Britain less safe because of Iraq war, says Cameron
Britain is more unsafe because of its involvement in the Iraq war, David Cameron said, as he promised his foreign policy would not be dictated by the US if he became prime minister.
The Conservative leader endorsed a report by his party's policy group on security issues, which said: "We need to recognise that a central element of foreign policy - the intervention in Iraq - has failed in its objectives so badly that the threat to this country is actually greater than it was before it began."
Mr Cameron, who voted for the war in 2003 despite misgivings, said it was "fact" that the threat to Britain was greater now. He said Mr Blair had behaved like a "new best friend" telling Washington what it wanted to hear. While he would have no truck for anti-Americanism, he said: " Where there are areas where we don't agree, we shouldn't be afraid of saying so."He also backed the group's call for the Foreign Office to reassert its influence over foreign policy after criticism that Mr Blair's "sofa" style of governing had meant the key decisions were being taken in Downing Street. "I want to be prime minister of Britain, not president," he said.
The group, chaired by Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, former chair of the Joint Intelligence Committee, said it was no longer possible to look at domestic security and foreign policy separately. It proposed a National Security Council to oversee both, and the appointment of a cabinet-level security minister.
The report called for a new approach in the Middle East based on a " partnership for open societies" and a display of "humility and patience". Dame Pauline said: "What we can't do in future is hang our whole strategy on the military. We must have a policy that's far more diplomatically interested."
The criticism of Mr Blair is echoed by Chatham House in a report published today, which says the "root failure" of his foreign policy has been his inability to influence the US - despite the UK's "military, political and financial" sacrifices.
Professor Victor Bulmer-Thomas, the think-tank's outgoing director, said the invasion was a "terrible mistake" which drove a "horse and cart" through Mr Blair's doctrine of international community. "The post- invasion debacle has undermined British influence internationally and over crucial issues including a two-state solution in the Middle East," he said.
Mr Blair's official spokesman said: "The terrorist threat did not begin with Iraq. It was there before 9/11." He said the Government was addressing the issues as a whole "rather than trying to find an excuse".
Michael Moore, foreign affairs spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, said: "In this new security initiative, the real cheek is for David Cameron to try to distance himself from the Iraq war. This will not wash with the British public."
Meanwhile, in Washington, Robert Gates assumed the helm at the Defence Department yesterday, warning in his first public remarks that failure in Iraq would haunt the US for years.
The former CIA chief pledged to give President George Bush his honest advice and said that he would go to Iraq soon to speak with US commanders.
Mr Gates, 63, said after taking the oath of office from Vice-President Dick Cheney: "Failure in Iraq at this juncture would be a calamity that would haunt our nation, impair our credibility, and endanger Americans for decades to come."
- 1 Which country would be hardest to invade?
- 2 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 3 Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao live: Mayweather puts on defensive masterclass to win by unanimous decision
- 4 Floyd Mayweather's mouthguard costs $25,000 - enough to fly to Las Vegas and back 18 times
- 5 Royal baby girl born: Duchess of Cambridge's second child will be a princess thanks to Queen
Which country would be hardest to invade?
Morgan Freeman on the riot-focused coverage of the Baltimore protests: 'F**k the media'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
Nepal earthquake: Many survivors receiving no help despite relief effort
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
Indonesia executions live: 'Hysterical' families heard prisoners being shot dead by firing squad
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
EU exit would hit UK economy much harder than neighbouring countries, study finds
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...
£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...
£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...
£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...