David Blackburn

Cameron’s foreign frustrations

Cameron's foreign frustrations
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David Cameron’s much trailed speech to the UN is tinged with frustration. He will say, “You can sign every human rights declaration in the world but if you stand by and watch people being slaughtered in their own country, when you could act then what are those signatures really worth? The UN has to show that we can be – not just united in condemnation, but – united in action acting in a way that lives up to the UNs founding principles and meets the needs of people everywhere."

That seems to be a fairly thinly veiled reference to the global community’s indifference to oppression in Syria. The lack of action against Assad has exasperated the government; the Liberal Democrat Foreign Office Minister Jeremy Browne expressed those sentiments at a conference event yesterday. The UN’s reluctance is apparently the result of perceived “mission creep” in Libya, a perception that is particularly strong in Russia.

Aside from that, it’s striking how quickly the once mercantile coalition has caught the interventionist bug. Then again, the domestic reform programme is an unforgiving slog at present and the global economic outlook is dire. Cameron is devoting air time in New York to economic matters. He has also co-written a letter to the leaders of the G20 (and European leaders in particular) urging them to back Nicolas Sarkozy’s call to “help the world find the path to growth.”  The stale smell of nervousness is increasingly palpable.