hms iron duke

hms iron duke

Friday, 15 February 2019

INF and the End of the Rules-based System?


“Look, that’s why there’s rules, understand? So you think before you break ‘em.”

Sir Terry Pratchett, The Thief of Time


From London to Munich…


Alphen, Netherlands. 15 February. It is an interesting week. I have just returned from an excellent conference at RUSI in London on missile defence, and I am about to depart to speak at a Munich Security Conference meeting. Perhaps it is a mark of Europe’s self-obsessive introspection but Russia’s 1 February decision to follow the US and abrogate the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) received surprisingly little coverage in the European media. There seemed more interest in the US where a February survey of American voters by the University of Maryland found some 77% of those asked opposed the decision of the Trump administration. Europeans should take note. 

The world of which Europeans are meant to be a part, but too often pretend they are not, is increasingly a world in which Europe’s beloved rules are being binned. It is a world in which those who believe in rules don’t like power, most notably Europeans, and those with power don’t like rules. So, does the death of INF also mark the beginning of the end of the rules-based system? If so, what should Europeans do about it?


A brief history of rules


The rules-based system was in part America inspiration and European perspiration, and of expiration at the end of World War One. It was created to constrain the anarchy of unfettered state power. Its roots date back to the many treaties that over centuries shaped Europe by moderating first extreme royal and then state behaviour. The system as we know it today began in the form of voluntary regimes rather than legal instruments and began to take shape in the late nineteenth century. It was The Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 which established the principle of international law, which in turn was a product of an era when some Europeans, France and Britain to the fore, had the power to make the rules but sensed that power could soon be eclipsed by the rise of more autocratic powers in which rule was not constrained by either law or mandate.


Post World War One the League of Nations was born in 1923 mainly at the behest of the American President Woodrow Wilson and his creed of Idealism.  Wilson’s impetus also revealed the nature of early American internationalism which in part continues to this day. With its sense of Manifest Destiny many Americans convinced themselves they were above the base instincts of European nationalists and that constraint upon state action was really for others. Post World War Two another American-led attempt was made to promote an ideal vision of international relations through the 1945 creation of the United Nations, albeit more embedded in the reality of the time – overwhelming American power.  American power, or rather American money, was also the ethos of the 1944 Bretton Woods conference which pretty much established the enshrining principle of democracy and free markets for money which defined the post-war US world order. Critically, Moscow and the Soviet Union never accepted the primacy of rules made elsewhere and never have. Beijing certainly did not.  

Equally, the European allies always saw American rules-based Idealism through the lens of European Realism. The 1950 European Coal and Steel Community, whilst promoted by European integrationists like Jean Monnet, was first and foremost a means to prevent the re-emergence of an aggressive Germany and thus another war between France and Germany. The subsequent European Economic Community, European Community, and the latter day European Union, were and are all part of continental European attempts to smother power with law. Today, power in Europe has become so smothered in law that there is little room for it to breathe at all. 


INF?


INF? INF always sat somewhere between American ideas of power and European ideals of law.  The Americans never accepted the European concept of law as power in and of itself, and Machtpolitik Moscow rejected such ideas completely. Arms control for the Americans and the Soviets was thus not law, but rather regime and as such part of power – its generation and its application. Indeed, whilst the Europeans have often talked disarmament the Americans, save for a brief moment, have always talked arms control. From the mid-1960s on a series of treaties such as the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT 1), Anti-Ballistic Missiles Treaty (ABM), SALT 2, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), INF, Conventional Forces Treaty Europe (CFE) and then START 2 were all designed to balance military power rather than consign the balance of power to history. 


The December 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty must be seen very much in the light of power and its balancing and thus the tradition of American and Russian ideas of arms control. It rid Europe of a whole raft of dangerous nuclear missile systems that threatened to decouple the defence of Europe from the US nuclear deterrent. INF also came to be seen as a bulwark of European security and thus a vital tool of power that helped to create the political space in which the post-Cold War rules-based system could again flourish in Europe and in its embrace the EU could emerge and evolve. 


INF died for several reasons – some immediate others more structural. The first reason is that with the deployment of the SSC-8 9M729 Novator missile system Moscow drove a large coach and horses through INF and then, in that time-dishonoured manner of Russian cynicism, denied it. In spite of Moscow’s denials the SSC-8 has a range of at least 2500km thus breaking the prohibition on any missile in Europe with a range between 500km and 5000km.  The second reason is that after a short period during which a broke Russia (sort of) obeyed the rules to which it was nominally committed, Moscow is now again locked into a policy of defection from such rules for short-term strategic gain. Given that the Russian formal abrogation of INF, whilst legal, is really because the Americans called Moscow out over the deployment of a treaty-breaching weapons system. As such, SSC-8 must be seen in the same light as Russia’s illegal occupation of Ukraine and the poisoning of the Skripals in the UK - the actions of a great state that has chosen to go ‘rogue’ against rules it believes were made by others for others.


Technology and control


The other reasons why INF died imply structural change is underway in world power. A revolution in military technology is underway which is making all past arms control look increasingly archaic. The Trump administration also harks back to past American internationalism which was always and necessarily underpinned by American Realism.  The paradox for Europeans who complain about the Americans is that their beloved rules-based system would simply not be credible without American power. 


The other factor which is accelerating the demise of the rules-based system of which INF was a pillar was the rise of China. China obeys few rules even if it claims it does. In a sense, China is the mirror image of America.  America breaks rules to ultimately ensure international rules are imposed, China breaks rules to ensure its ‘rules’ are equally imposed. Like it or not, America is the posse-forming sheriff of international relations, China is the spaghetti western outlaw. The illegal seizure of islands in the South China Sea is but part of a pattern of state behaviour that ignores all and any ‘law’ if Beijing deems it necessary in the national interest. Such behaviours extends from human rights to systematic industrial and other forms of espionage, to breaches of intellectual property law to unfair trading practices and cyber-war.  With such power now so determined to ignore the rules-based system it is thus hard to see how it can survive unless such rules are enforced.  Europe?      
      

