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Voice of America, Outgoing British PM Blair's Foreign Policy Marked by Iraq War

Outgoing British PM Blair's Foreign Policy Marked by Iraq War

Experts say in international affairs, outgoing British Prime Minister Tony Blair had an interventionist foreign policy, sending British troops to Bosnia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan -- and Iraq.

Many analysts say his decade in office will be forever marked by his decision to back the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, coupled with his unwavering support of President George Bush, support that earned him the nickname, in some British quarters, of "Bush's poodle." In a departure from the long-standing custom for a former U.S. president not to criticize a close ally, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, in a recent interview on May 19 with British radio, used strong words in describing Mr. Blair's support for Mr. Bush.

"Abominable. Loyal. Blind - apparently subservient," he said. "And I think the almost undeviating support by Great Britain for the ill-advised policies of President Bush in Iraq have been a major tragedy for the world." Throughout his premiership, Mr. Blair argued that the world is better off now that Saddam Hussein is no longer in power. And he said the United States and Britain should not let the budding democracy in Iraq fail.

Many experts, including British historian Andrew Roberts, say strong opposition to the war in Iraq from within Blair's own Labor Party and from the British public in general, has effectively forced his early retirement, despite a third consecutive election victory in May 2005.

"Now usually prime ministers stay on for four or five years; you don't have to hold elections for five years in this country," said Roberts. "He's going within two years and that's primarily because of his support for the Iraq war and for Mr. Bush." "Those of us who believe that it was the right thing to have done to have overthrown Saddam and to have fought the Iraq war think it's a great shame that a man should have been effectively forced out of office early because of that. However, there is no doubt that that was one of the reasons that he's leaving so early," he added. Many British experts have criticized Mr. Blair for not exerting more influence on President Bush.

Jerry DeGroot, history professor at St. Andrew's University in Scotland, says that was Mr. Blair's biggest failure.

"It almost has a sort of Shakespearian tragedy about it, because I would even gather that the American people probably wanted Blair to have a moderating influence upon Bush," Degroot said. "But I think it simply reveals what probably previous prime ministers of Britain have realized, is that Britain simply doesn't pack the punch to be a moderating influence upon the United States, and particularly when there is a president in the White House who is dead set on a certain course." During his speech earlier this month announcing he will leave office June 27, Mr. Blair defended his decision to stand shoulder to shoulder with President Bush following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

"And so Afghanistan and then Iraq -- the latter, bitterly controversial," said Blair. "And removing Saddam and his sons from power as with removing the Taleban, was over with relative ease." "But the blowback since from global terrorism and those elements that support it has been fierce and unrelenting and costly. And for many it simply isn't and can't be worth it. For me, I think we must see it through. They, the terrorists who threaten us here and around the world, will never give up if we give up. It is a test of will and of belief, and we can't fail it," he continued. When Tony Blair relinquishes power in late June, Gordon Brown will replace him as prime minister. Experts do not expect any major shift in British policy regarding either Afghanistan or Iraq.

But they do say Brown will try to distance himself from President Bush while keeping the so-called "special relationship" between Washington and London on a more even keel.


Outgoing British PM Blair's Foreign Policy Marked by Iraq War La politique étrangère du Premier ministre britannique sortant Blair marquée par la guerre en Irak

Experts say in international affairs, outgoing British Prime Minister Tony Blair had an interventionist foreign policy, sending British troops to Bosnia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan -- and Iraq.

Many analysts say his decade in office will be forever marked by his decision to back the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, coupled with his unwavering support of President George Bush, support that earned him the nickname, in some British quarters, of "Bush’s poodle." De nombreux analystes affirment que sa décennie au pouvoir sera à jamais marquée par sa décision de soutenir l'invasion américaine de l'Irak, couplée à son soutien indéfectible au président George Bush, soutien qui lui a valu le surnom, dans certains milieux britanniques, de "caniche de Bush". ." In a departure from the long-standing custom for a former U.S. En rupture avec la coutume de longue date d'un ancien américain president not to criticize a close ally, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, in a recent interview on May 19 with British radio, used strong words in describing Mr. Blair’s support for Mr. Bush.

