The principles of British foreign policy. 2nd edition

Author (Person)
Publication Date 2008
ISBN 978-0-9547087-5-7
Content Type

Should British foreign policy reflect any political and moral principles or should it merely be shaped by current conceptions of national self-interest, which may change from decade to decade? Does Britain have any particular long term or permanent interests as a nation state or are we living in an age so radically different from previous ones that none of the assumptions and traditions of the past have any relevance today? Has Britain's foreign policy traditionally had a special pattern to it that makes it unlike the foreign policy of other countries?

Philip Vander Elst, who has written extensively on political and philosophical matters, tackles those questions in the second edition of the revised Bruges Group paper The Principles of British Foreign Policy. He discusses the gradual disappearance of anything resembling British independence as the country becomes more and more enmeshed in the European Union, comparing and contrasting this development with previous attempts to unite Europe and British reaction to those.

Philip Vander Elst demonstrates that Britain, has, indeed, followed a very special path in history in her foreign policy, skilfully enmeshing true liberalism and love of freedom with an acute understanding of her interests. While not refusing to look at certain unhappy and unattractive aspects of British foreign policy (such as behaviour in Ireland or, at times, in some of the colonies) the author shows through opinions expressed in Britain and other countries that this country was, for a very long time, perceived as the beacon of liberty and constitutional democracy in the world. It is time, he proclaims, for the country to abandon the ill-fated European adventure and return to her political and ideological roots.

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Ian Milne: Lost illusion: British foreign policy (The Bruges Group, 2008)

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