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Speaking at RUSI on 14th December. the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) drew attention to the fact that the rules based international order is being challenged. In the annual lecture at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach highlighted the importance of military relations in a politically turbulent world. He outlined a world of threats and risks, and argued that the UK still has a leadership role to play in many of the organisations of which it is a member; the UN, NATO, the Commonwealth and the OSCE. Sir Stuart drew attention to the policy adopted by Syrian and Russian forces in the siege of Aleppo, of deliberately attacking medical facilities, as an example of how internationally accepted norms are being challenged. Nick Watts reports further for Defence Viewpoints on the next page.

Comments made by Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson last week to the Royal Institute of Foreign Affairs suggesting that Britain would not seek to obstruct EU based efforts to develop closer defence co-operation between themselves may well be sensible politically but they beg more questions that the UK Government must also be prepared to answer including how such move by the EU might damage the NATO alliance and if they did, what would Her Majesty's Government propose to do about it? Put simply, remarks made by Mr. Johnson last Friday might have been better not said.

Independent commentator Howard Wheeldon reflects that Mr. Johnson's remarks came just a few days ahead of the two-day planned meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers in Brussels today at which he is expected to preach that Europe's 25 other members of NATO must spend more on defence. Clearly, in the wake of in this case, well-made remarks by US president-elect Donald Trump, that European members of NATO need to take a bigger share of the cost of NATO and the inference from this that America is no longer prepared to pay 70% of alliance costs means that Europe will have no alternative but to increase spending on defence. This also suggests to me that while attaining the minimum 2% spend of GDP on defence that NATO members agreed to work toward back in September 2014 must not be allowed to be fudged and that while 2% of GDP should in my view be a marker for smaller members states to achieve others need to spend at least 3% of GDP on defence.

In February 1946 the State Department, at the request of the Treasury Department, asked the US Embassy in Moscow to explain the 'incomprehensible Soviet unwillingness' to adhere to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Ambassador Averell Harriman already had left and the Deputy Chief of Mission, George Kennan, replied with the longest telegram in history, some 19 pages. A single brief message would, he felt, be a dangerous degree of over-simplification. Kennan had already tendered his resignation in frustration over much incomprehension in Washington, but had to wait till the new ambassador would arrive. The telegram gave him as No. 2 the unusual opportunity to summarise his experience of two postings in Moscow. He used it to explain the background and main features of the Soviet post-war outlook and their projection not only on official policy but also on policy implemented through 'front' organisations and stooges of all sorts. Willem van Eeklen revisits it as an object lesson for the 21st century.

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