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US From Asset to Liability

by Oui Sat Feb 24th, 2024 at 08:51:51 AM EST

An EurAsian view of the UK Statecraft and the chances in the Commonwealth.


Secretary Antony J. Blinken and United Kingdom Foreign Secretary David Cameron at a Joint Press Availability | 7 Dec. 2023 |

Published as Op-Ed in Eurasia Review

The Special Relationship Is Dead: Bring Back British Statecraft - Analysis by Mohamed Amersi

Uncoupling from the United States and pursuing an independent foreign policy is long overdue and there is no better time. World order is being reshaped with the rising influence of the East, and if it does not change course, the United Kingdom will be viewed as part of Western decline. The country should take this opportunity to adapt its approach and find a way to become meaningful and relevant.

A New Approach, Centered on Soft Power

Whilst Charles A. Ray correctly points out in his essay on this topic that the United Kingdom benefits from US security guarantees, it too often brings with it expectations of support on US-led, misguided military exercises. The United States traditionally leans heavily on their military might to achieve objectives abroad, but the United Kingdom must be realistic about its position as a middle-ranking military power and instead center its independent policy on soft power. 

Due to its unique colonial past, the United Kingdom has a global perspective and deep understanding of most of the world's regions. It also has alliances with many of the world's nations, both great and rising, to utilize. 

This requires a bold change in approach, though, starting with treating the position of foreign secretary as the great position of state again. David Cameron is a big beast in the political realm, but there must be a change in approach, not just personnel. 

Take the foreign secretary's recent trip to the Middle East as an example. The United Kingdom has a historic responsibility to the region--not least because of the Balfour Declaration and its role in the creation of Israel. Yet when the foreign secretary visits, he loses his confidence and does little more than parrot the US line.

Cameron must be bolder. He must have a vision, communicate that vision, and be brave enough to announce it publicly. The goal must be to bring all sides to the table together to work towards a vision of peace, but that requires genuine leadership and a willingness to enter talks with a broad variety of voices. 

Foreign policy does not exist in a vacuum: It must take public opinion into account, assuming it is consistent with national security considerations. In February 2003, 1.5 million people protested against the impending war in Iraq. The Blair government ignored them and never recovered from that misjudgement. 

The same mistake is being made in the current conflict in the Middle East. YouGov polled UK adults, presenting them with options for what policy the United Kingdom should pursue. Thirty-three percent (the highest proportion of any option) believed the United Kingdom should oppose Israel's military action and call for a ceasefire, with just 9 percent saying it should support Israel with no call for a ceasefire.

Re-ignite the Commonwealth

For too long, Britain has neglected the Commonwealth, to the frustration of many member states. The country needs to rekindle these relationships. The Commonwealth is potentially one of Britain's biggest assets--it is a bloc of nations whom the United Kingdom can influence, but it can only forge common goals if it is a mutually beneficial relationship.

Reconciling Pragmatism and Principles 

The United Kingdom should also revisit the relationship between aid and foreign policy. Britain achieved world-leading status as a foreign aid donor, creating meaningful impact globally and contributing to the country's soft power. 
Making international aid an adjunct of the Foreign Office does not work, nor is it a fair way to treat these nations. Aid should not be contingent on foreign policy objectives--it should be used to make a lasting difference and build on Britain's reputation as an honest broker. 

Equally, foreign policy objectives, insofar as they concern granting of aid, should not be confused with human rights considerations. A nation that tries to assume the moral high ground invariably leaves itself open to charges of hypocrisy. Human rights are an important consideration, of course, but not in themselves the determining factor of a foreign policy. 

Britain's foreign policy has become transactional at a time when it needs to nurture long-term relationships. This means understanding where an ally stands and what it needs are. Relationships cannot be built on security alone, or on arms sales and investment. 

Keeping a straight face in times of adversity ...

