations have become cradles of spin, leading their electorate through a forgettable five years of foreign policy blunders.