Articles and analysis

Faced with an overwhelming amount of information about the possible effects of Brexit on the interests of the UK and others, Sandy Johnston, who spent many years working on these issues in an official capacity, writes:

Like many institutions the EU has its faults: Excessive bureaucracy, ponderous processes, a chronic case of the "topsy" principle, and increasingly unaccountable behaviour in the top echelons. The ill-fated Constitution was voted down by French and Dutch referendums. This is often seized on with some justification as further evidence that the EU and its trappings are seen as something of a theme park for political and business elites, and generally distrusted by the man on the Clapham omnibus. We are bombarded with opinions, forecasts, statistics, projections amongst which it is very hard for even relatively well-informed people to discern facts.

In the furore of claim and contradiction that we have witnessed in recent weeks about what Brexit would or would not mean for the UK, the area of defence and security had remained largely ignored, all the focus being on jobs, immigration, the health service, incomes and the economy in general. Then two weeks ago the Prime Minister delivered what has since become caricatured as the "third world war" speech, and when I read in it much of what I myself have been writing and saying in various places it left me wondering what I could add that might seem new. Has the EU been fundamental to keeping the peace in Europe over the last 70 years? Yes, absolutely. Is NATO the cornerstone of European defence? Yes, unquestionably. Do both organisations have a role to play in defence and security? Yes, obviously. Can they work effectively together for the benefit of their members? Not easily is the answer, and it will be a great deal more difficult if the UK is not fully engaged to prevent unhelpful developments. Let us start with some history.

What do we do on the 24th of June? What should be the first tasks of Her Majesty's Government when the Prime Minister walks in front of the Press early on that morning when the result of EU referendum is announced? asks Capt BS Forethought

Whatever the result what we can be sure of is whatever the result the political oxygen is going to be absorbed with candidates positioning themselves for the upcoming Leadership election. However, I am not going to discuss here the differences between the outcomes of the respective votes, both campaigns are covering this with gusto. What I mean to discuss on the next page is what is true however we vote.

Four years ago I wrote of my quiet optimism for Yemen (says Charlie Pratt. See A quiet optimism for Yemen? published in Defence Viewpoints 13th September 2012). Its nascent, idiosyncratic democracy, powered by tribal shaykhs and patronage, had conspired to produce a relatively fair and free election. Out of it had ascended a President from the marginalised and underdeveloped South of the country; a potent symbol of the unified Yemen and a hopeful portent of practical unity to come.

The problems that Hadi faced were colossal. The writ of the government extended only a few miles outside of the capital Sana'a, at which point a patchwork of tribes and political systems took over. His civil service was full of ghost employees and the country was still struggling to recover from the endemic corruption and patronage of his predecessor as President, 'Ali 'Abdallah Salih. But at the same time a political dialogue featuring all parts of Yemeni society had begun, the elections had still occured and a strange and unique civil society still existed.

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