2016 was a fantastic year politically (in general), but it was a busy (albeit equally fantastic) time for me professionally. There was much work to do in the ‘background’ (especially since June), so writing for publication — including on this blog — took a back seat. 2017 will be different, but before we get there, here’s what happened on my side in ’16, writing-wise:
1. Détente 2.0
Détente 2.0: Playing the long game with a rearmed Russia — my main piece this year, initially published here on www.gabriel-elefteriu.com, on 11 May 2016, but only promoted (on Twitter etc) from around 20 June (when I finished making tweaks to that first draft).
The final text was later picked up and featured on WarNewsUpdates (WNU) in a post titled Should The West Push A New Policy Of Detente With Russia? (warnewsupdates.blogspot.co.uk, 4 August 2016). WNU is one of the best geopolitical and military / intel news aggregators out there, IMHO; it is definitely one of the most read, including by people in the foreign policy / defence establishments in Washington, Beijing and Moscow. So being featured on WNU was a big deal for me, but most importantly it gave my ‘Detente 2.0’ piece a huge exposure.
The funny thing is that four days later (8 August), The Atlantic published a piece by Jeffrey Tayler, entitled ‘The Time Is Ripe for Détente, 2.0‘. It literally repeated (by accident, for sure) some of the points I had made. Consequently, on 12 August WNU posted a ‘Detente 2.0 (update)‘, with the Editor commenting that
“A lot has happened since this post was put up last week …. Should The West Push A New Policy Of Detente With Russia? (August 4, 2016). To begin …. Jeffrey Taylor at the Atlantic put up a similar post post a few days later …. The Time Is Ripe for Détente, 2.0 (The Atlantic), and I have been receiving feedback from some WNU readers who are in the U.S. foreign policy establishment who have shifted their positions (in just one week) that maybe a different approach should be undertaken with Russia to lessen tensions.
I personally hope this is the case …. a reset between the West and Russia is badly needed, because the alternative …. another Cold War …. would not only be incredibly destabilising to all of Europe, but it would also open the door to the nightmare scenario of a possible major war.
In closing …. special kudos to Gabriel Elefteriu for getting the conversation going. His post …. Détente 2.0: Playing the long game with a rearmed Russia …. is a must read.”
2. Air and Naval Operations in the Black Sea (Second World War study)
Air and Naval Power in the Black Sea, 1941-1944 (essay) — I published this here on gabriel-elefteriu.com on 26 June 2016. I was very pleased to have this piece subsequently re-published by the Phoenix Think Tank (17 September 2016), which is Britain’s leading specialist maritime and seapower-focused independent website. Proud to find myself in the select company of top UK maritime and naval authors!
By the way, around this time, in September, we also moved to our new offices on Great George Street just off Parliament Square. Inspiring view!
3. My take on Brexit
I made my view on Brexit abundantly clear (one hopes!) on this blog in an analysis published on 30 June, entitled Too Big To Fail: Why The BREXIT That Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger. The title is self-explanatory, and even now, six months later, I can’t find much in this piece that I would take back — on the contrary.
4. Key paper on UK foreign policy after Brexit, with Prof John Bew
After the 23 June vote, I was privileged to be able to join Professor John Bew, head of our Britain in the World Project at Policy Exchange, in co-authoring a short paper entitled ‘Making Sense of British Foreign Policy After Brexit: Some Early Thoughts‘ (published on 19 July). This went down very well, not just with (part of) the press but especially with some key people whose opinion we very much care for.
>>> In July on this blog I made the tentative point that Today You Don’t Need a Big Army To Be a Strong Military Power (gabriel-elefteriu.com, 18 July).
>>> On 1 October I wrote a piece for Policy Exchange, explaining The fine line between détente and appeasement.
>>> On 10 October the Conservative Middle East Council published a piece I had written in a strictly personal capacity, at their express request, for their ‘Britain after Brexit’ series.
>>> Finally, on 19 December, in another article for Policy Exchange, I argued that It is High Time for a Fundamental Discussion on British Grand Strategy. (Hint: it’s coming, and we’re going to have important things to say.)
This list is way shorter than what I had intended for 2016. But then again, 2016 was a pretty unusual year to say the least. (By the way, I do take pride in the fact that I predicted — and bet on! — both Brexit and Trump, and not at the last minute but in advance. Granted, I was less confident that the Leave campaign will pull through than I was about Trump…but still…the signs were there and building up for months, if one knew where (and how) to look.)
Here’s to a superb 2017!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!