The Sketch: The brave new world of foreign policy (as detailed on Twitter)

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The Independent Online

"Your Excellency. The new strategic plan from London has arrived."

"Excellent! Will it reshape our foreign policy in an integrated vision for the 21st century?"


"Is it strategic? Systematic? Long term? With an irreducible core?"

"Sort of. He says it is. It is at any rate the first of four linked speeches."

"Linked, eh? God save the Queen! What are we to do? What's the Minister's goal in his new, fundamentally reappraised foreign policy?"

"We have to be agile. We are to extend British influence in a systematic fashion throughout the world by agility."

"Is that absolutely necessary?"

"The world has changed."

"Does that have any special significance for us?"

"It means, the Foreign Secretary says, we have to change with it."

"How do we do that?"

"He says we must act differently."

"With more agility, because the world has become more agile. Any other behavioural instructions?"

"He's a little cagey about that. But he makes the point that he wants us to be more coherent."

"Does he, now?"

"We've been a bit patchy, he says, and things haven't been as coherently brought together as they might have been so we must be more innovative, but in a more coherent way. And we must be more at ease in the networked world."

"What networked world?"

"Um, we are to create our own criss-crossing global network to project our values through our cultural assets. He himself, for instance, follows the Foreign Minister of Bahrain on Twitter."


"He also makes the point that 'relations between nations matter'."

"He's sure about that, is he?"

"It's here in black and white."

"He's right, it's a good point. So how should we go about that?"

"On a more multilateral basis."

"I might have known it. But then does he want us to be less bilateral?"

"No, he requires us to be more bilateral as well as more multilateral."

"Any guidance on trilaterality?"

"Not specifically."

"Just more bilateralism and more multilateralism – but always, obviously, with moral authority."

"We are to have a conscience, yes."

"Do we go so far as having an ethical dimension?"

"A conscience is all we are signing up to at this stage."

"And the resources that are to be committed to this multilateral moral agility?"

"We must be astute at prioritising efforts."

"We will do more with less."

"He says he made a positive impression of Britain in Pakistan."

"Did he? I missed that."

"Some of it was by Twitter."

"That is doing more with less."

"And it is being at ease with global networks."

"This is integrated and coherent."

"He says we overlook international opinion at our peril."

"There's always that. As there is always Iran, Gaza, China, Turkey, five continents and the changing network of the EU through which we are to establish our own criss-crossing British values."

"Have we got time to?"

"We're talking about these things in the widest sense."

"I think we carry on as normal, don't you?"