Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Shiraz Maher on British Foreign Policy

Dodgy dossier or dodgy foreign policy?

There has been debate recently surrounding the credibility of the British dossier published in the run up to the war on Iraq. In a vain attempt to drum up support for the conflict, Whitehall had brought forward this supposed dossier of damning evidence against the Iraqi dictator. Its findings were clear - that Iraq posed a real and immediate threat not only to her neighbours but also to the West. However, reports have slowly emerged illustrating just what a sham the whole dossier has been. Much of it was plagiarised from a PhD student's thesis whilst other parts had been grossly exaggerated or fabricated. Whilst a Commons committee now investigates wild allegations such as Saddam's ability to deploy WMD in just 45 minutes, the government has now admitted that the current fiasco is an embarrassment.Nevertheless, the hysteria surrounding the dossier should not be viewed in isolation. It is merely the product of an intellectually bankrupt foreign policy. Even a cursory examination reveals that the British foreign policy is riddled with sinister duplicity. Hence, whilst warring against Saddam in the name of freedom and liberty, the British continue to enjoy warm ties with tyrannical despots such as Karimov of Uzbekistan. In addition, her sale of VX nerve gases, anthrax and other biological weapons to such regimes has been extensively documented. The job of any foreign secretary here is to further British interests. This position was best described by Lord Palmerston (1848) who said, "We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are perpetual and eternal and those interests it is our duty to follow." It comes as little surprise then that when Blair's cabinet announced almost a century and a half later that it intended to pursue an ethical foreign policy, few were taken in. Lord Carrington quickly dismissed it saying, "He [Blair] will run into quite a lot of difficulty about exports and retaliation. It's much better to do these things without a great fanfare."This latest scandal provides an insight at how the West's foreign policy is sold to the public by deceit, lies and deception, guided only by pragmatic interests. And no one should be surprised at the news that the architects behind this latest dossier have finally been exposed as fabricating the truth.


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