|You are in: Talking Point|
Tuesday, 8 January, 2002, 09:35 GMT
Can Britain be a force for good?
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has set out his vision for Britain's role in the world after arriving in India on the second leg of his diplomatic tour of South Asia.
Mr Blair told business leaders in the Indian city of Bangalore that the UK's past meant it had "unparalleled connections" with countries across the globe, and was ready to take a leading role in the fight against terrorism.
He said the days of empire were long gone but a new "modern foreign policy" for Britain was emerging.
"We are not a super power, but we can act as a pivotal partner, acting with others to make sense of this global interdependence and make it a force for good, for our own nation and the wider world," he said.
Can Britain be a force for good in the world? Do you agree with Mr Blair's comments? Do you think his current tour of South Asia will increase the UK's profile on the international stage?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Blair is meant to be PM of the UK, not the world. He should mind his own business and get back to sorting the many problems we have back here and let the UN sort out the world's problems. He is only doing it for publicity and to boost his already massive ego.
It seems that the English believe their Prime Minister should tend the home fires as opposed to trying to put out fires in South Asia. I tend to agree with them since he seems to have no new ideas to solve decades old problems.
It is difficult to understand what Tony Blair hopes to achieve with his shuttle diplomacy. I appreciate his honesty and initiative in wanting to do good. But the Indian people will be hard pressed to trust him. India had been agonisingly sidelined and never listened to for several years when evidence was given for the terrorist activities carried out in the camps of Afghanistan under Taleban with the support of Pakistan.
Catherine, UK/ Greece, UK
I am a medical student from London currently working in a hospital in Bangalore. Having seen Tony Blair out and about in the city and read about his talks in local papers I can say that I am extremely proud of the way that our Prime Minister has conducted himself since September 11th. He has emerged as an important diplomat on the world stage and even though Britain is not a super-power, Mr Blair has shown that it has much to give when it comes to global issues that affect us all.
Where has Mr Blair been for the last 50 years or more? The UK has long been a force for good in the world.
The problem Mr Blair will face if he continues promoting ever closer integration in Europe is that Britain's foreign policy decisions will be taken over by Brussels.
If Europe fully develops its rapid reaction force it will inevitably mean a coordinated defence and foreign policy for Europe. This will preclude our PM strutting around Asia or any other continent rediscovering our independence.
It's good that TB wants to see Britain doing good in the world but he needs to ensure that it's more than just pleasing words. The work of the Department of International Development is valuable but it is undermined by the business of selling arms to dodgy regimes in order to maintain jobs and votes at home. Similarly his credibility as a force for good is undermined by his adherence to the US foreign policy principle of "expediency always outweighs even-handedness in matters of justice".
Neil Small, Scotland
Maybe Tony wants to try for the Nobel Peace Prize.
If Tony is happy flying around the world trying to help calm a potential very serious situation, let him get on with it. The last thing we all need is another war. The world (as always) is in a very delicate situation and needs diplomacy to help avoid even bigger problems. I wish people here in Britain would have enough sense to sort their own problems out without feeling they need Tony back here to do it for them.
The cynic in me says that he is a CV bagger looking to his next job.
How can Britain be a force for good in this world when it chooses to remain the United States' lapdog? I have tremendous respect for a number of British journalists and politicians who are not afraid to voice their disagreement with the British government's policies. Britain can play a positive role in the world but this is not going to happen until the country starts having a considerably more independent foreign policy.
Tony Blair is to be commended for publicly announcing his intentions for Britain to be a force for good in the world. If only other world leaders followed his lead in such a declaration.
Lidia Bakker Riva, Peru
Britain, the nursery of democracy, is already a force for good. Maintain the tradition. One good move for Britain though would be to re-assess its policies regarding providing a haven for political refugees. Crimes committed in countries with oppressive governments are still crimes.
If Britain or any other country, wants to be a force for good, that's
fine by me. They can start by opening up their protected markets
to the chief exports of developing countries: textiles and agriculture.
Put your money where your mouth is.
Good on the PM. We have a lot in common with India and Pakistan, with many familial and historic links. You can see the British influence even in the uniforms of the opposing sides, and we should do what we can to prevent a war. I'm with Rajeev though in that what Britain should best do is help these developing Commonwealth countries have full access to European markets. If only we had the same vision for the Commonwealth that other countries have for the European Union.
Many of these comments give me some hope. There is a realisation of the hypocrisy of Blair and his government. How I long for change. How I long for honest men and women to run our country.
Until Britain dismantles its class system, it cannot be a force for good either at home or abroad. Its anachronistic attitude about inherited privilege and its dismissal of merit continues to be an impediment to social progress. Until the monarchy is abolished and all that it represents, Britain will stagnate. The class system breeds anger and discontent and this is evidenced in the high level of violence on the streets. Until England gets the hell out of Ireland, nobody can take it seriously as a force for good.
Maybe once he's sorted out the conflict in Kashmir, he can go help the firefighters in Australia.
Mr Blair's visit can prove quite helpful in decreasing the Indo-Pak tension and bringing the two neighbours presently at the brink of war to negotiating table. After the tragic incidents of 11 September, Mr Blair has emerged as a wise statesman and a very good negotiator. He is widely praised and respected in the subcontinent. Leading the peacekeepers in Afghanistan has enhanced the credibility of Britain as a responsible world power. Therefore I am optimistic about Britain proving a force for good.
If Mr Blair shows true and strategic solidarity with democracies of the world Britain will be a seen as a force for good. But if he ignores all evidence of Pakistan and the ISI being the haven for terrorists then he will lose credibility. One can understand the geopolitical compulsions but one must not lose sight of the long term objectives to end the breeding grounds of terror.
After reading all these comments, I'd like someone to explain to me how Tony Blair was voted in for a second term in office.
