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Last Updated: Friday, 30 April, 2004, 10:08 GMT 11:08 UK
What would you say to Blair about foreign policy?
Tony Blair and George Bush
More than 50 former diplomats have signed an open letter attacking the Prime Minister's policy in the Middle East.

The letter criticises the Prime Minister for endorsing Israeli and American polices which they say are "one-sided and illegal" and allowing the UK to be seen as "partners in an illegal and brutal occupation" by the Arab and Muslim world.

Mr Blair brushed off the criticism, saying "people are perfectly entitled to criticise".

He said that the battle to maintain security and establish democracy must continue.

The list of signatories includes former ambassadors to Baghdad and Tel Aviv, high commissioners, heads of mission and governors.

Do you think the criticism of British foreign policy is fair? What advice would you give to the Prime Minister about foreign policy? Send us your views


This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of the opinion we have received:

SUGGEST A DEBATE
This topic was suggested by Nabil from United Arab Emirates:
Should the UK government listen to the former diplomats?

Respect the deep relationship and friendship that exists between the UK and USA, However please do not support Bush and his war, stand up for real values of peace and Join Europe in a Positive way, you Mr Blair cant have it both ways.
Lyndon Patrick Berchy, Edam The Netherlands

I would say "Time to start looking for another job Tony because I think they finally worked out you ain't any good at this one". Perhaps he can get a job where people don't lose their lives when he makes mistakes.
Ian, Brit in USA

So the UK finally decides to make up for all the wrong it has done to the region during decades of inhumane occupation and suppressing "democracy and freedom" by occupying another country ? How sweet , but that wont fool anyone.
Mahmoud, Cairo - Egypt

England is fortunate in their Prime Minister
E. Borea, Monroe, USA
Mr. Blair is to be admired for his steadfastness. England is fortunate in their Prime Minister - a man of profound faith in the rightness of battling world terrorism. He is a man of courage in staying with his convictions in spite of the intense criticism from England's vocal liberal wing.
E. Borea, Monroe, USA

Mr Blair, your foreign policy is foreign. Your solutions are problems. Your labour is Tory. Liberation is occupation, civil rights are terrorist plans. You have turned the world upside down, and inside out.
Michael Harris, Cork, Ireland

Blair has fouled up almost every serious judgement call involving Britain's relationship with US. Our influence over a increasing unilateralist US administration has been minimal. In the future, we must commit to supporting nations that support a multilateralist agenda underpinned by adherence to international law. Until US administrations adopt this position we should avoid lending our support to them and their military adventures.
Nick Fraser, London, UK

These ex-diplomats are has-beens. What astounds me is their direct criticism of foreign policy, without actually suggesting any solutions! You're doing well, Mr Blair - your convictions are strong and honourable. Keep it up!
Jonny, UK

Churchill said ¿criticism is easy; achievement is difficult¿. What is the achievement for Blair in endorsing the latest US position on the Israeli ¿ Palestinian situation? None, it seems, especially if so many eminent diplomats, who are presumably well placed to evaluate UK foreign policy. I wish for once in matters of foreign policy Blair would take a position of his own making, in line with his electorate's wishes and achieve something memorable for the UK. Like brokering a peace initiative or the intervention of the UN to resolve the conflict, which would be a real achievement.
Neil, Geneva, Switzerland

Mr. Blair's foreign policy lacks any cohesion
Joao, Sacramento, USA
Mr. Blair's foreign policy lacks any cohesion. He has been following the US lead since Clinton and continues to do so. It's amazing how people seem to interpret stubbornness for leadership. A great leader knows when he/she is wrong and changes course based on such a re-evaluation. Bad leaders stick to their guns even when their guns are empty. I was astonished to see Mr Bush be so absolute about his decisions; never admitting he makes mistakes. This is a rather scary man - one who never makes mistakes, and will never learn from them because his ego is afraid to say "I am wrong". Does Mr Blair really want to leave his legacy tied to Mr Bush ?
Joao, Sacramento, USA

It is admirable that Blair believes that it is important to maintain the US/UK relationship. There are times, however, when even good friends have to say "You're wrong". Now is one of those times. If Blair were to stand up and denounce Bush's supplication to the Israeli lobby in the US, it would send a strong signal to the apathetic American electorate to wake up and remove Bush before he does any more damage to global stability.
Ralph Barbour, USA

Mr Blair please open your mind and heart and admit that your policies are wrong. Be it in Europe or the Middle East. The respect built over decades of positive foreign policy has been wiped out in the last few years. The stature and high standards of diplomacy and independence with which UK policies were associated have long gone. The signatories to this letter to the PM are all seasoned, polished and loyal individuals with unmatched experience in the field of International Relations. Surely its time to review the UK position and policies before its too late.
Arif Sayed, Dubai, UAE

Tony Blair is leading his country in the right direction. He is an able administrator and fellow country men should support him instead of raising a hue and cry over his policies.
Josephine, Coimbatore, India

