The Foreign Policy Buffet

Over the past decade, it is increasingly clear that foreign policy approaches adopted by countries across the globe are filled with inconsistencies, hypocrisy and contradictions…

A diplomat or more often a senior government politician will respond to a situation, complaint or series of events by espousing their commitment to a set of theories or ideological positions such as National Sovereignty, the Rule of Law, Self-Determination, Sustainability to name but a few. Yet, the next moment they’ll turn again and disregard that very same concept as it no longer fits with the new scenario at hand…

To put this into a real life context… the difference between approaches on the issue of self-determination… it was one rule for the Falklanders and another for the Chagossians…

With the Falklanders, David Cameron is vocal and clear in his belief that its down to the Falklanders, and any debate over whether it should remain a British Overseas Territory or become a part of Argentina will be discussed and decided by the Falklanders themselves… in fact they have a referendum coming up in March 2013 which may end President Kirchner’s crusade for rule over the Falkland Islands if it returns as expected a vote in favour of Britain… however, the debate over sovereignty of the islands has been discussed at length by many others… the key here is the use of the concept of self-determination

However, with the case of the Chagos Islanders… recent acts by the government show there is still little hope of the Chagos Islanders being afforded that same principle of self-determination… in 2010 the David Cameron’s government established a marine reserve on the island effectively preventing any return to the island for the Chagossians to the British Indian Ocean Territory because it doesn’t suit the interests of the British government as the Island is host to the ironically named Diego Garcia ‘Camp Justice’ a shared UK-US military base.

So, what to make of this…? Well, you can be sure this isn’t the only example of inconsistency in foreign policy by a single administration, whether its the UK, the US or somewhere else… It is clear that governments treat foreign policy as a buffet, picking the theories and reasoning which suit their objectives, rather than adopting a principled foreign policy stance and adhering to it on a universal basis… this unfortunately undermines the credibility of the respective government on the International stage, furthermore, in the case of a country such as ours where we view ourselves as a world leading country, [whether misguided in this belief or not] it shows a lack of responsibility considering the role the UK seeks to play on the International stage.

How then can we turn on countries who break International agreements, adopt contradictory stances or act irresponsibly if we cannot keep a principled stance in our own foreign policy and set an example?


[Edit: Remembered an interesting article which gives some more comparison between the two situations although from a different perspective…¬†]

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One thought on “The Foreign Policy Buffet

  1. And also, how about Scotland? David Cameron talks about how the Falkland Islands should be able to get a vote on whether they stay British, but the Scots don’t get that right. I reckon that it’s because he knows there’s a chance Britain will lose with Scotland, however have a great chance of keeping the Falklands.

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