Wednesday , October 20 2021

CANZUK Foreign Policy Tensions

For CANZUK to advance beyond a free trade and free movement cooperation thought in other areas to those two areas will be needed. One key area in which there is scope for significant advantage to CANZUK integration is foreign policy. However, it comes with three key balances between competing aims that will need to be resolved for any such suggestions of foreign policy unity to work, those being: the need to balance the benefits of acting in unity with the independence of each kingdom; the benefits of deploying force compared to getting stuck in unwinnable situations that cannot be withdrawn from; and the desire to undermine the power of tyrannies in the United Nations whilst keeping a rules-based international order.

The first one is the most important if CANZUK is to have a coherent and united foreign policy. The tension is ultimately at the heart of CANZUK and in all areas of CANZUK integration must be resolved. The independence of each kingdom is not just a requirement for the concept to be popular enough to be achieved but is a necessary component of what makes both the constitution and identity of each kingdom, for without the sovereignty of each kingdom’s parliament, the basis in the Westminster system that is a part of what CANZUK is would be lost. On the reverse side, however, cooperation is needed to make CANZUK exist and be functional as a union. Finding a balance between the two is necessary. The independence of the four kingdoms is important on three main fronts. Firstly, each kingdom needs to be independent to protect the identity of CANZUK. The creedal values that unite the four kingdoms require independence on all matters. The rights of the governments of each kingdom to have full control over all aspects of governance is a vital part of the belief system that forms the whole that makes CANZUK united and separate from the rest of the world. The second need is to protect the constitutional integrity of the parliaments. Each parliament, by necessity of each constitution, is sovereign. To not allow each parliament to have an independent and separate direction from each other would be to overturn what is ultimately the key aspect of the constitutions of the four kingdoms. Therefore, independence of each kingdom on all matters, including foreign policy, is crucial. The final reason for independence is to make the proposals acceptable of to the citizens of all four kingdoms. Voters are unlikely to consent to giving power over foreign policy to decision makes that could literally be thousands of miles away and not elected by them. To ask people to voluntarily to hand over control of such a significant area of policy is to invite a negative response. Therefore, for CANZUK to have a united foreign policy that is electorally achievable, each kingdom must have a high level of independence. However, having unity in some areas of foreign policy would be advantageous due to the increase in military, diplomatic and economic matters. It provides greater influence and might. With the similarities between the four kingdoms, there shouldn’t be too much disagreement but having a clearly set out mechanism that both takes advantage of the benefits of CANZUK unity and protects the independent of each kingdom will be necessary for CANZUK to have a coherent foreign policy.

The second set of competing demands is between the desire to spread democracy and not wanting to put troops into places where they are unlikely to succeed. Democracy cannot succeed without a level of security. Empirical data, very well compiled by Paul Collier in Guns, Wars, & Votes, has shown that coups d’états are just as likely to be planned in democracies as they are in autocracies. The problem is that the civil liberties that come with a lower ability in democracies to detect plots to overthrow the government. Therefore, more external support with internal security is needed in developing democracies. CANZUK could be a position to help deliver that through its military strength. However, that must be balanced with not committing military force to where it will not work. Spreading democracy through invasion has not worked, with Afghanistan and Iraq being key examples of that. Troops can very easily end committed into situations where there is limited chance of success and high chance of fairly futile casualties. Whilst those two examples came with other complications related to internal security for democracies, the general idea of spreading democracy through governments violently overthrown by external military force was proven to not work. If CANZUK if to have a belief in democracy at the centre of a united foreign policy, as morally it should within the Anglospheric creedal identity that all four kingdoms have, it must be able to balance the need to deploy military force in defence of democracy and not deploy force where it will not work and cost CANZUK lives in conflicts that are unlikely to achieve positive outcomes.

The final set of competing interests that must be addressed if CANZUK is to have an achievable and successful foreign policy is to between maintaining a rules-based international order and undermining the power of tyrannies in the United Nations. The rule of law is fundamental to the constitutions of all four CANZUK Kingdoms and if CANZUK is to be a positive influence in global politics, it should push for the recognition and implementation of international law. Having a rules-based international order is positive for economic prosperity of all nations and the protection of key values, such as human rights. However, for human rights and an effective international system to take place, tyrannies need to be undermined in the United Nations. The genocidal communist Chinese regime and murderously corrupt Russian Federation mob have vetoes on the United Nations Security Council. That means that any military intervention and United Nations demands (rather than requests or recommendations) cannot be sanctioned without their agreement. This has allowed for: misgovernance to go unchallenged, as has happened in North Korea and Venezuela; coup d’états to overthrow somewhat democratic governments, as is currently happening in Burma; and conflicts to be left unresolved, as is currently happening in Syria and Yemen. CAZUK should desire to undermine their influence and power. To not undermine that would be to neglect one of the key sources of blocking power that international opponents to human decency have. That objective, unfortunately, has the potential to create conflict with the desire to have a rules-based international order and the rule of law internationally. There therefore will need to be a balance between those two interests and a fine line must be followed.

Any proposals for a CANZUK foreign policy, which recognises the identity of Anglosphere that should be a component in the foreign policy objectives of all four kingdoms, needs to deal with these problems. Without addressing them, there would be a lack of direction, a source of disagreement between the CANZUK Kingdoms and a set of inherent contradictions in the foreign policy. There are a number of potential proposals to resolve to these problems. I have suggested one set of solutions in the CANZUK Report which allows for unity of policy with the ability to tailor and descent on any issues, a mechanism that would allow for military action to defend democracy without committing inappropriate military force and the ability to act within international law whilst undermining the power of tyrannies.

The author’s book on CANZUK, CANZUK Report: Moving CANZUK into the 2020s, can be purchased on Amazon here.

About Ciaran Reed

Ciarán Reed is a Conservative and Unionist Party Candidate in Hertfordshire County Council and Three Rivers District Council elections in May. He is policy director at the Centre for Liberty and has written a report on CANZUK in that role.

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