It’s taken me a little longer than we thought it might but after reading the entire IPPR report my comments are as follows;
There is no doubt that a defence review is well overdue and the recent announcement by the MoD that one will take place is welcome news. Whether it reports before the next general election is of course another point, any incoming Conservative government will have their own ideas. The IPPR report is not to be scoffed at because of the breadth and depth of it’s analysis. Many commentators have chosen to characterise it as left wing rubbish produced by a pet New Labour think tank. This is to do the report a disservice; it deserves some consideration even if one might not agree with its conclusions.
The report summary is split into 4 parts, a set of observations on the current security environment, a statement of principles that should underpin the UK’s response to this environment, a summary of conclusions and finally a list of its 109 recommendations.
Without seeking to repeat verbatim what the report states (go and read it yourself) they are summarise here;
- The process of globalisation and power diffusion continues
- Unstable and fragile states are growing in number and outnumber stables ones by 2 to 1
- Climate change, poverty and inequality are exacerbating the problem of instability
- Transnational criminal networks continue to expand
- A globalised neo-jihadist ideology has emerged
- Proliferation of nuclear weapons continues
- Rapid advances in information and biotechnologies have created new dependencies and vulnerabilities
- Humanity is exposed to a greater risk of pandemic
- Critical infrastructure is increasingly fragile and in private hands
- The position of the US is changing
- Individual EU nations continue to decline
- Spending constraints on security will continue and worsen
These all paint a fairly bleak picture but the report is at pains to offer some optimism and steers away from the ‘we’re all doomed’ position. It is hard to disagree with any of these observations; they apply equally to the UK and many other nations.
Underpinning the IPPR’s recommendations are 9 key principles, these being;
- The objective of national security is to protect the UK population from the full spectrum of risks
- These risks must have a wide definition including man-made and natural
- British sovereignty must be exercised responsibly
- Increases in multilateral cooperation is needed
- Extensive partnerships between the public and private sector must feature in security policy
- Demonstrating and establishing the legitimacy of state action is a strategic imperative
- A commitment to building national resilience is an integral element of national security
- A range of flexible national capabilities, both civil and military, should be forged into a cohesive whole
Again, there is not much to disagree with there, all common sense.