Sunday, May 23, 2010

Ed Miliband Drives Spear Into HIs Brother's Heart

Younger Miliband brother playing for keeps

When Ed Miliband followed his older brother, David Miliband, into the Labour leadership race, their mother Marion Kozak, must have been hoping for a tame contest.

With Ed Miliband's recent denunciation of Britain's participation in the Iraq War, any hopes of that have likely faded. Ed Miliband has introduced what will be the greatest wedge issue between himself and his older brother.

"As we all know, the basis for going to war was on the basis of Saddam's threat in terms of weapons of mass destruction and therefore that is why I felt the weapons inspectors should have been given more time to find out whether he had those weapons, and Hans Blix – the head of the UN weapons inspectorate – was saying that he wanted to be given more time," Miliband the younger announced. "The basis for going to war was the threat that he posed."

"The combination of not giving the weapons inspectors more time, and then the weapons not being found, I think for a lot of people it led to a catastrophic loss of trust for us, and we do need to draw a line under it," he continued.

In making the Iraq War a key issue in the Labour leadership contest, Ed Milibad also makes the Blair Doctrine a key issue.

The Blair Doctrine, simply described, reflected Tony Blair's belief that military intervention is often necessary in order to achieve humanitarian ends.

The Blair Doctrine represents an overly moralistic take on neo-conservative thinking in regards to foreign policy. Neo-conservative thinking recommends the diligent confrontation of known threats; Blair's variation of this notion recommends the diligent confrontation of humanitarian dangers.

While George W Bush's official pretext for the Iraq War depended heavily on the presence of weapons of mass destruction -- which, even if Hussein didn't possess them, he was certainly seeking them. Blair's official pretext relied on this as well, but a global do-gooder philosophy weighed heavily on the decision.

Not only is David Miliband perceived as being much closer to Tony Blair than his brother Ed is, but as Foreign Secretary Miliband had key responsibilities for the prosecution of the Iraq War. Miliband the younger carries no such baggage.

However, the older Miliband will also be able to boast involvement with the decision to end British combat operations in Iraq. Moreover, while the older Miliband was involved in managing the last years of that combat mission, he had no significant role in the decision to go to war there.

Naturally, David Miliband doesn't want Iraq to be at issue in this leadership campaign.

"While Iraq was a source of division in the past, it doesn't need to be a source of division in the future," he announced. "Iraq was a big issue at the 2005 general election but the vast majority of MPs and candidates I have spoken to this time say that while it was a big issue then it was much less of an issue in 2010."

"I said during the election campaign that I thought it was time to move on," he added.

Ed Miliband clearly has little intention of moving on from the Iraq War -- just yet. But while invoking the Iraq War will certainly help to divide Labour voters from his older brother, he isn't the only candidate to denoucne the war. Ed Balls and John McDonnell have also spoken out against the war.

While the war will divide Labour voters against his brother, that portion will likely splinter between the three candidates -- and a significant porton of them will look toward Balls as their candidate of choice.

Whether Ed Miliband envoking the Iraq war will lead to hard feelings between himself and Miliband the elder will be a matter for the private lives of the two brothers.

But foreign policy will be a key challenge for the Labour Party moving forward. The leadership campaign would have been remiss without addressing it.

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