Letter No 55  by Mike Allott:  email | back to directory

23 August 2014

Action and Reaction in the Middle East

You say “there is no action without reaction in the Middle East” (Editorial, 21 August). But those who perhaps fear reaction will also often fear to act.

Fifteen years ago, in Chicago, Tony Blair presented his now famous speech, dedicated to the cause of “internationalism versus isolationism”. Prompted by the evils of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, it set down a series of key principles for international cooperation and intervention which are still valid today.

In particular it laid a framework of goals for the 21st century: cementing solidarity between the EU and US; recognising and supporting a democratic Russia; understanding the pace of globalisation as “also a political and security phenomenon”; and encouraging the spread of democracy, particularly under the impetus of “centre and centre-left politics”.

However, two years later, the attack on the World Trade Center vividly symbolised the vulnerability of global capitalism and western values when attacked by the forces of fanatical, theatrical nihilism. This diabolical “action” has clearly triggered a chain reaction that is still unravelling. Whatever “action” we have taken since then and will take in future will only win if there is a unity of purpose. Those international agencies – military, political and economic – highlighted in Blair’s doctrine, must at last begin to pursue a new and common action.

The pursuit of freedom and democracy, under a binding commitment to the UN’s universal declaration of human rights, would be a good start. Opting out ought not to be an option, regardless of the reaction.

Mike Allott
Eastleigh, Hampshire


This letter was published in the printed version of the Guardian. See the online version of this letter at:

• The Guardian, Saturday 23 August 2014 21.00 BST