Articles and analysis


Part of the Speaker’s Lecture series, delivered by Rt Hon Dr Julian Lewis MP in Speaker’s House, Palace of Westminster, 16th January 2017

Most of what I believe about Britain's Armed Forces and their role – past, present and future – can be summed up in just three concepts and about half a dozen words. They are : "Deterrence", "Containment" and the "Unpredictability of Future Conflicts"

Trying to encapsulate the third of these notions, many years ago, for a thesis on Defence planning, I came across the following wise words:

“Dictators, bent on aggression … are masters of their own timetable. They are free to decide when to strike, where to strike, and how to strike, and to arrange their armament programmes accordingly … Their potential victims, the democracies, with their inherent hatred of war … do not know when or where the blow will fall or what manner of blow it will be.”

That was Lord Ismay, first Secretary General of NATO, writing in 1960, just two years before the Cuban Missile Crisis at the height of the Cold War. Since then, one crisis after another has reinforced the point that wars break out, more often than not, entirely unexpectedly. The Yom Kippur War in 1973 took even hyper-sensitive Israel by surprise. The Falklands War, nine years later, took Britain by surprise. The invasion of Kuwait in 1990 took everyone by surprise. And the attacks of 9/11 took the world’s only superpower by surprise. Such examples can easily be multiplied.

So to our friends across Europe, let me say this - Prime Minister Theresa May on the Government's approach to defence and security after Brexit

Our vote to leave the European Union was no rejection of the values we share. The decision to leave the EU represents no desire to become more distant to you, our friends and neighbours. It was no attempt to do harm to the EU itself or to any of its remaining member states. We do not want to turn the clock back to the days when Europe was less peaceful, less secure and less able to trade freely. It was a vote to restore, as we see it, our parliamentary democracy, national self-determination, and to become even more global and internationalist in action and in spirit.

We will continue to be reliable partners, willing allies and close friends. We want to buy your goods and services, sell you ours, trade with you as freely as possible, and work with one another to make sure we are all safer, more secure and more prosperous through continued friendship.

You will still be welcome in this country as we hope our citizens will be welcome in yours. At a time when together we face a serious threat from our enemies, Britain's unique intelligence capabilities will continue to help to keep people in Europe safe from terrorism. And at a time when there is growing concern about European security, Britain's servicemen and women, based in European countries including Estonia, Poland and Romania, will continue to do their duty.

A Global Britain will continue to cooperate with its European partners in important areas such as crime, terrorism and foreign affairs.

All of us in Europe face the challenge of cross-border crime, a deadly terrorist threat, and the dangers presented by hostile states. All of us
share interests and values in common, values we want to see projected around the world.

With the threats to our common security becoming more serious, our response cannot be to cooperate with one another less, but to work together more. I therefore want our future relationship with the European Union to include practical arrangements on matters of law enforcement and the sharing of intelligence material with our EU allies.

I am proud of the role Britain has played and will continue to play in promoting Europe's security. Britain has led Europe on the measures needed to keep our continent secure – whether it is implementing sanctions against Russia following its action in Crimea, working for peace and stability in the Balkans, or securing Europe's external border. We will continue to work closely with our European allies in foreign and defence policy even as we leave the EU itself.

UPDATE : Field Marshall Haftar has had meetings with the Russian government , which is considering providing him weapons and possible recognition as Libya's future leader. To do this, Moscow would have to abandon its support of the UN arms embargo and the UN supported GNA government in Tripoli. In return Russia would be seeking influence on Haftar's government. Moscow is only doing in public what the West has been doing surreptitiously.

If the West wishes to prevent Libya becoming a potential "client state" of Russia, it needs to do three things.

1) end all military assistance to Haftar,

2) take military action against Haftar and return the oil ports to the control of the GNA,

and 3) initiate legal steps to have Haftar brought before an International Tribunal for war crimes.

If Haftar were removed. Russia would have no significant supporter in Libya. The GNA as the sole government would not be any friend of Russia.

More Articles...