A Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) think tank report published on 27 September 2011 stated that cuts in the UK’s defence spending mean that Britain’s military will “never again be among the global superpowers”. However, the report, “Looking into the Black Hole: Is Britain’s Defence Crisis Really Over?”, went on to state that current levels of spending “should be enough for it to maintain its position as one of the world’s five second-rank military powers (with only the US in the first rank)”.
Against the assertion that we live in financial times and that all policy, national and international, must yield to the commonsensical gods of finance, we must not forget that a lot is still dictated and informed by religious and political belief. To say that we are all animated by the same absolute truths and resulting interests is to forgo humanity, freedom and choice in favour of a single subjectivity. Navigating the new world order is about finance and trade, Foreign Office minister Jeremy Browne asserted at a recent Chatham House conference on foreign policy. Because we live in financial times, he reiterated for close to 90 minutes, Britain's international relations must focus on economic diplomacy. He went as far as arguing that a foreign policy based on the promotion of free trade is not a “zero sum game”. One is to understand that for the British government free trade will bring about greater freedom and promote “universal values” as a consequence of its resulting social dynamics.
The 66th Session of the UN General Assembly on 21 September, presented a precious opportunity for Brazilian president Dilma Roussef to shine on the international stage, even without the personal charisma of her popular predecessor Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. She held talks with US and European authorities on the financial crisis and in November will again be in the international spotlight during the G20 summit in France.
While the world cheered on the protesters and the Arab Spring which forever transformed the Middle East, regional powers trembled at the possible outcomes of the uprisings of which few, for them, would be favourable. Many of the regional and global powers which play a leading role in Middle East relations are relatively unpopular amongst the Arab youth and the general population. The Middle East is arguably not a better place today than it was eight months ago. The Arab Spring was only the first step, and if it is mismanaged it could pull the Middle East into a series of wars, the impact of which the whole world would feel.
Every other year, from early June until late November, Venice is dominated by the Biennale del Arte, commonly described as the "Olympics" of Art. Artists flock to the city, setting up countless official and unofficial pavilions in a variety of locations, from entrepôts to decadent palaces on the Grand Canal.
The existence of heavily armed civilians, remaining supporters for the Gaddafi regime, and a political system in chaos make for a difficult road ahead as the National Transition Council (NTC) seeks to gain legitimacy and control in Libya. Chatham House’s 18 August 2011 report Libya: Policy Options for Transition examines possible solutions including calling for the return of the skilled diaspora, restoring services and supplies and diversifying Libya’s oil-dependent economy. When the Chatham House held this discussion on the transition options for Libya, it was apparent that Tripoli would be key. It was unclear then whether it would be a quick triumph for rebels or an extensive, bloody battle. Just six days after, Gaddafi’s compound in Tripoli was seized. But what looked initially to be a speedy takeover, has exposed deeper challenges for the transition ahead.
China's rise will present both challenges and opportunities for states in the region. China's economic growth, if sustainable will help to maintain the internal security of the emerging superpower. The growth of the Chinese economy and its greater reliance on external energy and resource supplies will result in a more externally focused diplomatic and military posture. This may result in a regional arms race. China, the US and India and the constellation of states around each will form the likely balance of power over the next two decades.