Presentation on theme: "Readings: Dunleavy CH 10 and 12. Guiding Questions How do we classify British foreign policy? Which factors explain their policy choices? What is."— Presentation transcript:
Guiding Questions How do we classify British foreign policy? Which factors explain their policy choices? What is the “special relationship”? Is there really an Anglo Saxon consensus? How has British security policy changed post 9/11?
External Factors Power: Post-Suez we can classify the UK as a middle power ○ Typical “bridge building” approach to project a larger role in the system. Institutions: UN Security Council veto allows UK to project influence. But globalization has constrained state autonomy. ○ EU membership makes European institutions key players in the British policy process. Ideas: Concept of insularity. Island nation.
Internal Factors The PM/Government key actor in shaping foreign policy. Blair’s decision to call for a vote in Parliament over Iraq was precedent setting. ○ Increased role of Parliament. The Opposition typically sides with the Government on issues of national security. The EU has split this bipartisan consensus. Broad support for Atlanticism Iraq has strained this to some extent.
Churchill’s Objectives British foreign policy tied to conceptions of national identity. Imperial power and insularity are key concepts. Churchill still saw the UK as a global power in the aftermath of WW2. But Pax Britannica was over; this global power positioning questionable. Re-evaluated after the Suez Crisis. Attempt to formulate a foreign policy that placed UK as the pivot between colonial commitments, the US and Europe. Bridging this EU/US relationship has been the focus of successive governments.
Responding to Diminished Strength Despite the crumbling of the British Empire, postwar diplomacy gave the British a seat at the international table. Permanent Security Council status postponed the inevitable re-assessment. Re-assessing British power not undertaken until after Suez. Played important role prior to détente, but weakened military capabilities limited the sustainability of this role. Once superpowers began to engage, British role was limited. Fighting to regain the Falklands is an outlier British empire continues to cede territory until 1997.
Managing Relations with Europe The concept of insularity frames British foreign policy. While Churchill made initial overtures towards European integration, they did not sign on initially. Made it clear that the UK would be in the US’s corner. Avoiding the ECSC proved to be a mistake. Eventual application to the EEC was made on the basis of its economic and not political benefits. Still see the EU as an economic union rather than a political union.
UK/US Relations: The “Special Relationship” First classified as “special” by Churchill in 1946. Response post Suez Crisis: repair relations with the US. Wanted to act like the “older brother” who could advise the US. Ended up in the position of “junior partner” With the exception of the Heath government, maintaining this relationship has been the top priority of British foreign policy. Although the current coalition has suggested that the relationship should be re-calibrated.
Anglo Saxon Consensus? Common language, heritage, etc often cited as a basis for this relation. But is there really an “Anglo Saxon consensus”? Politically, the US and the UK are not all that similar If we look at the positions of party supporters, we see very little evidence of overlap. The UK is to the left of the US on several key issues. On some issues, the Democrats are to the right of Labour. The center-right (Conservatives) are far to the left of their US counterparts.
Security Policy Post 9/11 9/11 has not changed the British government’s central foreign policy goal: maintaining close ties to the US. Riddell: Tony Blair understood how 9/11 would affect US foreign and domestic politics ○ Other European leaders did not. British foreign policy in Iraq and Afghanistan has arguably, made it a more likely target for terror. 7/7/05 attacks.
Security Policy Post 9/11: Terrorism In the aftermath of 9/11 and 7/7, the Blair government argued that the right to life was being threatened by terror. The government argued that some civil liberties might need to be curtailed. Not well received amongst the Liberal Democrats and the Tories as time passed. Anti-terrorism legislation has raised issues regarding the right balance between protecting against terror and protecting civil liberties.
Terrorism Policy Policy on terror centers on four pieces of legislation: 1) Terrorism Act of 2000 2) Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001 3) Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 4) Terrorism Bill of 2005. Laws have proven controversial. Attempts to raise the length of time suspects can be held without charge have failed to pass in the Lords and have caused revolts in the Commons. Saward: Blair government shifted focus away from individual rights towards conceptions of the community, rights of victims, etc.
Terrorism vs. Civil Liberties POINT 1) Fundamental rights are being defended. 2) State objectives trump international and EU commitments. 3) State should try to strike the right balance between civil liberties and security. 4) Expanded executive authority required to address terror; this is weakening the judiciary, COUNTERPOINT 1) Threats are real but should not undercut the rule of law. 2) Reneging on international commitments can undercut cooperation on terror. 3) Government already has enough tools at its disposal. 4) Undermining the judiciary is placing the judiciary and executive on a collision course.
Conclusions 9/11 did not fundamentally changed the core of British foreign policy: maintain close ties to the US. Although re-evaluating the relationship is now part of the political discourse. UK/US responses to terror and agreement on Iraq cemented Blair’s position in the Bush Administration. Won Blair plaudits in the US; cost him domestic support. This access came at a cost: greater distance between the UK/EU. Iraq exacerbated differences between the UK and the EU.
Next Unit Theme: Recent Trends in British Foreign Policy Readings: Riddell
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