Britain in search of a new identity and alliances: a rising leader in NATO?
On November 21, 2020 British Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared that he would increase the military budget by an additional 22 billion dollars over the next four years. This has been the largest increase in British military spending since the Cold War. It was announced that most of the additional costs would be directed to the establishment of a National Cyber Force and a new Space Command. Britain aims to adopt the U.S. military-industrial model, hoping that technological advances in the military will increase the competitiveness of the economy and spill over to other industries. At the same time, Britain is seeking to assert a new role in the Euro-Atlantic space in the post-Brexit era, thereby strengthening its status as NATO's natural leader after the United States.
The United States will increase its focus and resources on China and Asia-Pacific. Britain does not possess sufficient resources to play a serious strategic role in the Asian geopolitical space. Compared to Britain, France has more opportunities to play a significant geopolitical role in Asia, both in terms of military bases and assets. Britain's efforts to fill in the gap in the Euro-Atlantic space after the United States will be a more effective and pragmatic step. On the one hand, Britain is already playing a key role in defending the Baltic states within the NATO strategy. On the other hand, a new Arctic security architecture has recently been built around Britain with the participation of the Netherlands and the Nordic countries. The Defense Vision 2035, adopted by the Netherlands in October, aims to double the defense budget over the next 15 years. Sweden announced in October that it would increase defense spending by 40%. Norway is also increasing its military spending. The main goal of these countries is to build a security system that will prevent the Russia-China potential alliance from consolidating here as the ice melts and the geopolitical importance of the Arctic grows, thus not giving excuse to the United States from entering the Arctic region in response to Russia. For this, they see the unification around Britain as the best option. It should be noted that Poland, too, is trying to be an important element of this system and assert its weight.
While seeking to build a security system with the Scandinavian countries in the North, Britain may fill in the vacuum created by the American retreat in Central Asia through an alliance with Turkey. Such an alliance would allow Albion to play a more assertive role in the Eastern Mediterranean as well. This is why the United Kingdom does not stand against in Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean, where both nations even held joint maritime drills in September. As explained by Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, Britain and Turkey are currently too similar: they are non-EU NATO allies.