Sunday, 25 February 2018
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Powers such as China and Russia are challenging the global predominance of the United States and its allies, according to data and analysis from the International Institute for Strategic Studies' (IISS) The Military Balance 2018, launched on 14th February. Nick Watts was there for Defence Viewpoints. Dr John Chipman, IISS Director-General and Chief Executive, believes that while great-power war is not inevitable, these three leading military powers are systematically preparing for the possibility of conflict.

The Secretary of State for Defence has won his first victory. He has succeeded in splitting off the defence element from the National Security and Capability Review (NSCR). The Modernising Defence Plan buys the MOD time. But Williamson and his new Minister for procurement Guto Bebb haven't solved the problem. The defence budget is out of balance, due to inadequate funding. The 2% headline figure includes efficiency savings that drive perverse incentives, writes Nick Watts..

The NSCR is a well-established Whitehall ruse last seen when the Blair Government introduced a 'New Chapter' to its 1998 Strategic Defence Review (SDR) of 1998 following the terrorist attacks of September 2001. The 'New Chapter' [1] was unveiled in July 2002. It sought to 'refresh' the 1998 SDR in the light of the events of the previous September.

We mark the passing of those who have served this country. Tributes from comrades and families welcome.

Except for the Daily Telegraph and Financial Times, it is interesting that few other British newspapers have chosen to report in any great detail that the French government has announced plans to increase defence spending by 35% for the period covering 2017 to 2025, wrote highly respected defence analyst and commentator. Howard Wheeldon on 9th February. Whilst this increase may not match the agreement in the US Senate on Wednesday to raise the military spending cap in the US, this is by any standard of imagination possible a sizable increase by France and for that should be seen as being very pleasing news. Importantly, it is also news that other EU and NATO member states should be taking very serious note of too!

Although not necessarily being done in response to the NATO call to so do, an increase of such proportions will eventually take French defence spending well above the agreed 'work toward' NATO GDP spending target of 2%. For that we should all be very grateful. France is a strong ally of the UK and together both nations are working hard under the Lancaster House agreement to find better solutions and develop better joint capability and working together of their respective militaries.

America's military is the only institution that can break the partisan deadlock on the worst threat the nation faces, Professor Anatol Lieven has written in the January 2018 edition of Foreign Policy magazine.

The precise extent of human-induced climate change is unclear, but the basic science is unequivocal, as is the danger it poses to the United States. This threat comes from the direct impact of climate change on agricultural production and sea levels but equally importantly from the huge waves of migration that climate change is likely to cause, on a scale that even the world's richest states and societies will be unable either to prevent or accommodate.

Yet for two out of the past four U.S. administrations, action on this issue has been frozen due to the refusal of a large section of the political establishment and electorate to accept the clear scientific evidence that this threat exists — and the Trump administration has now decided to remove climate change from the list of security threats to the United States under its new National Security Strategy (NSS).

Mass migration, on the sustained and massive scale that Western Europe is now continuing to experience, is creating tensions not just within but also between them. In particular, Western countries are already beginning to undertake 'migration interventionism' in the affairs of foreign states in order to curb the exodus of people, writes R T Howard.

Lying at the very heart of this new interventionism is the sheer scale of the current migrant crisis. The UNHCR estimates that there are around 65.6 million 'forcibly displaced' people in the world. Most of these are internally displaced within their own countries but around 22.5 million are refugees from their native lands.

The UK government has announced that it will subject the defence elements of the National Security Capability Review (NSCR) to further review.

Professor Malcolm Chalmers, Deputy Director-General of the Royal United Services Institute has warned, however, that a long delay in the Defence Modernisation Programme 'could risk damaging consequences for the country's international credibility, especially if it has not been concluded before the NATO summit in July 2018. Despite being billed as a low-profile 'refresh', the NSCR has already lasted longer than either of the last two full Strategic Defence and Security Reviews (SDSRs), in 2010 and 2015, respectively. '

However, Professor Chalmers states that the review 'could be an opportunity for a more radical look at the balance of defence investment, accelerating the shift of resources into capabilities that are most relevant to a rapidly changing strategic environment.'

We mark the passing of those who have served this country. Contributions from comrades and families welcome.

The tribes of Central Asia predate the formation of the Soviet Union. They exercised influence in the five Soviet Central Asian Republics throughout the duration of the U.S.S.R. From the rubble of the collapsed Soviet Union, the tribes emerged as the source of power and legitimacy in the newly independent republics of Central Asia, writes Joseph E Fallon..

After Islam, tribes form the primary basis of self-identification for the local population. The tribal system of Central Asia is vertical, and, therefore, fluid. It enables an individual to have four levels of identity. There is the tribe. Above the tribe is the tribal confederation. Below the tribes are the clans of which the tribe is composed. Finally, there is the region of the country, which is the "home" of the clan or tribe.

While kingdoms and empires rose to dominate Central Asia, only to vanish, some within a single generation, the tribes remained. They offered obeisance, often reluctantly, to these various states, then lived as they had for centuries according to their own laws, and customs. The emergence of "the state" transformed tribes into non-state actors living as veritable "states" within the state.

The armies of numerous empire builders have swept across Central Asia. Among the most famous were Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, and Stalin. Each defeated the tribes, but none conquered the tribes.

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