Many, many years ago, when I was a young student one rather iconoclastic teacher suggested to us that we needed to reconsider who were the “greatest” British monarchs … it was not, he said, Alfred the Great, nor Henry V nor even ‘Gloriana’ (Elizabeth I). The monarchs who did the most to make England EnglishContinue reading “Greatness”

The German dilemma

I, and many others, have been worrying about the fate of the liberal international order, which I would argue began 202 years ago when, on June 18th 1815 the Duke of Welllington defeated Napoleon Bonaparte at Waterloo. I suppose that most people don’t, automatically, associate Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington with liberal valuesContinue reading “The German dilemma”

But what is he for?

I recall a play (perhaps a film?) from the 1950s in which, after an exhortation about why it was necessary to fight against tyranny and aggression and so on one of the protagonists said something like “Well, that’s very good, now I know what you’re against. Now, tell me, please: what are you for?” ThatContinue reading “But what is he for?”

Grand Strategy in the 21st Century

There is an excellent article in the January/February 2017 issue of Foreign Affairs by the distinguished American scholar Dr Joseph S Nye Jr, the author of Soft Power, headlined “Will the Liberal Order Survive? The History of an Idea.” It begins, in fact, with a very brief history of American grand strategy from the foundingContinue reading “Grand Strategy in the 21st Century”

No going back

I have thought, fairly often, as I write this blog, that my opinions are a reflection of my time and space: where and when I grew up and all the socio-economic and cultural influences that attended that. My time was the 1940s and ’50s when the Second World War was done, peace and prosperity wereContinue reading “No going back”

The least that’s needed

A few days ago I commented on an article by Professor Elinor Sloan entitled “Why peacekeeping needs bigger guns in 2016.” Prof Sloan began her article by quoting from the UN’s under-secretary-general for peacekeeping who, on being asked by some US senators what the UN needed for its missions replied: “attack helicopters.” The article provokedContinue reading “The least that’s needed”

Is it really the end of civilization, as we know it?

I am returning to some familiar ground, the impact of Donald Trump, because of an article in the prestigious Financial Times. Philip Stephens, the associate editor and senior commentator of that influential journal writes: “You hear two things about the US in national capitals around the world. The first is that America is no longer the superpowerContinue reading “Is it really the end of civilization, as we know it?”

Following the blind leader (2)

Revised (2016-04-25) I have, more than once, expressed my, personal view that American strategic leadership has, since the end of the Eisenhower administration, been somewhere between weak and ineffective to downright counter-productive. I’m not alone. A serving US Army staff officer, who, for obvious reasons wishes to remain anonymous, has written a brief but very goodContinue reading “Following the blind leader (2)”

Grand Strategy (again): some more history

There is an excellent article in Foreign Affairs, from the 1987 edition, about the origins of containment (conceived by American diplomat George Kennan) and the so called Truman Doctrine, which served America, and the whole of the emerging, US led, West for another decade (until 1960 in the USA) and even more in the case ofContinue reading “Grand Strategy (again): some more history”