The Gathering Storm


Rules matter, but rules must be also defended. A storm is gathering in the deep depression where the rules-based system once stood.  Europe’s strategic vacation is finally over, even if those that pass for European ‘leaders’ these days simply refuse to acknowledge it. Rather, Europeans have become all too expert at making vacuous statements about the need to uphold ‘international law’ and the rules-based order as if talking is doing. A ‘Europe’ that too often wills the ends without the means.  At the same time, it is a mistake for the Administration to have abrogated INF. Washington should have taken the lead in trying to expand and update INF, i.e. by making negotiation the centre-piece of power not just rearmament. This is because a principle has now been established by which the power unprincipled in Beijing and Moscow will exploit as they see fit to replace law with power. 


The death of INF matters precisely because it could mark the beginning of the end of the rules-based international order unless those who were its architects reinvest it with the political capital and power needed to ensure ‘law’ triumphs over anarchy. Both China and Russia have shown they have the capacity to be extreme states and both will need to be turned and, yes, contained if needs be.  Self-containment through law is the basis of any functioning community. Clearly, neither China nor Russia see themselves as part of any community that they do not define or dominate. For them the rules-based order is a Western imposition rather than globalist stability in which their people can flourish. Russia is simply a strategic hooligan but the paradox of China is that it is precisely the order they are eroding that has enabled China to flourish. The autocrat’s penchant for unconstrained power is clearly too hard for Beijing to resist reaching for likes some forbidden apple.  


As Thomas Hobbes once famously wrote, “Covenants without the sword are but words, and of no use to any man”. In other words, power and law are two sides of the same coin.  Indeed, rules without power are a bit like my golf swing – it looks superb in practice but collapses under all or any pressure. The death of INF is thus a victory for might that claims right by might and for those that claim Machtpolitik and Realpolitik is the way forward. It maybe the way forward for Spartans, but history would suggest it is also the way downwards towards hell.


Julian Lindley-French  

Friday, 8 February 2019

My European defence speech at the European Parliament

European defence: on the Tusks of a dilemma


Alphen, Netherlands. 8 February. As European Council President Donald Tusk was reserving a special place in hell for those who backed Brexit with no plan I was a few metres away in the European Parliament giving a speech on the military aspects of Europe’s future defence at a conference organised by the European Conservatives and Reformist Group, with a specific focus on EU defence ambitions. During the speech I addressed the defence implications of Brexit and suggested that whatever ‘agreement’ is finally fashioned it will please no-one and will likely serve as a source of intense friction between Britain and the EU for many years to come. Mr Tusk merely confirmed that. 


The important question is whether it also serves as a source of friction between Britain and the remaining EU member-states. If it does it will undermine the support of the British population for the defence of continental Europe and Britain could well retreat into a form of nuclear-armed defence isolationism. Such an outcome must be avoided at all costs, but to do just that leaders on both sides of the Channel, even in Brussels, need to be precisely that - leaders. 


The text of my speech is below:


A European army or a better army of Europeans?


Good afternoon,


The essential question all Europeans face, but many refuse to admit, is essentially simple: a European army or a better army of Europeans? That is the only realistic question all Europeans should be asking themselves. The key phrase I want you to bear in mind as you consider the future of European defence is not defence integration, but rather sovereign cohesion.


The crux of the debate is the need for Europeans to take greater strategic responsibility and the cost of the force that would make such ambition credible.  There has also been much talk of late, European defence always involves a lot of talk, about strategic autonomy, but what does it mean? Strategic autonomy cannot be simply declared for it will only emerge as a function of real European military power.


The question about what kind of army Europeans need was implicit in the 2019 Franco-German Aachen ‘Treaty’ and the implicit tensions it revealed between Berlin and Paris. Should the European future force be a joint force or aspire to become a common force? The ‘answer’ in Aachen was all too typically ‘European’, an eloquent, hidden contradiction.


The treaty called for a Franco-German Defence and Security Council that will provide “…aid and assistance by all means at their [my italic] disposal, including armed forces, in cases of aggression against their territory”. In other words, for France the focus is joint forces and the ambition collective defence. However, the Council would, at the behest of Berlin, also help foster a “common military culture” that “…contributes to the creation of a European army”.


It is certainly time we Europeans took more responsibility for our own continent’s defence. The Americans are over-stretched and could well be mired in dangers elsewhere, Europeans face a range of emerging threats from peer state competitors to the ongoing menace of violent fundamentalism in and around Europe.  The transatlantic relationship, which remains the essential pillar of any meaningful defence of Europe needs Europeans able and willing, at the very least, to act as an effective first responder in an emergency. NATO, which must remain Europe’s main defence, will be unable to function as either collective deterrent or collective defence unless Europeans generate more military capability and capacity. The British, post-Brexit, may be in no mood to seriously defend other Europeans (more of that later) whilst the abrogation of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty by both the US and Russia may well mark the beginning of the end of the rules-based system that is rightly so important to Europeans.


In a sense, INF encapsulates all one needs to understand about what is wrong with how too many Europeans see ‘defence’. Those who believe in rules have no power (Europeans), whilst those that increasingly have the power do not believe in rules. As seventeenth century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes once said, “Covenants without the sword of but words, and of no use to any man”.  


A European Army? 


A European Army?  There can be no European army without a European Government. The failed European Defence Community between 1952 and 1954 is a lesson from history. It failed because the major powers – most notably France, Britain and the Federal Republic of Germany were simply not prepared to abandon defence sovereignty. Has that changed?  Poland? Sweden? Spain? Putting young citizens in uniform in harm’s way is rightly the most preciously guarded responsibility of sovereign democracy and in Europe the centre of gravity of such democracy remains the nation-state.  


Given enduring political divisions a European Army might have some limited utility for full-on collective defence, but precious little else. Recent operations, such as Libya, SAHEL, and Syria etc. have highlighted many political divisions between member-states about how and when to use force. In the absence of any automaticity of political action no true European Army can exist.  In such circumstances the more defence efforts are integrated the less chance an integrated force would likely be used for anything but the most extreme of emergencies.


So, what do Europeans really need?


So, what do Europeans really need? First, Europeans need to develop more capable, interoperable and standardised forces to build the reach, redundancy and resiliency that will make NATO work better and ensure the EU-NATO strategic partnership is credible in the face of the actual threats Europeans face. Second, Europeans must grasp that their forces will often be organised into coalitions operating under NATO, EU or national flags. Third, the scope and capability of any European Future Force (EFF) must be actively considered in relation to the threats and pressures it must ease. Fourth, the EFF must be a decidedly joint force not a common force and focussed squarely on the nation-state. A common force would kill flexibility and from experience generate more EU lawyers than warriors. Fifth, the EFF must be protectable and projectable and designed specifically to strengthen the European pillar of NATO and give credence to EU-flagged operations and thus ease burdens on the Americans.


