Issue 09, July 2008
homepage > Lectures> Sir Basil Markesinis QC
Sir Basil Markesinis, QCLecture given on November 28th, 2007 by
Sir Basil Markesinis, QC

Fellow of the British Academy, Corresponding Member of the Academies of Athens, Paris, Rome (Lincei), Belgium and the Netherlands

The World is Changing; but are People Noticing?

I. Appreciating the extent of the change

Who can influence foreign policy
In a rapidly changing world, where events in one country increasingly affect those of another, even when far away, foreign policy is rapidly taking the form of decisions made on the hoof and on the basis of scant reliable information. The geographical scale of the problem and the rapidity of change are thus no longer allowing its makers to be proactive and creative, but making them, mostly, reactive as one crisis erupts after the other. For instance, the days when Russia had a foreign policy  ― to reach the warm waters of the Aegean, be it under the pretext of protecting the Orthodox Church, later pan-Slavism and, even later, Communism― that remained in its vision unchanged for nearly three centuries, have gone. The same can be said of Great Britain where once (and for two centuries) keeping the road to India dictated its attitude towards Gibraltar, Malta, Crete, Cyprus, the Suez Canal (i.e. Egypt) and Aden. The absence of a rationally formulated foreign policy is also made more difficult by the fact that those who make it ―professional politicians― not only lack the time to reflect and set for themselves long-term objectives, but also tend to make their decisions with one eye constantly on opinion polls, as they ponder how these will affect their popularity in their own country. This is particularly true if the foreign policy issue has an emotive appeal at home.

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