“The days of British military power appear to be ending,” Max Boot lamented in the Wall Street Journal. Another columnist at The Economist weighed in that Great Britain is at best managing its “relative decline.”
That was likely not the reception that U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s coalition government was hoping their new National Security Strategy would receive from such traditionally conservative outlets when it was released Oct. 18. Coupled with the Security and Comprehensive Spending Review released days later, the critics worried that these documents were merely written justifications of the end of Britain’s military footprint in the world.
Yet it is odd that a conservative government was lashed by fellow travelers for the very reason of making strategic decisions based on realism. That is, the security strategy, titled “A Strong Britain in an Age of Uncertainty,” can be read as a realistic blueprint for tough times, reflecting the priorities of a new government — chastened by what it says is the overreaching of its predecessors, but which nonetheless continues to endorse a global role for the U.K.
Even more, the documents may have some lessons for leaders on the other side of the Trans-Atlantic “special relationship.” As Cameron noted, “We have inherited a defense and security structure that is woefully unsuitable for the world we live in today. We are determined to learn from those mistakes, and make the changes needed.” Cameron’s statement was more than just putting a brave face on grim news. It was an illustration of what a government sometimes has to do when facing tough circumstances. And, given current circumstances and trends for the United States, the British document may well provide some inkling for how an American president and defense secretary, Democratic or Republican, will likely respond in 2013 and beyond as the United States wrestles with its own “age of austerity.”
[Targeting Rouhani’s brother] is a very convenient way to cause pain to the family without necessarily provoking a crisis of office. The general message that the rest of the system is trying to send to Rouhani is not to get too far ahead of himself, to not allow his decisive election victory to give him illusions of greater autonomy and authority than his position actually has.
There's often a temptation to look for some kind of logic [in the arrests of students and dual nationals in Iran]... I think that this particular case [of Xiyue Wang] highlights the fact that the logic is simply the paranoia of the Islamic Republic—its judiciary and its security services in particular.