A Sight on European Defence

The Spanish digital review Atenea published on 3rd November an article written by Alfredo Crespo Alcázar and titled “La economía: factor determinante en la politica de defensa de David Cameron“.

According to this website, Mr Crespo Alcázar’s book “David Cameron: tras la senda de Churchill y Thatcher” should be available from next December on (this is not an advertisement, just normal support to somebody who makes his work available on the web).

Mr Crespo Alcázar’s view on SDSR and the new strategic orientations of British government is, in contrary to the first impression it may convey, that the UK did not make a U-turn as for Defence refers. Indeed, the current orientations towards a larger partnership with France are not driven by a new and unexpected understanding of the past Entente Cordiale. Not at all.

For several years, the different conservative leaders have been calling for significant savings in British budgets, as they did believe that the Labour policy, characterized by large deficits, was to be abandoned in order to avoid bankruptcy. In fact, the severe cuts in Defence budget, decided by the coalition, are only part of a general plan.

Now, going to this UK-France summit, the fields of cooperation were much more debated than the political objectives. The press spoke pretty much of the deterrent, the aircraft carriers and operational cooperation than of the arguments, which drove to the French-British declaration.

When looking at the broad direction followed by the UK defence policy since the end of World War II, some points can be easily highlighted:

– First priority is the so-called privileged relationship with the USA, because of history, economy (the USA being UK’s largest single market), language and culture, and, of course, the US support to British deterrent.

– In a second priority come the former colonies, which kept tight ties with the UK, symbolized in world History by their sacrifice during the Somme battle. Those countries are Canada, New Zealand and Australia). Frequently they are all closely associated with the USA in defence issues. To illustrate this, you can have a look at some websites:

-As a third priority will come the Arab world, as a heritage of former British influence in this geopolitically speaking critical area of the world, that can be symbolized by Lawrence of Arabia.

-Then will come the Commonwealth,

-And finally, France and the rest of Europe.

Basically, there has been no event or radical change in the past years which would have modified what I consider as the ranking in British defence policy priorities. Therefore, despite all the fuss around the French-British agreement, I do not expect the French flag being posted on those website before I am buried (I feel very young). Thus I would conclude that this agreement seems much more to an ad hoc solution, may be provisional, rather than a radical reorientation of British defence policy, although, the implementation of this agreement will imply a significant change at military technical level, for both French and British servicemen and women. Then, let us see what really and effectively comes out of this agreement.

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