Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Undiplomatic David Cameron

Having now read David Cameron's speech in Turkey yesterday, all I can say is the Foreign Office will be well pleased. It is the most anti Israeli speech ever made by a British Prime Minister and the most pro Arab. The fact that Cameron called Gaza a "prison camp" will have sent shock waves through the Israeli government, but it will have delighted the FCO Arabists (and they virtually all are). It was clearly drafted by the most pro Arab civil servant in the Foreign Office. The only pity was that David Cameron went along with it. Margaret Thatcher would have passed it to Charles Powell for a dramatic rewrite.

This was, in many ways, a very undiplomatic speech. As well as annoying the Israelis, Germany and France will be furious that Cameron implicitly had a go at them for blocking Turkish entry to the EU. He said it made him "angry" and that he will now be Turkey's voice in the negotiations. You can understand his reasons (closer economic ties, bridge between East and West, a bridge to Islam etc) but they are not particularly watertight. There's little doubt that if Turkey got full membership there would be a huge migration West and I totally understand Germany's fears in particular.

I rather like politicians who engage in undiplomatic language and this isn't the first time Cameron has gone down that path. But I prefer it when he does it on issues where I can agree with him!


The Purpleline said...

>I rather like politicians who engage in undiplomatic language and this isn't the first time Cameron has gone down that path. But I prefer it when he does it on issues where I can agree with him!<

So as long as Saint Iain agrees with the content it is ok then. How very pompous of you young man.
I think you should qualify that remark, as it is pretty obvious we all have the same view.

On Turkey The solution is simple give Turkey special trade status, they do not need to be full members, they do not need to link to the EURO and they do not need to have free travel for obvious reasons. The EU is a Christian union it is not secular.

Cameron should have invited them to join the commonwealth and pushed for free trade with the other 54 countries with London as the financial hub where the trade goes through our strong international markets operating in London.

For me trade is the only way out of Labours deficits, it would also help African states >members< out of the aid trap

Raedwald said...

Well, I suppose it's getting back at the Israeli assassins who used forged British passports to carry out their murder, and a reminder that Israel can't get with away with breaking all International law all of the time.

Whilst I don't quite agree with his comments on Gaza, I'd say the overall effect was well deserved.

Anonymous said...

Its time the people of the UK woke up to the fact that its politicians say one thing then practice the opposite when they get into power.

The majority of voters at the UK 2010 general election did not vote for the Tories and their Lib Dem chums to re-introduce right wing ideology again into governing the UK but here we are already with swinging cuts, the effect of which will be borne by ordinary people in the main that go far beyond what is necessary to recover the economy.

The majority wanted the UK's relationship with the EU watered down and immigration restricted yet here we see Cameron giving a speech probably written in Washington that shows he is hell-bent on more integration and immigration vis a vis Turkey.

If the Lib Dems had any spine at all they would get out of their unholy alliance with the Tories before it is too late.

Goodwin said...

Dave's surely just horsetrading an anti-American stance on Israel with a pro-American stance on Turkey? At the end of the day it's all about America and b*gger the rest of us.

Paddy Briggs said...

Wholly commendable speech by the PM - well said qua content and style. With Obama the least kow-towing to the Israelis President of modern times and Cameron taking a real leadership position the days of unquestioning support of Israel look to be gone. This is in Israel's interests - she needs to be welcomed into the international community of Nations and she won't be whilst she is so illiberal, belligerent and genocidal.

It is also essential that Turkey remains a secular and western State and Cameron knows this. There is a real risk that Turkey could go the way of Iran, Iraq (post Saddam), Afghanistan and Pakistan. For this not to happen the Turks must see Europe (especially) as sympathetic - and that means easing back from unthinking support of Israel.

Osama the Nazarene said...

I do agree with you, though you should add into the mix the pro Arab views of the Lib Dems.

