4 min read
Britain has become too risk-averse, distracted by years of Brexit, and is responding to international events rather than shaping them. But calling for a global ceasefire to enable Covid vaccinations is exactly the kind of leadership we traditionally excel at.
With as many as 15 million vaccinations completed and the R rate finally falling, we now dare to think that the pandemic will soon be over. It may only be a matter of weeks before this final lockdown ends, social restrictions are relaxed, we can meet family and friends and our schools reopen their doors.
The prime minister would be wise not to raise expectations early on when the lockdown will end. No general on the battlefield will commit – outside of ambition – when the next phase of the battle will begin. Instead, move forward when the set goals and conditions are met. But thanks to the incredible efforts of our brave NHS and Britain's strengths in life sciences, we're likely to emerge from the fear of this pandemic faster than most other countries.
The world we rejoin will be very different from the pre-Covid world that we left in 2019. Global insecurity – which is already increasing – is exacerbated by this pandemic. Nations have withdrawn from internationalist exposure and become more siled and protectionist. With states around the world securing emergency national powers without the necessary safeguards to ensure that these measures are eventually reversed.
As General Sir Nick Cater, head of the British Armed Forces recently pointed out, the combination of a global recession, weak international institutions and the rise of nationalism is all reminiscent of the 1930s and the lead-up to WWII.
Consequently it is international task list grows: revitalizing global organizations such as the UN and WTO, updating the Geneva Conventions (including cyber-attacks and space weapons), securing a viable climate change agreement and of course – an enforceable uniform strategy about how to deal with an ever authoritarian China.
2021 shouldn't just be the year we fix and rebuild our post-Covid world. But the beginning of the confrontation with the vulnerability of our world order. The relative divisions of the West and growing uncontrolled instability and volatility will create significant global security challenges.
We must go beyond glorifying our international credentials of connectivity, global reach, soft and hard power capability and reputation to give real purpose to the term Britain as a global player.
It is time for Britain to take another step forward. The last global re-set took place after the war, where a new international architecture was created based on the ideas proposed in Churchill and Roosevelt's Atlantic Charter. The opportunity for Britain to revive that role cannot be overstated.
In contrast to Trump's isolationist approach, President Biden has outlined his commitment to rebuilding alliances, standing up to geopolitical threats, and returning a sense of purpose to what the West stands for and is willing to defend.
Britain absolutely needs to be aligned with our closest security ally and take advantage of hosting the G7 and COP26 to re-present our thinking credentials in identifying improved programs & # 39; s for international support.
No.10 should prioritize Whitehall bandwidth to reassess and reaffirm our own ambitions in the world and how they align with our closest allies, especially the United States. For example, Yemen is now a US priority. Not only must we join the US to stop arms exports related to the conflict, but as a UN pinholder for Yemen, we must offer to organize a summit to find a political solution and to organize a Stabilization force – which would no doubt be needed later.
Simply put, we need to go beyond glorifying our international credentials of connective, global reach, soft and hard power ability and reputation to give real purpose to the term Great Britain worldwide.
We have to be honest that Britain – along with the West – has become too risk-averse, distracted by years of Brexit, and is more likely to respond to international events than to shape them.
Reducing our aid budget and the number of troops is the wrong signal. But the call for a ceasefire in conflict zones to allow those trapped in war zones to receive Covid vaccines is exactly the kind of leadership we traditionally excel at.
We will come out of this pandemic in a very complex and challenging world. The special relationship could play a critical role in helping shape it.
Tobias Ellwood is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Bournemouth East and Chairman of the Defense Committee.