An Exception No More?


Steve Coll describes a meeting with William Hague, the new British Foreign Secretary:

On foreign policy, it was fascinating to listen to the Foreign Secretary tic through the usual issue setsIran, Afghanistan, Europe, global development, humanitarian intervention, etc.and to discover that there is hardly any distance between his coalition’s views and that of the Labour government it is succeeding. I’ll save Hague’s comments about Afghan policy until next week, after a reported article I’ve been working on for the magazine, in which British policy figures, has appeared. But on the Afghan war and every other subject discussed, except perhaps for the European economic crisis, where Hague emphasizes Britain’s skepticism about the euro monetary project, it was striking how centrist and even center-left orthodoxy has replaced the radicalism of the Thatcher years and the subsequent “wet-dry” debates among British conservatives. I used to hold in my mind the truism that continental European conservative parties roughly equate to our Democratic Party in their foreign policy views, but that British foreign policy conservatism was an exception; no longer, it seems.

And this position, remember, is coming from William Hague, one of the formerly more staunchly Thatcherite of the Tories, and still a critical outreach for Cameron on the Tory right. There was never anything "wet" about William. But he has adjusted to reality, as so many of us have.

(Photo: British foreign secretary William Hague by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty.)