“The inconsistency of British diplomacy in Afghanistan illustrates the confusion that reigns in the minds of politicians”

THEhe Taliban’s triumph in Afghanistan rightly gives rise to harsh reflections on the failures of British foreign policy. Meanwhile, Boris Johnson’s government is content to offer plasters to desperate Afghans, left stranded by the withdrawal of the West. These immediate reactions are symptoms of the underlying inconsistency in Britain’s approach to international relations. And, unless remedied, this inconsistency will cause other problems.

It is due in particular to the low interest that the British political world has in the links between internal and external policy. These two policies are conceptually separable because they are implemented in two very different areas in terms of legal structures, responsibilities and power. Certainly. Nevertheless, an action on one of these two scenes almost always has repercussions on the other, which must be anticipated in a detailed plan. We cannot be satisfied with vague generalizations. In the absence of a plan, politicians switch erratically from one point of view to another, creating contradictions that undermine the credibility of both the actors and their actions.

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Take the example of the British international development aid policy. Formerly focused on the fight against poverty, it adopted the UN target of devoting 0.7% of its GDP to it. In recent years, this development aid has become more dependent on financial constraints and subject to political conditions. However, faced with the gravity of the events in Afghanistan, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Dominic Raab, is embarking on a policy on short notice: he promises a 10% increase in aid granted to the country.

Inability to conduct collective reflection

If, in Kabul, the sudden fall of the Ghani government is surprising, the inconsistency of the British position is not. Immigration is a key area where internal and external factors intermingle – literally, even, with ships arriving in the Channel and passengers at Heathrow Airport. However, in this area, the United Kingdom shines by its inability to conduct a coherent collective reflection since 2004, when the government of Tony Blair decided not to join France and Germany, who wanted to impose a deadline. seven years before granting free movement to citizens of the new member states of the eastern European Union (EU).

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