- Confronted with the realities of domestic austerity and an uncertain international order, established middle-ranking powers – such as the United Kingdom – have experienced increasing difficulty in arriving at a settled foreign policy identity.
- The debate about the UK’s place in the world has taken place throughout the last century and has long been framed by traditional narratives of exceptionalism and decline.
- Efforts to conceptualize the UK’s place in the world have evolved over the last two decades: whether as a transatlantic ‘bridge’, a ‘global hub’ or, most recently under the coalition government, that of adapting Britain to a ‘networked world’.
- Popular dissent across the Middle East and North Africa and the ongoing crisis in the Eurozone have served to both confirm and test the government’s ‘networked world’ analysis and chosen policy responses.
- The challenge over the coming years will rest on the UK’s ability to develop its capacity as an agile middle power, confident of its purpose and fully equipped to navigate an uncertain international order.