hms iron duke

hms iron duke

Monday, 6 January 2014

New Book: Little Britain? Twenty-First Century Strategy for a Middling European Power

It is my honour to inform you of my new e-book which has been published this week online at Kindle Select for the very reasonable price of $14.51/£9/10 Euros.

With a foreword by General Sir David Richards until 2012 the Chief of the British Defence Staff the book considers five key issues: the world Britain faces in the twenty-first century; Britain's role and ambition in Europe and the wider world; how Britain should defines its national interests and secure them; how best to organise and apply British national power through innovative national strategy; and the role of Britain armed forces in national strategy.

Although the book is about Britain the dilemmas, strategies, choices and options the book considers are pertinent to the US, all European states and indeed democracies the world over. The strategic choices Britain makes over the next decade will also have a profound effect on the institutions vital to British influence, most notably the EU, NATO and UN. 

The message of the book is stark: after a bruising decade of strategic failure and economic crisis Britain's decline is today rapid and accelerating. However, crisis is becoming an alibi for the political class with much of that decline is driven by a loss of strategic vision and will at the very top of government.

With proper leadership, a concept of national power invested in sound national strategy built on political realism Britain can remain a potent international actor with the influence to shape events rather than await their harsh judgements. Britain's elite must show strategic leadership that has too often been lacking of late as declinism and short-termism has led to the deliberate confusing of politics with strategy by the political class.

Britain’s exaggerated decline is hidden by the political metaphors of a political class that has retreated from pragmatism into dogma.  Many on the political Left champion the EU because they no longer believe Britain should compete as an independent nation-state.  Many on the political Right are dogmatically wedded to small government cutting the very tools of influence to the point of impotence.  The result is that the cost of influence increases and in so doings undermines the security and interests of the British people.

The specific focus of the book is Britain's future defence strategy, the bedrock upon which all forms of credible national power and influence are built. The book calls for a radical change in both the organisation and structure of the British armed forces so as to better prepare them for future challenges in a future operating environment that will undoubtedly test Britain and its people in an age of hyper-competition.

Britain must compete for influence and to secure its national interests. Therefore, the book concludes by suggesting a British strategy built on four sets of critical relationships all of which demand Britain invests policy with power:

1. A close strategic relationship with the US to help keep the Americans engaged in European security and defence by demonstrating to Washington that Britain is prepared to ‘lead’ Europeans in serious defence investment. This will help ease American over-stretch by keeping the US strong where it needs to be strong through an equitable sharing of burdens;

2. The establishment of a Euro-strategic partnership with Germany that recognises Berlin’s ‘strategic’ role in European economic and political stability in return for Berlin recognising British and French leadership of Europe’s military effort.  France will resent German leadership and further resent any relationship between London and Berlin that might appear to eclipse the Franco-German axis.  London will need to work hard to overcome French suspicions and German indifference;

3. The development of a stable Franco-British strategic defence partnership with a particular emphasis on a joint effort by London and Paris to improve and increase European expeditionary military capabilities; and

4. The re-establishment of strategic relationships with the English-speaking Commonwealth (Australia, Canada, Nigeria, India and others) lost when Britain joined the EU, as well as wider relationships with states such as Japan to reinforce a Congress of Democracies central to new worldwide security web.

The book is relevant to all those interested in strategy, policy and the decline of the West and I have chosen to publish online to make the book affordable and accessible. These days the social media is the best channel for independent strategic thought which I believe is vitally needed not just for Britain but the wider West. I would be honoured if you would read my work and recommend it to colleagues and friends.

Britain's leaders today suffer from the same delusion as the rest of Europe; they want to play soft power chess whilst the rest of the world wants to play hard power poker.

The book can be downloaded at Amazon Kindle Select:  For those with iPads there is a Kindle app that can also be downloaded.

Julian Lindley-French

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