Friday 11 January 2008

American Foreign Policy

Yesterday the house of Lords discussed the US Missile Defence System. In a debate that lasted a little under three hours, some strong views of the current administration's foreign policy were expressed.

Lord Hannay, (Minister at the British Embassy in Washington DC 1984-5; UK Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations 1990-95); Former Member of the UN High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change.) said "The initial approach of the US to the handling of the perceived threat seems to me to have been deeply flawed and to bear all the marks of that unilateralist approach to policy-making that has inflicted such damage on the US’s reputation and its alliance relationships over recent years. Was it really wise not to ensure firm support or at least clear understanding of the reasoning behind the policy in NATO before moving ahead? Was it sensible not to consult Russia at an early stage and at every level before firm decisions were announced, given the fraught negotiations that preceded the setting aside of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002? My answer to both questions is, “Clearly not”."

"Any reader of Surrender is Not an Option, the recent memoir of the former US ambassador to the UN and Under Secretary for Arms Control, will see there the glee and enthusiasm with which the Bush Administration set about unilaterally dismantling existing agreements such as the ABM Treaty and destroying future ones on biological warfare verification and on a fissile material cut-off treaty, as well as blocking any prospect of bringing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty into force. This in my view misguided policy, fortunately, to have pretty well run its course, but it has not yet been reversed, as it surely needs to be." Baroness Williams looked forward to the abandonment of "what has been much too unilateralist, much too exclusive and much too destructive an approach".

The significance is that these comments come from respected friends of the United States.

Speakers looked forward to the Presidential Election, Lord Hannay commenting, "This year’s election in the US provides an opportunity and is, indeed, a necessary precondition for such a reversal of recent negative trends".