What Libya says about Britain’s changing view of its place in the world

Extracted 27AUG2011 from http://www.economist.com/node/21526887?fsrc=scn/tw/te/ar/davidcameronswar

Despite the pain of austerity, including big defence cuts, Mr Cameron’s Conservative-led coalition has put a lot of thought into how Britain can count in today’s chaotic world... the Cameron government marks a big break with the recent past. Mr Blair sometimes seemed to see Britain’s global role as a bridge between American hard power and the more herbivorous soft power of the European Union. Today’s ministers, such as William Hague, the Conservative foreign secretary, dislike talk of a world divided into formal blocks. Their diplomacy puts its faith in nurturing a much wider range of bilateral ties, which—when properly managed—lend Britain clout in a “latticework” of overlapping alliances and networks. These might include everything from the UN and NATO to loose groupings of countries that support greater free trade, or that simply agree on the need for more accountable rulers in the Arab world.