"Abominable. Loyal. Blind - apparently subservient," he said. Aveugle - apparemment soumis", a-t-il déclaré. Слепой - очевидно, подчиненный », - сказал он. "And I think the almost undeviating support by Great Britain for the ill-advised policies of President Bush in Iraq have been a major tragedy for the world." "Et je pense que le soutien presque indéfectible de la Grande-Bretagne à la politique mal avisée du président Bush en Irak a été une tragédie majeure pour le monde." Throughout his premiership, Mr. Blair argued that the world is better off now that Saddam Hussein is no longer in power. Tout au long de son mandat, M. Blair a soutenu que le monde se porte mieux maintenant que Saddam Hussein n'est plus au pouvoir. And he said the United States and Britain should not let the budding democracy in Iraq fail. Et il a déclaré que les États-Unis et la Grande-Bretagne ne devraient pas laisser échouer la démocratie naissante en Irak.

Many experts, including British historian Andrew Roberts, say strong opposition to the war in Iraq from within Blair’s own Labor Party and from the British public in general, has effectively forced his early retirement, despite a third consecutive election victory in May 2005. De nombreux experts, dont l'historien britannique Andrew Roberts, affirment que la forte opposition à la guerre en Irak au sein du parti travailliste de Blair et du public britannique en général, a effectivement forcé sa retraite anticipée, malgré une troisième victoire électorale consécutive en mai 2005.

"Now usually prime ministers stay on for four or five years; you don’t have to hold elections for five years in this country," said Roberts. "He’s going within two years and that’s primarily because of his support for the Iraq war and for Mr. Bush." "Those of us who believe that it was the right thing to have done to have overthrown Saddam and to have fought the Iraq war think it’s a great shame that a man should have been effectively forced out of office early because of that. However, there is no doubt that that was one of the reasons that he’s leaving so early," he added. Many British experts have criticized Mr. Blair for not exerting more influence on President Bush.

Jerry DeGroot, history professor at St. Andrew’s University in Scotland, says that was Mr. Blair’s biggest failure.

"It almost has a sort of Shakespearian tragedy about it, because I would even gather that the American people probably wanted Blair to have a moderating influence upon Bush," Degroot said. "Il y a presque une sorte de tragédie shakespearienne à ce sujet, parce que je supposerais même que le peuple américain voulait probablement que Blair ait une influence modératrice sur Bush", a déclaré Degroot. "But I think it simply reveals what probably previous prime ministers of Britain have realized, is that Britain simply doesn’t pack the punch to be a moderating influence upon the United States, and particularly when there is a president in the White House who is dead set on a certain course." "Mais je pense que cela révèle simplement ce que les premiers ministres britanniques précédents ont probablement réalisé, c'est que la Grande-Bretagne n'a tout simplement pas le punch pour exercer une influence modératrice sur les États-Unis, et en particulier lorsqu'il y a un président à la Maison Blanche qui est figé sur une certaine route." During his speech earlier this month announcing he will leave office June 27, Mr. Blair defended his decision to stand shoulder to shoulder with President Bush following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

"And so Afghanistan and then Iraq -- the latter, bitterly controversial," said Blair. «Итак, Афганистан, а затем Ирак - последний, вызывающий ожесточенные споры, - сказал Блэр. "And removing Saddam and his sons from power as with removing the Taleban, was over with relative ease." "Et enlever Saddam et ses fils du pouvoir, comme enlever les talibans, s'est terminé avec une relative facilité." «И отстранение Саддама и его сыновей от власти, как и устранение Талибана, было сравнительно легко». "But the blowback since from global terrorism and those elements that support it has been fierce and unrelenting and costly. "Mais depuis, le contrecoup du terrorisme mondial et des éléments qui le soutiennent a été féroce, implacable et coûteux. And for many it simply isn’t and can’t be worth it. Et pour beaucoup, cela n'en vaut tout simplement pas la peine et ne peut pas en valoir la peine. For me, I think we must see it through. Pour moi, je pense qu'il faut aller jusqu'au bout. They, the terrorists who threaten us here and around the world, will never give up if we give up. It is a test of will and of belief, and we can’t fail it," he continued. C'est un test de volonté et de conviction, et nous ne pouvons pas échouer", a-t-il poursuivi. When Tony Blair relinquishes power in late June, Gordon Brown will replace him as prime minister. Lorsque Tony Blair quittera le pouvoir fin juin, Gordon Brown le remplacera au poste de Premier ministre. Experts do not expect any major shift in British policy regarding either Afghanistan or Iraq.

But they do say Brown will try to distance himself from President Bush while keeping the so-called "special relationship" between Washington and London on a more even keel. Mais ils disent que Brown essaiera de se distancer du président Bush tout en maintenant la soi-disant "relation spéciale" entre Washington et Londres sur une quille plus équilibrée.