Does current talk about EU defence match up to the scale of the challenges Europeans face?


Does current talk about EU defence match up to the scale of the challenges Europeans face? No. Indeed, it is all a bit Groundhog Day. There has always been tension between harmonisation, i.e. the creation of deep joint forces, and integration, the move towards a common force.  That tension has repeatedly stymied progress because those member-states who have tended to champion integration have tended to have few armed forces whilst those who fear such integration are the ones who have such forces. Germany? The state of the Bundeswehr puts Germany squarely in the integration camp. 


Once again the future defence of Europe seems to be mired in the swamp that stretches between EU defence and European defence with Germany still too fearful of its own power to lift Europeans onto the dry land of strategic stability. Even harmonisation efforts since the Franco-British St Malo Declaration back in 1998 have been fraught with difficulty. Past such efforts have realised results that have been, at best, patchy. The European Rapid Reaction Force, EU Battlegroups and pooling and sharing all met with limited success. This is because they were all essentially cost, rather than effects-driven, lacked any inherent strategic ambition and without US enablers formations, such as EU battlegroups, had at best limited utility and pooling and sharing could only go so far. They all suffered from, and revealed the extent of the essential dilemma of European defence; what aspects of defence should be ‘European’. i.e. national, where could the EU add real value, such as the development of ‘autonomous’ strategic enablers, such as SIGINT and strategic lift, and who would decide and how to use the forces and resources so generated?


PESCO, CARD and the European Defence Fund?


PESCO, CARD and the European Defence Fund (EDF)?  They are good as far as they go but…PESCO’s 17 joint projects are useful, but will do little to ease reliance on over-pressed US forces for anything but the most permissive of European operations or lay the ground for a defence-relevant European future force.  EDF has a budget of €5.5bn per year that will help promote some synergies and efficiencies. However, and to put EDF in context, the UK defence equipment budget per annum is some €20bn per year. Moreover, the introduction of the fund could also corrupt the European defence industrial market and slow, rather than accelerate, consolidation of the European Defence and Technological Industrial Base (EDTIB) and innovation within it. Other people’s money does that if it is not accompanied by clear goals and mechanisms for compliance.


Even further European defence harmonisation will have consequences for smaller European powers that must be understood. Take the Netherlands for example. Its small but good army is close to the Germans, its small but good navy is close to the British and its small but good air force is close to the Americans. In other words, the Netherlands needs all three to agree to act in strategic alignment if its force is to be anything other than a small gendarmerie force.


Yes, I am suggesting PESCO, CARD, EDF et al go further but…


What choice do we Europeans really have?


What choice do we Europeans really have? We can either continue with an analogue EU-led army of Europeans that just bolts together a lot of European legacy stuff… or, we can collectively build an information-led digital 5D future defence that counters disinformation, destabilisation, disruption, deception and destruction. The military core of that defence will demand a twenty-first century European future force at its deterrence and defence core that masters the cross-domains of air, sea, land, cyber, space, information and knowledge. Such a force would only be realised if it is also built on a European defence and technological industrial base that embraces the revolution in military technology and the application to the battlespace of Artificial Intelligence, big data, machine-learning, quantum-computing et al.


THAT is the only real European Future Force ‘choice’ we have as Europeans and such a choice can only be realised with the European nation-state and the EU in harness, not in implicit competition. The new/old problem with the current new/old European defence debate is that still too many in Brussels and elsewhere see defence as THE Trojan horse to progressively undermine the sovereign European nation-state in favour of some vacuous and at best partial EU super-state. Europe will NEVER defend itself if the implicit ‘war’ being fought is between the EU and its member-states.


Brexit, NATO and European defence


Last night I attended a reception at which many of the great and good from this House (European Parliament) were also present. At one point a speaker referred to Britain as ‘…a small island off the north-west coast of Europe’. Everyone laughed, except me. One could feel the condescension. Oh, those poor little British lost in their post-imperial fantasy. Get over it! The speaker was clearly a geographer not a strategist! Now, I do not for a moment under-estimate the lose-lose strategic implications of Brexit for all of us, which is why I campaigned for Remain in the 2016 referendum. But, like many decent but pragmatic Remainers I am getting tired of such ignorance and the arrogance.


First, there are very few in Britain who harbour post-imperial, post-Brexit fantasies. Second, Britain remains a major economic and military actor. Third, Britain has Europe’s most advanced military and intelligence nexus. Fourth, given the growing importance of coalitions to defence in Europe the importance of Britain as a command force to the defence of Europe will increase not decrease. Those of you with such views need to get over your anti-British prejudice and quickly as you cannot expect to insult the British people and, at the same time, expect them to help defend you. Your choice.


Irrespective of Brexit the defence-strategic choices of the British hardly suggest the British Army of the Rhine reborn. Britain is building new fleet aircraft carriers, nuclear ballistic missile submarines, new nuclear attack submarines, new frigates and a host of F-35 strike aircraft do not a Continental Strategy make. The British Army is the smallest it has been since Napoleonic times and could fit inside Wembley Stadium.


The implications for an ever-more important NATO? We may be witnessing the beginning of a re-pillaring of NATO as it divides into a Yankosphere & a Eurosphere. Brexit will certainly push in that direction if the current tensions endure. I would counsel against such divisions because all it would likely realise is a small cluster of Europeans just about hanging onto America’s strategic coat-tails, and a Eurosphere comprised of the strategically left-behind.  Such a divide would over time kill NATO and replace it with what?


Europeans must think about future war if we are to deter it!


The motto of the Royal Navy is ‘Si vis pacem para bellum’ - if you want peace prepare for war. I am not suggesting we prepare overtly for war but we Europeans must at least begin to seriously think as Europeans about war. Europe is at a strategic tipping point and must return to defence fundamentals, credible deterrence and dialogue and do so from a position of legitimate and genuine strength, including a credible military component.


