This article was published on Al Bawaba – December 17, 2019
President Donald Trump and newly elected Prime Minister Boris Johnson will shape a foreign policy doctrine for the future. Their alliance will be stronger in order to make a trade deal after the United Kingdom exits the European Union. When that happens, the UK will also no longer have to respond to the EU’s demands on world affairs.
Amid this new friendship, the Anglosphere will have an increasingly unified foreign policy. However, instead of following the tradition of neoconservativism, which has characterized American, and by extension British decisions abroad over the last two decades, there will likely be a new approach.
the Anglosphere will have an increasingly unified foreign policy
Advancing American and British national interests will remain at the chore of the new policy, but now the dynamics of the world have changed, and so have the way to achieve these ends. A friendlier approach towards Russia, less military interventions in the Middle East and containing the rising power of China, particularly by using the ex-British colony of Hong Kong, appears to be where this new doctrine is headed.
Just before his electoral victory, Johnson proudly said of Russia: “I am a Russophile, a committed Russophile (…) I’m certain that I’m the first foreign secretary in the history of my office to be called Boris.”
I am a Russophile, a committed Russophile (…) I’m certain that I’m the first foreign secretary in the history of my office to be called Boris xx
Paranoia over Russian interference in Britain’s vote to leave the EU was soon put to the side and even derided, especially after the Brexit vote was re-confirmed with the latest general election.
Liberals who have long used Russia as a scapegoat for losing the Remain vote and a second referendum on Brexit are now forced to face the reality of their failings, and have realized they need to stop blaming Russia.
Similarly, the Democratic Party in America, which accused Trump of collaborating with Russia during his campaign, faced humiliation when Robert Mueller’s investigation came to no avail.
Now that Russian hysteria over interference with election results has been ridiculed, Russia is no longer seen as the threat it once was. Trump’s warmer approach to Russia and Vladimir Putin during his election campaign and suggesting sanctions should be lifted on the country put in place during the Ukrainian revolution is evidence of this new shift in policy.
Johnson hasn’t expressed similar sentiments towards the Atlantic treaty, but recently distanced himself from NATO leaders mocking Trump at Buckingham Palace.
Trump has expressed skepticism towards NATO, describing it as “obsolete.” Johnson hasn’t expressed similar sentiments towards the Atlantic treaty, but recently distanced himself from NATO leaders mocking Trump at Buckingham Palace.
The Middle East
Mohammad Javad Zarif shakes hands with his British counterpart Boris Johnson /AFP
Both leaders stress the need for a strong alliance with Israel. Trump has doubled down on his support towards Israel, going so far as to claim that American Jews who don’t support Israel are “disloyal”.
Johnson’s victory in the UK election was received with relief by Israeli lawmakers who feared a victory by the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who was strongly opposed to Israeli settlements and expressed support for Hezbollah and Hamas during his earlier political activism.
This likely means both leaders will continue to oppose Israel’s archenemy – the Islamic Republic of Iran
This likely means both leaders will continue to oppose Israel’s archenemy – the Islamic Republic of Iran – in the region. Johnson has already praised Trump for pulling out of the 2015 Iran deal, claiming: “Iran was and is behaving disruptively in the region”.
However, this doesn’t mean both countries want further involvement in Middle Eastern wars, either. Trump had successfully pledged during his campaign that he would put an end to the “endless wars” America has been taking part in the Middle East, claiming the Iraq war was a “huge mistake” and that the military intervention in Libya proved to be a “disaster”.
Despite attacking the Syrian regime, he also retired his troops from Northern Syria and decided deposing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was no longer a priority. In a dramatic shift in British foreign policy, Johnson also said as foreign minister that Assad should be allowed to run for re-election should a peace settlement be achieved in Syria.
In a dramatic shift in British foreign policy, Johnson also said as foreign minister that Assad should be allowed to run for re-election
Both countries have expressed support for economic warfare with Iran should it fail to comply with their demands of not developing nuclear weapons. At the same time, they both signaled they will lead a less interventionist foreign policy in the Middle East, straying away from the neoconservative agenda.
US President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the second day of the annual G7 summit 2019 /AFP
On China, both countries appear to be on the same page. While they favor reaching mutually beneficial trade agreements with Beijing, they also expressed concern for China’s growing political power in the world.
However, even as Trump announced a new trade deal with Beijing on the 14th of December, Huawei, the Chinese multinational technology company, remained blacklisted amid concerns of its alleged links to the Chinese state and the likelihood it might interdict American intelligence.
“I don’t want this country to be unnecessarily hostile to investment from overseas but, on the other hand, we cannot prejudice our vital national security interests”
Earlier this month, the British Prime Minister also promised he would keep the controversial Chinese telecommunications company away from Britain’s 5G network if it risked compromising its work with major allies, like the United States. The statement came after pressure from the Trump administration. “I don’t want this country to be unnecessarily hostile to investment from overseas but, on the other hand, we cannot prejudice our vital national security interests,” Johnson said.
Trump has expressed his disapproval of China taking advantage of trade relations with the United States, going so far as to claim China was “raping” the American economy during his election campaign.
On a leaked tape-recording last year when Johnson was foreign secretary, Johnson said that: “China is a rival, but China is a rival whose growth and whose incredible developing power can be used to our advantage.” Both countries are also supporting the Hong Kong protests.
Boris Johnson said of the Hong Kong protests: “Yes, I do support them and will happily speak up for them, every inch of the way.”
A former British colony, Hong Kong has seen more than six months of turmoil as protesters take to the streets against a Chinese extradition bill and rising police brutality. Trump’s administration most recently passed the Human Rights and Democracy Act bill that would enforce a series of sanctions against Beijing should it fail to respect Hong Kong’s autonomy. Boris Johnson said of the Hong Kong protests: “Yes, I do support them and will happily speak up for them, every inch of the way.”
A new foreign policy doctrine is likely to take place with the United States and Britain strengthening their partnership even further than before under a new leadership. This policy leaves neoconservativism behind in a number of ways, namely by engaging less in Middle Eastern wars, improving relations with Russia and containing China’s rise as an imperial power.