Blinken's Visit already had its secondary effects 🇺🇸 sanctions 🇷🇺

War Is Evil

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csis | Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland: The Two-Year Anniversary of Russia's Full-Scale Invasion of Ukraine, 22 Feb transcript | video
[...]
Bergmann: Let me ask you about the sanctions, because there's sort of a narrative now that the sanctions haven't actually worked, that Russia's defense industry is up and running again, is producing. I think you mentioned 2,700 tanks have been destroyed, but Russia's defense industry is starting to ramp up. Russia's on a war economy and able to find the parts and components, whether from China or through smuggling and through third countries. Have the sanctions worked as intended? Or how would you assess the overall sanctions effort?
Nuland: Well, again, we're trying to prove a negative here.
Bergmann: Yeah.
Nuland: If we had not had the sanctions, how much more materiel, support, ability to take components and electronics and high technology from all over the world would Putin have had, which he would put—have put a hundred percent into the war machine? But you're not wrong that he has—he and his tricksters have found a lot of ways to evade sanctions
[...]
AS IT BROKE: Biden unveils new sanctions on Russia, 23 Feb, "monetized" dramaturgy
[...]
VICTORIA NULAND [AUDIO FILE]: He and his um tricksters have found a lot of ways to evade sanctions which is why, when you see this package that we're going to launch in a couple of days it is very heavily focused on evasion, nodes and networks and countries that help evade willingly or otherwise and on the banks that support and allow that kind of evasion.
CHRIS CERMAK: Joining me now for more on this is Washingto reporter, Simon Marks. Simon, we've just gotten a statement from Joe Biden in the last hour from the White House about the sanctions and also marking the two years since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. What can you tell us?
SIMON MARKS: [3-minute White House press release reading]
Now, Victoria Nuland, the under secretary of state, inferred [sic] that there are going to be measures here to try and stop countries like China and India from essentially helping Vladimir Putin to evade some of the measures. Now, the Americans of course are irritated that China and India have increased their trade with Russia over the last two years rather than engaged in the kind of choking off that the United States have advanced, but there are also issues pertaining to the use of financial institutions in China and Russia to help help Vladimir Putin get around sanctions, and the details of what the [US] Treasury announces will be critical in understanding just how much further the Biden administration is willing to go to try and stop third parties from helping the Russian leader find a way to keep his financial institutions connected to the rest of the world, because that's ultimately the biggest key here, if those institutions are able to find ways to remain connected to the rest of the world, then there will always be ways of the measures that the United States has put into place.
[...]
by Cat on Sat Feb 24th, 2024 at 09:17:08 PM EST
Recall, presidency of G20 passed from India to Brazil for 2024. Here is the calendar. The G20 foreign ministers' meeting in Rio occurred 21-22 Feb.

reuters | At G20 meeting, Western ministers criticize Russia over Ukraine, 21 Feb

..."Russia must be made to pay for its aggression," British Foreign Minister David Cameron told the closed session, according to his office. The top diplomats from the United States, Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, France, and Norway made similar remarks on the first day of a two-day meeting. Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide told reporters that Lavrov calmly replied to Cameron's remarks with "a set of alternative facts" about events in Ukraine....
ChatGPT wapoo | U.S. isolated at G-20 as Gaza crisis worsens, 22 Feb
...Brazilian Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira, the host of this year's annual Group of 20 gathering, began the meeting by decrying the "paralysis" at the United Nations Security Council, where Washington vetoed a third resolution for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza earlier in the week....
g20.org | The G20 was a topic of discussion during a meeting between President Lula and the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, 23 Feb
[...]
In the bilateral context, Lula highlighted the trade figures that reached a historical record in 2023 and the need to diversify the commercial agenda. Chancellor Lavrov outlined Russia's positions regarding the conflict in Ukraine. President Lula reiterated the stance that Brasil remains willing to collaborate with efforts in favor of peace.
by Cat on Wed Feb 28th, 2024 at 12:21:29 AM EST
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ChatGPT reuters | Western powers tangle over Russian assets at G20 finance meeting, 28 Feb fin-min monomania
[...]
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Tuesday said she believed there was a strong basis in international law to unlock value from the Russian assets, as collateral or by seizure. But French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire argued on Wednesday that there is not enough basis in international law to seize the Russian assets, emphasizing that such a move would require the endorsement of G20 members and other countries.
G20 (1999 NGO): AR, AU, BR, CA, CN, EU (EU-CO, EU-EC), FR, DE, IN, ID, IT, JP, KR, MX, RU, SA, TR, UK, US, ZA, (2024) AU55
2022 guests: KH, FJ, NL, RW, SN, SG, ES, SR, UK, AE
2023 guests: BD, EG, MU, NL, NG, OM, SG, ES, AE, AU55
2024 "other countries": AE, AG, EG, ES, NG, NO, PT, SG
"We should not add any kind of division among the G20 countries," he told reporters. "If the legal basis is not sufficient ... you will create more divisions at a time when we need more unity to support UKRAINE."

Their disagreement underscored tricky geopolitical terrain for the G20 group of major world economies, whose foreign ministers last week in Rio de Janeiro vented deep divisions over the war in UKRAINE and Israel's bombardment of Gaza.
[...]
A draft version of the communique, seen by Reuters on Tuesday, made only a passing reference to regional conflicts. But German Finance Minister Christian Lindner said his country will only agree on the G20 communique if geopolitical issues such as the war in UKRAINE are mentioned.
[...]

by Cat on Thu Feb 29th, 2024 at 05:39:59 PM EST
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