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This living in a bubble is getting out of hand

Posted by Helen Saturday, February 19, 2005

The egregious Mark Leonard is at it again. He is about to publish a new pamphlet, co-authored with Andrew Small and Martin Rose.

Entitled Public Diplomacy in the ‘Age of Schisms’, it is due out in March but I have received a prepublication blurb for it. I cannot resist sharing it with our readers:

“The damage done to Britain's world image by the Iraq war and the emergence of new global schisms necessitates a new strategy for British public diplomacy, according to the pamphlet authors. [sic] They argue that Britain must rethink the way it communicates with international publics to prevent a gap emerging between its own perception of itself as a principled power committed to multilateralism and how other nations view it.”
Fascinating. These people should get out more. (And learn about the possessive case.) Exactly, why do they think that Britain’s participation in the liberation of Iraq and contribution to the first democratic election in that country’s history should have harmed her image?

What might seriously harm that image would be getting enmeshed in the EU’s common foreign policy, which consists of being extremely chummy with Fidel Castro and lifting the arms embargo on China, not to mention the never-ending and laughable one-sided negotiations with the Mullahs of Iran.

Then there is the communication with international publics. What on earth are they? Do they mean the international great and the good, NGOs, media and tranzis? Then why don’t they say so? How can you have an international public? A public exists within a certain social and political structure and in a very large part of the world it does not exist at all, since the structures of many states militate against that.

There is, of course, a public emerging in the Middle East, largely thanks to various actions by the coalition led by the United States, in which Britain has taken a strong and active part.

That is principled activity. Being committed to multilateralism is supporting the corrupt and self-serving international and transnational bureaucracy of such wonderfully principled organizations as the United Nations, now embroiled in numerous scandals or the NGOs, whose collective behaviour after the tsunami has called their very existence into question.

I do not suppose Mr Leonard is interested in my advice but if he were, I should tell him to get out more. Living in a bubble is bad for one’s mental faculties.