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  • Author: Paul Cornish, Andrew M. Dorman
  • Publication Date: 04-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Affairs
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: Whichever party or parties form the next UK government, a Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) is expected to begin soon after the general election in May. The review might be a 'light touch' exercise—little more than a reaffirmation of the SDSR produced by the coalition government in 2010. It seems more likely, however, that the review will be a lengthier, more deliberate exercise and one which might even last into 2016. For those most closely engaged in the process the challenge is more complex than that confronted by their predecessors in 2010. The international security context is more confused and contradictory; the UK's financial predicament is still grave; security threats and challenges will emerge that cannot be ignored; the population's appetite for foreign military engagement appears nevertheless to be restricted; and prevailing conditions suggest that the risk-based approach to national strategy might be proving difficult to sustain. Two key questions should be asked of the review. First, in the light of recent military experiences, what is the purpose of the United Kingdom's armed forces? Second, will SDSR 2015–16 sustain the risk-based approach to national strategy set out in 2010, and if so how convincingly? Beginning with a review of the background against which SDSR 2015–16 will be prepared, this article examines both enduring and immediate challenges to the national strategic process in the United Kingdom and concludes by arguing for strategic latency as a conceptual device which can complement, if not reinvigorate, the risk-based approach to national strategy and defence.
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom
  • Author: Anthony Richards
  • Publication Date: 04-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Affairs
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: This article argues that there has been an increasing convergence of the discourses of terrorism, radicalization and, more lately, extremism in the UK and that this has caused counterterrorism to lose its focus. This is particularly evident in the counterterrorism emphasis on non-violent but extremist ideology that is said to be 'conducive' to terrorism. Yet, terrorism is ineluctably about violence or the threat of violence; hence, if a non-violent ideology is in and of itself culpable for terrorism in some way then it ceases to be non-violent. The article argues that there should be a clearer distinction made between (non-violent) extremism of thought and extremism of method because it is surely violence and the threat of violence (integral to terrorism) that should be the focus of counterterrorism. The concern is that counterterrorism has gone beyond its remit of countering terrorism and has ventured into the broader realm of tackling ideological threats to the state.
  • Topic: Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom
  • Author: Richard J. Aldrich
  • Publication Date: 04-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Affairs
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: The 'Five Eyes' alliance, led by the United States, spends close to 100 billion dollars a year on intelligence. This review article argues that western countries are distinguished by their sophisticated approach to the making of intelligence-led national security policy. Political leaders and policy-makers who access this sensitive material are often involved in elaborate systems that constitute part of the core executive and which seek to task and improve the intelligence leviathan. Western intelligence therefore has a 'central brain' that devotes considerable energy to both analysis and management. By contrast, in the majority of other states around the world, the orientation of intelligence has often been inward facing, with a high priority given to regime security. Some would suggest that intelligence has been an important component of western power projection, while others would argue that this process has been over-expensive and has under-delivered, not least in the last decade. Either way, the debates about development of the central intelligence machinery that supports western security policies are of the first importance and fortunately this discussion has been advanced by the appearance of several valuable new studies: these are discussed in this review article.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom
  • Author: Colin Fleming
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Affairs
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: As Charles Tilly famously argued, 'War made the state, and the state made war'. This symbiosis between the state and its ability to wage war has long been synonymous with statehood itself, and what it means to be independent within the international state system. It is an idea that has underpinned realist accounts of international relations and remains widely accepted, despite changing norms and closer dependencies between states. Indeed, in the context of the Scottish independence debate Malcolm Chalmers has argued that: 'Having independent armed forces is at the heart of what it means to be a sovereign country.' This raises the question whether the Scottish government's favoured cooperative approach to defence would undermine Scotland's new-found sovereignty at the very time that it seeks its own independent voice in international affairs.
  • Topic: NATO
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Scotland
  • Author: Mark Webber, Ellen Hallams, Martin A. Smith
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Affairs
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: When NATO heads of state and government convene in Newport, Wales, in September 2014, it will be their first meeting in the UK since the London summit of July 1990. A quarter of a century ago, NATO was reborn. The London Declaration on a Transformed Alliance was NATO's keynote statement of renewed purpose, issued in 1990 as the Cold War was drawing to a close. In it we find the beginnings of the tasks which would come to define the alliance in the post- Cold War period, along with an appreciation of a fundamentally altered strategic landscape. Europe had 'entered a new, promising era', one in which it was thought the continent's tragic cycle of war and peace might well be over. The 2014 summit communiqué is unlikely to reflect such optimism, but what it surely needs to do is to recapture the spirit of enterprise that NATO has on occasion been able to articulate in demanding times.