I also agree with Goodwin, this speech was influenced by talks with Obama. He is too frit of his electorate to punish the Israelis directly (for disobeying his strictures on the expansion of settlements) so uses a proxy, or should it be junior partner.

Desperate Dan said...

Is it true, as The Guardian claims, that the coalition has changed the Law on the sly so that now Israeli war criminals can visit and take refuge in the UK without fear of arrest and prosecution?

Anonymous said...

Purpleline - get a life and get an understanding of a little joke !

The EU is a Christian Union? Huh?

M - you are a bit confused.
I do not see any right wing ideology; otherwise why are we told the tory right is unhappy?
And the polls after the budget give the coalition 57%. So where are your 'most people' who are unhappy.

I do not wish to see Turkey in the EU (rather I would prefer to see us out of it) - but there is ample precedent to make restrictions on the movement of people.

Israel is regularly threatened, but Israel hardly helps itself either. Equally I doubt it bothers too much about what Britain says. Its more concerned probably with what America says and Obama has pretty much said the same as Cameron.

Penfold said...

Lets look at the wider picture.

We are a pain to the EU as we are not dirigiste and commutaire and do not subscribe to the statist ideology that is the Brussels utopia.
Brussels has used every ploy to thwart us and to force us into compliance.
So why not retaliate in an area which is Brussel's achilles heel....turkey's application for membership. The French and Germans do not want the Turks in the club.
What better method to negotiate terms then to support the hidden enemy, forcing t'others to the table to meet our terms.

Its either a masterstroke of deviousness or sheer luck.

Unknown said...

You let him off lightly Iain.

A nice interpretation is that Cameron is a novice and an ingenue, stumbling into a pre-prepared FCO trap and lacking the steely edge and experience to overcome it.

The truth is much, much worse. As I predicted, Cameron and the Tory Party in office are interested in only one thing - that is serving the interests of big business and in particular, finance capitalism. It is the big financial players who want Turkey as part of the EU.

The rest of us will just have to put up with 20 million Turks wanting to urgently resettle in the UK. Cameron brushed off this latter point with an airy, aristocratic disdain. Of course, few will be able to settle adjacent to his mansion in Oxon.

I actually felt a complete blast of deja-vu watching this - far from New Cameron, New Foreign Policy, what we actually saw was a rerun of Supermac's lofty tour of third-world Dominions back in the 50s, when he reassured all that they were not only British subjects but welcome to move here when they wanted to.

Of course, one must not be racist. But the muslim immigration issue is different. It is not a race issue. It is about the fundamental ethical, political and moral continuation of Britain and Britishness. This is not a muslim country. Bringing Turkey in will make that much less likely to be true in the not-so-distant future.


Sean said...

I am afraid I disagree, Iain.

I think Cameron is right on both issues. There are many evil people in Gaza but also many many innocent ones who are siffering. Israel should be smart enough to find a way to combat the evil ones rather than punishing them all equally.

Bob said...

Yeah, but doing what Israel wnats isnt really helping us is it?

Maybe a more honest friend will yield more £££ to the UK

steve said...

Nobody has mentioned India. I can't see the Indians with the tide of Islamic instability lapping at their door being to warm to any overtly pro-Islamic stance.

I am worried that Cameron either doesn't know about conditions in Gaza, doesn't care, or believes the Palestinian extremists. How does he reconcile this with his stance on Iran? Where is the "joined up thinking"?

I am sorry to say it seems it will be French and Germans that saves us from Islamic extremists.

(I feel sorry for Islamic majority who work hard and are decent and will be tarred with the same brush if "the EU/West" turns on the Islamic world.)

Tim Johnson said...

Cameron was absolutely right to describe the Gaza strip as a prison camp.

I have no time for Hamas, but Hamas' actions do not give Israel the moral right to subjugate the Palestinians.

If Israel would like to be regarded and treated as a Western Democracy it should start to behave like one.

Bravo David Cameron well said.

Unknown said...

