European Council on Foreign Relations

Re-heroisation or splendid isolation?

Recently at ECFR we’ve been discussing defence reform quite a lot – see my colleague Nicholas Walton’s recent post about the debate in the UK. I recently returned from a few days in Berlin, where the debate is both similar and different. It’s similar because Germany, like Britain, plans to cut defence spending and reduce the size of the Bundeswehr (the German armed forces). It’s different, however, because Germany has a quite different and in some ways diametrically opposite view of its role in NATO and in the world.  Where we Brits like to talk endlessly about “punching above our weight”, the Germans are often accused of not pulling their weight – see for example in Afghanistan, where the Bundeswehr operates under particularly strict caveats in the relatively peaceful north of the country. The UK still believes in power projection, but Germany prides itself on having put

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Remembrance, Afghanistan and rethinking defence

Several of us in the London office have just observed the two minutes of silence that is traditional in Britain at 1100 on every November 11th, in memory of the country’s war dead. Just a couple of hundred metres away from the office is a field of tiny crosses and paper poppies, laid out in miniature ranks on the grass in front of Westminster Abbey.

By 'London Looks' via Flickr

The fact remains inescapable, in this current climate of defence budget cuts and strategic reviews, that Britain remains a country at war.

One aspiration for this ECFR blog is for it to point readers in the direction of other material – written, spoken, filmed – that we find useful. As part of this I plan to do a weekly draw together of useful podcasts and radio that I’ve heard – and given the fact that it is November 11th, I thought it’d make sense to begin with a look at some useful pieces in connection with Afghanistan and defence.


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