The sovereign can no longer say, "You shall think as I do on pain of death;" but he says, "You are free to think differently from me, and to retain your life, your property, and all that you possess; but if such be your determination, you are henceforth an alien among your people."

(Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 1835)

Sunday, 24 October 2010

The UK's SDR

This week the UK revealed its Strategic Defence Review (SDR), a much anticipated document due to the inevitable defence cuts it would contain. As expected, it received mixed reviews.

This isn't an attempt, on my part, to comment on the merits and weaknesses of the SDR, but I do want to draw people's attention to the arguments that have been made on both sides. For more of an insider's view (given that he has to sell it in Washington), this Foreign Policy article from Sir Nigel Sheinwald - British Ambassador to the US - advocates the merits of the document. On the opposite side (and from an American no less) see Max Boot's op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.

Although you can't hide from the fact that parts of the Review are a little embarrassing - aircraft carriers with no aircraft for ten years being a case in point - you also can't hide from the fact that these cuts were necessary. A document like this has to predict the future while dealing with today's realities; not an easy task. Only time will tell if it leaves the U.K. military in a position to deal with tomorrow's security challenges.

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