4.1 A liberal Conservative foreign policy
If we can move away from the hand wringing yoghurt knitting left winged foreign policy of the Labour government then this will be a huge step in the right direction. The UK needs to understand the concept of national interest and stop trying to swan around the world stage, being a force for good.
In fact, the whole ‘being a force for good’ thing needs to be ruthlessly expunged from all strategy documents and replaced with ‘a force for the good of the United Kingdom and its people’
However, it looks like the Conservative proposal is to have more of the same, stating that our international role is not only of self interest or seen through the prism of a commercial balance sheet
I simply cannot understand how this contributes to our security, the emerging nations such as India, Brazil and China are achieving power exactly because they have been singularly self interested and focussed on economic prosperity because with this approach, political power and influence follows.
The British Council and BBC Foreign Language Services are held up as key elements of our soft power policy but the Kinnock ‘clan’ at the British Council needs to be removed and a more focussed management team put in place. For some excellent analysis of the DFiD like incompetence and profligacy of the British Council readers might be interested in some excellent analysis at;
The UK has considerable soft power, more than we sometimes give ourselves credit for. Education, the arts, culture, engineering, diplomatic and commercial links with other nations must be co-opted for the security of the UK, although forcing the X Factor on Yemen might not yield the results we want!
We should be focussing on a foreign policy that places the prosperity and security at its heart, less wishy washy liberalism and more hard-nosed self interest.
4.2 Building a capacity for preventative action
Conflict prevention, early warning and rapid intervention are common sense and have been goals of the UK for a long time but aspirations have rarely met with adequate resources. The Conservative policy is to reaffirm this commitment to the concept.
A greater role for diplomacy
The paper highlights the gradual weakening of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office but the FCO today seems more interested in pursuing greater European integration than pursuing the interests of the UK. In return for greater resources and placing it at its rightful place in government the FCO needs to understand its role i.e. not the surrender of our sovereignty.
A wider range of government departments supporting diplomacy
A comprehensive approach is seen as essential in conflict prevention and the paper draws a direct line between poverty and radicalisation yet the 9/11 attackers were largely Saudi, not a nation known for its poverty. The attack this Christmas was perpetrated by a wealthy individual and the attacks in Glasgow were committed by doctors.
In stating that DFiD plays a central role in Millennium Development Goals, in conjunction with the MoD and FCO it maintains the notion that DFiD should be kept as an autonomous organisation.
Overseas aid should always come with either strings attached or be in direct support of the national interest so I think DFiD should simply be absorbed back into the FCO with an attendant reduction in the far left thinking, bungling inefficiency and dubious activity that has beset DFiD.
The days of the gravy train for the ‘third sector’ should be brought to an abrupt halt.
A greater role for the MoD is called for but defence diplomacy is but one of many competing requirements of the budget.