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Nation to Nation: Scotland's Place in the World

Nation to Nation: Scotland's Place in the World

Stephen Gethins


A former MP discusses Scotland's now and future foreign policy.

(Full disclosure: Gethins is a Professor in Practice of International Relations at the University of St Andrews, where I also work.)

This is a detailed and wide-ranging work, exploring the past, present, and potential future of Scotland's foreign policy "footprint". It's quick to point out that even sub-State actors have such a footprint, and show how the Scottish government is able to work with (and sometimes against) the wider UK government in liaison with other international players, and the tensions and missed opportunities that arise.

Gethins is SNP (as am I), and as such has a clear preference for an independent Scotland. He tries valiantly to consider the potential future without independence, and how Scotland might in that case contribute more effectively to the UK's efforts. This doesn't quite succeed as an approach, perhaps because Gethins can't imagine that the UK can execute what would be needed to make such a future happen, for example as set out in How Britain Ends: English Nationalism and the Rebirth of Four Nations – and I have to say I agree with him on that. He quotes many influential Europeans (and others) who welcome Scotland's policy stance, and would welcome independence were it to come, which is clearly set out to address some of the uncertainties that doomed the "indyref" of 2014. It does a good job of this, as well as of showing how much Scotland as a region has to offer in the foreign policy sphere, and how little is being made of it so far.

3/5. Finished 08 January 2022.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)

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