Since Prime Minister Theresa May and then-Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson announced in 2016 a new Global Britain approach to the United Kingdom’s position on the world stage, much speculation has been cast concerning precisely what this approach entails.

Robert Clark is British military veteran currently studying at postgraduate level at Kings College London. As a researcher and analyst, he has experience within both private think tanks and the UK government, including submitting evidence for the Defence Select Committee. His expertise includes UK foreign policy and Anglo-American military relations.

Recently, a new report released by the Henry Jackson Society’s Global Britain programme details more comprehensively what this new role for the UK should look like. The authors James Rogers and Bob Seeley MP argue that a Global Britain approach should be centred around three fundamental freedoms; Freedom for Trade, Freedom from Oppression, and Freedom of Thought.

Believing that these three key freedoms are essential for liberal democratic states to succeed in a more competitive world order, this report confirms several significant recent developments regarding the current world order which have already seen successful policy-driven implementations over the last two years.

The first development is the return to a competitive state-based international order. Though the United States (US) retains its global supremacy as the super power, and alongside it the success of NATO in ensuring trans-Atlantic peace for 70 years, various regions in the world have recently become much more competitive and, subsequently, unpredictable with a risk for conflict increasing.

This shift in the world order from one of unipolarity at the onset of the 21st Century to multipolarity in 2019 was illustrated by the National Security and Capability Review in 2018; highlighting both a revisionist Russia across Eurasia and an expansionist China, particularly in the South China Sea and wider Indo-Pacific region more broadly.

This development has led to the UK increasing both its diplomatic capability and defence engagement across east Asia and the Pacific in particular, establishing nine new diplomatic missions in Pacific island states whilst increasing cooperation with allies including Singapore and Japan.

The new strategic alliance forged with Japan in particular is an example of how increased bilateral defence engagement with strategic partners should be a cornerstone of a Global Britain approach.

As part of the UK’s activity in east Asia, it has increased significantly the Royal Naval presence transiting through these crucial waters. Conducting Freedom of Navigation Patrols both in 2018 and early 2019, the Royal Navy missions in Chinese-disputed international waters affirms James Rogers’ and Bob Seeley MP’s report citing the centrality of both Freedom for Trade and Freedom from Oppression for a Global Britain vision.

This presence will soon be augmented; announced by the UK Defence Secretary that the Royal Navy’s flagship aircraft carrier, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, will be making potentially its first operational mission to the Pacific.

The second recent development in the international system which this report addresses is the attempted erosion of the rules-based global order by states employing increasingly sophisticated and criminal methods of subversion. From the state-sponsored terrorist attack in Salisbury, UK, in 2018, to the unrelenting remote warfare being conducted against the Ukraine since 2014, to the increased military and diplomatic assistance given to Syrian dictator Bashir al-Assad, Russia has sought to systematically undermine liberal democratic states and institutions, in particular to divide NATO and the EU, for at least the last ten years. Freedom of Oppression and Freedom of Thought are two essential strategies the UK should seek to further pressure the Russian regime into desisting its troubling activities.

Much the same as Russia, China seeks to circumnavigate both international law and liberal democratic institutions across the Indo-Pacific region, in an attempt to assert regional Beijing hegemony in a much less overtly aggressive, though potentially more dangerous and unpredictable nature, to that of Moscow.

Maintaining the international shipping lanes across the Indian Ocean is not just a UK security concern, but a global one. Whilst China has sought to project its influence across the region through its ambitious One Belt One Road (OBOR) programme, in addition to militarising port authorities from Djibouti to Sri Lanka to Myanmar, the increased Royal Naval presence across this region, building on the successes of 2018, should form a central pillar in a strategy to manage future potential bullish Chinese naval behaviour undermining the rules-based order.

Fundamentally this report seeks to address the growing concern as to what precisely the UK’s role should be in the world, especially in the light of the UK’s imminent withdrawal from the European Union (EU).

By strengthening alliances with global partners including the so-called CANZUK group (Canada Australia and New Zealand), as well as Japan and Singapore, in addition to promoting these three universal freedoms, the UK, working closely with allies, can seek to uphold and maintain, as it has since refusing to accept German aggression in Europe in the last century, the liberal norms and values which the global order strives to ensure to increase global peace and security.