  • Topic: NATO, Cold War
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe, London
  • Author: Paul Cornish, Andrew Doorman
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Affairs
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: When the Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition was formed in May 2010 it was confronted with a Ministry of Defence (MoD) in crisis, with armed forces committed to intensive combat operations in Afghanistan and with an unenviable financial situation. Yet within five months the coalition government had published a new National Security Strategy (NSS—the third in three years), a new Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) and a spending review. Among the United Kingdom's allies, France and Australia had prepared their defence white papers of 2008 and 2009 respectively in the context of a more benign global economic environment, while the United States used its national security policy of 2010 to provide a strategic overview without setting out in much detail what it would require of the relevant departments. The UK was effectively, therefore, the first western state to undertake a complete defence and security review in the 'age of austerity'. To add to the challenge, the coalition recognized that there were also problems within its own machinery of government, and came up with some novel solutions. In a radical step, it decided that national security would henceforth be overseen by a new National Security Council (NSC) chaired by the Prime Minister. A National Security Advisor—a new appointment in UK government—would lead Cabinet Office support to the NSC and the review process. The novelty of these arrangements raised questions about whether a more established system might be required to manage such a major review of UK national security. Nevertheless, the strategy review proceeded apace.
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, United Kingdom, Australia
  • Author: Trevor Taylor
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Affairs
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: In terms of press coverage and political debate, the story of British defence since the end of the Cold War has been marked by three themes: policy (direction and review), management (shortcomings and initiatives), and military operations, although academic studies and courses tend to neglect the management domain. In principle, these three elements should be closely linked, with policy defining the evolving state of the world and constraining the direction of the country's military response, management delivering the leadership, organization and coordination to build the forces to enable the policy to be implemented, and military operations being undertaken in line with the policy guidance and management preparations made. In practice, however, there have been significant disjunctions between the operations mounted and the policy and management. Military operations launched since 1990 have all been something of a surprise, most of them requiring significant extra funding to be obtained through Urgent Operational Requirements (UORs) to enhance and modify British capabilities before the operations could begin. The concept of Force Elements at Readiness (FE@R), the key output of the mainstream defence budget, came to be recognized in the MoD as of only limited utility unless consideration of the specific attributes of a particular adversary, the physical environment of the envisaged operation and the contribution of allies were also included in the equation.
  • Topic: Cold War
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom
  • Author: Timothy Edmunds
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Affairs
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: The theme of risk pervades the western security discourse at the beginning of the 2010s. The United Kingdom's 2010 National Security Strategy (NSS) employs the term 'risk' no fewer than 545 times, while its 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) mentions the word 96 times. The United States' 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) uses the words 'risk' or 'risks' 95 times over the course of its analysis. Risk is an explicit theme in the Australian Defence White Paper of 2009, Germany's Defence Policy Guidelines of 2011, The French White Paper on Defence and National Security of 2008 and the Spanish Security Strategy of 2011. It is also implicit in almost all other western security documentation since 2001 in one way or another.
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia
  • Author: Anthony Forster
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Affairs
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: The term 'juridification' was first used by Gerry Rubin over a decade ago to describe ways in which the British court-martial system was being altered by civil judgments that civilianized the military legal system and reduced the autonomy of the armed forces. Since then, little scholarly attention has been focused on legal developments and their impact on traditional forms of governance of the British armed forces—especially its hierarchical and tradition-based approach to the conduct of its business. More recently, Christopher Dandeker has explored the 'right' of, versus the 'need' for, the British armed forces to be different from the society they serve, and I have explored the impact of wars since 1997 on the three branches of the British state and on the relationship of the state to its citizens. The focus in the present article is on the consequences of changes to the legal framework for the British armed forces. This is of interest not just because the armed forces have been so regularly deployed in combat over the last decade and a half, but also because as an organization the British military has been based on strong hierarchies, self-referential judgments, strong internal (but poor external) transparency and, above all, certainty of process and basic presuppositions that underpin all its activities.
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom
  • Author: Klaus Dodds
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Affairs
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: On 18 January 2012 the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, updated the House of Commons about his government's position on the Falkland Islands: The absolutely vital point is that we are clear that the future of the Falkland Islands is a matter for the people themselves. As long as they want to remain part of the United Kingdom and be British, they should be able to do so. That is absolutely key. I am determined to make sure that our defences and everything else are in order, which is why the National Security Council discussed the issue yesterday. The key point is that we support the Falkland Islanders' right to self-determination. I would argue that what the Argentinians have said recently is far more like colonialism, as these people want to remain British and the Argentinians want them to do something else.
  • Political Geography: Britain, United Kingdom