THE prime minister's annual speech on foreign policy in the City of London is an occasion for a comprehensive survey of the state of the world as seen from London. By that standard Mr Blair's speech on Monday night fell far short of what was required, especially since it was presumably the last he will have the opportunity of making. The concentration on the Middle East was understandable but the content was disappointing both in its view of recent events and its proposals for the future. Perhaps it would be unreasonable to expect Mr Blair, as one of its architects, to acknowledge the total failure of the Iraq adventure but his speech contained not even the slightest indication that he recognised the outcome as less than satisfactory. Nor did he mention last week's mid-term elections in the United States whose results must surely have some effect on the foreign policy horizon. The main drift of Mr Blair's speech was that Iraq has to be seen in the context of the Middle East as a whole, a proposition which those opposed to the attack on that country, have argued from the start. He also emphasized the fundamental importance of an Israeli-Palestinian settlement, again an uncontentious proposition but one for which he had no new proposal to make. His invitation to Iran and Syria to join the search for Middle East peace, while threatening them if they chose not to, was preposterous.


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