The last few years have conclusively proved that Britain doesn't have a foreign policy of its own
Rob P, Plymouth UK
The last few years have conclusively proved that Britain doesn't have a foreign policy of its own and has instead been used as an instrument of US foreign Policy.
Rob P, Plymouth UK

Diplomats seem to be arguing for Tony Blair to continue on with a 40 year old policy which has miserably failed the Palestinians, Israelis and the UK! TB is right to fully back America's tough stance both on Iraq and the Palestinian issue. I support his stance but choke on the brevity of the 54 complainants.
Tony Oliver, United Kingdom

I wish Blair would make one, just one single criticism of any aspect of Bush's foreign policy. How hard could that be?
Jon, Jakarta, Indonesia

Despite the fact that I did not and will vote Labour, I do support the foreign policies of Blair. Britain has always been the world leader on the international stage and should continue to be. To do any thing less would make Britain a has-been like Europe.
David Eubanks, USA- British

What foreign policy? Blair policy all these years is to advocate the US policies in the EU and to follow around the US presidents. The US has decided to lead the world and the rest or the world has decided that the US is not such a good leader. It time for Blair to decide weather he is "with us or against us".
Vassilis P, Athens Greece

I'd say keep up your brave fight Mr Blair. It will be a long hard struggle, as it is proving to be in Iraq, but the only way to eliminate terrorism from this world is to spread democracy and eliminate poverty and tyranny. I believe that you are doing what you think is right morally and not just following Bush. I hope the Iraqi people will one day enjoy the freedom and advantages of democracy that so many anti-war people in these comments seem to take for granted every day.
Leah, Barry, S.Wales

Never mind what those foolish mass are going say. You are the best, the smartest, and go along on your always-right way.
Flynn, Canada

British Policy in the Middle East over a period of a century or more has created severe problems and suffering for the people there. Balfour is among the more culpable and it seems Mr. Blair is making it even worse. Mr. Blair should take a look at history and learn the right lessons and take the letter by the former diplomats seriously. Otherwise, you will plunge the Middle East into even worse catastrophe and permanently earn the wrath of the Arab and Muslim world.
Damien Perera, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Britain has always been a world leader, bent on peace and confronting issues head on, with the utmost care for all those involved. Meanwhile, the US supported Britain where it needed. On our first foray into the lead in International Politics, it seems that both countries need to re-evaluate some of their policies.
Ryan , USA

The idea of offering Mr Bair advice on foreign policy is ridiculous. He hasn't listened to the British electorate yet, so why expect him to start now.
David, Middlesex, UK

Well done Mr. Blair
James Rogers, Aberystwyth, United Kingdom
Well done Mr. Blair! You are the first Prime Minister to actually have a foreign policy - at least an ideological one. Down with the terrorist, out with the despots, onward must the march of liberal democracy be! Ignore most of the sniping - most people don't have a clue...
James Rogers, Aberystwyth, United Kingdom

Mr Blair, keep up the excellent work. We did not vote for you to maintain the international status quo, we voted for you to affect real change in the world, which thankfully is now happening. History will record your very real & positive achievements on the world stage.
Roger Morgan Freedlan, Whitwick, England

Democracy can best be served by listening
Saravan, UK
What became of the ethical foreign policy of yesteryear? Seems to have been lost like the roadmap in Palestine. Democracy can best be served by listening and letting the local people who will be affected decide their own future and not by those in London or Washington. If the path of democracy is followed security should follow in its trail or, in a worse case scenario, can be easier dealt with than explicit use of military might ex parte.
Saravan, UK

I would say, Tony, three words come to mind. Digging, hole and stop.
Ozorek, UK

Why are you pursuing a foreign policy at odds with most of our European friends
Patrick, Devon, UK
In 1997 you promised the British people that your government would be at the heart of Europe. Why are you pursuing a foreign policy at odds with most of our European friends, in disregard of the UN charter and one which, it is increasingly obvious, is based on an embarrassingly false prospectus. At the end of the day it is time the UK started acting its size.
Patrick, Devon, UK

Why is it that millions voted for you to be in power to reinforce a better Britain, yet you have not? On the contrary ONE man wants you to follow his ideologies and you do so with ease.
Kurd, London

The real purpose of the invasion will be achieved after June the 30th. The puppet Iraqi government can then '"legally" hand the Iraqi assets to the corporations of the colonising countries. Blair would be foolish if he asked the British army to guard privatised oil fields, pipes, grids, portals and business premises. Mercenaries are being imported but they are expensive.
Dr Yousef Abdulla, Orpington, UK

I would hope that Blair is aware of what UK foreign policy tried to achieve in the past 40 years and although I don't agree with his policies in the Middle East, realistically I don't think we have an alternative. Imagine Michael Howard in his position?
Patricia, London, UK

Former diplomats, eh? Obviously basing their opinions on the most up-to-date information available from all government sources about what the Arab world really thinks about the departure of Saddam Hussein.
Arthur, UK

