The Aims of British Foreign Policy:
Remodeling an Empire While Building Socialism
Any aspect of British foreign policy must, to be understood, be viewed as part of a complex network whose ultimate purpose is to support the security of the United Kingdom, its empire, and the British Commonwealth. As there is scarcely a nation or area of the world with which it does not have relations, the makers of United Kingdom policy face a wider range of problems than those of any other nation. The inevitable conflicts of interests, both within the empire in its three broad divisions and between it and other nations, lead inevitably to contradictions, compromises, and lapses from strict justice. The very multiplicity of Britain’s relationships around the globe make it particularly vulnerable to critics.
In the long view, all-over British foreign policy has at various historical stages been expansionist (from the late 18th century through the years of settlement of World War I), geared to defending the status quo (the period of appeasement just before World War II), and designed to cover a planned retreat (a consequence of World War II). Thus, anyone whose memory covers about fifty years of recent history has known United Kingdom policy in all three phases at successive periods. It is ironic that today the British are reaping the sour fruits of the first two, in terms of world opinion, while actually pursuing, in their quiet way and at their own pace, the third.
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