British Prime Minister Gordon Brown says he shares many things with his predecessor, Tony Blair. Chief among them, said Blair's former finance minister, are similar economic goals and ideals. But Brown says it is a different world that he faces in office.
"I think what I'm dealing with are the new challenges," Brown told NPR's Steve Inskeep, listing climate change, and a global economic transformation as two chief concerns.
In addition, Brown said security concerns persist and have grown more complex as technology has opened new avenues of attack.
But the British leader also said he sees progress in a commitment he inherited from Blair: his country's role in rebuilding and securing Iraq. Brown affirmed that his policies in Iraq are the same as those of Blair, who was known for backing President Bush's strategy in the country.
Of the recent violence in Basra, Brown said, "We are moving from a situation where we are the combat troops to a situation where, rightfully... the Iraqis can themselves take more control of their own affairs."
Emphasizing that his policy's chief goal is not combat but stability, Brown said, "The 4,000 [British] troops in the south are first of all training the Iraqi forces," and also securing supply lines and providing air support.
"If the Iraqi forces are able to insist on law and order" as the region gains both stability and economic growth, Brown said, "that's exactly the situation where, building on the democratic elections in Iraq, we now have local people having more say and more responsibility for their own affairs."
Brown also said that recent disruptions in the global economy are proof that the world needs new tools to cope with wide-scale problems. He is expected to give a speech urging a re-examination of international cooperative agencies while in the United States.
"The international order that we have — with the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund — was built in 1945 for the problems of 1945," Brown said.
The key difference, he said, is that those institutions "were built to deal with national governments with sheltered economies, without global flows of capital" and interconnected economies.
One solution, Brown says, is to develop an early-warning system for the global economy, which could connect financial groups around the world and identify potential problems.
The recent cooperation between U.S. business groups and federal regulators is a good step toward solving the current crisis, Brown said. But the benefits will not extend beyond U.S. borders unless wider cooperation takes place.
"We have a combination of problems that can only properly be addressed at a global level," Brown said.
The prime minister will meet Thursday with President Bush, and with presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton, John McCain and Barack Obama.