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I’m glad attention was brought to the CANZUK idea. I myself am I huge advocate for such an alliance, and its getting real legs now the Conservative Party of Canada have backed it and a great many politicians from Aus and NZ have endorsed it

global britain? another P.R phrase dreamed up by some spotty faced urchin in the media

Martin

The issue is that in all four counties the CANZUK concept is laughed at , its seen as a brexiters fantasy in the UK. What would it actually do? Free movement? We just left the EU because people in England were not happy about immigration, are we really going to jump in to a new union? Combined defence force? none of the other CANZUK countries spend 2% of GDP and we already have bilateral or multi lateral agreements. Combined foreign policy and a share of the UK’s UNSC perminant chair? Possibly the most substantial move but then would the UK… Read more »

“…none of the other CANZUK countries spend 2% of GDP” On the contrary, not only does Australia spend 2% of GDP it is the only one of the CANZUK countries that does. In fact Australia spends more than the UK in terms of GDP (in 2017 2% vs 1.8% – SIPRI Military Expenditure Database). Australia also spends more per capita than the UK by about a third again ($1,100 USD per citizen vs $713 USD). With a population of just 25 million it is the 13th largest spender on defence in the world just ahead of Canada in 14th spot… Read more »

Martin

https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/2-of-gdp-just-a-hop-skip-and-a-jump-away/

Australia does not yet spend 2% but is on track, NZ and Canada no where near. I must agree with you however than CANZUK is a nostalgia shared by large amounts of people in England and no doubt a significant amount of white Australian.

It’s also worth noting that the UK and Canada remain very similar to Australia and NZ as we all have large and growing non European populations with large Asia communities. The demographic make up of the US that opens very similar to the CANZUK countries is changing with large immigration from Latin America rather than Asia.

Defence budgets are murky things and it is difficult to compare them precisely between countries – apples and oranges. That is why I deliberately chose to use SIPRI’s independent data as a source since they make considerable effort to compare like-for-like. As to why they reported the UK spent less than 2% in 2017, you’d need to unpack that for yourself or drill down on SIPRI’s methodology. Word Bank data also shows Australia outspending the UK on GDP percentage terms in 2016 (2.093% Aus 1.839% UK) and 2017 (1.989% Aus 1.835% UK). The ASPI article you linked to was analysing… Read more »

Keithdwat

https://www.canzukinternational.com/2018/04/poll-2018.html
These polls speak otherwise.
In fact CANZUK is least popular in England, the people who say it’s simply old Brexit imperial nutjobs is insane! Of course that’s not at all what most brexiteers are either!

Where to start? The survey appears to have been undertaken to provide ‘evidence’ for a particular point of view. The questions it does not ask are as important as the simple ‘motherhood’ proposition it tests. It is relatively easy to get public agreement on a motherhood topic, for example: Should everyone have access to free healthcare? It is the follow-up opportunity cost questions that start to test true sentiment and examine the trade-offs of benefits and costs – Would you be prepared to pay higher taxes to make sure others have free health care? There is also little detail on… Read more »

Nick C

I’m all for having a strategic vision, and it’s about time that the MOD and the Government started setting out some longer term priorities rather than just managing decline by wittering on about capabilities. However the money that Sec Def is using is really a very small amount in the grand scheme, and will only grab a few headlines rather than leading to a real increase in overall capability. For instance the new strike ships, converted ro ro ferries?, are supposed to be prepositioned with the necessary escorts and logistics back up. I’m really not sure where those assets are… Read more »

the priority should be 30 warships, not converted compost carriers, all this multi role guff is annoying and doesn’t go anywhere near addressing the real issue of a surface fleet fit for purpose

So you don’t think 2 x 70:000 tonne carriers, F35B, Merlin, ect T45 ,T26 ,T31 and Astute class boats isnt fit for purpose? Id say that equipment list would be the envy of 99% of today’s Navy’s, sure we would like more of them, but better then soldiering on with old and outdated kit just to make the numbers look good.

Cam Hunter

What? actually multirole is far better than single role even if we did have 30 warships again. And most RN vessels have multiple roles anyway so I don’t get what you mean!. It’s that RN warships multiple roles should all be just as deadly as there primary role, type 45 for example.

A ‘Global Britain,’ would help to corral the defence budget more effectively, than its current vulnerable position. I have always said, new trade deals will most likely require some form of defence component, thereby ring fencing defence spending, especially, for the RN.

A new vision? Or return to an old vision which are Political Class dumped for 30 pieces of silver?

there is no vision, the vision should be to produce and operate a 30 ship surface fleet, not converted coal carriers and undefended luxuries like the QE AND THE ALBIONS if we’re going to operate such big vessels then they should be fully armed and worthy of the title warship, or stick to other pointless ‘toys like o.p.v’s and these converted coal carries.

I was talking about our country’s position in the world. We haven’t had a clear vision for defence since 1945……..

