Blair bonded with Clinton, but he shares his beliefs with Bush (Rachel Sylvester, 28/06/2004, Daily Telegraph)

[A]s the British and American governments prepare for the handover of power in Iraq on Wednesday, the truth is that when it comes to foreign policy – the area where the transatlantic “special relationship” really counts – Mr Blair actually has far more in common with George W. Bush.

President Clinton was cautious, pragmatic and nationalistic – he prevaricated over Rwanda and refused to send ground troops into Kosovo, declaring himself wary of “missionary zeal” in international affairs.

President Bush is idealistic, moralistic and willing to take risks. Like the Prime Minister, he interprets the world as a fight between good and evil in which his role is zealously to “spread the word” of Western democracy among the unconverted masses. Christianity is not Mr Bush and Mr Blair’s only shared faith.

There are differences between the two men of course – over Guantanamo Bay, climate change and steel tariffs – but their interventionist instincts are the same. When Labour MPs asked the Prime Minister whether he is supporting Mr Bush simply in order to preserve the alliance with the United States, he replied: “I’m afraid it’s worse than that, I actually believe in this war.”

Perhaps Mr Blair is a neo-Conservative. Like several of the Washington advisers and politicians who have such an influence on Mr Bush, the Prime Minister started out on the political Left and has moved to the Right. Like the American neo-cons, he believes that to defend the national interest following September 11 it is necessary to “re-order the world”, even if that means launching pre-emptive military strikes. He argues that, in an age of globalisation of trade and terror, the limits of the nation state need to be redefined. He agrees with the concept of a “new imperialism”, one not of territory but of values, put forward by the former No. 10 adviser Robert Cooper.

Richard Perle, the king of the neo-cons, thinks that the Prime Minister shares his “moral sense” of international affairs. “Oh yes, Tony’s a neo-con,” says one former minister who supported the war. “It’s terrifying. He’s bought the whole idea about remaking the Middle East.”

They’re actually theocons, of course, not neocons.


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