I’ve been thinking recently about the comparisions between the Credit Crunch and the post-9/11 crisis in foreign policy, mostly in terms of how leaders have chosen to respond to the emergent situation.
In 2001, the US/UK consensus on foreign policy came to an abrupt end, and leaders – foremost among them Tony Blair – were keen to expound new doctrines to guide the formation of the post-9/11 policy on diplomacy, allies and security.
Surveying the scene less than a month after 9/11, Tony told the Labour Party conference on 2nd October 2001:
This is a moment to seize. The Kaleidoscope has been shaken. The pieces are in flux. Soon they will settle again. Before they do, let us re-order this world around us.
Today, humankind has the science and technology to destroy itself or to provide prosperity to all. Yet science can’t make that choice for us. Only the moral power of a world acting as a community, can.
“By the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more together than we can alone”.
For those people who lost their lives on September 11 and those that mourn them; now is the time for the strength to build that community. Let that be their memorial.
Whatever his faults and whatever the flaws in this “re-ordering” process, this is Tony’s raw leadership quality shining through.
The world needed a new foreign policy for a new age: Tony sought, within a month, to establish its case, to demonstrate that this posed an opportunity and not just a threat, and to establish some clear moral principles around which the new way would be ordered.
So how does Gordon compare?
Personally, I think Gordon has handled the technical detail of holding back the worst of the recession well. I also think that a lot of the blame being laid at his door for the recession happening is unfair.
But all of this assesses Gordon as if he were a mechanic, called in to fix a broken machine. He’s not: he’s a leader. What is really lacking – and is is particularly lacking in comparison to Blair’s approach post-9/11 – is the vision for what is to come next. Indeed, it’s the analysis of what got us here in the first place too.
I’m no speechwriter, but I’d like to have heard something along these lines: (more…)