I agree with you. As fun and as interesting as I find carriers I would much prefer 12 large destroyer / cruisers, 12 SSN’s, and two LPHs (and 3 dock ships) and a sprinkling of supporting frigates, large OPV’s, tankers, stores ships…….

Meirion X

I do agree with you for the UK to have 12 destroyers and more SSN’s and frigates with supporting vessels.

The carriers will be armed with the F35B, a 5th generation, all aspect stealth supersonic strike fighter, the air wing is its weapons.

Cam Hunter

And the Sub hunting/ anti ship Merlins and Wildcats. Lots of people underestimate helicopters.

They don’t at all. They are very important. One of the reasons why I think the B2 Rivers for their size aren’t value is they won’t be able to carry a Wildcat full time.

And? Fast jets aren’t a panacea.

Stephen

We definitely need stronger links with Canada, Australia and N.Z. We also have a special relationship with the U.S.A., the World’s superpower, we need to work that angle more in future. We definitely still want to be friends with our fellow European countries and neighbours too.

We can’t work our relationship with the US any more than we do. Most of what we get done is done off their backs. Any closer and we might as well roll up our armed forces (and security services) into theirs…..

……I once joked it would be just cheaper to pay the US insurance than have our own armed forces. Keep the Household Division for ceremonial, keep a small coastguard for FP and customs, and roll up SF into Home Office operated counter terrorism unit……

amalgamate the fleet air arm with the r.a.f and the R.AF regiment with the army, and slim down the top heavy structures

Gunbuster

Amalgamate the RAF with the fleet air arm would make more sense. The FAA don’t worry about checking into hotels when they deploy. Imagine the savings you could make straight away from the RAF travel and Accom budget.

But Gunbuster what if the Fleet Air Arm turned into the RAF rather than the other way round ?

captain P Wash.

At the moment, It feels like Britain Is being attacked from all angles, whether It be European Politicians, SNP Union Haters, Elite Business Leaders, Billionaire Investors or the Minority of homebred Remoaners.
By having Vision and the belief in our Country and It’s People, I welcome the positive talk and actions. It’s what the Vote was for after all.

Nathan

Two or three thoughts. Firstly, a liberal democracy imposing its-self is something of an oxymoron. It sounds a lot like, we tolerate everything except your intolerance – in which case this is not tolerance but conformity, it is double speak. An expansionist liberal democracy is then, really an imperialistic agenda. Secondly, if we truly believe in freedom of thought then we must surely believe in the freedom of dissent and the freedom to reject liberal democracy. These might be the values we hold, but if we truly hold them, then we must truly uphold them, lest we become hypocrites, armed… Read more »

Intolerance is the one thing we can’t tolerate.

Nath

You’re statement is self refuting. A tolerance that isn’t tolerant IS intolerance.

Who determines what can or cannot be tolerated, what’s your moral standard? What gives that moral standard any authority? How do we even know your moral standard is true or “good”?

Should we tolerate, theft, rape, murder … no, we punish these with incarceration, is this not intolerance?

Your “tolerance” is nothing of the sort. It is old fashioned conformity with different values. Which is fine – but let us be open and honest about it and drop the double speak.

It’s certainly a tricky question: if everyone is free to hold their own views and beliefs, what do you do when clashing views collide? Do you stay out of it and potentially let innocent people be harassed and bullied, or do you intervene and suppress the views of some to protect others? You’ve provided a great example in terms of religion vs abortion. As with everything in life though, it’s about compromise. Those with religious views are fully entitled to them, but they have no right to force those views on others. If you ask people at abortion clinics to… Read more »

captain P Wash.

“Religion and Abortion”.

Not a Fan of Either, Personally.

“Dictatorships”

Every Country Basically has them.

Quite how Russia has had Putin for so long, evades me.

“Animal farm quote” “All animals are Equal” …. a few years later, “But some are more equal than others”.

How unbelievably Corrupt Is Russia’s Elite post Glasnost. ? Eh ? and why do the Honest hardworking ordinary People actually Put up with all their Shit ???????

We should be Embracing Russia and It’s people really, not tarring them all with the same brush just because of their Corrupt and Power Hungry Leaders.

