U.K. Strategic Review and the New Security Protectionism

The U.K. defense review is now available (.pdf), and to make a long story short, London -- with a great deal of help from Washington -- broke its military and is now looking at about a decade of shore leave. There are some parallels with France's Defense White Paper from two years ago, with the major differences being that the French review took place before the pain of the financial crisis took hold, and without needing to absorb the toll of the Iraq War.

But this is clearly a cautionary tale. The U.K. cuts now bring the British military's force-projection contract into line with that of the French, making Britain essentially a coalition-dependent security "producer." Given Britain's overall dependence on NATO -- and now bilateral cooperation with the French -- for major deployment capabilities, it can be argued that the U.K. is now, for all intents and purposes, a security "consumer."

The broader takeaway lies in the nature of the threat environment that the U.K. review identifies, with terrorism and cyber security topping the list. No surprises here, that's consistent with what I've come to think of as the new Washington Consensus.

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