2016: personal review

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 […]

Today You Don’t Need a Big Army To Be a Strong Military Power

TODAY YOU DON’T NEED A BIG ARMY TO BE A STRONG MILITARY POWER The pending triumph of quality over quantity. If we’ve got the smarts. Gabriel Elefteriu 18 July 2016 In Libya forces loyal to the UN-backed government in Tripoli are pressing ISIL hard in Sirte. UK and US advisers are said to be helping government forces with logistics and intelligence. This combination of small-scale but high-end Western military capabilities and low-grade but larger mass of local manpower is increasingly proving to be a battle-winning combination in today’s conflicts — perhaps even a war-winner, in the long term. In other […]

Too Big To Fail: Why The BREXIT That Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger

Too Big To Fail: Why The Brexit That Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger Tentative judgements on likelihoods. Gabriel Elefteriu 29 June 2016 There has been no shortage of apocalyptic predictions for the future of Britain outside the EU, both before and after the referendum. Six days in, those who had expected a financial collapse of Britain are scratching their heads as the pound has rebounded to 1.34 and the FTSE100 has recovered all losses since the vote and continues to rise (it’s now at the highest since April). Of course it will all go down again to some degree – celebrations are premature – […]

Air and Naval Power in the Black Sea, 1941-1944 (essay)

As NATO allies try to formulate a response to Russian build-up in the Black Sea, what can we learn from the complex military operations that took place in this unique and little-understood theatre during the Second World War? As I conclude in this essay, “this was really a war of small craft in shallow waters for command of the coast, requiring permanent naval pressure for maintaining ‘favourable operational conditions’. Constant naval raids and interdiction actions by light units operating from minor ports relatively close to the enemy proved of key value to this sort of war. […] Naval forces appear […]

Détente 2.0: Playing the long game with a rearmed Russia

We have no long-term strategy to deal with Moscow. Kissinger’s original concept of détente can help. On 28 April the lower house of the French parliament voted through a (thankfully, non-binding) resolution to lift sanctions on Russia. Not longer ago than March, John Kerry’s visit to Moscow occasioned talk of a possible new “thaw” between the Kremlin and Washington. Even the NATO-Russia council has been revived recent weeks. These are not freak political “accidents” but simply expressions of an obvious reality: the relationship with Moscow is complex and sometimes contradictory, particularly given the growing diversity of NATO’s membership. A varying level of […]

Quote of the day

“There is no such thing as ‘the facts of the case.’ There is only a very selective subset of the overall mass of data to which one has been subjected that one takes as facts and judges to be relevant to the question at issue.” Richards J. Heuer, Psychology of Intelligence Analysis, CIA, 1999

Bombing ISIL – a striking debate

Yesterday’s day-long debate in the House of Commons on extending RAF airstrikes against ISIL from Iraq into Syria was won by the government with 397 votes ‘for’ and 223 ‘against’. Which is excellent news of course, because at long last we can do our duty to our our own security, to our allies and to civilisation. But there is a far darker side to this debate: the very fact that we actually had to have it, further aggravated by how ‘difficult’ the final decision proved to be for many of our elected MPs. This says a great deal about our thinking and our society today. The case […]

Overview: The anti-ISIL campaign and Europe’s security

On 26 November the prime minister made the case in parliament for extending anti-ISIL airstrikes from Iraq into Syria; he also took 103 questions from MPs on the matter. Before the debate the prime minister published a 35-page written response to a previous report by the Foreign Affairs Committee which had come out against the idea of airstrikes. David Cameron’s document provides answers to each point raised by the Committee and lays out the government’s intended approach – the strategy – with respect to Syria. In short, David Cameron argued that ISIL is a direct threat to the UK which must be tackled […]

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