International

VietnamHas Britain given up on foreign affairs? Many say ‘We don’t have an Empire anymore’; or that ‘We are not a rich country.’ That has been said since Indian independence in 1947, or perhaps since our economic fragility was laid bare at the end of the First World War. Some ask ‘What right have we got to tell others how to live their lives?’ That question has been gathered momentum since the 1960s. Some ask ‘What business is it of mine?’ That attitude has been going on since the Old Testament.

Meanwhile, the balance of power is shifting to the people, quickly. Parliament blocked government action on Syria. In 2017 there will probably be a referendum over our membership of the European Union. There is disquiet over our aid programmes. Some diplomats find all this worrying. They fear it is a sign that populism or domestic priorities are undermining Britain’s place in the world. They worry that people don’t know about the complexities of foreign affairs and don’t care. They are wrong.

Show more
FCO

Why Foreign Policy Matters

Has Britain given up on foreign affairs? Many say ‘We don’t have an Empire anymore’; or that ‘We are not a rich country.’ That has been said since Indian independence in 1947, or perhaps since our economic fragility was laid bare at the end of the First World War. Some ask ‘What right have we […]

Balkans_2664390b

In Syria, the best solution is a negotiated peace

First published in The Sunday Telegraph, 8 September 2013:   Like hundreds of thousands of civilians, soldiers, contractors, UN and charity-staff, I have worked in Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan over the past 20 years. I was in favour of the Prime Minister’s humanitarian motion on Syria, but against a deeper intervention. I find it […]

Syria Map

Syria

Why should chemical weapons have changed our response to Syria this week? After all for two years, Syria has been a place where we have felt both that we ought to intervene, and also simultaneously that we cannot intervene.  Hundreds of thousands have been killed, millions made refugees. The regime is backed by Hezbollah, Iran […]

st/stewart

WE MUST LEARN THE LESSON OF OUR FAILURE

Article first published in the Yorkshire Post on 17 June 2013. I was not in the House of Commons for the 2003 vote on the invasion of Iraq. I am far from sure that I would have made the right decision. The starting point for any discussion of Iraq has to be an acknowledgment that it […]

eu

our future in the european union

For every country in the European Union, except perhaps Britain, the Union has been a means of burying history. For some, it promised the end of war on the continent; for the Spanish, the Union gave them the status of a full European democracy; and in January, the Croatian Ambassador to London said that Europe […]

IRAQI FREEDOM

looking back on iraq

It is the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, and nine and a half years since I first boarded a troop plane to Basra. I still find the scale of our failure astonishing. It was a war in which 179 British and 4488 American soldiers were killed, and over 40,000 wounded. A trillion pounds […]

Turkey

Why Turkey matters

How does parliamentary business relate to Cumbria? Take the last 24 hours.  There were some direct connections: I attended a ministerial meeting on second homes in Cumbria; a Lake District National Park planning discussion; and a community hospital conference with representatives from Brampton, Wigton, Penrith and Cockermouth. But in the same 24 hours I was […]

RS

Marie Colvin, 1956-2012

Last Summer, the Corinthia hotel in Tripoli was filled with reporters and photographers. They had propped their laptops on tiny marble tables in the lobby. Waiters brought Turkish coffees but the reporters’ eyes flicked only from their screens to their phones, checking for messages about Gaddafi’s whereabouts, a recently discovered palace, prison, or press conference. […]

eu

eurozone crisis

This morning, I saw David Cameron on his way to negotiate the treaty on the bail-out of the Eurozone. He looked surprisingly calm, given the worries of the last fortnight:  Britain has announced its worst economic figures since the Second World War; Egypt’s economy is collapsing; Syria is approaching civil war; Iran has taken another step […]