Monday, May 09, 2005

The BB duo: Blair won! Bolton next?

As it was expected, Tony Blair won the general election on May 5. Thanks to his modified Thatcherite economic policy, Britain’s economy has been much more successful than its continental neighbors. However, the Labour’s majority in the House has been reduced from 408 to 353 (the total seat 646). The Iraq War undermined Blair’s position.
In domestic politics, his center-right policy will continue. However, this bitter victory may pose some constraints to British foreign policy. What kind of effects is expected on the trans-Atlantic relations and worldwide?
Blair in the third term may be less brave in foreign policy. In a policy brief, entitled "The Hinge to Europe: Don't Make Britain Choose Between the U.S. and the E.U." (August 2003), Anatol Lieven, Senior Associate of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, emphasized that Blair’s personal commitment and moral courage was important in British participation in the Iraq War. Can the United States continue the war on terror without the help of the most reliable ally? Moreover, Britain acted on its own for global stability. British intervention in Sierra Leone saved foreign residents. It is a disaster for global citizens to have a wimp and dovish Britain.

From now on, America and its allies, like Japan and Australia, may have to launch a “save Blair initiative”, in order to keep Britain fully committed to global security. In parallel with this, it is necessary to keep close contacts with Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the most likely successor to Blair. I hope this approach will help Britain continue to pursue full commitment to international security after Blair.
Quite interestingly, traditional ideological standard has become obsolete in British politics. In foreign and counter-terrorism policy, the Conservatives have become less hawkish than New Labour. This is noticeable in their effort to introduce the Sunset clause, in order to set a time limit to the Prevention of Terrorism Act . The Tories allied with leftish Liberal Democrats when they drafted this clause at the House. Rightist Labour and leftist Tory? It is very interesting to see how British politics will change in the future.

As to John Bolton, I would like to focus on the conflict between establishment liberals and grassroots conservatives. This is the second stage battle between both actors. In the presidential election, the latter won. In the second phase, Move America Forward, a conservative NGO, launches a stalwart campaign for Bolton approval at the Senate. They denounce liberal senators, like Barbara Boxer and John Kerry. Will grassroots conservatives defeat establishment liberals again? The result of this battle will have a critical effect on American politics and its foreign policy. You can’t miss the Senate hearing on May 12.