Militarism or internationalism? British foreign policy at a crossroads

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Issue: 
Spring 2016
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David Wearing looks at the history of recent British foreign policy, and argues that it is heading for a crisis of legitimacy. The justifications made for liberal interventionism look increasingly threadbare as the number of failed states brought into being as a consequence of recent western military adventures steadily increases. The language of civilisational conflict instituted during the ‘war on terror’ has been incapable of containing the contradictions between the narrative offered and the facts on the ground. Particularly in the Middle East, it is increasingly difficult to justify policy that includes alliances with states such as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, the remaking of crony relationships with the Egyptian regime that has suppressed the movement for democracy, and continuing support for an increasingly aggressive Israeli state. The evident deep flaws in UK foreign policy open up the opportunity for putting forward an alternative and genuinely progressive international policy, and the article sets out some measures that could point in the right direction - including joining the international fight against global warming, which is already killing people in many parts of the world, and drawing on the experiences of the UK’s multicultural citizenry to help promote an internationalism based on dialogue and negotiation.

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