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How the British see their role in the developing world 2030 - and how they are preparing to exercise it

The United Kingdom has just released a document which I think is very important to read, fundamental even, for those who are willing to understand the game that the great powers are playing in the international arena. In him, revisions of integrated defense and security policies are presented, Britain's international relations and development[1].

The document has, in the introduction, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's vision for the United Kingdom in the year 2030. In summary, it is an optimistic view of your country's role in the world, who sees the UK as one of the most influential nations on the planet, with a strong economy and that, due to the emphasis on the adoption of scientific and technological innovations, will be better equipped to face an even more competitive world.

Johnson believes that the United Kingdom should play a more active role as a permanent member of the UN Security Council in the defense of an international order that he believes is the most suitable for humanity.. Emphasizes the country's role in defending the international free market, defending human rights and international standards. Reinforces that the country's influence will be amplified by alliances and partnerships with other countries, among which stands out the United States of America.

Also stresses that the United Kingdom will continue to be the main European ally within NATO. Emphasize that, as a European nation, the British will be committed to Euro-Atlantic security, but that the United Kingdom must have respected its sovereignty, doing things differently from the European Union, economically and politically, when this is in the country's interest.

The Prime Minister continues, emphasizing the importance of the Indo-Pacific, region with which the British will be increasingly engaged economically. It also makes reference to Africa, especially west african, nominally citing Nigeria. It also mentions the Middle East and the countries of the Persian Gulf, what, according to Johnson, will receive support to be increasingly self-sufficient to provide their own security.

Still according to Johnson, in 2030, the UK will lead the world's economies in the so-called green economy, as part of global efforts to address climate change and biodiversity decline. The country will be recognized as a scientific and technological superpower and will be at the forefront in global regulation on technology, cybernetics, and data protection.

The document, after presenting the vision of the future expected by the Prime Minister, looks at the strategies that the country should adopt in order for such a scenario to be built: 1) adopt Science and Technology as a central aspect for national security and the country's international policy; 2) shape the international order, creating a world favorable to democracies and universal values (sic); 3) strengthen defense and security in the UK itself and worldwide; e 4) increase resilience, both in the UK and worldwide, against unpredictable threats like major natural disasters or cyber attacks.

The four strategies presented will imply some strategic actions. One will be the search for leadership positions in multilateral organizations, with the aim of influencing international regulations, especially in the governance of the digital world. Another will be the search for global leadership for the world to reach the carbon neutrality mark in 2050. Protecting the UK's space interests, including the creation of a Space Command, is another example.

The Indo-Pacific region and China receive a lot of attention in the document. The country will seek to develop capabilities that are geared towards dealing with a world in which China will gain more and more importance in multiple aspects of British citizens' lives..

These strategies consider that there are four main trends for changes in the world in the next decade: 1) geopolitical and geoeconomic changes; 2) intensification of competition in the international system; 3) rapid technological change; e 4) transnational challenges, that is, that affect all of humanity, how climate change.

Like this, the British recognize that, in 2030 the world will be more multipolar and that the world's economic and geopolitical center of gravity will have moved to the Indo-Pacific region. Non-state actors, like big tech companies, will have a geopolitical role hitherto unheard of.

This multipolarity will intensify competition, which will be made even more complex by the presence of non-state actors. There will be ideological competition, between political systems, and the primacy in influencing the regulation of the international system, especially with regard to new technologies and the use of space.

The domestic and international environment, according to the scenario presented, it will be less safe, with the proliferation of chemical weapons, biological, radiological and nuclear (QBRN); more advanced conventional weapons and new military technologies. The document highlights that, between 2016 e 2019, the world has witnessed the greatest number of international armed conflicts since 1946 and that this trend should continue until 2030.

Science and technology will play a crucial role in the strategic context. They will be critical to the functioning of societies and the economy, being, for that very reason, arena of intense interstate and non-state competition. They will also create vulnerabilities represented by attacks on the space and cyber domains. The spread of online misinformation will continue to undermine national cohesion, the sense of community and the national identity itself, as people will be increasingly exposed to the virtual world. Besides that, threats to people's privacy, as well as individual freedoms, will be increasing.

The document predicts that the COVID-19 pandemic will not be the only global crisis of the decade 2020. Climate change and the decline in biodiversity will cause instability and mass migration. The document further states that, if nothing is done to reduce carbon emissions, the world will experience a growth in global warming of the order of 3,5The C until the end of the century. This will cause even more extreme effects like storms, heat waves, floods etc. Infectious diseases caused by zoonoses tend to increase as the world population increases and the search for new agricultural areas causes imbalances in animal habitats. Like this, another pandemic in the 2020 would be, according to publication, a realistic possibility.

Terrorism, domestic and international, will be growing, due to various material causes and will remain a major threat to the United Kingdom and several other countries in the world. The document considers it very likely that until 2030 a successful terrorist attack occurs using CBRN weapons.

Strategies have been outlined so that, facing the global threats of the next decade, build the scenario desired by the Prime Minister, the document starts to list a series of government actions to be adopted.

On here, I will focus only on those related to the military field that I considered most relevant. The document lists many other.

The British reaffirm their military presence not only in the defense of their own territory, but make a point of emphasizing the importance of their overseas territories: Gibraltar, Falklands Islands (Malvinas) and their possessions in the Atlantic, Indian and Caribbean.

Reaffirms NATO's Importance for Europe's Collective Security. For this, the British intend to increase their defense spending by about $ 33 billion (24 billions of pounds) in the next 4 years, raising them to 2,2% of GDP and remaining as the largest European contributor to NATO.

The UK will modernize its arsenal, with nuclear weapons, precision attack weapons, 5th generation fighters and offensive cyber weapons. The British Navy will increase its presence in the Indo-Pacific, starting this year 2021, when the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth will lead a multinational Naval Task Force in operations in the Mediterranean, Middle East and Indo-Pacific.

The country will also invest in its independent deterrent, increasing its nuclear arsenal. In 2010, the UK had decided to reduce the total number of warheads, of 225 for 180, number that would be reached in the mid-1990s 2020. Now, the country changed the policy. Instead of proceeding with the reduction, will increase its inventories to a total of 260 warheads. It is interesting to note that this is the first time that an increase in the British nuclear arsenal has occurred, since the end of the Cold War.

As it turns out, the document made public by the british government shows that the country understands the global changes in which it is inserted and concludes that its position is under challenge from a new world order emerging from the east. The diagnosis, the vision of the future and the strategy to implement it show that the country is not willing to see its regional power status challenged with great global influence.

I reaffirm the importance I attach to reading the document, so that we also reflect on our role in the international system, about our aspirations for the future and about where on the international stage we aim to leave our country for future generations of Brazilians.

[1] Available in

Paulo Roberto da Silva Gomes Filho
Army Cavalry Officer, graduated from the Military Academy of Agulhas Negras, in 1990. He was commander of the 11th Mechanized Cavalry Regiment, in Ponta Porã / MS; instructor at the Military Academy of Agulhas Negras, the School for the Improvement of Officers and the Army Command and Staff School.
Currently serves on the Ground Operations Command - RATE - in Brasília / DF.

Published articles are of personal opinion. Does not speak on behalf of the Army. The ideas expressed here are the result of his professional experience and the studies he carried out.