Nath

Who shouts “murder” at vulnerable women. It doesn’t happen. Or if it does it is very rare and outweighed massively by the violence pro-life supporters receive at the hands of counter protestors. This is fake news. The modern tool of progressive liberal democracies and totalitarian Russian governments alike for controlling the populace. I totally agree with your vision for promoting our values and allowing others to choose their own paths. But, playing Devil’s Advocate – what happens when people start disappearing in Venezuela for opposing the socialist government? What happens when a young pro-life women praying outside an abortion clinic… Read more »

keithdwat

As Mr Churchill once exclaimed ‘Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others’. And what I believe he meant is that their are issues with our systems but until their is a better one found we will make do and I don’t think we ever will. And I do believe that everyone should be able to express their opinions even if I don’t agree with them, that is something that has been forgotten by both the far left and right today. When you start restricting peoples speech its a very slippery path and fine line until… Read more »

Nath

Interesting point – no one stands outside clinics shouting murder. But this is the meme that’s being conveyed. Usually, there’s young mums with kids and a few elderly. I understand they usually pray quietly, sometimes sing hymns and occasionally get to talk to the women in question. Rarely anything more. There’s loads of video evidence to prove this and that counter protestors are the dangerous ones, often harassing pro-life women protestors. BUT because abortion is a “right” and the establishment is anti-Christian the actual truth is not spoken and the rights of these Christians to protest is being curtailed in… Read more »

Frank62

Agree with a lot of what you say here Nathan. Our freedoms are now allowed only if they conform with the values of the liberal elite. Otherwise they may not be allowed to be expressed. I believe in freedom of thought & speech. Someone once said to watch out for what society won’t allow to be criticised. People seem no longer able to hear out conflicting arguments in reasonable debate but demand everybody agrees with them or are villified & shut up. Generations of our sevicemen died for our freedoms but we seem to be becoming more intollerant of any… Read more »

Nath

Totally agree.

How can we stand for a moral, voice that protects freedom of speech and conscience around the world when we’re doing the opposite at home.

Carlos

Chile maybe the next menber…close the gap in Pacific Southeast…good/excellent relations with Canada, New Zeland and UK, share programs with Canada (P-3 upgrade/Lifex, new CMS for frigates), New Zeland (past P-3 upgrades, CMS and Sea ceptor for frigates) and UK (share support programs with the T-23 frigates and maybe buy 3 more).

The Germans are buying more Typhoons instead of F35.

captain P Wash.

Are They ? Not seen that Statement yet, personally.

Milliardenauftrag für Airbus: Bundeswehr bestellt 33 Eurofighter Die Bundeswehr will bei Airbus Kampfjets im Milliardenwert bestellen, wie das Bundesverteidiungsministerium entschieden hat. Das erfuhr der BR aus Regierungskreisen. Ein Geschäft von dem die Standorte in Augsburg und Manching profitieren. Milliardenschwerer Großauftrag für Airbus in Manching: Wie der Bayerische Rundfunk aus Regierungskreisen erfahren hat, bestellt die Bundeswehr bei Airbus 33 Kampfjets. Am Standort Manching würden dadurch rund 5.000 Arbeitsplätze für viele Jahre gesichert, bestätigt Airbus-Betriebsratsvorsitzender Thomas Pretzl. Der Ingolstädter Bundestagsabgeordnete Reinhard Brandl (CSU), der auch im Verteidigungsausschuss sitzt, begrüßt die Entscheidung des Ministeriums “sehr”, die alten Eurofighter durch Flugzeuge der neuesten Generation… Read more »

captain P Wash

Steve. What’s that in English then ? I’d like to be able to understand It all rather than what I assume Is being said, Is there an order for 33 New Typhoons to replace the 90 Tornadoes ? I thought the decision had yet to be taken.

Gunbuster

Replacing Tornado with Typhoon leaves Germany unable to carry out it’s NATO nuclear strike missions. Typhoon is not certified to carry buckets of sunshine so weakens the NATO collective defence stance.

Paul.P

Like Boxer and Challenger all part of the German plan to protect its defence industry jobs, vulnerable as it is to French dominance in European defence. Of course we in the UK are happy to help :-). VBCI is out, Boxer is in for example. Rheinmetal takes control of BAe armoured vehicle business etc. My money is on the Atlas Elektronic bid for Type 31…Meko design built in Belfast. ?
As to the Germans funding the French aspirations for a European successor to F-35….not going to happen in my view.

German and Spanish do well out of Typhoon. But I wonder whose air force is pushing the type in terms of usage and weapon integration? Another European project we lost out on.

Nick Bowman

I don’t see how the U.K. can expand its strategic ambitions without significantly expanding its defence budget. The US deploys 15 times as many fast jets. China operates 8 times as many fast jets and more than 4 times as many first-rate frigates and destroyers. Britain simply needs more of everything if it is to be more than peripherally relevant to the global balance of power conversation.

