The only thing you can be sure of is that no candidate in the Conservative Party leadership contest will dare to question what is the basic premise of British foreign policy.
And these fundamental principles, supported by various government agencies and intelligence agencies in the Foreign Office, the Interior Department and the Department of Defense, require the most careful adherence to US policy and ever-increasing defense spending.
The principle usually applied Tony Blair: “Since the United States has taken over from Britain as the imperial leader of the West since World War II, even if the political choice seems terribly wrong, it is better for Britain to support America rather than weaken US prestige by charting its own course.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson turned out to be unusually straightforward, and on this issue, in his farewell speech in Parliament, he advised his successor to simply “stay close to the Americans.”
What does this mean in the short term? What if and when administration Biden loses its temper over Ukraine, where it spends a whopping $40 billion of American taxpayers on various forms of military and economic aid, London will follow suit.
It is easy to forget that the loud policy of the UK government in support of the President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelenskywhich cost the UK £3.8bn ($4.6bn) was part political theater designed to keep Johnson in power.
Liz Truss — now the favorite of those vying for British Prime Ministership in September — has stuck by Johnson’s side in an attempt to inherit his right-wing base. In her capacity as foreign secretary, she was in Moscow in February with the task of giving the British media the impression, through ridiculous photo ops, that the UK was telling Russia what was what.
It has now pledged to increase defense spending to three percent of GDP from the current 2.1 percent by 2030 to counter the “increased threat” – presumably to the UK – from Russia and China, which would mean a significant increase in 2023 budgeted year £60.2 billion.
However, it is worth remembering that China was nowhere on the British “radar” as a threat until the former US President Donald Trump did not make it such after taking office in 2017, and Democratic politicians preferred to change their position.
The most egregious example of British groveling before Washington is the case Julian Assange.
Although his administration pursued whistleblowers with vicious zeal, the former US president Barack Obama chose not to press charges against the founder of WikiLeaks for the simple reason that the only charge that could be brought against him was for publishing, not for stealing classified material.
This would bring exactly the same charge against The New York Times, The Guardian and other mainstream media that collaborated with Assange in exposing US and British war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.
However, the Conservative governments have collaborated with the CIA in a crazy plan to kidnap him from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, or even kill him, and are holding him in solitary confinement in the notorious Belmarsh Prison with the express intention of instigating his death.
And the Labor Party, under the leadership of Kira Starmeratypical of the era ThatcherBlair doesn’t offer any real alternative to this at all.
This was not the case when the left briefly dominated during the former Labor leader’s 4.5-year tenure Jeremy Corbin. The party manifesto questioned foreign policy principles that prioritized Israel’s security over Palestinian rights, armed repressive regimes, and resisted the emerging multipolar world order, to the dismay of the ruling establishment, for whom Corbyn was a heretic of proportions. Akhenaten.
Truss can be expected to lean even more towards the post-imperial farce of Johnson’s British Middle East policy.
Following the American scenario, his government came straight out of the gate after the Brexit-driven Tory victory in the December 2019 general election with an announcement that legislation was being drafted to prevent government agencies from engaging in boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns (against Israel), which is likely to be adopted at the next session of Parliament.
The current government also opposes the International Criminal Court’s investigation into Israeli war crimes following the May 2021 Gaza war. And in December 2021, the parliament declared the entire Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas a terrorist organization, despite the fact that Hamas controls the Gaza Strip.
In an attempt to make up for trade losses from Brexit, arms sales to the Gulf Arab governments have been increased.
Meanwhile, Johnson, as Truss’s predecessor at the Foreign Office, failed Nazanin Zagari-Ratcliffe imprisoned from 2016 to 2022 in Iran on charges of espionage, and Matthew Hedgesimprisoned in the UAE for seven months in 2016, also on charges of espionage.
Needless to say, Britain dutifully complied as the Biden administration proved incapable of restoring the Iran nuclear deal.
The most tragic folly of British foreign policy during the neo-liberal years was the failure to appreciate the immense cultural power that Britain wields.
Tory governments, in particular, have slashed funding for the BBC, lowered educational standards, especially at universities that no longer enjoy the worldwide reputation they once had, and even cut funding for the British Council, which should be at the forefront of any serious politics that calls itself Global Britain.
If there is one place where Britain really asserts its weight, it is in the realm of culture. Instead of clinging to the coattails of the declining US empire and scaring people away, Britain should reap the rewards of its enormous role in shaping the modern world and the interest that people share in its achievements in many areas.
But long-term investment in the institutions that exist to capitalize on that legacy means little to the ruling cabal if it doesn’t benefit them.
Author: Andrew Hammond Andrew Hammond — currently teaches Turkish history at the University of Oxford. Previously worked for the European Council on Foreign Relations, BBC Arabic and Reuters in Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Translation by Sergei Dukhanov