Best foreign policy speech a British politician's made for a long term, and I'm not a fan of Cameron by any means. It has the added bonus of being true. Regardless of whether you're pro-Israeli or pro-Arab, Gaza IS a prison - would you want to live there? And if force is used to capture a ship on the high seas, not in territorial waters, that strikes me as being pretty close to the legal definition of piracy. You can be pro-Israel and see the truth in this.
There are obviously concerns re. movement of labour as the EU expands, but unless France and Germany oppose ALL expansion which might lead to this they don't have a leg to stand on.
And for the French to want to keep Turkey out while admitting their own overseas territories and former colonies - that's just outrageous hypocrisy which should be screamed from the rooftops, never mind causing diplomatic ripples.

Cynic said...

I think he's right on all the counts and it's called Leqadership ...something sadly lacking in UK PM's for the last 20 years

Weygand said...

So the speech "was clearly drafted by the most pro Arab civil servant in the Foreign Office (and they virtually all are)"

As wild, woolly and partisan as allegations that the US foreign policy - well let's not go there.

The only way that the leanings of the draftsman would be relevant would be if this speech had not been the carefully calibrated pronouncement from the PM (that it purports to be) but something he had been bounced into.

And I can hardly believe that your opinion of DC is so low that you think that might have happened.

Whatever the merits of what he said, your reaction (as so often in this area) is completely inappropriate and reminiscent of the sort of remarks by your opponents that you condemn..

Anonymous said...

Interestingly in all this (for both right and left wing nut jobs) is that Daniel Hannan rather agrees with Cameron.

After pointing out Cameron is a traditional mainstream Tory leader he points out,
'Cameron's reasons for backing Ankara's bid for EU membership are solidly Tory: Turkey guarded Europe's flank against the Bolshevists for three generations, and may one day be called on to do the same against the jihadis.'

To be fair Hannan goes on,
'I were Turkish, I would be against EU membership. Turkey is a dynamic country with – in marked contrast to the EU – a young population. The last thing it needs is the 48-hour week, the Common Agricultural Policy, the euro and the rest of the apparatus of Brussels corporatism.'
But ending.
'There is a difference, though, between choosing not to join and being told that you're not good enough to join'

Now where are the media, always anxious to promote right wing critics, now that one goes out of his way to praise Cameron?

Jabba the Cat said...

Gaza is a prison for Palestinians run by Hamas. Israel's job is to make sure the prison does spill over into Israeli territory. Everything else is strictly secondary.

Anonymous said...

'Cameron will be Turkey's vice in the negotiations.'

Now that conjures a really strange image...

Janner said...

I do despair at some of your commentators

This is all part of the cut and thrust of diplomacy
I wouldn't be surprised if the Israelis were tipped off about this statement and told that Cameron is trying to get some wiggle room before dealing with Hamas

The problem with the media in general and bloggers in particular is that they have such a short time frame

I sense (and hope) that Cameron is looking at a 5 year (minimum) vision of foreign policy and ignoring the attempts by the media to overanalyse every utterance by anyone in this government of splits/u-turns or disagreements (like the Inidia immigation cap 'issue' which is being hysterically over-reported)

Just two months into an administration we should all be cutting him some slack

At least he isn't persuing a nonsense like an 'ethical foreigh policy' - the developing theme seems to be national self interest - and why not?

Anonymous said...

Sometimes in politics people on the left can get away with right wing policies that the actual right would be hammered for and vice versa.

I think this is one such occasion. And I think it's important that it was said.

Goodwin said...

I should add that whilst you are right to say that historically the Foreign Office has more than its fair share of Arabists, its limited pro-Israel lobby suffered terribly as a result of the Shatila massacre - although not nearly as badly as the wretched Palestinians who were living there at the time, obviously ...

Rebel Saint said...

Can someone please explain to me why Gaza is a prison camp but Iraq isn't?

