Britain and Africa under Blair

In pursuit of the good state

Author: Julia Gallagher

Africa was a key focus of Britain's foreign policy under Tony Blair. Military intervention in Sierra Leone, increases in aid and debt relief, and grand initiatives such as the Commission for Africa established the continent as a place in which Britain could ‘do good’. This book critically explores Britain's fascination with Africa. It argues that, under New Labour, Africa represented an area of policy which appeared to transcend politics. Gradually, it came to embody an ideal state activity around which politicians, officials and the wider public could coalesce, leaving behind more contentious domestic and international issues. Building on the story of Britain and Africa under Blair, the book draws wider conclusions about the role of ‘good’ and idealism in foreign policy. In particular, it discusses how international relations provide opportunities to create and pursue ideals, and why they are essential for the wellbeing of political communities. The book argues that state actors project the idea of ‘good’ onto idealised, distant objects, in order to restore a sense of the ‘good state’.

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