The author's assessment of the Integrated Defence Review begins as follows: "With the release of the long-awaited (and long-delayed) Integrated Review yesterday, British voters were finally privy to the longest and most developed insight yet seen into how the Government perceives the global system of the next decade, and how to secure Britain’s place in it.
The overall context of the Review is that of a global system marked by China’s rise and its corollary, America’s decline. Like Ham in Genesis ashamed by his father Noah’s nakedness, the British defence establishment finds the stark facts of American decline too shameful to face directly. Though American decline is referred to only obliquely through the polite euphemism of “a more competitive and multipolar world”, its consequences are the thread which runs through the entire review.
It acknowledges that China’s growing international stature is by far the most significant geopolitical factor in the world today, “with major implications for British values and interests and for the structure and shape of the international order”. And with archetypal British understatement, it adds that “the fact that China is an authoritarian state, with different values to ours, presents challenges for the UK and our allies”.
Overall, the author concludes, the Review strikes the right balance between lofty rhetoric "and a sober appreciation of the world as it actually is, [managing} to balance the ethical and ideological impulses of international politics with a frank and cautious analysis of hard power. It can see Britain’s place in a dangerous and volatile new world, without over-promising our capacity to shape it."
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