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nickwattsIMG 20170907 0924504Looking around the world was the CDS Christmas lecture at RUSI


The new Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Sir Nicholas Carter, was fortunate that his inaugural address to the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) was not overshadowed by other events. As it was, the parliamentary pantomime performance, scheduled for Tuesday, was postponed until Wednesday. Perhaps the performance at Westminster was symptomatic of the "uncertain strategic and political context" of which he spoke.


His remarks were a timely reminder to policy makers, who seemed to have other things on their minds, that the wider world is changing as we watch. His comments followed similar remarks made by MI6 Chief Alex Younger, speaking on 3rd December. In his speech, CDS spoke of a return to a multipolar world order, with "ambitious states" asserting themselves regionally and globally. This is in addition to the threat of terrorist violence, evidenced by the events in Strasbourg earlier this week, writes Nick Watts.

USA00000IMG 00000 BURST20190107130637518 COVEROn the 320th anniversary of the founding of Scotland'si ill-fated colony in Panama, remember the Gunas says Joseph E. Fallon

November 2, 1698, five ships, the Caledonia, Dolphin, Endeavour, Saint Andrew, and Unicorn, anchored off the Caribbean Coast of the eastern end of the Isthmus of Panama in a region named Darien, now called Guna Yala. It was and remains the land of the Guna Indians. The ships' "cargo" was 1,200 Scottish settlers. These Scots, who had endured an arduous passage of sixteen weeks, during which forty perished, went ashore and proudly proclaimed the establishment of Scotland's colony of Caledonia.

"We do here settle and in the name of God establish ourselves; and in honour and for the memory of that most ancient and renowned name of our Mother Country, we do, and will from henceforward call this country by the name of Caledonia; and ourselves, successors, and associates, by the name of Caledonians".

nickwattsIMG 20170907 0924504Recent comments by both French and German leaders have resurrected the idea of a 'European' Army. This idea re-appears from time to time and has previously been opposed by the UK, when it feared this would detach Europe (and Britain) from the US and NATO. But, the advent of Donald Trump and Brexit mean that this idea has resurfaced to a receptive audience, at least among the political classes, writes Nick Watts.


As with anything in politics, timing is everything. Chancellor Merkel said that a 'European' army would complement NATO, not undermine it. But she is leaving the stage and Macron is driving this initiative. As Europe pauses to recall the centenary of the armistice that ended the Great War, thoughts turn to what could happen in the future. The lessons of the Versailles peace treaty are not lost on the European political classes. A bad peace stoked German resentment. Fear of Bolshevism fed an appetite for strong leaders, and the US retreated to isolationism. Weak states newly created, after the collapse of the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires, fell under the sway of powerful neighbours.

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