I am reassured to learn that I am not the only one who gets a mite irritated every time David Miliband appears on the evening news, or signs off another print article, sanctimoniously lecturing another state as to how it should manage its internal affairs. Simon Jenkins devotes his Guardian column to the Foreign Secretary’s interventionist hectoring and moralising. Miliband’s trite approach to diplomacy has been touched upon by ‘Three Thousand Versts’ before, and whilst a new incumbent at the White House has encouraged a more subtle method of practising foreign affairs across the Atlantic, New Labour has continued to condescend and patronise.
The FCO is, I’m sure, a repository of informed and nuanced knowledge of all manner of political and military situations, across the globe. I do not know whether Miliband is inclined to draw sufficiently from this reservoir of expertise, but his simplistic synopses and glib statements suggest that he does not.
I have avoided, thus far, commenting on events in Sri Lanka. I simply do not know enough about the situation there to offer a useful opinion. But I am sure that Jenkins is correct when he intimates that Miliband has angered both sides in the conflict by needlessly intervening with hopeless platitudes. It was all very well to urge ceasefire from the Sri Lankan government whenever Tamil Tigers sheltered behind civilians, but the authorities in Colombo might justifiably ask why they should interrupt the final stages of suppressing a violent terrorist insurrection within their own territory, whenever Britain and the US claimed the right to pursue terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq, whilst civilians formed ‘collateral damage’!