All of the above implies the move towards some form of modular army of Europeans built around the further harmonisation of national forces. Far from denying that I would welcome it. BUT, it needs a proper plan. The first step would be for Europeans to conduct a strategic audit so we know who has what and why with the aim of seeing how existing resources might be applied more efficiently and effectively.  Then we need to consider properly the sustained and systematic application of resource where it can make the most difference. In 2017, Admiral Giampaolo di Paola and I published a paper entitled Equipping & Affording European Defence. Using European Defence Agency figures the message was clear where a fundamental problem with the future defence of Europe can be found.  European Defence R&T is only 2% of total defence spending. And, whilst European collaborative defence R&T might equal some 20% of total defence R&T spending in Europe, it is still only 0.4% of total defence spending. China? Russia? India? US?

Sovereign cohesion? Spending better what we Europeans spend now on defence, spending coherently and in line with what the future defence of Europe needs not what we would like. Then, spend together on what is missing and vital with a clear vision of Europe's objective - to deter war, not to have to fight it.


Let me finish with a warning from Robert Schuman. “World peace cannot be safeguarded without the making of creative efforts proportionate to the dangers with threaten it”. 


Thank you.


Julian Lindley-French,

European Parliament,

6 February 2019

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

A European Army or an Army of Europeans?

"World peace cannot be safeguarded without the making of creative efforts proportionate to the dangers which threaten it".

The Schuman Declaration, 9 May 1950
Europe’s defence dilemma

Alphen, Netherlands, 29 March. To paraphrase Churchill, a European army is a riddle wrapped in a mystery in an enigma floating on a sea of verbiage. Can Europe finally make the leap from seemingly bottomless strategic pretence to real-time strategic defence?

Let me begin by putting the current debate about a European army in its historical context. On Friday last at an excellent conference on transatlantic relations co-organised by the George C. Marshall Center and the Federal Academy for Security Policy I gave a talk at Berlin’s Hotel Palace on Britain’s post-Brexit relations with European defence. As I spoke I was metres from the famous and half-ruined Kaiser Wilhelm Gedachtsnichekirche. Seventy-five years before, on the night of 27-28 January 1944, 515 Royal Air Force Lancasters from Numbers 1, 5 and 6 (Royal Canadian Air Force) Groups, RAF Bomber Command, had attacked Berlin. The main bomber force had been vectored onto its target by 15 RAF Mosquito fighter-bombers of 8 Group who ‘painted’ Berlin city centre with marker flares directly over the church. The attack was but one of many such bloody attacks that saw the systematic destruction of Berlin by American, British and aircrew from many allied nations during World War Two.  The ghosts of that night still haunt Berlin and act as both impetus and brake on European defence.  The Groundhog Day talk of ‘strategic autonomy’ and a ‘European army’ is set against this backdrop of historic destruction. Let me deconstruct both. 

The dilemma of European defence is essentially simple. If Europeans want the hard-pressed Americans to maintain their defence guarantee to Europe then Europeans are going to have to spend more on defence and build more and better armed forces. If Europeans build more effective armed forces then the ‘strategic autonomy’ from the Americans some crave will flow naturally. However, most Europeans are either unwilling or unable to spend much more on defence.  Germany, which is vital to any credible land defence of Europe, is utterly reluctant to spend what it should on defence partly because of history and partly because of its own domestic politics. The result is a Europe that can neither defend itself adequately in the face of the threats it faces, nor help ease the growing pressure on US forces that would enable the Americans to defend Europe. Instead, many of those same Europeans who promote ‘strategic autonomy’ want the Americans to underwrite said autonomy by offering inadequate policies that bear no relation to the defence-effort needed, or promise force modernisation that could take decades to realise. In other words, too many Europeans want strategic autonomy that is non-autonomous. Hence the current, and latest, round of vacuous talk about a ‘European army’ in which the neither means nor the ways bear much relation to the ends. 
  
The German question

Last week in Aachen, the historic centre of the Frankish Emperor Charlemagne’s ninth century court, a meeting took place between the French and German leaders at which the German question was again addressed – how much military power should Germany have and who should command it? Between 1952 and 1954 the first experiment in creating a European army was conducted. Entitled the European Defence Community it essentially involved the rearming of Germany but no German forces under direct German command. Paris was insistent – Wehrmacht divisions? Never again! The pressure for the EDC came from the Americans who were facing pressures from the Red Army in Europe and the Korean War in East Asia, and at one and the same time. Plus ça change?

A lot of the Aachen meeting was devoted to high-sounding statements couched in Franco-German axis speak. The consequent ‘Treaty’ stated that a Franco-German Defence and Security Council would be established that would oversee military co-operation and provide “…aid and assistance by all means at their disposal, including armed forces, in cases of aggression against their territory”. At the same time, the Council, according to Chancellor Merkel, would help foster a “common military culture” that, “…contributes to the creation of a European army”.

Those two statements alone encapsulate all that France and Germany disagree about over a European army versus an army of Europeans. For the French, the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy is effectively dead. It died in the sands of the Sahel and was killed off by a lack of European solidarity with France for a mission that Paris believes of importance to the whole of Europe. Paris, instead, is focusing much of its effort on the European Intervention Initiative (or E2I) outside of the EU institutional framework, partly to accommodate post-Brexit Britain.  The French idea of ‘strategic autonomy’ can only be built by less EU defence and a new and better army of Europeans led, of course, by Paris.  For the Germans, ‘strategic autonomy’ can only be built by more EU defence, even if for Berlin NATO remains the main focus of any real defence of Europe. 
  
Germany aspires, or its leaders pretend they aspire, to some form of European army, i.e., a supranational force a la EDC eventually, and utterly implausibly, run by Brussels. General Selmayr? In other words, whilst the French and Germans can agree for now on a future European force that is ‘joint’ the Germans insist it must have the explicit ambition to one day become ‘common’. Experience suggests that as soon as one attaches the word ‘common’ to any European defence policy one can guarantee legions of more German lawyers, but few more European warriors. 

The EDC failed for three reasons that continue to stymie ambitions for a European army. Firstly, the French Parliament could not countenance the submersion of the French armed forces, and with it France’s distinct strategic identity, within a supranational structure. Secondly, then Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, the wily Konrad Adenauer, really wanted German membership of NATO and thus Germany’s return to equal status with the Western allies. This he achieved in 1955.  Thirdly, Sir Winston Churchill famously said in 1953, when the French were pushing hard for Britain to join the EDC, “We are with them, but not of them”. Nothing new there then. 

