Peter Oborne writes: Mr Cameron’s views on foreign policy, and in particular the Middle East, are completely different to those he used to hold 10 or 15 years ago.
Back then he was conservative in the old-fashioned sense of the term. He was sceptical of foreign adventures and pretty well immune to popular clamours.
He only voted with reluctance for the invasion of Iraq in 2003. During the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 2006, he permitted William Hague, his foreign affairs spokesman, to describe Israeli conduct as “disproportionate,” a sentiment which led to open revolt among some pro-Israeli supporters of the Conservative Party.
Today David Cameron is a neoconservative. Along with President Sarkozy of France, he led the way in the Western intervention in Libya four years ago. Eighteen months ago he wanted to intervene militarily against President Assad, and was only deterred by a parliamentary vote.
One mark of neoconservatism is uncritical support for the state of Israel. Mr Cameron has become the most vocal international backer of Benjamin Netanyahu. Mr Cameron has gone out of his way to repeatedly defend the conduct of Israeli forces during the Israeli invasion of Gaza last year.
Mr Cameron regularly seeks advice from Tony Blair. Mr Blair was one of the circle of advisors urging David Cameron to bomb Libya. In foreign policy terms, David Cameron should indeed be seen as a protege of the former prime minister. Both men have been steadfast supporters of the Gulf dictatorships and of Netanyahu’s Israel, and both men are unbendingly hostile to democratic movements within Islam, in particular the Muslim Brotherhood.
David Cameron has protected Tony Blair. Had Mr Cameron wanted, he could have insisted on the publication of the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War, which is expected to contain damning criticisms of Mr Blair.
This investigation was meant to publish its conclusions within 18 months of the British withdrawal from Iraq in 2007: it is disgraceful that eight years later, Sir John Chilcot is still at work.
Before the 2010 general election, David Cameron also promised an investigation into the very serious allegations that Britain was complicit in torture and extraordinary rendition during the Blair premiership. Instead the investigation has been suppressed.
So what happened to the foreign policy realist I used to talk to a decade and more ago? I believe that part of the explanation lies in David Cameron’s near total lack of knowledge of the world beyond Britain when he was elected prime minister. Beyond beach holidays in the Mediterranean it was negligible.
This ignorance created a vacuum which has been filled by the small, well-knit and very powerful clique of neoconservatives who surround the prime minister. [Continue reading…]