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Sir Richard Mottram GCB made the annual Demos security lecture on 18 December 2007, entitled 'building a national security architecture for the twenty—first century'.
In his speech, Sir Richard builds upon many of the themes set out in Charlie Edwards' report, National Security for the Twenty-first Century. He nevertheless disputes two of the main claims of Edwards' report, that British national security policy lacks coherence and that it has little changed since the end of the cold war.
Sir Richard characterises the tension at the core of national security policy thus:
In handling today's and tomorrow's risks, weight needs to be given to prevention alongside mitigation and response; the domestic and the international dimensions are intertwined; these are not just problems for the government but require much wider engagement.
He defends that the 1997 Strategic Defence Review was largely correct in its assessment of the strategic and security threats to the United Kingdom even if it did not predict the challenges British troops now face on their deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Sir Richard makes an optimistic assessment of the success of terrorist groups and, while acknowledging that "home-grown" terrorism is a problem, he argues that 'the reality is that al-Qaeda has made little or no pursuit of its fundamental aims' (p. 3). He emphasises the importance of the government developing 'linkages and priorities between areas' of policy such as defence, international development and counter-terrorism (p. 5). This is particularly important in the context of foreign interventions such as Iraq and Afghanistan, he argues, where 'the compelling requirement is for an integrated civilian-military approach' (p. 9).
Handling today's and tomorrow's risks therefore needs to engage the whole of the government's strategic and policy-making effort and not simply those parts with a traditional focus or responsibility for mitigating or responding to risks after they have crystallised. It has to join up national and international action. And success will depend on more effective communication of the range of risks we face and wider engagement of businesses, communities and individuals in helping tackle them.
Timothy Garton Ash, responding to Mottram's speech in the following day's Guardian, argued that while it was not always easy to determine what was and what was not a 'security' threat, prevention was increasingly the most important -- and also the most difficult -- element of British national security strategy.
The Times, meanwhile, interpreted Sir Richard's remarks as a call for more spending on defence and less on development (Times, 20 December 2007).