Key Decision Coming from UK and Other European Countries on Defense and National Security Policy

This week the Tory-LibDem UK coalition government publicized a Strategic Defense and Security Review. Also this week, Chancellor George Osborne publicized the UK budget cuts. These cuts will define the next decade of security priorities and the limits to Britain’s defense capabilities and role in the world.

Another key indicator is British commitments to international development which was to be protected from deep cuts or “ring fenced”. The other area to watch is funding for the BBC World Service which has been Britain’s only voice to the world for decades.  The decisions are profound and likely long-lasting.  We shall see.

The question remains whether other European governments will follow suit and make drastic cuts in their budgets in areas that impact their engagement with the outside world.

The Financial Time editorial “British Nukes vs. British Troops” (September 3, 2010) on which I commented earlier, made important points about the trade-off between military expenditures on sub-based nuclear weapons, troops on the ground, and air force capability.

Will these cuts make it impossible for Britain to project its power on the globe in times of crises? Furthermore, will all of Europe follow suit and similarly be unable to support peacemaking, peacekeeping, and conflict prevention?  Finally and most importantly, will the UK, and the rest of Europe, increase “preventive diplomacy” capabilities to compensate for cuts to defense expenditures? Don’t hold you breath!

In our opinion, the ability to deploy a conventional army takes priority over increased nuclear capabilities.  So far the new government has indicated that it will minimize the costs of its nuclear option without totally abandoning it. Continue reading