Losing Britain?

gordonbrown 1

Justin Logan seems to see growing British disenchantment with the "do what America wants" approach to foreign policy, but the Anatole Kaletsky column to which he links seems to demonstrate the reverse:

When Gordon Brown returned from his fact-finding tour of Iraq on Monday, he proclaimed the importance of learning from our mistakes but also of looking forward instead of backward. Did this admission hint at a shift in Britain’s foreign policy when Mr Brown takes over in ten days’ time? To judge by the announcement he made in the next sentence – a restructuring of the British security apparatus to guard against future intelligence failures such as the nonexistent weapons of mass destruction – the answer is “no”. Mr Brown’s foreign policy will remain as backward-looking and self-deluding as Tony Blair’s.

In short, Kaletsky thinks Britain needs a new approach ("breaking publicly with the Bush Administration and trying to develop a genuine European alternative to the suicidal American-led policies, not only in Iraq, but also in Israel, Palestine and Iran") but Gordon Brown is reasonably happy with the status quo. It seems to me that there are strong sociological reasons to think a substantial reorientation of UK foreign policy is unlikely in the short run. At this point, everyone in a commanding position in the UK diplomatic, military, and intelligence apparatus will have essentially spent his entire life implementing a policy of being a loyal ally to the United States and are going to be strongly inclined to belief (not necessarily wrongly) that the current series of disasters are a passing storm that will soon be over.

Now, if by 2009-2010 the US is still pursuing policies that everyone all 'round the world think are crazy (also very possible) then things may well change. The significance of the Bush administration and its initiatives is something we're only going to be able to grasp in retrospect. If his successor substantially changes course, he'll be an outlier. If not, then not.