No longer is there any serious dissent about British foreign policy objectives in Parliament. Britain has no real independent foreign policy any more. It is a small medium rank power which has a permanent seat on the UN security Council only as a legacy of the Second World War and its status then as an imperial power.
Effectively, Britain follows or anticipates the foreign policies of Washington whose approval is needed and wanted. So the focus of opposition parties has shifted more to criticising the way the policy is presented and delivered as opposed to having any dissent as to the objectives nor wisdom of the foreign policy
So the shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander's line on the Egyptian coup that cannot be called a coup by Washington lest it is obliged to suspend the $1.3 billion subsidy it provides to the generals to buy US military hardware is to tell Britain he thinks it really is a coup.
Initially, there was a dispute about acknowledging whether a coup had taken place. I understand the caution in western capitals in the days that followed Morsi's exit: careful language was chosen to try to secure crucial influence with Egypt's new rulers.How many Western diplomats with positions of power and influence have called it a coup ? The EU's Lady Ashton has not. The only reason Alexander calls it a coup now is because he wants to differentiate himself from those who are not calling it a coup because the US cannot call it a coup.
Many people across the world know it's a coup, some why Obama and Hague won't call it a coup and most don't care that Douglas Alexander is now calling it a coup because Hague cannot. The rest of Alexander's article is a mere string of banal and robotic 'public diplomacy' platitudes
The foreign policy of arming the Egyptian generals remains an unquestionable foreign policy.
'There has been speculation that Egypt would react to the suspension of EU or US support by ditching its peace treaty with Israel or abandoning its fight against the Islamist terrorist threat in the Sinai peninsula. But those policies are clearly in the country's interests, and the generals will not abandon them'Nor is the US or Britain 'abandoning' the generals. The policies are also in the interests of the USA which is why it funds the generals and why they think they can act as a law unto themselves by attempting to eliminate Muslim Brotherhood protesters and liquidate it as a terrorist organisation.
'the scale of the violence now being witnessed confirms that the army is not the solution to Egypt's continuing crisis'.What scale of violence would Alexander have considered necessary to provide a 'solution" ? A lower scale ? Only 200 or so ? The hapless New Labour appointee Cathy Ashton talks almost comically of "confidence building measures" between the 'interim government' and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Baroness Ashton, ex-CND administrator and national treasurer, met representatives of other EU states with a $400 million arms trade with Egypt and have decided belatedly to 'suspend' export licenses for the tear gas and rubber bullets that the Egyptian security forces are using 'disproportionately' at present.
The EU High Commissioner has declared that “Member states also agreed to suspend export licences to Egypt for any equipment which might be used for internal repression and . . . review their security assistance with Egypt” This does not mean, however, that all military hardware is being cancelled.
Alexander follows the routine line about the aid not being stopped for 'humanitarian reasons, the usual rationalistation offered by greedy overdeveloped states feeling guilty at their role in trying to control the energy resources of other lands by putting something back into their economies.
'Through its aid, Europe has a responsibility to advance our commitment to democracy and human rights. And European co-operation with Egypt could not continue as normal when civilians are being killed and basic rights are undermined'.But only some arms deals used for 'internal repression' are being cancelled as there is no full arms embargo being proposed as there was on Syria as civil war broke out there. The reason is that security in Egypt is important because many EU states have failed to take 'energy security' and self sufficiency seriously enough in the past.
A great deal of Liquified Natural Gas ( LNG ) comes from Egypt and via it from the Gulf states such as Qatar. States such as Spain and Italy are especially dependent upon gas from North Africa. Britain has energy interests as well. One third of all gas in Egypt is controlled by the British BG Group.
As this EU report makes clear from 2009,
'The EU is particularly vulnerable to such events and trends, as it holds less than 2% of world gas reserves even though gas accounts for about one quarter of its gross domestic energy consumption.To make matters worse, indigenous production is stagnating and set to decline, while consumption is on the rise and will keep growing, driven primarily by the electricity generation sector and households'.The quest for diversified supplies of gas ( the sort of diversity liberal elites do not like to mention in regards to the transcendent communitarian values of the EU ) means that Egypt is crucial to advance this strategy. Much of the LNG has to go through the Suez Canal and Gulf of Aden.
The security of the sea passage from the Mediterranean down through the Red Sea is, therefore, a vital interest. Without the Egyptian army there can be no prospect of 'stability' and the fear is that terrorists could menace oil and gas pipelines to EU states as well as its trading partner Israel.
The EU report states it baldly 'Most new discoveries of economically exploitable gas over the past two decades have been in the Middle East'. Moreover, if LNG is not to go through Russia, which uses gas as a diplomatic lever, new sources need to be tapped and shipped via Egypt.
This is the reality that people in the West do not want to hear. They are uncomfortable truths. Many liberal left progressive elites probably try to convince themselves that they can magically combine 'democracy promotion' with the support for undemocratic governments in the region such as Saudi Arabia.
Hence the vacuous 'public diplomacy' line,
'The decisions and declarations made at this sensitive time matter to the credibility with which the west's voice is heard not just in Egypt but across the Middle East. It is vital that people believe the west's commitment to democracy is real'.In Britain and across Europe an urgent, serious and mature discussion about this as a matter of emergency needs to be conducted.