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What will Britain’s role be now?

如今,英国会扮演什么角色呢?

【作       者】:

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【机       构】: 皇家国际事务研究所
【承研机构】:

【英文机构】: Chatham House
【原文地址】: https://www.chathamhouse.org/publications/twt/what-will-britain-s-role-be-now
【发表时间】:

2017-12-15

摘要

Many of us know the 1962 quotation from Dean Acheson, the former US Secretary of State, about Britain having lost an empire and not yet found a role. But few are familiar with his full paragraph, which has uncanny echoes today as Britain prepares to leave the European Union.

‘Great Britain has lost an empire and has not yet found a role,’ he said in a speech to the West Point Military Academy. ‘The attempt to play a separate power role – that is a role apart from Europe, a role based on a special relationship with the United States, a role based on being the head of a Commonwealth which has no political structure, or unity, or strength and enjoys a fragile and precarious economic relationship by means of the sterling area and preferences in the British market – this role is played out. Great Britain, attempting to work alone and be a broker between the United States and Russia, has seemed to conduct policy as weak as its military power. HMG is now attempting – wisely in my opinion – to re-enter Europe.’

We heeded his advice and joined the European Economic Community, as it was then, and in subsequent years we did find a strong voice. Now, with the prospect of Brexit causing far-reaching dislocation of our international role and relationships, we must search again.

We would be stronger staying in the EU. If we go, the extent of damage to our economy, society and reputation will influence how quickly we can find a new way forward. If we wish to maintain a strong international presence, as I believe we will, we must raise our eyes beyond our internecine Brexit obsession and think far more seriously about what sort of country we want to be, what will be possible, and how we should organize our relationships.

Over the next decade there will be three structural centres of global power: the United States, China and the EU. (Russia is a less systemic global power while India shows limited foreign policy ambition beyond its region.) The three represent some two-thirds of global GDP and military spending, roughly half of world trade and a third of global population. They are very different and are diverging further. China under Xi Jinping and America under Donald Trump seem set on assertive national agendas. Differences are emerging between Europe and America. The EU, champion of international collaboration, faces serious internal problems.

Where will Britain fit into this world? For almost 50 years we balanced our foreign policy on three pillars: our relationship with the United States, within NATO and the wider transatlantic community; our membership of the EU; and our strong position in international organizations. Brexit calls each element into question.

The United States

America will remain an indispensable partner and guarantor of our security. But since the election of Trump we have differed on major questions such as trade, climate and the Iran nuclear deal. His America First rhetoric stands on its head US leadership of a collective international system.

We shall need a vigorous British offer of support to America in re-inventing its leadership; reaching out to different centres of American power, and recognizing that America will be preoccupied with China and have priorities in places such as North Korea where we have no immediate role.

We should step up defence spending and our NATO activism in Europe and the Middle East, as well as increasing

intelligence cooperation on terrorism, support for training in Afghanistan and Iraq, and collaboration on new approaches to deterrence.

We also need a deeper debate about future trends and how the West, with American leadership, can adapt to change.

A strong trade relationship is another priority, but we should not underestimate the challenge. It cannot be negotiated until our trade and regulatory relationship with the EU has been clarified, since what we do with one will affect what we can do with the other. Nor should we expect favours; political and corporate America are unflinching in pursuit of their interests.

Europe

The EU has been a powerful multiplier for our foreign policy ? on Iran, Russia, climate change or sanctions against Syria. Together, we project the weight of a huge market, attractive societies and almost 500 million people. After Brexit, the relationship with fellow European democracies will remain central to our foreign policy.

We sometimes belittle their efforts, yet France is a nuclear power that spends roughly the same as us on defence and more on diplomacy, while Germany is a stronger global trading power. Collectively, for all its faults, the EU has great influence.

Leaving will make it harder to harness this behind British policy, and will encourage EU countries to collaborate more closely in foreign and defence policy. We should welcome that if their purpose is better performance rather than dogmatic institutional integration, but it will not be good to be left outside.

‘Britain should aim to be a political and economic bridge-builder. We should exploit the global reach of the City,

our universities, science, football, fashion and music’

The UK has strong cards to play. Our diplomatic, intelligence, aid and military capabilities are indispensable for the EU. But finding structural and procedural solutions will not be simple, because the EU member states see the union as the primary mechanism for most of their international activity. They struggle with our concept of ‘leaving the EU but not leaving Europe’.

They will take positions, day in day out, in meetings where we will no longer as of right be present. Influencing from without is harder than leading from within.

We should intensify bilateral cooperation and work in small groups with EU and NATO members. But informal groups often rely for effectiveness on personalities, and our bilateral relationships will be structurally weaker after Brexit. As a result we shall need to put forward attractive proposals for how we want to work formally with the EU as a whole: by linking our policy on sanctions to theirs; by settling our participation in police collaboration; by keeping operational military cooperation active; by participating in EU military operations and defence procurement.

For all that, Brexit weakens our hand on both sides of the Atlantic. Washington will look to Berlin, because Germany will be strongest in Europe. Under Macron, France is regaining momentum. Will Britain outside the EU have the statecraft and heft to become the third leg of an EU, American and British tripod?

China and other relationships

Brexit supporters see greater promise in dynamic relationships further afield, but many of their expectations are illusory. Despite changing patterns of growth, there is no way that the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China), which account for less than 10 per cent of our trade, will rapidly outweigh the European Union, which accounts for 45 per cent. It is illogical to damage our position in our major market to pursue this. Moreover, if we take five years to sort Brexit out, the Chinese economy will be almost a third bigger than today, an increase that is double our total GDP. Our influence in trade negotiation will be commensurately smaller.

In foreign policy, neither China nor India share our interests or outlook in the same way as our fellow Europeans or the US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Japan do. It would be madness to see them as an alternative to our core relationships with western democracies. But there will be opportunities. Britain should aim to be a political and economic bridge-builder. We should seek business openings from China’s Belt and Road initiative. We should support sensible steps to increase China’s and India’s voice in international organizations, and promote global regulatory standards. And we should exploit the global reach of the City, our universities, science, football, fashion and music.

We shall also need to review our position in international organizations. When we deliver a collective EU position we speak for 20 per cent of the world economy and 7 per cent of the world’s population. In future the figures will be 3 per cent and 1 per cent.

We should do three things:

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