Robert Tyler argues for a major re-assessment of Britain’s foreign policy in the wake of the debacle over Syria
In light of the Government’s defeat in Parliament over Syria, George Osborne has said that the next debate will be over Britain’s place in the world. I believe that he is right, and that it’s time to take the opportunity to reform our foreign policy. And I have my own ideas about which way we should move.
I am very sceptical of the way we have acted as the policeman of the world in the past and continue to be even now. We have abused this power in the past, along with the US and France, and allowed ourselves to get embroiled in unjust and unnecessary wars. Not only that, but our leaders have lied to us in order to try and justify these actions. I am also extremely sceptical of other positions that we have within the world. When the Chancellor said that it was time reassess our place in the world, I see this as a chance to re-examine our membership of the EU and what role the Commonwealth should play.
Below, I will address all of the positions we currently hold, looking at them one at a time, but with the awareness that they are all intertwined in terms of Geo-Politics.
As I have stated, I am opposed to intervention. I was against the air strikes on Libya and am opposed to the pointless war in Afghanistan. In my opinion this idea that we should act as the police of the world is outdated. As I have asked before, what gives us the right? Why can’t Denmark, for example, or New Zealand or Australia fill that role instead? Why must it be the UK and US? I am a strong advocate of British neutrality.
Almost all neutral countries are better off than we are because they don’t have to spend as much on defence and pointless wars on the other side of the world. When I say neutrality, I’m not advocating abolishing the army in the same way that Costa Rica did in the 1940s, but instead that we maintain a sensible and reasonable defensive force in the same way as Sweden and Austria. Both these countries still play a role on the international stage by providing troops to the UN in the form of peacekeepers.
THE UNITED NATIONS:
If we do go down the path of Neutrality, then I believe we should contribute more of our troops to the ranks of United Nations peacekeepers. At the moment the top two contributors are Pakistan and India: I suspect we could match that contribution. There is also the added incentive that the UN will subsidise our troops, meaning that we won’t have to pay as much for them whilst they are on active service.
Of course I believe we should keep our seat at the top table in the Security Council: ideally, however, the Security Council wouldn’t exist and it would instead be on rotation. However the last person to suggest that was Colonel Gaddafi, so the idea has fallen from favour.
THE EUROPEAN UNION:
I don’t believe we should stay a member of the EU. In fact I can’t wait for us to leave that over-bearing, regulation-vomiting organisation. It has put far too high a red tape burden on British industry and has held back trade. Yes you can claim it’s our biggest trade partner but the simple fact is that Europe isn’t growing. In fact, at the same point in time that we joined the EU, it stopped growing and the Commonwealth did grow. They say Single Market and Common Market: but if we leave we can have Free Markets.
Once we leave the EU, we would not only be able to conclude free trade agreements with Europe, but we would also be free to create them with the Commonwealth of Nations, which include some of the most populous and fastest-growing countries in the world. Not to mention that the Commonwealth has been so successful because it shares our “protestant” work ethic that gave Britain an empire in the first place.
If Britain truly wants to succeed, it should use peace, trade and diplomacy instead of an aggressive foreign policy and membership of protectionist trade blocs. We shouldn’t have to act as the police of the world and waste taxpayers’ money on war and membership of anti-democratic institutions. As the former US congressman Ron Paul said: “What if diplomacy is found to be superior to bombs and bribes?”
Robert Tyler is a card-carrying member of the Conservative Party, and a Libertarian. He is the current editor of Bogpaper.com, a free market, laissez-faire blog set up by author, broadcaster and commentator James Delingpole. His interests include F1, Northern European and American Politics and political activism. He tweets as @RGTyler