Doesn't Turkey occupy northern Cyprus?

DespairingLiberal said...

Trevorsden, if Hannan is right, strange then that so many Turks in poll after poll would like to join the EU. Could it be that they clear-sightedly deduce that the benefits of the Single Market and Currency overwhelmingly outweigh the disbenefits? This sort of argument must have gone on in pre-Roman Brittania. I can just imagine some Brits saying "oh we don't want to go in with Rome. Don't want all those bloody aquaducts and stifling innovations like straight roads and underfloor heating!" Try to imagine life now without the Fosse Way and you just about have Hannan summed up.

Still, James has a point about the islamification of Europe and the self-interest of many Europeans may be to keep Turkey out. It is a bit of a strain to believe Cameron's promises about immigration being controlled for years - didn't we hear the same things about Poland, Romania, etc? Few can place confidence in such words. It is also clear that the main driver is big business desire for cheap labour. I suspect there would be a further mass-export of jobs from the UK to Turkey. One had the queasy feeling that Cameron was there, not to represent the British people, but to do his job as a special representative for a certain portion of the City.

In a minor way, it was a bit like watching Chamberlain at Munich.

DespairingLiberal said...

The "Gaza is a prison camp" people should try Syria or Iran for a few weeks and then see if they would enjoy life under their proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas. Might help them to gain a little more understanding about the plight of our Israeli friends.

None of which means that Israel shouldn't behave better than it does towards Arabs inside Israel and outside. War begets war and ill-treatment begets bitterness and hatred. Israel is very powerful compared to it's neighbours but often still acts as if it is a deeply embattled refugee statelet struggling against overwhelming odds. This sense of imminent disaster is what drives the many acts of arrogant, superior bullying and cruelty committed by the Israeli state. Hamas and Hezbollah don't help with that. Hamas is a bit better and will one day have to come in and negotiate properly.

Scary Biscuits said...

The more we hear from Cameron, the less we like him. By we, I mean the people who voted Conservative at the last election. True, he is winning plaudits from left wing webmongs here but they are unlikely ever to vote for him.

Cameron's pact with the Conservative party was, like Blair's, 'hold your nose and I'll win the election', then we can be true to our beliefs. Unlike Blair, he didn't win and the Coalition has given him an excuse to renege on his pact with his party. These foreign policy statements go far beyond what is required to say to keep the LibDems on board. It looks increasingly as though Cameron is a fully signed up member of the establishment, unquestioningly agreeing with every one of its sibboleths, from anthropogenic global warming to how evil the Israelis are and how Islam is really a religion at peace and the fact they are at war with all their neighbours, from Nigeria to Dafur, to India and China, is really the fault of all those other countries.

Lastly, I though the definition of a prison was somewhere you were detained against your will. What's stopping Palestinians leaving or coming here, for example? The only thing the Israelis are against is being invaded by nutcases. Egypt won't let them in for the same reason but that doesn't mean they're not free to go elsewhere. Iain Dale is far to kind to Cameron, saying he has been duped by the FCO. The truth is, he and his cronies really believe the tosh they come out with.

Mirtha Tidville said...

Israel is surrounded and outnumbered by those who want,and have since its inception,the total annihilation of the State of Israel and its Jewish people.Remember the words of its present PM and I quote..`If the Arabs laid down their weapons tomorrow there would be no more war. If Israel laid down its weapons tomorrow there would be no more Israel....

ps think you`ll find Turkeys occupation of Northern Cyprus is illegal and surrounded by barbed wire like a prison camp...funny he never mentioned that..Must have forgot eh

HampsteadOwl said...

Britain has had 12 prime ministers before Cameron since the state of Israel was established in 1948. I don't for a moment imagine that you have read and analysed all their speeches on the middle east before coming up with your glib conclusion that Cameron's in Ankara was the most anti-Israel ever. That comment is just a silly piece of hyperbole.

