Since London annexed Islas Malvinas, it has had no chance of coming into the spotlight just to show everyone that neither the Concert of Europe not a global rap battle could go on without the omnipotent Albion. Brexit reduced to nothing even the relatively insignificant involvement of the Queen and her subordinates in the European affairs. The wrong bet in the latest US presidential campaign spoiled a special relationship with the overseas big brother. The Commonwealth has turned into mere scenery. In no corner of the world do people feel nostalgic for the times of Pax Britannica.
UK’s political elite must be thinking their lives are useless, considering their obsession with the part they played in determining the fate of the world. However there is a well-tried cure for that ailment – all you need to do is declare another Napoleon the enemy of mankind to reap the benefits of a bellum omnium contra omnes. Recall Churchill who made a timely move with his “Iron Curtain” when the USA and the USSR still considered themselves allies. He was able to at least in part make up for the break-up of his colonial empire with a new historical role of London that had become the most reliable partner of Washington in the Cold War ever since.
Something of the kind has happened nowadays. You don’t have to be a foreign relations expert to understand that systemic geopolitical problems like a suddenly possible resolution of the North Korean crisis are not resolved with a wave of a magic wand. A U-turn in the rhetoric of Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, who have been threatening to nuke each other, is the result of back-room diplomatic agreements between leading world players, in this case they are the United States on one side and China and Russia on the other, since North Korea is dependent on them. And who knows what secret agreements the powers have reached on Syria, on dividing spheres of influence in the Far East, Africa or here on the American continent? North Korea’s example is like a textbook case, it’s way too illustrative to be a one-off event.
Now take a closer look! Where is Great Britain in all of it? It’s nowhere to be seen, and there the problem lies. Indeed, Inglaterra has not wielded any significant influence over important international affairs for quite some time now. But unlike Berlin that after the bitter lesson is showing restraint in anything lying outside German borders, or unlike Paris that confines its geopolitical efforts to the Mediterranean and post-colonial Africa, London feels deep discomfort after it lost its Imperial prestige and influence over both hemispheres of the Earth. It seems that gentlemen from King Charles Street still sing “Rule Britannia!” at banquets, ignoring the unpleasant reality of the outside world. The very world their continental colleagues – who have drawn conclusions from Brexit – are softly but nevertheless insistently asking the islanders to get out of.
Symbolic “over La Manche” exile caused by conceited withdrawal from the European family has definitely humiliated the British Establishment. But the main blunder of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office – and it is the diplomatic body that traditionally sets a political course – is the political short-sightedness displayed during the 2016 US presidential campaign. Confidence in Hillary Clinton’s victory and exceptional snobbery British diplomacy displayed towards the “enfant terrible” played Old Harry with London. Those who know Donald Trump personally say that he has a really long memory for such things, while he has never had a sense of proportion when settling accounts on a tit-for-tat basis. So the US president ostentatiously dumped Theresa May by cancelling his visit to the UK in February. The English have found themselves in a foreign-policy vacuum for the first time in many centuries. They have neither forces nor equipment to impose their will on anybody. The Royal Navy – their main and traditional leverage – is in a rather degraded condition. After WWII they have lost the habit of living the life of “a fortress under siege” – as is the case with Israel. But the worst thing is that the English failed to follow the US flagship and at the same time preserve remains of their influence over the European affairs. Their attempt to have a foot in both camps has quite predictably resulted in a painful downfall.
The British elite – quite dispirited by staying in a relative political isolation – have resorted to genuinely extraordinary steps. As is known, drastic times call for drastic measures. A thoughtful reader has certainly realized what it’s going to be about. A shabby James Bond with a license to kill was dragged out of a dusty MI6 closet. And a castaway ex-spy Skripal was doomed. As was his daughter, Salisbury police officers and some other absolutely innocent civilians. It’s not that The Great Game rules ever prohibited sacrificing pawns to achieve a goal. And the goal has been achieved. Now Donald Trump as well as leaders of united Europe must grind their teeth to publicly show their solidarity with London. And they must do this in advance, without any credible proof of Moscow’s involvement in the wrong-doing which in fact would be quite senseless for the Kremlin to commit. Now diplomats from the island pose as innocent victims while squeezing as many preferences as possible from the situation that stinks of toxin. All for the greater glory of Britain.