Our exit from the European Union gives us a unique opportunity to do many parts of our domestic and foreign policy differently, ”said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. This seemed to make sense, but he also managed to implement almost all parts of his strategy of“ Global Britain in a competitive era ”as a member of the European Union.
Investing in defense? It should have happened long ago. Advertised swing to Asia? The Americans and the European Union preceded Johnson. Promote innovation and the United Kingdom as a technical force? Why only now? A leading force within NATO? The British were already … protecting the population from cyber attacks and terrorism? This is an obligation.
The only thing they were unable to do as a member of the European Union is negotiate trade agreements. But the new treaties primarily aim to limit the harm. The British simply had to adhere to the new rules and the beautiful idea of free trade without rules came with nothing. This will also become apparent if they are allowed to join the New Trans-Pacific Partnership, in which the countries of the Indo-Pacific want to build a buffer against China. The same applies to joining the recently formed Asian Free Trade Agreement in which China plays an important role.
The new orientation towards Asia should be
We should not infer from my tone that Johnson’s strategy is a shoddy business. exactly the contrary. Choices that are made are good and inevitable. The new orientation towards Asia should be. The dispatch of the new aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth corresponds to this. This also applies to increasing the number of strategic submarine warheads. In this way, the British would establish a position in and around the Indian Ocean that would enable them to become the preferred ally of the Americans there.
It is also logical for the British to adhere to pluralism. Seeking support from like-minded countries is a precondition for survival. In Europe, this is France and Germany, followed by the Netherlands. Outside of Europe, these are Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. We note proudly that the UK is a member of all major multilateral organizations. Except for the European Union, which is the most important for the United Kingdom.
The new strategy is breathing a lot of enthusiastic talk
The UK sure has something to offer. It is a nuclear power and a permanent member of the Security Council. It is the sixth economy in the world. Nevertheless, the new strategy is breathing a lot of enthusiastic talk. The British are now the calling party. With the cover in hand, a new position has to be built. Because compared to the US and China, the UK is admired, even though they say they have great international standing. They call themselves a scientific superpower because they have AstraZeneca and fourth place in the Global Innovation Index. Then we are also with Janssen (only one shot!) And fifth on this indicator.
Finally, it is very good that the UK wants to portray itself as a soft power: the defender of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. But why would Johnson unilaterally suspend parts of agreements with the European Union on Northern Ireland? Because of this violation of international law, Brussels now wants to go to court. Let’s just say this is a beginner’s mistake for a country looking for a new place in the world.
Rob de Wijk is Professor of International Relations and Security at Leiden University and founder of The Hague Center for Strategic Studies (HCSS). He writes about international relations every week.
Read his columns here.