The British question

The British question for European defence is also as hard to answer now as it was then. The hard truth for the French and Germans is that whilst the Americans are the indispensable power for the credible defence of Europe, the British still remain the ‘bloody useful and still quite important power’ for any meaningful defence of Europe, particularly if US forces are busy elsewhere.  This is even if, as I said in Berlin, Brexit is fast eroding Britain’s commitment to the defence of Europe. Bust up and break-up is what happens to defeated powers. Britain has too all intents and purposes been defeated by the EU over Brexit.  London is already behaving like a defeated power with its political elite fast descending into what will likely be a protracted squabble over who lost Brexit and a prolonged struggle now to keep the UK together. Other Europeans need the British to engage seriously in the defence of Europe thus they are all going to have to pretend very hard that they have inflicted no such defeat on Britain.
  
The other factor, which pre-dates Brexit, is the defence-strategic choices Britain is making. Those choices hardly suggest the British Army of the Rhine reborn. New fleet aircraft carriers, nuclear ballistic missile submarines, new nuclear attack submarines, new frigates and a host of F-35 strike aircraft do not a Continental Strategy make. The British Army is the smallest it has been since Napoleonic times and could fit inside Wembley Stadium. And, whilst the Royal Navy and RAF have hit their respective recruitment targets, the Army is unable to ‘man’ even the tiny 82,000 strong force set by the last defence review in 2015. The British Army maybe a ‘high-end’ force, but it is a very small high-end force.  In other words, even though Britain’s future force will pack a considerable punch much of the main land force for the credible defence of Continental Europe must come from an army of other Europeans, necessarily and essentially focused on Germany.
    
No European audit, no European army 

Back to the European defence dilemma. All that really matters is that Europeans collectively generate the required defence outcomes they need. However, it is the Americans, and Europe’s potential adversaries such as China, Russia et al that will set the scale of those outcomes. Realising such a force goal will thus require the application of an appropriate level of resource in an effective and efficient way with sufficient redundancy therein for Europeans to act as effective first responders in and around Europe, across the conflict spectrum and in parallel if needs be. Such a force once generated could either be committed to NATO, Europe’s primary line of high-end defence for many years to come, or the EU, Europe’s primary vehicle for dealing with complex strategic coercion short of war also for many years to come. 

The enduring weakness of European defence is that too many Europeans still think words can substitute for force. That was the essence of Aachen, a large mouse pretending to roar like a lion. If France and Germany are serious about leading Europe towards strategic autonomy they will need a plan.  That plan would necessarily first involve a thoroughgoing audit of all European defence forces and resources for only then could synergies be identified that would end the culture of irrational national duplication of effort. Europeans could only then begin to better spend existing resources and move towards the modular, standardised army of Europeans that would balance the demand for national sovereignty over sanctioned violence and the aggregation of force for strategic effect. Aachen would have been much more impressive if France and Germany had started Europeans off down that road by building on Berlin’s commitment to act as a framework power. Only via such strategic realism and pragmatism will a European future force be realised that combines both the necessary of speed of decision and action necessary for fighting future war with the mass of force and resource needed to cope with contingencies across the people protection/power projection continuum.   

What army?

The strategic ambition therein implies another question. What future force in which to invest? Creating a European military culture is one thing, but if it is simply a culture of legacy left-behinds that makes no attempt to balance strategy, capability and technology then be it a European army or an army of Europeans it will be an army of the strategically-irrelevant.  Therefore, to solve the dilemma that is European defence, and thus prove that Aachen was more than strategic theatre, Berlin and Paris would need to answer two other pivotal questions. What kind of future forces do they think Europeans will need? What is the relationship of PESCO and its European Defence Fund to the generation of such a future force? 

If ever-decreasing PESCOs simply lead to an analogue ‘European Army’ that bolts together a lot of European legacy stuff then it is yet more European strategic pretence. If, on the other hand, PESCO is suffused with sufficient ambition to help forge what no single European state can aspire to then it has purpose. Europeans will need an information-led digital 5D future warfare defence that counters disinformation, destabilisation, disruption, deception and destruction. Such a a twenty-first century European defence would necessarily be built on a European future force that masters the cross-domains of air, sea, land, cyber, space, information and knowledge, and which is powered by the revolution in military technology and the application in the battlespace of Artificial Intelligence, big data, machine-learning, quantum-computing et al. Only with such a force will European defence, and thus European deterrence, be credible and European strategic autonomy steadily emerge. 

NATO? What France and Germany envisioned at Aachen could, at best, be the beginning of a re-pillared hybrid NATO that is part alliance, part coalition. The Alliance would thus provide the framework for a Yankosphere that would include the US, Britain and Canada, and which could also reach out to Japan and the other Five Eyes powers, and a Eurosphere led by France and Germany. At worst, the Eurosphere will simply become yet another gilded European repository for the strategically lame, the left behind, the incompetent, the strategically-retired, or the plain simply can’t be bothered.  Where Aachen would leave countries like the Netherlands is anyone’s guess. Its very small but good army is close to the Germans, its very small but good navy is close to the British and its very small but good air force is close to the Americans.   

A European army or an army of Europeans?

All that really matters is that Europeans collectively generate the required defence outcomes that are “…proportionate to the dangers which threaten it”, as Robert Schuman suggested, and consistent with the effective maintenance of a credible transatlantic security relationship and the equitable sharing of burdens that a deep and enduring relationship will demand and entail.  The mistake many in Europe now make is to believe strategic autonomy is the heir apparent to the 1950 Schuman Declaration. It is not. But, it IS time Europe grew up strategically and here I am in full agreement with Paris. ‘Creative efforts’ today mean a transatlantic security and defence relationship underpinned by a level of European military capability and capacity that is fair to the Americans and proportionate to the defence of Europe. Whether a defence hike is achieved via a European army, or the more likely army of Europeans, Europeans are going to have to spend more on defence and generate far more advanced forces. To that end, the French and Germans must recognise there is a marked difference between defending Europe and using defence as a lever for political leadership of Europe which they did in Aachen. Politics dressed up as defence has been the curse of European defence.

Twenty years ago I published the first of the Venusberg Group reports on the future of European defence for the Bertelsmann Stiftung. Reading that report again I am struck by how little of substance has changed and how Aachen seems so very 1990s. What an appalling indictment of Europe’s leaders. The bombing of Berlin less than a lifetime ago should also set European defence and Brexit in their respective strategic contexts. First, big wars happen. Second, once enemies are now friends and it must stay that way. As for a REAL European Army it could only exist if there was a REAL European Government. I am not holding my breath.