Ninety per cent of the Ankara speech was concerned with giving strong support to Turkish accession to the EU. There are plenty of arguments against Turkey joining, but the fact that Cameron is on the other side doesn't make him anti-Israel or (unless someone is very ignorant) pro-Arab.

Yes he was critical of the attack on the flotilla, but this in the context of urging Turkey not to abandon its friendly relations with Israel, which is hardly an anti-Israeli position. The prison camp line about Gaza was graphic, but hardly without justification. And this is only anti-Israel if you interpret the comment as blaming the situation there entirely on Israel. The paranoids are happy to do this, but it isn't really sustained by the text of the speech itself, especially the very next paragraph that goes on to talk about the responsibilities of both Palestinians and Israelis to sort the mess out.

You and others have got it into your minds that Cameron is anti-Israel and are now engaged in a classic exercise of rearranging the facts to support your conclusion.

Sally Roberts said...

As others have said, Gaza is indeed a prison camp - but run by Hamas!

As for David Cameron's speech - this was couched in diplomatic language and was geared for the Turkish audience. I am certainly not worried that the Conservatives in the Coalition will suddenly stop being friends to Israel.

Rush-is-Right said...

"On Turkey The solution is simple give Turkey special trade status, they do not need to be full members, they do not need to link to the EURO" (Purpleline)

The trouble with that is of course that that kind of "Country membership" might suit all too many of the existing members, including the UK, and that is the last precedent the Fourth Reich would like to set.

Moriarty said...

Purpleline: "The EU is a Christian Union. It is not secular".

Quite right. For example EU Regulation 236789/10 "On the harmonisation of office paper clips" almost has the character of a Papal encyclical.

Rush-is-Right said...

"Doesn't Turkey occupy northern Cyprus?" (Rebel Saint)

No. And let's be very clear about this. When the Greeks started to commit genocide against the Turkish Cypriots in the 1970s, the mainland Turks mounted a rescue operation. They were entitled to do this not just for humanitarian reasons, but because they were (jointly with Britain and Greece) guarantors of Cyprus's independence treaty of (I think) 1964.

Eventually when the fighting stopped a line of partition was drawn. The Greek community have been complaining ever since, but the simple fact is that they were caught organising a genocidal war and have been punished for it.

The Turkish army remains in N. Cyprus to guarantee the peace. It's hardly an occupation, and in any case it costs Turkey millions each year to prop the place up. I am sure they would rather not have to.

Rush-is-Right said...

And finally, I'm with DanHan on this. It is patronising and rude for the Fourth Reich to tell Turkey that it's not up to the standard required (which it surely will when the time comes), while at this momentit is stringing Turkey along compelling them to make all sorts of changes in the hope of qualifying for membership one day.

But for Turkey actually to want to join.... well I think they would be mad. The political class there would love it for the same reason they do elsewhere... all those lovely expense allowances, pensions and so on. But for the country as an whole it would be the same disaster it has been for everyone else.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Dave's gone all "Hug a Muzzie"

Well fuck him.

Anonymous said...

Despairing Liberal - Hannan is only giving his view. He rather agrees with the Turks who want to join (he never says they do not) that its wrong of the EU to deny them (or certainly they are inventing reasons for not letting them in).

And of course you end by spouting rubbish. Always the insane conspiracy isn't there. I thought it was Lib Dem policy to end the economic blockade of Gaza - so why are you complaining.

Dear Scary Biscuits - keep inventing the waffle.
It continues to amaze how the facts can be twisted to fit the prejudice.

Wilson Cotton said...

I applaud DC's honesty on both Gaza and Pakistan. The Mumbai terrorists came from Pakistan, while claiming to be Deccan (Hyderabad) separatists, causing considerable fear in the Indian Muslim population. Pakistan has also fomented unrest in Indian Kashmir.

