Good evening. Jeremy Corbyn laid out his foreign policy today in a speech at Chatham House. “What foreign policy?” some of you are shouting, predominantly from the back. The Labour leader has been repeatedly dogged by doubts over his scepticism of Western force, his opposition to nuclear weapons and his friendliness with Hamas (not to mention his proposal in 1999 to let taxpayers withhold their money from the Army).
“I want to see a peaceful world,” said Mr Corbyn. “I have spent my life wanting to see a peaceful world.” I believe him, though others don’t. “I see it as the next Labour’s Government task, as my task, to make the case for Britain to advance a security and foreign policy with integrity and human rights at its core.” He was, he said, not a pacifist, but Labour would create a Minister for Peace and take a “leading role” in stopping climate change. The Conservatives, by contrast, would continue “the failed policy of continuing and devastating military interventions that have intensified conflicts and increased the terrorist threat.”
But when the press began asking questions there was a strange consistency to his proposed solutions to international tensions. What should we do about Syria? We need to talk about it. North Korea? We need to talk. The South China Sea? More talk. Perhaps Mr Corbyn genuinely believes that nobody else in the history of foreign policy has really tried to solve these problems by coming to an agreement. I would tentatively suggest that there might be other barriers to their peaceful resolution than an insufficient commitment on Britain’s part to diplomacy.
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