Tony Blair’s claim that there is no link between Britain’s foreign policy and terrorist attacks in this country is blown apart by a secret cabinet memo revealed today. A classified paper written by senior Downing Street officials says that everything Britain does overseas for the next decade must have the ultimate aim of reducing “terror activity, especially that in or directed against the UK”.
It admits that, in an ideal world, “the Muslim would not perceive the UK and its foreign policies as hostile” – effectively accepting the argument that Britain’s military action in Iraq and Afghanistan has served as a recruiting sergeant for Islamist terrorist groups. Publicly, Mr Blair has resisted this line fiercely. During his final speech as leader to Labour’s annual conference last month, he described such claims as “enemy propaganda”.
His cabinet allies have supported his position. Earlier this year, John Reid, the Home Secretary, said: “I think it is a dreadful misjudgment if we believe the foreign policy of this country should be shaped in part, or in whole, under the threat of terrorist activity, if we do not have a foreign policy with which the terrorists happen to agree.”
But the memo leaves no doubt that all foreign policy must be driven by the goal of thwarting terrorism in Britain. It demands a “significant reduction in the number and intensity of the regional conflicts that fuel terror activity”.