6 Conclusion |
94. The answer we received to the question, "Who
does UK Grand Strategy?" is: no-one. This should be a matter
of great concern for the Government, Parliament and the country
as a whole. The assumptions on which we have based our perceptions
of our national interest in the last fifty years or so are now
being challenged in new ways. We need to redefine what the UK's
national interests are in the emerging new and uncertain environment.
We need also to be able to think strategically about how to ensure
they are promoted. This is the stated aspiration of the new Government
but, as yet we have seen no evidence that they will be able to
achieve it. As things stand there is little idea of what the UK's
national interest is, and therefore what our strategic purpose
95. Our interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan are
prominent examples of where our lack of consistent strategy goes
a long way towards explaining why the conflicts have not gone
well for the UK. This underlines the need for a coherent National
96. Time is not on our side. The Government have
been considering a Strategic Defence and Security Review over
the summer. An announcement is imminent and the tensions are palpable
in the rush of media stories and leaks. Our colleagues on the
Defence Committee have expressed their concern at the speed at
which the SDSR is being conducted. Sir Robert Fry reflected on
how the Foreign Secretary over the summer made speeches on a broad
manifesto for foreign policy for the future as ambitious as it
has ever been. On the other hand he considered that, "We
are about to embark upon sets of reviews and Government cuts that
are actually going to disassociate completely the means of supporting
those ends, and I cannot think of a better example of the vacuum
in strategic thinking than that".
We share that concern. The Foreign Secretary has said that "The
Government rejects the idea of strategic shrinkage".
It is however impossible to conceive of any strategic rationale
that could reconcile this with the widely canvassed possibility
of substantial cuts in defence capability, as defence spending
declines below 2 per cent of GDP. We question therefore whether
the Government has the capacity to deliver an SDSR which is in
any way strategic.
97. Having a community of strategically 'literate'
officials in Whitehall is essential. It will be a competence which
we will expect to see encouraged and nurtured. We intend to reconsider
strategy making in light of the outcome of the SDSR and as we
inquire into the development of the Civil Service and good governance
in this Parliament.
85 Q 226 Back
HC Deb, 26 May 2010, col 174 Back