Johnson and Hunt on foreign policy: a comparative analysis
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Johnson and Hunt on foreign policy: a comparative analysis

British foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, came under pressure yesterday during his interview with Sky News, when members of the public complained about his lack of “authenticity” on Brexit. By contrast, leading contender Boris Johnson is on safe grounds on Brexit as he was a prominent Leave campaigner from the outset whereas Hunt was an outspoken proponent of remaining in the EU. As both candidates have experience at the highest level of the foreign office - Johnson was foreign secretary immediately before Hunt – it is worth examining their views and attitudes on foreign policy in greater detail. The most striking thing about the candidates is their desire to be as close to the United States, and specifically President Donald Trump, as possible. On this issue, like many others, Johnson is ahead of Hunt on account of his proximity to Trump. Indeed, Trump has made it known that he favours Johnson for the premiership. Hunt has tried hard to close this gap by ingratiating himself with the controversial US president. To that end, Hunt even abused his position as foreign secretary to reinforce Trump’s highly personal attacks on London mayor Sadiq Khan. Moreover, Hunt has hardened his rhetoric on key foreign policy issues like Yemen by lending greater rhetorical support to Saudi Arabia, again with a view to appealing to Trump. Brexit aside, arguably the biggest foreign policy challenge facing the UK is Russia. On this issue, there appears to be very little distance between the Tory leadership hopefuls. Both candidates rushed to outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May’s defence after she drew criticism following her brief sulky encounter with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the margins of the G20 summit in Osaka. Hunt attacked Putin’s claim about the demise of Western liberalism, in typical patronising tones, by saying: “It's all very easy to be disparaging about democracy when you've never had to bother with it at home”. For his part, Johnson appeared to be reducing the entire international community to the UK and US, by boldly claiming that there is a "global sense of repulsion at the way Russia behaves". He went on to add that “Russia will always let you down”.     On the Middle East, and specifically the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, again the most striking feature about the candidates is their attempt to align themselves with Trump and the US to the greatest extent possible. To that end, Hunt has said that any boycott of Israel on account of the Zionist regime’s Apartheid-style policies is “anti-Semitic”. Moreover, in an interview with the London-based online newspaper Jewish News, Hunt gratuitously attacked the leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, by claiming he harbours “deeply-held prejudices” against Jews. In the same interview, published yesterday, Hunt said that “stopping” Iran from obtaining “nuclear weapons” is his top priority in the Middle East. This is despite the fact that the Iranian leadership has said time and again it has no desire or interest in developing nuclear weapons. The leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, has in fact issued an edict which specifically proscribes any activity related to nuclear weapons.  Meanwhile, late last month, Johnson told a Conservative Friends of Israel dinner that Donald Trump’s ‘deal of the century’ – a supposed peace plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – had “potential”. Johnson told the same gathering, attended by high profile members of Britain’s Jewish community, that he would back a ‘no-deal’ Brexit if only to avoid Jeremy Corbyn becoming prime minister. In a gratuitous outburst, indicative of his true loyalties, Johnson shamelessly attacked the “Hamas-Hezbollah” supporting Corbyn. Furthermore, Johnson has previously defended Israeli attacks on Iranian positions in Syria. British political analysts believe that if, as expected, Johnson becomes prime minister then the British position on Iran is likely to become even more aligned with the US position.

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«December 2019»