His thesis is that “fifty years after Suez, Britain and French should forge a new partnership… founded on four principles of strategic leadership: the global West; a strategic Atlantic alliance; a robust EU; effective European homeland security… There are only two countries that can save Europe from the self-deluding isolationism into which it is tipping: Britain and France”.
The article matches many of my core paper’s ("Is there a West?") conclusions about the origin of the modern West being in the alliance between France and UK, the Enténte Cordiale. I totally agree with the sentence “The West is no longer a place but an idea built around democratic security governance”.
Still - while I do not understand what Lindley French means by a “Global West” (a sort of spontaneous club of democracies, or the export of western values, or what else) - I ask: by what means he thinks Uk and France could make for “a robust EU”?
In my humble opinion, the fact that both countries wish to maintain their status as superpowers, keeping two out of five seats in the Security Council, is not the best way to foster a stronger political EU.
Let’s face it: the only reason why those countries are still sitting in the Security Council is because many, many, years ago, they were the centre of large empires accounting for a big share of the world. On such basis, Italy too should have a seat, having been – in the past – the centre of a large empire.
But leadership has nothing to do with the past. It has to do with the future, with projects and visions. Do France and Britain have any? Hardly.
Would Britain and France reinforce Europe, they should generously give up their seats in favour of the whole European Union: than EU could become a global actor, and automatically be forced to take more responsibilities in the field of international security.
It is totally unrealistic, yes, but still, leadership calls for personal sacrifice.
Otherwise, why EU countries should accept their leadership? Things have changed since Nelson and Napoleon’s time, and small countries are not so ready to bow to the ‘greats’ anymore, as Chirac discovered to his expenses some years ago, when he said that EU newcomers lost a good occasion to keep their mouths closed.
France and Britain, instead of being the “two countries that can save Europe from the self-deluding isolationism into which it is tipping”, are the two that are doing the most to lead it to irrelevancy. Correctly, Lindley French reckons that present leadership in both countries is not up to the task. Is it likely that this is going to change in the future? We can hardly expect this: French voters didn’t prove more far-sighted than their governants while casting the black ballot at the European referendum.
I think this is no time for nostalgic thinking, but for brave projects.
I shared my wiews with Dr. Lindley French, and look forward to his reply.
sorry for the silence. I had to go to Australia. Tough job but someone had to do it.
My basic point in that article is that we need to re-connect European security with world security. Given comparable security investment and imcomparable strategic cultures in Europe only the UK and France together are in a position to lead by example. I am afraid, Germany, the key to ESDP is mired in its internal questions to be a leader and Italy has cut its defence equipment budget by 70% since 2003, which hardly signifies leadership intent.
Moreover, the security plans of the UK and France are bringing them closer. As for the UNSC permanent seats. With the 4th and 5th biggest economies and the 2nd and 3rd most capable militaries (not to mention their nuclear capabilities) the UK and France are still rightfully permanent members. If the UNSC was an Executive Committee of the UN then that would be a different matter because representation not power would be the defining factor. When the EU finally lives up to its potential, i.e. those states that say they will make it happen but do not do, then the situation will remain the same. It is really up to the likes of Italy, Germany, Spain and others to properly fulfil their pledges on HG2010 (which they are not) and shift the balance of security power within the EU through effort and performance.
Look what is happening in Afghanistan. When things really get dangerous who has to do the dirty work again - mainly the British. So, as far as London is concerned, less talk more action. Sadly the strategic concept is being replace by gthe national caveat for too many European countries. Put simply, the UK spent $50.9bn on defence last year, dwarfing that of Italy and Germany. He who pay and does says.
As usual with all these things it is a question of relative power and proven intent and we are awaiting the proof of the ambitions that many states say they are committed to but their actions suggest otherwise. The operation in Lebanon is a case in point being defined not by the mission that needs to be done but rather by the weaknesses of the force in position.
As for the global West. Talking to Australians, Canadians, New Zealanders, Indians and others it is evident that a) the West must stabilise the system it built; b) that the UK and France in particular share heritage, doctrine and military culture with many countries the world over who are seeking to be part of the stabilisation mission; c) that such a relationship puts stability before democracy. Talking to senior Chinese and Japanese officials they were very comfortable with this notion particularly as so much of our current security effort involves the struggle between power and terror. The Global West is thus open to all but I make no apologies that I believe when the West is on top the world is a safer place. Frankly, if we cannot find Europeans who are serious about this then we will look elsewhere. The genius of both Britain and France has been their respective abilities to leverage power in pursuit of their objectives. Europe, the EU and NATO remain priorities. However, they must deliver. One is reminded of that famous Nike commercial - "Just Do it!!!"
Take care and good luck with all the future plans and I hope that clarifies the article.
Off to London!