Tony Blair may have British domestic interests at the forefront of his mind when making an effort to encourage discussion and ease tensions between Pakistan and India. Any war between these two nations would surely result in troubles between the large ethnic groups from these countries in the UK. Blair may help avoid trouble at home as well as abroad for which we should all be grateful.
I have to agree with David. Tony Blair's obsession with meddling in other country's affairs should be a real concern for us all. It's blatantly obvious that the Labour government has no idea how to sort out the mess that we are in. Is that why he's so keen for us to join the euro? That way he relinquishes all responsibility and lets the EU take charge. Oh, and he also enhances his saint-like image in the eyes of the world.
Certainly Blair isn't a force for good in the UK - the health service is a shambles, transport a joke and the education system keeps being messed around with. We've serious shortages of people with much needed skills. Get thine backside home Tony and sort out your own country's problems with as much enthusiasm as you demonstrate when tackling world issues. Or isn't that glamorous enough for you? Your administration cannot go on blaming the debacle of the Tory years for the state of the UK.
Well, I believe that it's time for Britain to play a role in promoting peace and supporting Britain's ex-colonies.
It is disheartening to read the lack of self-confidence expressed in these posts. Great Britain is a mighty, proud country that has much to offer the world. I hope the people around Mr Blair have more nerve than you all.
Let the Swedes sort out the world. They have a very successful culture that blends socialist and market force ideals. They also know how to run a football team, businesses and pop bands. Blair should come and fix England while Sweden applies its template world-wide - the USA and UK included, not just India and Pakistan.
Rony Sheridan, UK
The best way for any nation such as the UK or US to be a "force for good" is to run their own societies effectively. By demonstrating that free markets and liberal democracies can provide domestic peace, prosperity and well-being, they will achieve far more than they can by lecturing foreigners.
Mr Blair and Mr Bush both need to keep this in mind.
Isn't it ironic that Blair is trying to work on bringing India and Pakistan together to peace when historically the British had practiced a "divide and rule" policy in the sub continent?
Has anyone ever told Tony that he has a foreign secretary? If Tony Blair wants a United States of Europe as indicated by his pro-euro stance how can Britain play a pivotal role in the world when all our foreign policy is determined by Brussels as will inevitably happen if we join the euro?
Daniel Brett, Cambridge, England
How can the leader of a country in such a sorry state as the UK even dare to lecture other states on their problems? Physician, heal thyself.
Mr Blair would do well not to confuse himself with his maker.
It must be true, the Archbishop of Downing Street has spoken.
Hope that Tony and Cherie are having a nice holiday out there in India and Pakistan as neither country has anything to do with Britain. It's just an excuse for fleeing his duties of serving as Prime Minister of Britain. He would be much better getting Britain in order first, or do his England duties come second to his holidays abroad?
Mark Williams, UK
All this visit will do is boost Blair's ego and make him look as though he is doing the right thing on the International stage. I don't believe in upsetting other countries but I also don't care much for them when we have problems of our own to tackle. Leave them to it.
Maybe if Mr Blair could demonstrate how he has handled important issues in the UK, such as health, transport, immigration and so on, then other nations may take him more seriously. Sadly I fear he won't be able to do that. This is, on the face of it, just political posturing to try and make himself look like the caring person he wants us to believe he is.
The British are far too bitter and pessimistic to be a force for good in the world.
Does Franklin from Maryland not remember World Wars I and II?
Franklin, Maryland, I'm afraid our problem is that we are realistic and down to earth. The British do not seem to be swayed by homegrown propaganda and idealism as the US citizens do.
Franklin, Maryland, USA: Bitter and pessimistic? That would be prejudice, correct? The Brits are proud and determined people. Try not to confuse it with bitterness. Anyway, the UK can be a force for good. Bear that in mind when we helped in the Gulf, Franklin.
The best way a country can act as a "force for good" is by setting a good example - primarily through putting its own house in order.
What's going on with Blair? Is he going all Americanised on us and trying to save the world? I think we need to concentrate on home issues before attempting to stick our noses in other countries' business.
Andy Turner, UK
In some sense Britain does act as a force for good in the world, in others its record is less commendable. For instance, Britain and the Labour government in particular should be praised for the recent work carried out in developing countries through the Department for International Development. However, less positive is the fact that Britain continues to impose crippling sanctions upon Iraq which are devastating the livelihoods of innocent Iraqi citizens. They should not be punished for our grievances with Saddam Hussein. Let's see more of the positive development and peace-building being undertaken by Tony Blair and his government, but let's not operate a double standard. Crippling sanctions against other countries must be stopped if Britain is to be recognised as a force for good.
I believe we should be recognised globally as a friendly and powerful nation but I also believe that charity begins at home. Tony Blair needs to spend more time in the UK and sort out our domestic problems before worrying about perceptions amongst our international friends. We can be a force but our immediate focus needs to begin in our own country.
Who will decide what is good and what is not? Can we sort out this country first? NHS, transport and a real democracy where your views are taken into account are what is needed first and foremost.
As long as the rest of the world doesn't need help with its transport, health service, education or police force.
Tony Blair only has his own self interest in mind. He has failed miserably with the Irish problem. What makes him think he can make any difference in the India/Pakistan troubles? As British PM he should be concentrating his efforts on the UK rather than trying to solve international problems about which he knows very little.
04 Jan 02 | UK Politics
Blair to outline UK's new world role
Other Talking Points:
Links to more Talking Point stories
|^^ Back to top
News Front Page | World | UK | UK Politics | Business | Sci/Tech | Health | Education | Entertainment | Talking Point | In Depth | AudioVideo
To BBC Sport>> | To BBC Weather>>
© MMIII | News Sources | Privacy