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The Strategy of Britain Desiring to Become a Global Power Again

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Britain, which was one of the dominant powers of Europe and the world for many years, lost its feature of being a global power as a result of the Second World War and the Suez Crisis in 1956. Against this, the United States of America (USA) came to the fore and assumed the leadership of the Western World. In the period after 1990, while the USA turned into the only superpower in the world; the “Soviet threat” on Europe has disappeared. In such an environment, the London administration entered a process of rapprochement with Beijing. In fact, England has been accepted as one of the two centers of the Belt-Road Project announced in 2013. Later, during the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to London in 2015, it was stated that bilateral relations were experiencing a “golden age” within the scope of trade and investment.[1]

In the said period, a center called European Geostrategy divided the actors in the world into four categories as super, global, regional and local power in a study it prepared in 2014. In this study, the USA is defined as the only superpower. Britain was classified as the only global power. France, China, Russia, Japan, Germany, Australia, Canada and India are included in the regional power category in the list.[2]

In the world, which is in the process of continuous development and change, the process of shifting power centers from the West to the East has accelerated. Especially as power centers such as Beijing, Moscow and New Delhi emerged; the capacity of capitals in Europe to influence world politics, economy and security has begun to weaken. This situation brought to mind the thought that the categories in the study prepared by European Geostrategy also changed.

Especially as Beijing is rising rapidly; it can be said that London, Paris and Berlin lost momentum. Many allies of the USA, especially in Latin America and Asia, have started to establish strong relations with China. Africa, on the other hand, has turned into a competition area. This situation has strengthened the perception that the Western World has weakened and that the world system has evolved into a bipolar/multipolar structure. In addition, the fact that states such as India, Indonesia and Malaysia act more independently and converge with actors such as Russia and China against Western powers has revealed that the centers of power are changing.

The decline of the West’s influence over other countries has led to the discussion of the international order. Although the main country negatively affected by this is the USA, it is possible to say that England is also disturbed. Because England, which is accepted as a global actor in the power category, has either lost its feature of being the only global power or has regressed from global power to regional power within the framework of changing equations. One of the most concrete examples of this is India’s economic overtake of England.

It can be said that the London administration has recently made a policy change in order to eliminate the aforementioned disturbance, to prevent the rising powers in the East and to become a global power again. In this context, England, which acted together with China for a while within the scope of the Belt-Road Project, has recently started to take an open stance towards China. In this sense, AUKUS, which was carried out together with the USA and Australia, draws attention as one of the most concrete steps taken by England against China.

Britain, which wants to surround China with AUKUS, is one of the states that has adopted the toughest stance against Russia since February 2022. In this context, one of the main centers and supporters of the sanctions applied to Moscow with the Ukraine War, the military aid given to the Ukrainian Army and the anti-Russian propaganda was again England. In this process, England tended to increase its influence in Europe by using the Russian threat argument. The security and defense-based agreements that England made with European actors at different times are indicative of this.

In this context, England follows two strategies in order to become a single or a global power again. The first of these is to get closer with the USA and follow a common policy. Because the London administration thinks that it can rise to a global power position or eliminate its rivals thanks to the superpower USA. For this reason, England, which carries out a common strategy with the USA in AUKUS, refrains from taking political steps that will cause conflicts of interests with this country in various parts of the world.

The second strategy determined by England has a geopolitical perspective. England was one of the main powers in the India-Gulf Region-Suez Canal-Cyprus Island-Greece line during the period when it was influential in world politics, economy and security. During periods of colonialism, when a significant part of the world trade was carried out through the Suez Canal, London both maintained its existence in its colonies and areas of influence and ensured the security of the goods it transferred to its country on the Mediterranean route.

The London administration, which wants to regain its power in its colonial past, is now trying to build a sphere of influence on a similar line. First of all, Britain, which published the “2030 Roadmap” document with India on January 4, 2021, revealed that it wants to develop political, economic, cultural relations and security-based cooperation between the two countries.[3] The emergence of a similar tension between China and India in relations with Britain accelerated the rapprochement on the London-New Delhi line.

On the other hand, London, which wants to get closer with the Gulf countries and strengthen the ties between them, wants to sign a free trade agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council.[4] In addition, an intensification is observed in the relations of England with the Greek Cypriot Administration of Southern Cyprus (GCA) and Greece. Because, in December 2022, a Strategic Cooperation Agreement was signed between England and the GCA.[5] In addition, in February 2023, a defense and security agreement was signed between London and Athens for the purpose of strengthened defense partnership.[6]

As a result, Britain has suffered a significant loss of power over the last ten years. Because the new centers rising in Asia have shaken the influence and capacity of London in world politics. This situation fueled the desire of the London administration to reach its power during the colonial period. At this point, England, which took a hard line against Russia and China, seems to focus on building a line of influence from India to Europe, as it was during the colonialism period. However, it can be said that because of not having enough capacity to realize this, England got closer to the USA and developed a strategy compatible with the policies of this country.


[1] “China, Britain to Benefit From ‘Golden Era’ in Ties-Cameron”, Reuters, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-britain-idUSKCN0SB10M20151017, (Date of Accession: 08.02.2023).

[2] George Allison, “Study Finds UK is Second Most Powerful Country in the World”, UK Defence Journal, https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/study-finds-uk-is-second-most-powerful-country-in-the-world/, (Date of Accession: 08.02.2023).

[3] “2030 Roadmap for India-UK Future Relations”, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/india-uk-virtual-summit-may-2021-roadmap-2030-for-a-comprehensive-strategic-partnership/2030-roadmap-for-india-uk-future-relations, (Date of Accession: 08.02.2023).

[4] “UK-Gulf Cooperation Council Trade Negotiations Update: December 2022”, https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-gulf-cooperation-council-trade-negotiations-update-december-2022, (Date of Accession: 08.02.2023).

[5] “Ertuğruloğlu: “İngiltere’nin GKRY ile Savunma ve Dış Politikayı da Kapsayan Stratejik İş Birliği Kurma Cihetine Gitmesi Kaygı Verici””, Kıbrıs Türk, https://www.kibristurk.com/haber/ertugruloglu-ingilterenin-gkry-ile-savunma-ve-dis-politikayi-da-kapsayan-stratejik-is-birligi-kurma-cihetine-gitmesi-kaygi-verici-6145, (Date of Accession: 08.02.2023).

[6] “UK and Greece Seek Strengthened Defence Partnership”, Gov.uk, https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-and-greece-seek-strengthened-defence-partnership, (Date of Accession: 08.02.2023).

Dr. Emrah KAYA
Dr. Emrah KAYA
ANKASAM Dış Politika Uzmanı Dr. Emrah Kaya, Akdeniz Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nden mezundur. Yüksek lisans derecesini 2014 yılında Süleyman Demirel Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nde hazırladığı “Latin Amerika'da Sol Liderlerin Yükselişi ve Uluslararası Politikaya Etkisi: Venezuela-Bolivya Örneği” başlıklı teziyle almıştır. Kaya, doktora derecesini de 2022 yılında aynı üniversitede hazırladığı "Terörle Mücadelede Müzakere Yöntemi: ETA-FARC-LTTE-PKK" başlıklı teziyle elde etmiştir. İyi derecede İngilizce bilen Kaya'nın başlıca çalışma alanları; Orta Asya, Latin Amerika, terörizm ve barış süreçleridir.