Are we still paying for the Cold War long after it ended?

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.”
― Dwight D. Eisenhower

Ironically for Britain the height of the Cold War was probably one if its least active periods for military deployments. Aside from the

Division of Europe during the Cold War. Blue =...

The military spending legacy of the Cold War has proven difficult to shake off. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Falklands War Britain’s most difficult and protracted campaign was an internal affair. The “troubles” in Northern Ireland.

Contrast this with the state of almost perpetual conflict since the de facto end of the cold war. Peacekeeping and peace enforcement operations in Bosnia, Kosovo and Sierra Leone. No fly zones in Eastern Europe, Iraq and Libya.  Conventional war and counter insurgency in Iraq. And of course a “war without end” in Afghanistan.

Ironic again that during the war in Iraq and Afghanistan the Ministry of Defence has come  under attack for having a procurement strategy and military equipment not fit for purpose.

As NATO prepares to withdraw from Afghanistan the Ministry of Defence is preparing the armed forces for a post Afghanistan posture. Unfortunately both the Conservative party and the Labour party have lacked the will to undertake a defence review which goes beyond numbers, pieces of equipment and procurement policy. The opportunity to take stock of the commitments since 1997 and address what is an appropriate defence culture, philosophy and wider doctrine for 2020 and beyond has been ignored.

The word on everyone’s lips at the moment is Trident. The review on Britain’s next generation of nuclear deterrent has side stepped the question of whether or not Britain should have nuclear weapons at all. Instead the debate has been limited to whether there is a credible alternative to a like for like replacement of the current system.

Cost to replace Trident. 15-34bn pounds sterling. Granted the Trident replacement will probably come into effect in the late 2020s perhaps even later. It would take a prophet to confidently predict what the geo-political landscape will be like in five years time let alone 20 years. Yet do we not have a duty not merely to prepare for the worst but to set an agenda that attempts to create a more stable world? How can Britain without hypocrisy encourage emerging powers to steer clear of nuclear proliferation if it chooses to pursue a like for like replacement designed to counter the Soviet Union in a bygone era.

If after Afghanistan British soldiers find themselves embroiled in another conflict I’d be willing to bet it wont be Cold War era procurement programmes such as the Joint Strike Fighter or nuclear weapons which prove the difference between strategic success or failure.


Analysis: Stability, U.S. interests trump democracy in Phase Two of Arab Spring

CNN Security Clearance

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the latest in a series of stories and opinion pieces previewing the upcoming Aspen Security Forum. Security Clearance is a media sponsor of the event, which is taking place from July 17-20 in Aspen, Colorado.  The forum will feature a session called “Unrest in the Arab World and its Implications for our Security”; Shibley Telhami, Anwar Sadat Chair for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland and a fellow at the Brookings Institution, who is featured in this piece, will participate. Follow the event on Twitter under @aspeninstitute and @natlsecuritycnn #AspenSecurity.

By Elise Labott

A popular argument following the removal from power of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsy posits that the non-U.S. response ends a long-held American position that it defends democracy.

The pretense, however, has already been on shaky ground during Phase Two of the Arab Spring.

Countries where the United States has…

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China Rising? Why the west should welcome Chinese boots on the ground in Africa

Hugely significant but of limited interest to the media has been China’s offer of 500 combat troops to the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali. China’s involvement in peacekeeping is nothing new. It is one of the largest contributors to UN peacekeeping operations around the world. What’s different and a first, is the offer of front line combat troops rather than engineers or medics.

Historically China has declined to get involved in what it perceives as the internal affairs of another state. It’s going too far to say this deployment would represent doctrinal change but it does show the increasing strategic significance of Africa to China. China has now overtaken the USA as Africa’s main trading partner and as such Africa represents a growing “sphere of influence”

English: US Army in Somalia 1992, Operation Re...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As yet the UN has not accepted or denied the offer. China should be actively encouraged to join more peace keeping and peace building missions . What the world wants is a China that acts responsibly both at home and abroad. Involvement in the Mali mission is a perfect opportunity to help China develop a positive foreign policy posture.

The US and Europe are often loathe to commit troops to Africa unless there is the threat of terrorism or regime change in favor of an extreme Islamist government. After Somalia and Operation Restore Hope troop deployments have been considered both counter productive and politically untenable.

China does not carry the historical baggage of the West with regard to botched operations and accusations of neo-colonialism. China lending its weight to ill equipped and often under strength UN missions in Africa could well be a good thing. It’s certainly a more attractive option to poorly trained African Union led peacekeeping missions.

Over time China’s growing “spheres of influence” in the developing world may increase tension with the USA. But there is another alternative. An active China collaborating with multi-national partners in a mutually beneficial manner.

In the grand scheme of peace keeping missions 500 Chinese troops isn’t significant but its symbolism is huge.

China has extended its hand. The UN and the west should accept. It would be hypocritical not to and only encourage the sort of siege mentality often attributed to China.

Top three European festivals to join this summer

Future Music Festival 2013

Future Music Festival 2013 (Photo credit: Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer)

If you didn’t go Glastonbury you’re probably envious of a news feed populated by new pics from the world’s greatest festival and status updates like “Best Weekend Ever!”

No holiday or festival booked for summer? There’s still time to get in on the action without breaking the bank.

Don’t bother with any of the other UK music festivals. None come close to matching Glastonbury. Try one of these top three European festivals which guarantee sunshine, good vibes and pure tunes.

 Soundwave Festival, Croatia- 18-22 July

Soundwaves unique offering is its stunning coastal location. Numerous boat parties take place throughout the day and night, just seconds away from the main festival.

If it all gets too much don your shades and just chill on the beach. A luxury you won’t be afforded at any washed out UK summer festival. Hot weather, beaches and sea bring out beautiful people so expect plenty bikini clad women and topless guys. Leave those Hunter Wellington boots at home!

Rock purists stay away. This festival is all about house, disco, dub and dance from dawn till dusk.

Prices £120

 Berlin Festival- 6-7 September

What this festival lacks in beaches and boat parties, it makes up for in a diverse line up to suit eclectic music tastes. With heavy hitting veterans such as Blur alongside upcoming stars such as Bastille you’ll get a more traditional music experience. In true libertarian Berlin style there is a room surfer option for those happy to sleep on a spare mattress, or more likely, an empty couch.

Berlin has such a vibrant nightlife, rich culture and poignant history it would be a waste not to stay beyond the two days and explore the city.

For this festival prepare for “culture by day, vice by night”

Price 130 Euros

Sziget Festival, Budapest 5-12 August

A full week in length this festival offers value for money and will test your party stamina. The organisers have taken this into account and incorporated theatre, circus, exhibitions and cinema into a massive seven day line-up. The billing isn’t too shabby either with household names such as Dizzee Rascal, Blur (again) alongside credible if not headline acts such Bat for Lashes and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Within stumbling distance of the city proper you can sample Budapest famous spas and nightlife.

Price €209,

Stop looking in envy at your friends Glasto pics. Get some friends together and make some memories of your own.