THE WAR on terrorism was confirmed yesterday as Britain's top priority in foreign affairs for the next decade, as the Foreign Office finally excised its commitment to an "ethical dimension" in policy overseas.
Dominating the first list of the Government's long-term strategic priorities on the world stage were: combating international terrorist networks and the threat of weapons of mass destruction; protecting Britain from illegal immigration, drug trafficking and international crime; and protecting British energy supplies.
The requirements of security overshadowed Britain's relations with Europe and a commitment to environmentally sustainable development in the Government's list of eight key aims of foreign policy during the next 10 years.
Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, launching the document, said that, while the threats from the Cold War had receded, the dangers from terrorists and failing states had increased, and warned that Britain must remain ready to use force to counter threats overseas. He said: "What happens far away can have direct consequences for the UK's security and prosperity ... One of our starkest conclusions is that the boundary between foreign and domestic policy is increasingly blurred."
The 62-page Foreign Office strategy document did not mention the "ethical" foreign policy adopted by Robin Cook in 1997 and quietly dropped by the 2001 general election. Instead, it emphasised the need to tackle terrorism and its causes across the globe.
Mr Straw said: "Shutting down terrorist networks in the UK means sharing intelligence internationally, tackling the problems in places around the world, where the breakdown of order allows terrorism to thrive, and addressing the sense of injustice which terrorists exploit."
Yesterday, Mr Straw insisted that "the UK will continue to need an active and engaged foreign policy, and must remain ready to use all the assets at its disposal - persuasion, advice, assistance and, if necessary, military force". …