I wish to write some pieces over the next few weeks on the future of the UK’s foreign policy and alliances. I do so because the future of our relationship with the emerging integrated state of Euroland is up for reconsideration in the General Election, and because many people in the UK are now tired of the US approach to the Middle East under the long shadow of 9/11. That too may change during the forthcoming US Presidential election.
The UK’s current stance is based on a central folly or misleading proposition – that the UK as a member of the EU, NATO and the Security Council has power by virtue of its membership of those bodies, and therefore has to keep compromising its own interests or beliefs to stay in or justify its membership of those bodies.
The truth is of course the opposite. Those bodies draw strength from the membership of the UK, to the extent that the UK is and remains a large world economic power, and to the extent that it continues to spend substantial sums on military force which it is prepared to use when necessary. As someone who broadly supports our membership of NATO and opposes our membership of the EU under the current terms and treaties, I wish to see substantial changes in the UK’s relationship with most international bodies, and a redefinition of the UK national interest and what we will do.
Once the UK has a new idea of what its national interest is, then it is easier to decide what new relationship we need with the EU, which type of NATO interventions we will join, and what defence forces we need.
At the high level, the UK’s first national interest must be to promote the prosperity, peace and happiness of UK citizens. This should mean we wish to promote free trade, democracy and peace around the world. Our second national interest must be to protect and ally with those of like minds and those who are formally under our defence umbrella. We need to recognise the limits to our military power, and make sure we have sufficient military might to deter aggression against us and those we wish to protect, and to carry out expeditionary interventions where appropriate. We also need to strengthen the potential of our political and moral influence, by avoiding conflicts which make us too partisan or compromised by those we would ally with.