Julian Lindley-French      


Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Brexit: Hotel California, the Great Escape Foiled or Stay, Pay and Say?

“Governments lose respect and legitimacy as they seem to become more detached, more self-interested and more powerless. The EU, attempting to transcend national politics, makes things worse. Hence the rise of angry forms of ‘populism’ democracy detached from traditional politics.”

Professor Robert Tombs

The week that Brexit died

Alphen, Netherlands. 21 January. Brexit died last week with the crushing of May’s Withdrawal Agreement. Who killed Brexit and what now? The only choice the British people now have is between May’s Hotel California, ‘you can check out anytime you want, but you can never leave’ Withdrawal Agreement, something far, far worse akin to The Great Escape’s Stalag Luft 3 in which a soft Britain will be permanently incarcerated or stay, pay, but at least have a say. That my once great country faces such a choice makes my blood boil as I am not some whingeing Remoaner. Yes, I campaigned for Remain on geopolitical grounds but unlike many, I accepted the result of the 2016 Referendum. Vassal-state plus?  

My essential point is this; we are where we are and the purpose of this blog is to identify optimal strategic outcomes in often sub-optimal strategic circumstances. Therefore, given the Hobson’s choice (i.e. no real choice) now being imposed upon Britain and its people analytically the by far least bad option available is for Britain to remain a member-state of the EU, but make life hell for Brussels and the intransigent fundamentalist federalists therein. Were there a deal on offer that would offer real ‘take back control’ sovereignty I would recommend it, but I find it hard to recommend the disastrous stew of a compromise that is being cooked up that will probably end Britain as a power, and possibly as a country.

Who killed Brexit?

From that June day in 2016 when the Leave campaign won by over a million votes in what was sold as a binding in-out referendum on Britain’s EU membership in the largest ever exercise in British democracy, a successful counter-insurgency has been mounted against it. It has been led by a British Establishment and its friends in Brussels who at best do not believe in Brexit or at worst have ‘systematically’ herded the British people towards this moment. There are reasons for this. As Christopher Bickerton has argued, for many in the elite EU states are no longer the nation-states to which many of us still owe our allegiance, and which still act as the centre of democratic gravity in Europe remain for millions of people.  They have instead become ‘member-states’ of an EU in which networks of elites exist separate and divorced from the millions of ordinary citizens.

It is this multifaceted elite that killed Brexit. They include other-worldly academics who buy into ‘ever closer union’ and the European super-state fantasy.  They refuse to see that all such a ‘state’ would realise is the centralisation of ever more power on an unaccountable Brussels few. Whilst the most vocal they are perhaps the least influential part of the anti-Brexit coalition. Particularly influential are the globalised business elite to which people like Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond is close. The only loyalty of such people is to their shareholders and balance sheets. Then there are the Metropolitan lefty London elite that one funds in the BBC and other organs of the Fourth Estate who talk ‘Europe’ but do not understand it. For them the nation-state is the fashionable root of all evil and an easy solution to a world-view well divorced from either the reality of power or history.  

Then there are Britain’s Members of Parliament. One thing that has struck me listening to British MPs discuss ‘Europe’ of late is how few of them have any real understanding of the deep structural issues of power, governance and democracy that are implicit in Brexit. Push them ever-so-slightly on substance and they collapse into a not-so-towering heap of meaningless slogans.  Brexit has too often fast become the utterly mediocre in pursuit of the utterly misunderstood via the often totally incomprehensible.  Such people often talk of a blind Brexit. In fact, Parliament is full of short-term, blind Remainers.

Now, if all of the above sounds arrogant then guilty as charged. I have several EU-related degrees and many books and articles to my name. I have also worked for the EU and spent a lot of my long career in and around Brussels. It is my firm belief that Europeans need something like ‘Europe’ but not this self-interested, ‘we know best’, taxpayer’s money is EU money, Brussels. ‘Brussels’ is an eternal struggle between the advocates of ever closer union, ever more Europe and those who advocate a more pragmatic Europe. Right now, the influence of those who advocate super-state Europe have been blunted but their ambitions remain. It is vital Britain does not abandon pragmatic Europe, not least because such a ‘Europe’ is a vital British interest.

A European super-alliance

In short, I am a Realist Remainer. Brexit was always about the relationship between Britain and Europe ten, twenty, thirty years hence and my on balance judgement at the time of the referendum was that Britain needed to be in the EU helping to shape it. This is not because I believe in Euro-theology, but rather because I want to stop it. My vision is for a European super-alliance of free nation-states. Critically, neither Britain nor Continental Europe has ever fared well when Britain has stood aside from the eternal game of power that is ‘Europe’, whatever mantle within which it is cloaked.  Europeans face a range of growing threats which must also be faced together and which the elite obsession with ever closer political union, the shape of institutions and the consequent emaciation of the nation-state prevents. 

My Brexiteer friends tell me that the history of Britain in the EU reveals a once powerful country reduced to little more than a minority voice with the very idea of ‘Europe’ having helped loosen the ties between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Now, I have some sympathy for that because the creation of an alternative pole of power within the UK in the form of Brussels, allied to parallel political devolution has clearly weakened the bonds that have traditionally bound Britain together. Where I disagree with Brexiteers is the extent to which the EU is the real factor in British decline.  Of far more importance to me is the culture of unnecessary declinism that has infected Britain’s elite establishment allied to a strange kind of strategic political correctness in which all British history must now be seen as a form of political self-flagellation. As an Oxford historian, the one thing I will not do is judge the past with the present. That is just bad history.

In fact, the history of Britain since the 1707 Act of Union between England, Wales and Scotland has always been about power and representation and the crafting of a strategic narrative, a story of Britain, to accommodate the two strands. The unnecessary loss of strategic mojo by Britain’s inept and irresolute elite Establishment is the real reason for the irresolution evident during the Brexit negotiations.  Ineptitude and irresolution confirmed to me by friends inside the European Commission who were amazed at how easily Britain’s negotiators rolled over on issues they assumed were vital for London.

The other Great Escape?                         

