October 27, 2010
The debate over the consequences of Britain’s Strategic Defence and Security Review has crossed the Atlantic Ocean and reached the USA, more precisely, the Lexington Institute, where Mr Daniel Goure has titled a post: “British Defence Cuts May Be a Harbinger of U.S. Military Trends”.
Out of his post, I have extracted a paragraph that I like very much, as it sums up in very few words the mere consequences of British Government decisions: “Never again will the it be able to conduct a Falklands war. Never again will a British mechanized division make the march upcountry to Baghdad alongside the U.S. military. The new cuts mean that the British Navy will not be able to conduct air strikes from the sea for at least a decade”.
Some days ago I wrote a post based on the video of the world known “Rule Britannia”. Of course, this is a song of past glory. However it still belong to the national myths of this proud and great country. Renounce to the capability to march alongside their main ally since almost 70 years is really a strategic choice, and even more, when looking at the current French-UK negotiations on the mutualisation of assets. One could read here or there that even the future British aircraft carrier should be able to host some French aircraft.
This shift in British defence policy might hit, at least indirectly, some other deep anchored ideas:
-The idea of privileged relationship with the USA, as partnership with France will go further than ever,
-The belief that the comeback of France within the NATO military structure has been useless, as this might have made easier to convince the British public opinion that a stronger partnership with France would not mean a reinforcement of European Defence, as in its press release, the French MOD completely ignores European Defence and underlines the bi-lateral side of the cooperation (the same partnership with Germany would be in contrary presented as a major step forward for European Defence).
-Germany, the other main country in Europe, is rather isolated, as its strict legal and constitutional constraints prevent it from being such a partnership. If this country does not review its constitution and Bundeswehr founding principles, its defence policy will not be in a situation to relay efficiently its diplomacy, because of its relative isolation.
-European Defence is well awake, but without the support of Brussels, thus illustrating that the only way ahead is intergovernmental and the interest of permanent structured cooperation might be limited.