Douglas Alexander’s speech in Washington last night is being portrayed as distancing Gordon Brown’s administration from George W. Bush’s post 9/11 foreign policy. Particular importance is being attached to this passage:
"In the 20th century a country’s might was too often measured in what they could destroy. In the 21st century strength should be measured by what we can build together.”
If this intended as a criticism of the Bush administration, it is ignorant in the extreme. After 9/11, the United States did not go on some Shermanesque march to the sea. Instead, it set about a phenomenally ambitious project to build democracies in parts of the world where they had never succeeded before. Indeed, the criticism could be that it tried to build too much too quickly.