Now that Brexit is effectively dead how can Britain escape from the political mess its leaders have created? Not with Theresa May at the helm. She may be stoic and resilient but she is also visionless and lacks the leadership skills to deliver on anything other than a Brexit in name only. A Brexit in which the British ‘stay’, pay but have no say over the customs union and Single Market as part of a deal some are now mischievously calling Common Market 2.0.  Some want a second Brexit referendum in the hope that it will wish away the first one. Given the social and political fragility of the country, I cannot imagine the damage that such a ‘now get it right this time, you morons’ vote would do. Those in Parliament advocating such a vote are the very same people who agreed prior to the referendum to sub-contract the decision on Britain’s future partnership with the EU to the people. If Remainers won second time around it is hard for me to see how millions of my fellow citizens could trust the result of such a vote which they would undoubtedly see as a Remainer Establishment stitch-up. What price democracy then?

No, and here I know I will be shot at for this suggestion which goes against every grain of my belief in democracy. This is particularly so as my politics has always been akin to that of Churchill’s father Lord Randolph Churchill, “Trust the people!”  However, given the circumstances and the stakes Britain needs a new leader who not only treats the British people as grown-ups and pushes through the smoke and mirrors Whitehall loves to mask its failure, but also admits to the colossal failure of leadership implicit in the Brexit fiasco. This leader would probably need to emerge in the wake of an ever more likely General Election and from beyond the failed May-Corbyn political generation. Critically, such a ‘leader’ would have to have the political courage, and hopefully, the mandate, to simply admit that remaining within the EU is the least unpalatable strategic choice Britain now faces given the loss of any chance of a meaningful Brexit.

In return for such a decision that same leader would also have to say that a return to a pre-referendum status quo ante is also impossible. And, that in return for the overturning of the June 2016 plebiscite such a leader would promise not only to stop ever closer political union but to mean it. He or she would thus, at the very least, need to introduce legislation strengthening the so-called Constitutional Lock preventing the transfer of any more British sovereignty, power and/or money to Brussels without the specific consent of the people in the form of referenda. After all, the precedent for such votes on important constitutional questions has now been established. There would also need to be a full public enquiry into the Brexit fiasco that is properly conducted and with findings published before all those involved are safely ennobled in the House of Lords, retired or both.  Free movement? All European leaders need to begin a full and frank debate of the impact of free movement on host communities. If not, I fear Brexit is just the beginning of a populist surge across Europe.

Britain is not alone

The good news is that Britain is not alone. Yes, there are those in Brussels who see Britain as little more than a tethered offshore fat cow to be milked for their grandiose EU projects. Yes, there are those in Brussels that if Britain force majeure changed its mind over Brexit would see it as a masterstroke of grand manipulation similar to what happened when voters in Denmark, France, the Netherlands and Ireland objected in 2005 to the planned Constitutional Treaty. All the Brussels federalists did then was to change the ‘etiquette’ on the bottle and call it a Constitutional Treaty. For these people ‘Europe’ is a bit like the Borg Empire in Star Trek: The Next Generation – “Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated”.

There are also many across Europe who would welcome an activist Britain within the EU fully committed to ensuring the EU remains what it always should have been – a strategic enabling mechanism for the states that comprise it. Nothing more, nothing less.  A new report just out from the Dutch Scientific Council for Government Policy entitled European Variations makes the case clearly for such a Europe. Brexit, it suggests, is an EU failure and that ever closer political union must be stopped. A ‘one-size fits all’ EU simply will not work.

This is the paradox of Brexit. Whilst at present it is fashionable for Brussels and much of the London-elite to lambast Britons for the ‘heresy’ of wanting to leave the one Universal Union many of the issues implicit in Brexit matter to all Europeans. Who governs us? What is the relationship between voting and power? Who spends our money?  Who controls who lives in our countries? Nor should Britons fall into the trap of seeing Brexit as a kind pan-European exercise in Brit-bashing. As I find living here in The Netherlands there is a lot of goodwill towards Britain, if not a little bemusement at present.  Last week in The Times that goodwill was expressed in an outstanding letter from senior Germans to the British people. Put simply, Britain matters and very few apart from the likes of Martin Selmayr in the Commission are seeking to humiliate Britain. Yes, Britain could still matter outside of the EU, but Britain is likely to matter far less if the kind of deal on offer is ever accepted simply to get the Government and Parliament out of a mainly self-made political mess.

None of this is easy for me to say, but I feel it my duty as a patriotic Briton to say it. The here and now strategic reality of Britain and Brexit must here and now be confronted. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair is right; Britain can either be in the EU or out of it, but it cannot be in and out of it at the same time.  Therefore, as a strategic analyst that a few out there respect let me state for the record that after much thought and analysis my conclusion is given what and who Britain is, given where Brexit is at, the world into which Britain and the rest of Europe are heading and, above all, given the appalling ‘choice’ Britons are now faced with between Hotel California, Stalag Luft 3 and ‘stay’, pay but no say then surely it is better for Britain to remain within the EU. A Britain that engages the federalist fundamentalists and is again a leader on the big questions all Europeans must address together.

There is, of course, an enormous ‘if’ in my core assumption of which I am acutely conscious. The same failed British Establishment, leaders and officials alike, who for too long have been too supine in their dealings with Brussels, would need finally to grow a backbone if Britain were to play the role I envisage in Europe. They will only do that if properly led and I still live in hope that amongst the mediocrities who cram the green benches of the House of Commons somewhere, somehow there is someone I would be proud to call ‘leader’.

The hard truth we must all face is that Britain crossed a Rubicon last week with the crushing defeat of May and much though I do not like it the danger to Britain posed by whatever ‘deal’ Parliament finally passes is greater than simply staying in the EU and building a new alliance to change it.

Julian Lindley-French




Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Snowmeeting 2019: A Tale of Two Europes


“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only”.


A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens


Europe’s Western Europe problem


Alphen, Netherlands. 16 January. The future defence of Europe has a Western Europe problem. This past week has been somewhat of a surreal experience for me. It began with a visit to Vilnius for another excellent Snowmeeting hosted by His Excellency Linas Linevicius, Foreign Minister of Lithuania. The highlight was an audience with Her Excellency Dalia Grybauskaité, President of the Republic of Lithuania. Last night I returned from London after a meeting with the Royal Navy at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) on the Future Fleet Operating Concept. Let me start where I began, in Lithuania.


