Global Policy Forum

Blair Calls On UN to Ease Invasion of 'Bad' Countries


By Andrew Grice

November 16, 2004

Tony Blair warned the United States last night not to go it alone as the world's policeman as he urged America and Europe to unite behind a new doctrine that would allow the most powerful nations to intervene against regimes that harm their own people. The Prime Minister issued a strong plea to US neo-conservatives to endorse a multilateral approach, through a United Nations armed with a new charter allowing it to force "bad" countries like Saddam Hussein's Iraq to respect human rights and democracy. But he also appealed to his domestic critics and countries such as France and Germany not to ridicule America's arguments or "parody" George Bush.

Three days after talks with the US President in Washington, Mr Blair used his annual keynote foreign affairs speech to flesh out the ideas they discussed about how to spread democracy. But on the day that the moderate Colin Powell announced his departure as Secretary of State, Mr Blair said that the US had to reach out to the rest of the world. He told the Lord Mayor's banquet at Guildhall in London: "Democracy is the meeting point for Europe and America. I am not - repeat not - advocating a series of military solutions to achieve it. But I am saying that, patiently and plainly, Europe and America should be working together to bring the democratic human and political rights we take for granted to the world denied them."

Mr Blair urged Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, to include in a package of reforms he will unveil in the next few weeks "a greater role of leadership for the UN on the responsibility of states to protect, not injure, their own citizens." Distancing himself from American neo-conservatives, he warned: "None of this will work, however, unless America too reaches out. Multilateralism that works should be its aim. I have no sympathy for unilateralism for its own sake."

Officials declined to speculate on which countries might be targeted under Mr Blair's proposed doctrine, which has been described as "liberal imperialism". They stressed that he was "not advocating a military solution to every problem". The Prime Minister said Britain had a "unique role" to play neither as "an American poodle nor a European municipality". But he admitted that the "relationship is under question as never before". He went on: "Call it a bridge, a two-lane motorway, a pivot or call it a damn high-wire, which is often how it feels; our job is to keep our sights firmly on both sides of the Atlantic, use the good old British characteristics of common sense and make the argument."

He said there was "an opportunity" for Europe because American policy was evolving. "Increasingly, both Europe and America are coming to realise that lasting security against fanatics and terrorists cannot be provided by conventional military force but requires a commitment to democracy, freedom and justice." The Prime Minister said that America did make mistakes and, "in its insularity of thinking", sometimes seemed obstinate to the concerns of the rest of the world. "But I know one thing. If we were under direct threat, America would be our ally."

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