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The future of UK foreign policy: Sir Rodric Braithwaite

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The new Coalition government came to power to find that their predecessors had bequeathed them a national defence strategy that was intellectually void; a military procurement policy paid for on the Micawber principle - that something would surely turn up, but measured in billions rather than sixpences; a bunch of generals on the verge of revolt; an unwinnable war in Afghanistan; a vision of Britain’s place and influence in the world based largely on wishful thinking; and a horrendous financial crisis. Given all that, their new National Security Strategy is not a bad piece of work. Of course the Strategic Defence and Security Review, the practical measures by which they propose to implement the strategy, is full of flaws and absurdities. Of course the Coalition, or at least its Tory component, is still gripped by illusion and by nostalgia for a vanished past when Britain could punch above its weight. But the government had to start somewhere, and they have at least taken a significant step towards devising a national defence posture suited to the twenty first century.

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