Over the many years I have had the honour of attending the Snowmeeting for me the highlight has always been the audience with the President. President Grybauskaité is a real leader and I can only hope as she contemplates the end of her term as Head of State this former European Commissioner might also consider becoming the first woman President of the European Commission or European Council, or, indeed, the first woman Secretary-General of NATO. Frankly, there is no-one better suited to these high positions at this moment in Europe’s history. The reason is quite simple. She knows what it is like to lead a country on the front-line of freedom under constant threat and her leadership contrasts so markedly with so many of Western Europe’s feckless ‘leaders’.  


A cold dose of strategic reality


The Snowmeeting is an annual snapshot, a dose of strategic reality. It contrasts with so many of the meetings I attend in Western Europe in which harsh reality is rarely allowed to intrude on pleasant and pleasing theory. What I took away from this year’s Snowmeeting was the extent to which the real problem with transatlantic relations and European defence is really a problem with Western Europe.  Throughout the meeting at the wonderful IDW Esperanza resort in Trakai a constant theme became apparent to me: the warming security mantle Central and Eastern Europe has wrapped itself since the end of the Cold War is becoming threadbare in the face of cold blasts from the east because much of Western Europe is fiddling whilst the world churns. 


As usual, much was made of the state of the transatlantic relationship and the travails of President Trump. Senior Lithuanians felt Trump had a point about the fecklessness of ‘Europeans’ when it comes to Europe’s defence, i.e., Western Europeans. The debates on European ‘strategic autonomy’, and what Germany’s defence minister, the other female candidate for Europe’s top jobs Ursula von der Leyen suggested this month is a ‘European army’ that was ‘taking shape’, seemed surreal at times. Yes, President Macron and von der Leyen are not suggesting that some integrated single European force a la EDC is about to emerge. Rather, they see the EU’s PESCO bringing national forces closer together to create a joint rather than a common force. They do envisage more ‘common’ EU structures and, as I observed at the meeting, past experience suggests that will lead only to more European lawyers than European warriors.  


It is the mismatch between ambition, cost and investment which makes this latest European army ‘thing’ like all the other European army ‘things’ that have come before it.  Unless any such emergent military structure is specifically and unconditionally assigned to NATO, and thus underpinned by the Americans, then the true cost of the ‘strategic autonomy’ to which Macron and von der Leyen aspire would be at least 4% of GDP especially for the French and Germans who aspire to lead it. Are Berlin and Paris willing to bear such a cost? 


Read between the lines and far from representing a Germany suddenly at ease with hard power and hard leadership ‘strategic autonomy’ and a ‘European army’ are yet more political devices to actively avoid such unpleasantness. Sure, Berlin wants to lead but it does not want to pay either the actual or political price such leadership would demand. And yes, Paris always wants to lead so long as someone else pays for it. Germany? The result is that both the French and the Germans are again dancing on the head of a blunt euro-pin between strategic reality and strategic pretence, and neither can move forward without the Americans and the British.


The other place 


Talking of strategic pretence let me now turn to my London visit. As I sat in the meeting on Whitehall I could see the Union flag flying proudly at the gaff above the Houses of Parliament. As it fluttered in the wind the self-interested massed mediocrities who imitate Britain’s political class were Brexit fluttering below. Let me be clear; yesterday witnessed the death of Brexit. The crushing defeat of the draft Withdrawal Agreement, and with it the strategy of Britain’s failed prime minister Theresa May, means that if any such agreement is to finally pass the Remainer House of Commons it will leave Britain so close to the EU that there will be no point in leaving at all. It is precisely THAT objective that the British Establishment has sought to bring about in what historians will come to see as a brilliant exercise in willful strategic incompetence. 


What are the implications? The paradox of yesterday for me was that the meeting I attended with the Royal Navy revealed another Britain. A Britain that can still think strategically and which is taking the necessary steps down a long road to a future force that is built around the military ‘effects’ the British need to generate. i.e., the preservation of peace and the maintenance of effective deterrence. The problem is that the strategy that underpins any such effort, and which the people of Lithuania need to work, is predicated on two now doubtful requirements. First, strategically-competent British political leadership. Second, a Britain in a position to lead coalitions in the event of an emergency. The latter requirement for possible coalition leadership is particularly important given the increasing pressures on US forces worldwide.


As I walked past Parliament the massed ranks of divided dissent lined the other side of Abingdon Street. One could feel the tension in the air between the ‘we will never accept the referendum result’ Remainers and the ‘you are about to betray me’ Brexiteers. Perception is everything in politics. Given the events of last night, it is hard for me to see any way out of this mess that will not leave millions of Britons hating the EU and wanting to have little to do with the defence of other Europeans. They believe Britain is being humiliated by its political class and by Brussels and would much prefer to hide behind the British nuclear deterrent than risk the lives of their young people or their taxpayer’s money defending the very Europeans they believe are screwing them – rightly or wrongly.


Snowmeeting 2019: unity of purpose and action 


Back to the Snowmeeting. Another of my takeaways was an overwhelming sense that others cannot be trusted to defend Lithuania and that Lithuanians must thus take matters into their own hands.  There was a feeling that the Americans cannot be trusted because President Trump is making America ‘great’ again in a very President Trump way, even if the US commitment to the defence of Lithuania is actually increasing. Britain cannot be trusted because much of its people now hate ‘Europe’ and much of its political class are idiots. France and Germany cannot be trusted because their defence words never seem to match their defence deeds. That worried me. The real deterrent that protects Lithuania is the unity of purpose and action implicit in the very existence of both the EU and NATO. 


What happened last night in London matters to Lithuania. It was about far more than the nature of Britain’s eventual self-subjugation to the EU and Brussels. It was about whether Britain any longer has the will to be a major defence power. It was about whether Europe has any chance of generating sufficient strategic seriousness and a strategic culture to match so that it could mount an effective first response during a major crisis. It was about the nature of the coming resistance movement that could emerge in Britain in the wake of the Brexit disaster if political leaders are not sensible and the boost to populism Europe-wide such resistance would afford. It was about the very nature of the future transatlantic relationship which Britain helped create.  Above all, it was about whether any serious leader in any major Western European country will ever emerge to get serious about Europe and its real defence, not a rhetorical defence. 


As for the future defence of Lithuania and Europe’s liberty let me paraphrase the quote of NATO’s first Secretary-General Lord Ismay that he never actually made. We must find a way to keep America in, Britain up, France and Germany real and the rest of Europe free. No more strategic pretence. 


Madam President, we need you! All of us! Thank you!


Julian Lindley-French