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    Inward-Looking British Foreign Policy in 'Crisis', Experts Warn

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    The UK is experiencing a crisis of confidence in its foreign policy that has limited the country's global influence, leaving it "sidelined in Syria, ineffective in Ukraine, unwilling in Europe, and inimical towards refugees," according to a report by diplomatic and foreign policy experts.

    The 'Investing for Influence' report, released by the London School of Economics (LSE) Diplomacy Commission, found that Britain's approach to foreign policy in recent times has not only cost the country global influence, but it has also restricted the UK in what it can achieve, particularly in regards to the EU.

    "Constantly fretting about the formal status of our association with the EU restricts what the UK can in practice achieve through that relationship. In, out, or semi-detached, the fact is that working in and with Europe is a necessary component of nearly every area of policy."

    The report comes amid an increase in Brexit debate, with Prime Minister David Cameron tomorrow set to send Brussels a list of changes he wants made to the UK's relationship with the EU.

    Cameron has been accused of dragging out the negotiation process and damaging the UK's relationship with Brussels as a result of his handling of the issue.

    UK Identity Crisis Since Iraq

    The report — co-written by senior figures such as former head of the joint intelligence committee Lady Neville-Jones and former British ambassador to Washington Sir Christopher Meyer — said that British foreign policy has faced an identity crisis since the country's decision to join the US in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

    "What should be the purpose of British foreign policy? For nearly a decade, that question has festered in the shadow of the UK's participation in the Iraq War, and has led successive Prime Ministers and Foreign Secretaries to shy away from significant foreign policy engagements. Today, Britain is increasingly insular and self-absorbed: an uncertain internationalist."

    The findings criticize of the UK's approach to foreign policy over the past decade, with many critics arguing that Britain has merely followed US decisions in regards to international affairs.

    The Commission concluded that while the US should remain a strategic ally to Britain, officials in London needed to pay more attention to Europe, noting that "there is a great deal of disquiet among the UK's diplomatic community, not to mention longstanding allies and partners, that British foreign policy is adrift."

    Perceived Russian Threat 'Doesn't Stand Up to Scrutiny'

    In terms of modern-day threats, the report also accused current politicians of not moving with the times, and approaching British foreign policy in relation to traditional security threats, rather than modern concerns.

    "The threats that concerned statesmen in the 19th and early 20th Century should no longer preoccupy us in the 21st. As a Commission, we heard a few voices express concerns about the 'threat' posed by Russia. Elsewhere, others have sought to compare Vladimir Putin to Hitler. Such notions do not stand up to scrutiny."

    "Although the consequences of major conflict would be grave were it to occur, the risk of great power war is incredibly low. Statespersons obsessing over its possibility will at best misdirect significant resources towards marginal contingencies, and at worse increase the risk by rhetorically normalizing major war."

    The findings reject claims from US and British officials that Russia poses a threat to their respective national securities.

     

    A list of threats to the UK, recently published by British security services, stated that Russia poses a major national security threat — on par with ISIL, however many critics have criticized the list, arguing that it is being used to stir up anti-Russian sentiment.

    Related:

    Veteran UK Lawmaker Brands Syria 'West's Fourth Major Failure'
    Britain's Ruling Class 'Divided on Following US Policy in Syria'
    British Foreign Policy: Isolationism, Independence or Following the US?
    Tags:
    Western meddling, international affairs, allies, anti-Russian sentiment, Brexit, double-standards, crisis, foreign policy, report, conflict, war, threat, intervention, national security, diplomacy, London School of Economics and Political Science, Great Britain, United States, Russia, United Kingdom
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