Over in the Guardian there is a very long article by someone called Andy Beckett asking whether Cameron is the “new Dubya”.  It is not known why the Guardian should choose now to pay somebody to contrive 1,000 words on this theme,  but I suppose that the idea might have been suggested to them by the prime minister’s recent muff-ups abroad, a lack of facility with foreigners being something that bien pensant liberals used to find most hilarious about the former president.  The fact that the former president’s lack of facility might have been inspired less by an ignorance of foreigners than by a deep and abiding knowledge of the awfulness of bien pensant liberals never seemed to occur to them and why should it.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter because, as Mr Beckett so penetratingly observes in his article, Mr Cameron is still in power while George W. Bush is not. Which is why it is Mr Cameron who has just emerged, relatively unscathed, from the home-leg of his double-header with Pakistan – a cosy dinner at Chequers last night with its President Zardari from which the two of them surfaced this morning pledging mutual and eternal fealty.  Not bad, given that  week ago, in India of all places, Mr Cameron accused Pakistan of “promoting the export of  terror” to Afghanistan. The Pakistani High Commissioner in London called this “an immature reaction from an immature politician”, a sentiment that was enthusiastically echoed by that well-known elder statesman David Miliband.  The current foreign secretary meanwhile, Mr Hague, was unavailable for comment, a posture that, when it comes to foreign affairs, he adopts with surprising rigidity.

Mr Zardari should be grateful that his host wasn’t John Major, who would have dragged him to the Edgbaston test for the afternoon session, in time to see England bowl out Pakistan for 72.  Major, of course, would then have been unfailingly apologetic about such an outcome. Cameron, who regards his various foreign policy gaffes as exercises in frankness,  would have told Zardari that it was because his team are crap.

This is a sound analysis maybe – any team capable of losing to England at cricket must, by definition, be thoroughly useless – but it is not one to help in their common cause of taming Afghanistan to the extent that one day it can join the league of test-playing nations. Zardari said earlier this week that he thought the western effort in Afghanistan was a lost cause – perhaps because the Americans keep getting side-tracked into teaching the Afghans the rudiments of baseball. Zardari’s was an analysis from which, in public Cameron was obliged to demur though in reality it chimes all too well with his own view of the situation.


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