What were the ideas of the Blair government’s ‘doctrine of international community’ and who were the main actors of this?
The ‘doctrine of international community’ was first outlined at a speech to the Economic Club of Chicago in 1999. Blair emphasised the increasing significance of globalisation and interdependence, as he looked to create a new post-Cold War framework. This would focus on the ‘notion of community,’ with the belief that global problems can’t be solved individually (Blair, 1999). At the time of NATO’s intervention in Kosovo, Blair used the speech to reassert the need for international organisations to address problems both jointly and collaboratively.
The ‘doctrine of international community’ has been regarded as ‘one of the most theoretical speeches on foreign policy ever given by a British Prime Minister’ (Cox & Oliver, 2006, p. 176). With some saying the that it ‘hardly qualifies as a fully worked out doctrine’ (Cronin, 2004, p. 451). Firstly, this essay will look at the core ideas that formed Blair’s ‘notion of community:’ values, globalisation, the importance of institutions and international intervention (Blair, 1999). The second part will consider the key actors, by looking at the role of both military and economical institutions in the ‘international community’ (Blair, 1999),
The first aspect was Blair’s belief that the doctrine should fundamentally concern values. This was based on Blair’s interpretation of the way globalised interdependence was thought to operate, as ‘idealism becomes realpolitik’ (Blair, 2007). In the speech, Blair outlined these values as ‘liberty, the rule of law, human rights and an open society,’ forming the basis of Blair’s international community (Blair, 1999). These values justify a democratic society based upon rights and liberal economic freedoms, something Blair felt was essential in achieving a peaceful yet independent world. He also proposes to ‘establish’ and ‘spread’ these values as a strategy for achieving security and stability . ‘The spread of our values makes us safer,’ he explained (Blair, 1999). This shows the problem of regimes and terrorist organisations, who ignore these values. Notably, these values can be interpreted as Western norms. Something that was later addressed by the Prime Minister in 2003, ‘the order we want is seen by much of the world as ‘their’ order not ‘ours’ (Blair, 2003).
The next feature of the doctrine was globalisation, seen primarily as the root of Blair’s ideology. Throughout the speech, Blair uses globalisation to highlight the importance of interdependence; and that coping with its forces and effects were now a major challenge facing all states. Three dimensions can be established here. First of all, was the opportunity for both states and their people to follow their interests and values through interaction, as opposed to isolation. Generally, Blair saw this in economic terms, as ‘isolationism has ceased to have a reason to exist’ he added (Blair, 1999). The second dimension was the threat of shared dilemmas and risks. As Blair explains: ‘poverty in the Caribbean means more drugs on the street in Washington and London’ (Blair, 1999). His remarks illustrate how ‘global context is inducing economic and social reform at home, as well as shining a spotlight on the common problems facing all states and peoples’ (Little & Wickham-Jones, 2000, p. 73). From this Blair sees globalisation as a recent phenomenon, highlighting his ‘tendency... to attribute all contemporary social change to globalisation’ (Callinicos, 2001, p. 16)
In the final and most-remembered part of the doctrine, Blair outlined his commitment to liberal intervention and justified NATO’s conflict in Kosovo. By claiming a moral basis to such acts, Blair believed that any state failing to respect the values of the international community would warrant outside intervention. As Blair explained: ‘We believe that membership of the international community...
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