Stephen Beer, Blog, Stephen Beer

Stephen Beer (www.stephenbeer.com)

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Our foreign policy challenges

It is reported that the government will publish a policy review document tomorrow (from the Cabinet Office) entitled 'Britain in the World'.

The Observer reports that the review looks at opinion polling results that show climate change is viewed by people as a more important global concern for people than terrorism (which is still regarded as important). The review apparently considers the various challenges we face in foreign policy.

We certainly need to debate foreign policy, in a way that is informed by the whole Iraq experience. Foreign policy is like the rest of politics - ultimately to get things done you have to compromise (except in exceptional circumstances when the use of force is legitimate). That is one reason why we often feel so dissatisfied about foreign affairs on the Left: it is difficult to always reconcile global responsibilities, our actual place in the World (highly significant but no longer a Great Power on our own), with our values and ethics.

Yet we do need another attempt at an 'ethical dimension' to foreign policy. We could do with a clear statement of values, sitting within a mature debate about what is possible and an acceptance that the UK government cannot sit out whenever second best or third best foreign policy solutions are all that are on offer.

CSM (www.thecsm.org.uk) is looking at foreign policy this year and Labour is also looking at campaigns on the issue at http://www.labourspace.com .

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