, Volume 90, Number 3

Timothy Edmunds, Jamie Gaskarth and Robin Porter

British foreign policy is often criticized for lacking strategic thinking. Academics describe a ‘strategy gap’, noting that outdated ideas about Britain’s role in the world continue to be recycled to confront the new challenges of the twentyfirst century.This is despite regular efforts by government to articulate strategies for dealing with international problems. Prime ministers and foreign secretaries will periodically offer panoramic surveys of the foreign policy environment, and how the UK should interact with it. Departmental Reports, National Security Strategies and policy papers across government aspire to inject some sense of control and direction into foreign policy-making. Yet uncertainty remains over the rationale for policy, how it connects to the interests and values of the British people, and what choices need to be made. As policy and academic commentators have observed, what seems to be lacking is a sense of the overarching public interest in the UK’s foreign policy actions—in other words, a coherent idea of the national interest.

To read this article, you need to be a Chatham House member

Find out more about Chatham House membership