British foreign policy is dead


10:01 pm - June 19th 2014

by Sunny Hundal    


      Share on Tumblr

A few observations on the ongoing crisis in Iraq and Syria.

1) British foreign policy is dead
Ed Miliband’s fairly gentle questioning of Cameron yesterday in PMQs illustrated the obvious: there is consensus among the three main parties that there will be no military intervention in Iraq again. The same goes for President Obama, who has been proceeding far more carefully than he is given credit by the left and right. In one sense Syria has sealed the fate of military intervention: when a humanitarian and strategic disaster on that scale cannot elicit a US-UK response, its highly unlikely Iraq will. For better or for worse, we have given up major on military interventions in other countries. The American and British public are firmly against them, despite what commentators in the press say.

2) China is more worried about Iraqi oil than the USA
Less than a quarter of American oil imports are from the Middle East. The US isn’t just a net energy exporter now, some say it may become the world’s largest producer of oil by next year. Meanwhile, a majority of oil exports from the Middle East now go to Asia, and China is particularly exposed. If oil prices shoot up because of ISIS, I suspect China will throw money towards Iran to send more troops into Iraq and wipe them out. The geo-political plates have shifted significantly over the last ten years.

3) We’ll look back at ‘stable’ ME dictatorships
The US supported dictatorships across the Middle East because they provided stability. I suspect we are about to see commentators on the left and right, who earlier wanted to see democracy across the Middle East, going back to supporting dictatorships for the same reason. To take one example, Mehdi Hasan would like the US government to prop up Bashar al-Assad in Syria. I’ve debated other lefties too who would prefer to see Assad propped up in Syria. The same may soon apply to Iraq, and will be an argument against popular uprisings in Bahrain, Yemen and elsewhere.

4) Kurdistan may arise
The strength of ISIS has strengthened the hand of Iraqi Kurds who, in the face of a disintegrating national Iraqi government, may demand an independent Kurdistan. This is on balance a good thing because the Kurds are a persecuted minority and don’t have a homeland. But it may also increase sectarian tensions and there will be questions of how an independent Kurdistan would protect itself.

In my view there is little doubt the invasion of Iraq in 2003 lit the tinderbox across Iraq, but the conflict has taken a life of its own because its driven by deep-rooted sectarian differences. There is no appetite for military intervention in the foreseeable future, among politicians or the public, unless we are under provable, imminent threat. Whether that means we see a more peaceful world, or one where other countries (Russia, China) try and take advantage, remains to be seen.

    Share on Tumblr   submit to reddit  


About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
· Other posts by


Story Filed Under: Blog ,Foreign affairs

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.


Reader comments


I am surprised that the Chinese more concerned with the oil of Iraq to United States, although it is true that the energy demand of China is raise and raise, will the world be prepared for this demand?

“In one sense Syria has sealed the fate of military intervention: when a humanitarian and strategic disaster on that scale cannot elicit a US-UK response, its highly unlikely Iraq will.”

True, although it’s yet to be demonstrated, as far as I can see, how any “US-UK response” consisting of military force (particularly aerial bombing) could have or would now actually create a better situation in either Iraq or Syria.

My mind isn’t closed to the idea military force can work – I still think history will judge the Libyan intervention which removed Gaddafi much more favourably than many on the left think – but Syria? Given the complex ethnic/religious divisions in Lebanon, it would be like the US trying to “solve” Northern Ireland by the same method. Except worse.

3. douglas clark

British foreign policy is dead:

About time!

4. ManonClaphamOmnibus

Does this mean we dont get to steal their oil?

I think we should follow the example of Costa Rica and abolish the armed forces so we can’t be conned into any more “interventions”.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs




Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.