Gaza is an international disgrace sealed off by both Israel and, let us not forget, Egypt. This is part of a clear message to the US that the price for assisting them in their military adventures was meant to be pressure on Israel to come to a lasting accommodation with the Palestinians. The west bank wall, the building of illegal settlements, both of which, despite the Biblical rhetoric, are really about securing water supplies,and the blockade of Gaza could not be carried out without the vast amounts of aid pumped into Israel by the US.

As for Turkey, yes I detest the EU, but they have been treated shabbily by the old European club, particularly when compared to some of their less than perfect South East European neighbours.

Jeff999 said...

Constantine the Great, founder of Istanbul, began his campaign to become sole ruler of the Roman Empire at York, leading an expeditionary force over the Channel. Little known fact.

steve said...

Arabs in Israelis have more rights than most Arabs in most Arab countries.

Gaza is on the whole a better place to be than most of the undeveloped world especially sub-Saharan Africa. I think many Somalians would love to live in a place like Gaza, even with Hamas in charge.

Yes Turkey does occupy Northern Cyprus; but it could be easily argued that it occupies Kurdistan too,

Unknown said...

Hug a muzzie?! Sums up the cerebral capacity of some commentators here.

To all the Islamaphobes above - surely Dave's censuring of Pakistan is an appropriate response to the extremism we all fear?

As for his overtures to Turkey - Turkey is a secular state and a vital strategic ally for us to have against extremism in the Arab world. French and German alienation of Turkey is a threat to us for this reason.

Incidentally, Israel used to realise this and cultivated Turkey as an ally, until they decided they didn't need any friends and shot a bunch of Turks in the back of the head, during that unlawful high-seas hijack.

The new Government seems to realise where Britain's interests actually lie, foreign policy-wise; a welcome relief after the counter-productive disasters of the Blair/Bush years.

Sean said...

There's a lot of nonsense written here. Let's consider two facts

a. People in Gaza regularly smuggle in rockets which they fire into Israel. That's hardly peacelike, and I imagine any country in the world would defend itself if a neighbour acted like that.

b. Hospitals in Gaza are short of many basic medical supplies and often of electrical power. If the rocket-smugglers put more effort into acquiring these basic needs, the situation would be better. But it would also be better if they could be easily supplied to Gaza by charitable organisations, instead of being blockaded / rationed by Israel and Egypt.

tao_taier said...

Funny how the U.S. voters were expecting the best of Kennedy but got the worst of Carter in Obama.

Meanwhile, Britain's dire need of a Churchill/Thatcher hybrid, you guys get Neville Chamberlain's foreign policy!

I'm hoping I'm wrong about my new found knowledge of Cameron and that HampsteadOwl is right.

Referring to his comment on July 28, 2010 2:53 PM.

I can't help but find some of the comments on here nothing sort of revolting.

"Incidentally, Israel used to realise this and cultivated Turkey as an ally, until they decided they didn't need any friends and shot a bunch of Turks in the back of the head, during that unlawful high-seas hijack." ~comradepowell

My reply to that tripe:

Oh yes that "peaceful" flotilla...

^That was quite the "peace" loving speech from those cheerful islamists. Just eager to spread their good tidings and uncontainable joy.

"Allah Akbar" indeed...

My how very "peaceful".

"Peaceful" in the islamic meaning of the word. It's the religion of "peace" after all. Lets not upset their good nature and kind reputation.

Oh and about Turkey:

That may interest you a little.

Good blog, covers lots on the middle east.


Greets, from Canada, the country with the better/best PM & Party the globe currently has to offer. Though I'm sure you folks have noticed by now. You guys got a lot of catching up to do.

Wish you all the best though and would like to see your country bounce back. I do miss your county's exceptionalism.

~Sincerely and mildly condescending-ly... Taylor Cutforth

tao_taier said...

Another point of interest on whether the U.S. should abandon Israel, which indirectly applies to Britain as well:

Same fellow explains why Cameron's approach with Turkey won't work: