Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Getting to Know Gordon Brown | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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In my opinion, British foreign policy – unlike its domestic affairs – does not change with a change in its leadership. From Wilson to Thatcher to Major and to Blair, London’s positions have always been similar to those of United States.

Therefore, we should not expect any surprises from Gordon Brown. And since we have not heard much on Brown’s opinions on world issues – such as Iraq, Palestine, Iran, and terrorism – this is likely to mean that he does not intend on pulling his forces from Al-Basra before he sees an initial US pullout. Moreover, he will not take stands against Israel and will not negotiate with Iran before it shows some flexibility on its nuclear program. He will also not halt the trials of terrorists or release those that have been convicted.

What actually transpired was just a case of internal laundering. The Labor Party, to which Blair and Brown belong, sought to polish its image by getting rid of Blair due to the failure of the Iraqi issue and in order to give the necessary impression to the electorate that the party has changed its men and corrected its position so that the upcoming elections would bring a labor party that is acceptable to its traditional voters. Hence, it was an internal cosmetic surgical procedure that has nothing to do with foreign policy for which Blair was often criticized.

This can be shown in the fact that since Brown assumed power, he has not made or promised major changes. In fact, his first days in power do not show that he is eager to talk about promised changes to Blair’s stands on international conflicts. Brown also described the London political landscape as more dangerous to him than Baghdad due to the coup-instigators inside his party. Whatever the real reasons may be – whether it is an attempt to polish the reputation following the failure of Blair’s plans in Iraq or whether they are the familiar party disputes – Blair’s name shall remain a golden one in Britain for he is the man that transformed the Labor Party and rescued it from the fall when he took over the leadership of the party that was reeling to fall – along with the collapse of the left – since the early 1990s.Blair injected the party with a dose that brought it hack to life and gave him the popularity that enabled him to win three successive elections.

Blair is now history and we are now dealing with Brown, a man who is totally unknown to us. Although British policy is always close to US policy, how it relates to Washington is different. It either leads or is led. Under Mrs. Margaret Thatcher and largely under Blair, Britain was a partner that guided the US Presidency in issues of destiny. Britain enjoys a political system that is relatively free of pressures, unlike the US system that is burdened with and restricted to the interests of the various lobbies and pressure forces. That is why the British influence was positive and led to repeated changes on the advanced US positions on the Palestinian issue since the early 1980s that reached the stage of proclaiming the White House’s endorsement of the principle of establishing a Palestinian state. Since he is a product of the Labor Party, we expect Brown to play the same role of treating US policy when it is afflicted with a fever.