Alex Massie

Buchan on Foreign Policy

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Sandy Arbuthnot in The Three Hostages:

"Lord!" he cried, "how I loathe our new manners in foreign policy. The old English way was to regard all foreigners as slightly childish and rather idiotic and ourselves as the only grown-ups in a kindergarten world.  That meant that we had a cool detached view and did even-handed unsympathetic justice.  But now we have got into the nursery ourselves and are bear-fighting on the floor.  We take violent sides, and make pets, and of course if you are -phil something or other you have got to be -phobe something else.  It is all wrong.  We are becoming Balkanised."

Discuss, paying special attention to Iraq and Afghanistan. To what extent, if any, do Arbuthnot's views retain some merit?

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.