Dan Hodges is a former Labour Party and GMB trade union official in the British Telegraph wrote about Britain’s impotence in the face of threats. He made certain observations. I suggest his comments are equally applicable to President Obama and the United States. When our closest ally falls into this type of thinking it is usually a reflection of our own.
Hodges wrote: That Tony Blair a month after 9/11 said: “This is a moment to seize. The kaleidoscope has been shaken. The pieces are in flux. Soon, they will settle again. Before they do, let us reorder this world around us.”
He continued: “ . . . the pieces are no longer in flux. Instead, they lie scattered over the Ukrainian countryside, or drift listlessly across a blood-stained beach in Gaza and down the dusty, battle-scarred streets of Syria and Iraq. “
He went on: “this we know for certain: their deaths [Flight MH17] also mark the death of British “soft power” . . . Britain and its American allies had attempted to reorder the world – most notably in Afghanistan and Iraq – and we had failed. So, in London, a new doctrine emerged. It was not about intervening, but cajoling. A form of internationalist “nudge”.
After telling of his interview with William Hague who said Britain was going about constructing partnerships, open more embassies and engage in more trade deals, Hodges wrote: “Yet soft power is simply a euphemism for no power. Or rather, it’s a euphemism for our unwillingness to use the power that we have. The world is currently on fire. And Britain’s default response is to sit back and watch it burn.”
Talking more about soft power he noted: “Bashar al-Assad sends chemical weapons hurtling across the international community’s red lines. The British Parliament vetoes a response. Russia sends its forces into Ukraine. The British Government stops short of full sanctions. Boko Haram kidnaps 200 schoolchildren. The British Prime Minister holds up a sign saying: “Bring back our girls”. Boko Haram promptly kidnaps 50 more. This is not isolationism. This is impotence. And it’s not just embraced in government, but among the British public at large. “Why should we be involved?” is our new motto. It was heard just before we announced our withdrawal from Afghanistan. It was heard when Isis launched their assault in Iraq. It was heard when Russian forces invaded Ukraine.”
He then noted: “William Hague announced that he wanted to spend more time writing and trying to help David Cameron hold seats such as Warwickshire North. And literally no one batted an eyelid. But then why should they? Because in 2014, the idea of the British Foreign Secretary actually influencing foreign affairs has become laughable.”
He went on: “Nor is it simply further evidence of Britain’s waning geopolitical stature. In the era of soft power, no one has any stature. The idea of the president of the United States influencing world affairs has now become as ludicrous as the idea of the British foreign secretary doing the same. The special relationship is now a mutual paralysis. Conventional wisdom holds that this is an improvement. We praise ourselves for our restraint, for learning the lessons of Iraq. But who really exerts power in the world today? Putin has power. Isis has power. Assad has power. And on that cold calculus, Britain is now a powerless nation.”
Something to think about.