They are rarely the concerned, impartial commentators that they purport to be
Ben, London
Ignore those with a Lawrence of Arabia complex - they never had a word of criticism (due in varying degrees in different countries) about social and political oppression, lack of freedom of expression, torture, economic failure, restriction of the rights of religious and ethnic minorities and women, partial and corrupt judicial systems and anti-Western incitement whilst they were stationed there. I have met several ambassadors and embassy staff in Arab and Muslim countries in the course of my work (insurance) and their main concern seems to be to facilitate the winning of contracts for British companies. They are rarely the concerned, impartial commentators that they purport to be.
Ben, London

Why should anyone listen to these has-beens? It's not exactly as if they or their diplomacy had a brilliant track record in the Middle East, is it? The British policies they represented sought to buy stability for one rotten Middle Eastern regime after another at the price of democracy and social progress in the region. The end result of which is the dangerous mess the Middle East is in today. The Prime Minister and his government should treat the views of such people with the respect they deserve, and ignore them completely.
John M, London, UK

We need to totally review policies in the Middle East. Look where fighting Israel's wars for them has got us.
Jules, Aberdeen, UK

I think the letter shows that not just ordinary citizens, but people who are in a position to know are deeply worried about the course Blair is on. I think he is leading our country to disaster, and besmirching our reputation and honour.
Derek Alcraft, Newcastle, UK

If I was Lucky enough to bump into Mr. Blair today, I'd say 'Tony, Stick with man, do what you believe to be right, because I didn't vote for some old retired nobody, I voted for you, and I did it because I trust you more than anyone else to be in charge of my country.'
Paul, Wales

The Hutton Inquiry illustrated what the Blair government thinks of experts who disagree with their policy. I suggest he listens this time rather than try and spin out of trouble.
Jim White, UK

If Blair had any influence on the development of the roadmap, maybe he can explain Bush which side is up.
Eelko Brouwer, Amsterdam

International policies are a bit more subtle than many would make out
Peter, Nottingham ,UK
How does anyone know the degree of influence we have with Bush? Is he likely to say "My fellow Americans, I was going to do A but Tony told me to do B". No. International policies are a bit more subtle than many would make out.
Peter, Nottingham, UK

I would say, Tony this is the only region of policy I support you on, We must deploy all available forces and destroy all the remnants of the Hussain Dictatorship, then withdraw.
Jake, London

Why do you support countries like Israel, China and Saudi Arabia, countries who are oppressive, have records of human rights violations and commit illegal acts on their people or neighbouring countries, and then have a different policy for Iraq, Iran and other countries who commit the same crimes?
Chantelle, Manchester, UK

Keep your nose out of other counties affairs. He is not much good at running this one.
Clive, Dartford, UK

The phrases "The Prime Minister" and "policy in the Middle East" put together create an oxymoron. The UK no longer has the resources to be 'world policemen'- even if we think we should. The government should pick one concern (at home or in Europe) and stick with it until it improves. I think we've already suffered enough from Tony Blair's 'Butterfly Leadership'
Peter, Glasgow, UK

Tell them they will be back-taxed on their duty-free allowances and free embassy lunches.
Colin Harrison, England

Blair should not be overly influenced by an Arab lobby which seeks to protect the status quo of despotic regimes
Adam, Birmingham, UK
Many of these retired diplomats are part of the Arabic establishment that has historically held the reins of power at the Foreign office. Often nicknamed the 'Camel Corps', the views of this group should be listened to, but fundamentally I believe Blair should remain strong and committed to the path he has taken to build a more democratic Middle East. Blair should not be overly influenced by an Arab lobby which seeks to protect the status quo of despotic regimes and promote anti-Israel policies.
Adam, Birmingham, UK

These diplomats have worked mostly in the Middle East. They know the situation and environment. They are more knowledgeable then Blair and Bush. I think that even blind people can see that the policy is wrong and will lead to nothing. Haven't the British learned nothing since Balfour?
Ali, Sidi Hajjaj, Morocco

I'd say: "Have a foreign policy, Tony!" rather than just blindly following the US.
Dan, UK

It does look as if we're compromising our independence and international reputation to follow the American lead
James Walker, Cheltenham, UK
I'd say, Tone, mate, the British Public can understand sympathy and support for a worthwhile cause. But it does look as if we're compromising our independence and international reputation to follow the American lead. Can you recognise that the whole War on Terror is becoming unfocussed under all of the vested interests in US politics?
James Walker, Cheltenham, UK

I think that the criticism of British foreign policy is fair . The problem is that Prime Minister Blair is too stuck to President Bush . I think that Britain should stick to Europe . That is where Britain belong. Birgitta , Norway
Birgitta Garvik, Ålesund , Norway

Forget about being a colonial master and reorganising the world with missiles and battleships. Concentrate on making the trains run on time, the hospitals and medical services efficient, and proper treatment for elderly, sick or unemployed people. That is what you were elected to do !
Harry Collier, Malmesbury, UK





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