Great Bri­tain or Lit­tle Eng­land?: UK in World Pol­i­tics

People's Review - - LEADER -

of which the UK was [still] a part. How­ever, it should not be for­got­ten that “in the fog of all the things we dis­agree with him about . . . that on 90-95 per­cent of is­sues we are on ex­actly the same page as the United States. They are our al­lies. They are our friends.” This does not de­tract from the fact that the other two ma­jor pow­ers of Europe, Ger­many and France are also se­cu­rity al­lies of the United States in the North At­lantic Treaty Or­ga­ni­za­tion (NATO), even if Trump has done his level best to weaken it. His vendetta against Tur­key is only one ex­am­ple. In his speech, the Bri­tish for­eign min­is­ter “iden­ti­fied Rus­sia as the prin­ci­pal ma­lign threat to an in­ter­na­tional or­der based on the ap­pli­ca­tion of law rather than might” (BBC). He said point­edly: “Those who do not share our val­ues need to know that there will al­ways be a se­ri­ous price to pay if red lines are crossed, whether ter­ri­to­rial in­cur­sions, the use of banned weapons or in­creas­ingly cy­ber at­tacks.” Hunt also used the speech to ex­hort the EU to fol­low the lead of the US and in­crease sanc­tions against Rus­sia fol­low­ing the Novichok chem­i­cal nerve weapon at­tack on Sergei [the dou­ble agent] and daugh­ter Yu­lia Skri­pal in English Sal­is­bury which sub­se­quently killed an­other in­no­cent woman. Hunt and the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment are pre­sum­ably of the opin­ion that the EU should match up to Amer­i­can lead­er­ship on this ques­tion at least. The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion had clamped eco­nomic sanc­tions on Rus­sia for vi­o­lat­ing the global ban on chem­i­cal weapons. Hunt should be aware that in this re­gard the EU will not fol­low Amer­ica's lead [as with Iran sanc­tions] be­cause there are too many di­verse eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal in­ter­ests in­volved. The EU will def­i­nitely not go any fur­ther than the al­ready im­posed sanc­tions to pe­nal­ize Rus­sia for its an­nex­a­tion of Crimea and desta­bi­liz­ing Ukraine by sup­port­ing sep­a­ratists in the eastern part of the coun­try, not for­get­ting the al­leged in­volve­ment in the shoot­ing down of a civil­ian Malaysian Air­lines plane. It was only due to heavy Bri­tish pres­sure that the EU --- above all France and Ger­many --- went so far. When Bri­tain ex­its the EU, there will not be any other pow­er­ful mem­ber state that will be an ar­dent sup­porter of Rus­sia sanc­tions. In fact, some Euro­pean govern­ments, most pub­licly the Ital­ian and Aus­trian, are of the view that the time is now ripe to wipe the slate clean with re­gard to Rus­sian for­eign pol­icy ac­tions and to re­lax, not in­crease the pres­sure of sanc­tions. It is ex­pected that the EU with­out the UK would not take a tough stance on Putin's Rus­sia, and at the same time, the UK after Brexit and act­ing alone could not, of course, push through the range and spectrum of EU-wide sanc­tions. Thus in this con­text, Brexit is a lose-lose sce­nario for both the UK and EU. The Bri­tish for­eign min­is­ter is ar­gu­ing for the strength­en­ing of the An­glo-Amer­i­can al­liance which can stand up for an un­rav­el­ing in­ter­na­tional or­der based on rules. How­ever, there is a dou­ble con­tra­dic­tion in this process. Don­ald Trump him­self is the great dis­rupter and Bri­tain it­self is with­draw­ing from an­other al­liance, in fact a very well-func­tion­ing one. Hunt him­self was pre­vi­ously in fa­vor of re­main­ing in the EU (like PM Theresa May), but now is a sup­porter of Brexit. Hunt is se­ri­ously fool­ing him­self by think­ing that after Brexit a di­min­ished UK can punch above its weight or by that ac­count will be an at­trac­tive part­ner for the US. The com­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions for a UK-US free trade agree­ment could show the way for­ward [or even back­ward if Trump's be­hav­ior is any in­di­ca­tion].

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