|Cameron with interim prime minister of Egypt|
In the case of the first or prime minister of a country that is a little more difficult because, in theory at least, he (or she) is the big cheese. But even this republican blog accepts that previous prime ministers have paid tribute to the advice given to them by the Queen, and the counsel they should be able to call upon most of all is that of the senior civil servants from departments of government. The professionals
So whilst it is excusable that band new, squeaky clean David Cameron would want to make his mark early on foreign policy matters, it surely must have occurred to him, or to his foreign policy advisors in Downing Street or the FCO, that not only was he the first western leader to visit Cairo after the overthrow of Mubarak, but he was the only one to show any inclination to do so. It might also have occurred to him or them to wonder why that was.
So Cameron's visit to meet the new "interim" rulers (the military) was a somewhat dangerous and daring piece of foreign policy. Hailing the coming of democracy to north Africa was something over which he might have been well advised to "wait and see".
For, although there is to be an election, the military has made it clear that the new constitution should include a place in government for the military, and that that place should be shielded from any civilian oversight.
Now, it is possible that that might be a sound idea. The relative stability of Egypt has been guaranteed over the last 60 years, possibly in part thanks to the firm hand of the military, under Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak in turn. And, in any case, we cannot judge the needs of every country by the needs of our own (as if we had any real democracy anyway). However, a state in which the military plays a role in government without any oversight of the people is not a democracy, and Cameron looks rather foolish to have hailed it as such.
|Mr Hague and Mr Myers|
Whatever the reasons, Cameron's enthusiasm looks rather naive.
And as Syria explodes into civil war, there are those who are asking why Britian and France are not rushing to the aid of the "insurgents" as they did in Libya. Oh yes, the situation is more complex in Syria, and the military machine maybe stronger, but there are many similarities. The reason given for intervention in Libya was that we could not stand by and watch a dictator kill his own people. I failed to understand that at the time as we do that all all over the world. But now it looks weaker and weaker as over 2,700 civilians including 100 children have been killed by Assad's forces.
It wouldn't be anything to do with the fact that Syria hardly has any oil worth talking about, could it?