January 13, 2012

IT'S THE ANGLOSPHERIC REDEFINITION OF SOVEREIGNTY:

Cameron the Neo-Con? (Gary Schmitt, December 29, 2011, The American)

For one, Cameron recognizes in his 2006 speech that there might be times when the British government will act militarily for reasons not traditionally put forward by states. While not as effusive as Blair's 1999 speech in Chicago defending the right of NATO to intervene in the Balkans to stop the slaughter there, Cameron did state that he believes "we should be prepared to intervene for humanitarian purposes to rescue people from genocide."

And while Cameron, in his address, suggests that Blair has been too much the junior partner in the "special relationship," he also notes that "Britain just cannot achieve the things we want to achieve in the world unless we work with the world's superpower." Surely this is a point 10 Downing Street appreciates now more than ever, given the key military capabilities--such as intelligence, precision-guided weapons, and air-refueling support--that the United States needed to provide for the NATO operation to succeed in Libya.

Nor does Cameron distance himself from neo-conservatism in matters of foreign policy; to the contrary, he stipulates that he in fact agrees with its core precepts as he understands them: first, Islamist terrorism is a unique and deadly threat; second, military preemption is sometimes called for; and third, the promotion of political and economic freedom "is an essential objective of Western foreign policy." And while one could argue whether any of these is a uniquely neo-conservative principle, it is certainly true that critics of America's post-9/11 policies often point to each as somehow representative of the so-called neo-con turn in American statecraft.

In fact, the real distinction Cameron appears to draw between his own foreign policy vision and that of neo-conservatives is less about those general propositions than, by his estimation, their hubristic application. What had been lost was a sense of "humility"  and "patience" when it comes to the conduct of policy. In short, the difference to be drawn between Cameron's self-avowed "liberal conservatism" and "neo-conservatism" is mostly a matter of prudence in how a policy should be implemented and expectations of its timely success. Or, as he succinctly put it, "we must be wise as well as good."

For the future prime minister, this was especially the case when it came to pushing the freedom agenda. Echoing a long-standing Tory view that true democratic rule is a product of long habituation, Cameron argues that it was wrong to believe that it could "quickly be imposed from outside. Liberty grows from the ground--it cannot be dropped from the air by an unmanned drone."

Posted by at January 13, 2012 6:19 AM
  

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