Friday, 19 December 2014
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Marking the passing of those who served in this country's armed forces with distinction. Memoirs from comrades and families welcome

Introduction to a British perspective on developments in European Defence, by Sir Nick Harvey.

This is a febrile moment in British politics, with our election just five months away, with our electorate more volatile than ever before, and with the outcome more difficult to read than any election for many decades.

But what I can say with absolute certainty is that whatever colour or stripe of government emerges next May, it will have to continue to grappling painfully with our unsustainably large deficit in public finances. And as part of that challenge, it will have to conduct a Strategic Defence and Security Review next summer – as all our political parties have committed to follow the practice agreed in 2010.

There is a lot of thought going into the need for a European grand strategy. Some of it is very good but much of it focuses on the small stuff, ignoring the evidence that we are at a turning point and need to think big. Russia is back, China is rising, and our old ally America – whose protection had made an independent European strategy hard to imagine – is pivoting to Asia. Strategy – grand or otherwise – needs just three things: a vision of what you want, honest and accurate understanding of the environment, and a set of actions that get you to your objective, taking account of environmental factors. Better still, taking advantage of them, says Philip Shetler-Jones.

What do Europeans really want? Safety and prosperity. Europe's only real security threat? Russia. The main driver of global prosperity? Asia, centred on China. So Europe should do two things: outflank Russia by partnering with China, and partner with Indo-Pacific powers to insure against dependence on China.

If there was any doubts that Jordan is at war the arrest of the Deputy Leader of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood (JMB), Zaki Bani Irsheid, should dispel them. Bani Irsheid's crime was to write a ludicrously over the top criticism of the Emirates on his Facebook page, accusing the UAE of being "the first sponsor of terrorism". The Government response was to pick him up and drop him in jail with the numerous other oppositionists they have arrested in recent months.

Two years ago, he may have got away with it. After all, the JMB is Jordan's pre-eminent opposition party, an activist Islamism party deeply entwined in the political fabric of the country. But today the battle lines are drawn, the lead-up set by King 'Abdallah's recent speech about the civil war in Islam between moderation and extremism. 'Abdallah sees himself and his Emirati backers on one side of the equation, and while they never were before, the JMB are now on the other. The language used to justify the arrest was telling; Bani Irsheid's arrest was not a matter of politics, it was a matter of security. Today, you are either with the Jordanian government and its Gulfi backers, or you are very much against them, writes Charlie Pratt.

The UK's Whole Force Concept - which aims to reconfigure reserves and private-sector defence personnel more closely alongside military personnel - is not fit-for-purpose and lacks overall enterprise-level planning, argues a new RUSI Briefing Paper.

'Making the Whole Force Concept a Reality' by John Louth and Peter Quentin examines the progress and suitability of the Whole Force Concept to the transformation of British Defence.

The Whole Force Concept is a UK defence policy that aims to encompass all personnel required to deliver Defence outputs, including: non-operational roles, covering Regular and Reserve Service personnel, Civil Servants and other civilians, including contractors.

The paper suggests that this new policy 'has been driven by the search for financial efficiencies and the recognition that many essential defence skills now reside in the private sector rather than the armed forces.' The problems with the implementation of the Whole Force Concept go much beyond the widely noted failure to date to recruit an increased number of reservists.

Islam is in Crisis and needs reforming, writes Nehad Ismail, U K Defence Forum Research Associate

Political Islam gained strength and influence in the 1970s after the demise of the Nasserite Arab Nationalist movements but has failed to deliver the promised benefits. It did not have viable political and economic policies to tackle the chronic problems of poverty, absence of freedoms and basic human rights. It offered violence, jihad, terrorism and anti-West rhetoric.

Hamas failed in Gaza, Omar al Bashir failed in Sudan and committed atrocities in Darfur and is being pursued by the ICC. But Political Islam most significant failure was in Egypt.

As part of its drive to undo the post-Cold War settlement, Russia has launched a global media campaign to vindicate its actions in Ukraine. It is based on the Kremlin's narrative of victimhood, in which the West takes advantage of Russia's weakness following the implosion of the Soviet Union. These arguments, however, are deeply flawed. Moreover, Russian international media do not abide by Western journalistic ethics and standards. The West, therefore, has to systematically refute this storyline and hold Russian media accountable when they transgress the prevailing norms of due accuracy and due impartiality, or give undue prominence to certain standpoints. It's time to counter Russian disinformation argues Patrick Nopens, a U K Defence Forum Research Associate.

At the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev warned that the world is on the brink of a new Cold War. This is no exaggeration. The events in Ukraine should make it clear, even to the most optimistic or credulous, that relations with Russia have become highly adversarial. Furthermore, tensions show no signs of abating.

Julian Lewis reflects on Katharine C. Gorka & Patrick Sookhdeo (eds.): Fighting the Ideological War: Winning Strategies from Communism to Islamism, Westminster Institute & Isaac Publishing, McLean, Virginia, 2012, 240 pp, £9.99 (ISBN 978-0985310905)

This volume of seven essays is not the first to draw parallels between the ideology of Al-Qaeda and previous totalitarian brands – nor will it probably be the last. It is, however, unusual in benefiting from the direct experience of authors such as John Lenczowski and Robert Reilly who were at the heart of the Reagan counter-offensive against Soviet Communist doctrine at the end of the Cold War. Both are convinced that a failure to tell the truth about the nature of the current enemy threat will fatally undermine our efforts to resist it.

Promotions, postings and retirements. One stars on next page

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