Daniel Korski

Going soft

Going soft
Text settings

One of the greatest threats to British security is not whether the government opts for Tornadoes over Harriers, but whether we have credible, militarily-capable allies. So the fact that so many European countries have lost the will to fight — cutting defence budgets while the popular backing for ‘hard,’ as opposed to ‘soft,’ power declines — is a problem.

To address this, Europeans need first and foremost to redevelop a narrative of power. In a new pamphlet, former MoD official Nick Witney tries to lay out the required narrative. He argues that Europe’s future security and prosperity now depends on success in a global competition. Europe’s belief that "soft power" is somehow enough is naïve, and has no other takers amongst its global competitors.

To this I would add that in many of the places Europeans like to influence events, from Egypt to China, having a credible military outlook is crucial to the diplomatic effort. Nick Clegg could not get to see Egypt's Field Marshall Tantawi, for instance, when he visited Cairo recently — but General Sir David Richards would probably have more luck. But if Europeans, including Brits, do not maintain capable military forces, no amount of bemedaled generals will help.