Realigning British Defense Policy
“British Nukes vs. British Troops” is the title of a recent New York Times editorial on the Sunday, September 3rd 2010. It is worth reading in full. In many ways it follows some our earlier postings in “Rethinking National Security”
The essence of the editorial recommends maintaining British troop levels and deployment capability to face modern regional conflicts, peacekeeping responsibilities, and reducing the commitment to early modernization of the U.K.’s nuclear submarine program.
It concludes with the statement that “Britain has been America’s most reliable military ally and the backbone of NATO.” I agree with that assessment, but their cooperation with us goes far beyond the “military” since they have lead on many issues including global development and climate change.
With a decision pending on the defense budget, a lot is at stake for Britain, NATO, and America. I have advocated a very close dialogue with our allies on fundamental strategic challenges in the future and an overhaul of NATO’s structure designed to proactively deal with emerging risks. In particular, NATO should focus on conflict prevention, peacekeeping, reducing the number of nuclear weapon, eliminating hair trigger weapons systems, and fostering communication between counterpart institutions in Russia
It will be interesting to see how the Labor Party and the Liberal Democrats, both in an uneasy coalition government with the Tories, will address these key questions. The new Labor Party leader Ed Miliband has signaled a new look at British defense issues and the LibDems are skeptical of enhancing the nuclear program.