I think for me it is when scrimp here and there or just make dumb decisions. Take Astute. We need 8 not 7, but one government makes a political decision and bang we are hurt for decades. Again Astute. Obvious candidate for VLS. Did the RN push for it ever? And if they did how much did we save not implementing that feature? Probably little for a large increase in flexibility and capability. T45 and the MOAS. And so on. Little snips here and there. We won’t get a few years grace for the next war like we did with… Read more »

Ulya

I like this site, the articles and comments are interesting, but I always find it strange when the west goes on about a liberal world order and demands a standard of behaviour from countries while not living up to those same standards itself. Yes I am Russian so dont bother with the troll reply, but in my view there is alot of talking between leaders, very little listening, both sides see the same problems but have different views and while no one is listening or respecting each other nothing will change

The Russophobic trolling on this site is hysterical at times. Personally I find it embarrassing, I have had a couple of comments ‘disappear’ because of my views too.

Quite.

I remember once saying here that the only shipbuilding we should throw government weight / public funding behind is submarines. Then some twerp accused me of being Russian. Sort of ignoring the fact that the one sphere where Russia does present us with problems is submarines and the best counter for a SSN is another SSN. Labour favouring surface ships built in Scotland over submarines built in UK has done us far more harm.

Rob

Fair enough, our supply of weapons to Saudi Arabia and then turning a bling eye to how they are used in Yemen is a case in point. That said, I do believe we mostly have the right intentions, to keep world trade free, preserve human life (yes I know there are many examples where we get this wrong or are directly involved in conflict), and generally to ensure world order. History may show that we get things wrong but our intentions are good, mostly. I am not sure the same could be said for Mr Putin, although I acknowledge that… Read more »

Nick Bowman

…but you’re actually saying your Russian. That’s cool. Most Russians call themselves John Smith or Alfred Brown and we can tell they are fake names – tell that they’re not British. It’s nice to hear an honest, Russian, opinion.

Ulya

I have no reason to hide the fact I am Russian Nick, I am not here to troll or make offence, just to learn and understand the thinking, I am happy not to comment if I cause anger to some, I do not wish to take away other people’s enjoyment of this site. I am also a fan of the UK military so find the articles here and at other sites interesting

captain P Wash

Morning Ulya, How do you view your Political Leaders and the direction your economy is taking with so many Ultra Rich people calling the shots? Or Is It all just Western Propaganda ?
I would be genuinely Interested in your thoughts.

Rob

Ulya could pose that question back to you/us. The increasing divide between rich and poor in this country is startling. OK the rich in the UK do not necessarily call the shots like in Russia but we have many problems of our own. Ulya, if I may ask, what view do you have of the UK military? I tend to think we have some fantastic people and equipment but nowhere near enough in certain areas. We are also quite like the ‘paper tiger’ that our defence secretary refers to, in that even our best ships and planes do not have… Read more »

captain P Wash

Rob. I Agree 100% mate. That’s Why I’m asking for his Thoughts.

Ulya

Rob, your infantry is considered very good, one of my brothers is in VDV and I grew up in VDV bases, when they moved from conscript to contract soldiers and improved training UK training was looked at very hard, mainly Para and RM. You have some good equipment but not enough, your land based air defense against missiles is very weak (sorry, I work with missiles so have studied this). I dont mean to offend but the UK is not considered a threat simply because you lack depth to take losses and came back for round 2. I hope I… Read more »

Rob

“I don’t mean to offend but the UK is not considered a threat simply because you lack depth to take losses and came back for round 2. I hope I explained this ok.”

Sounds about right to me, we don’t. Round after round of defence cuts has seen to that. BTW we are no threat to Russia anyway, we certainly wouldn’t start a conflict.

JohnHartley

Global Britain? Well use some of that 0.7% foreign aid on those dots on the map still British. We were the “workshop of the world”, but many governments of all persuasions have done their best to shut it down with heavy taxes & regulations, while starving it of funds. Why not lead with transparency? Why do we allow front companies in tax havens to apply for planning permission to build thousands of houses on green belt, without knowing who the true beneficiaries are? If an acre of farmland costs £30,000, but leaps to £2million with permission to build, then the… Read more »

captain P Wash

Rob. I Agree 100% mate. That’s Why I’m asking for his Thoughts.

captain P Wash

WTF ?

Geoffrey Hicking

The site keeps doing that. Very annoying.

Steven Kirkland

Global Britain can’t even leave the EU GLOBAL Britain doesn’t even have a United Kingdom pun intended! Global Britain is Fucked! THE US is on its way to a possible meltdown with over 7 million Americans unable to pay back the credit they were giving for thier gas guzzling cars. China is buying up more gold and has amassed at least 3 trillion dollers worth that sit nicely in reserve as it tries to steer the world away from USD. Project HS2, Brexit and the NHS is quite simply just to big an ask for our politicians to solve never… Read more »

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