The United Kingdom released its next national security strategy, entitled “Security in an Interdependant World.” It lays out “guiding principles” that underpin their strategy. The strategy also provides a threat assessment, defines “drivers” of insecurity, the UK’s responses to these threats and drivers, and an organizing framework for how the UK plans to work with and leverage other countries, organizations, and efforts to achieve national security. The strategy is similar in some ways to our national and homeland security strategies, but differences in emphasis and threat perception represent a divide in the way the U.S. views global threats and the way our closest ally does.
The UK strategy identifies six guiding principles that serve as both functions of the security strategy and the goals of it. They are “human rights, the rule of law, legitimate and accountable government, justice, freedom, tolerance, and opportunity for all.” The document notes, however, that the strategy can not be static in its pursuit of these goals. The UK government acknowledges that they must continually review the focus of its efforts, including identifying other “sectors or countries or international institutions [that] should be encouraged to play their part.”
A threat assessment in the strategy document identifies the following primary risks faced by the UK:
- Nuclear weapons and WMD
- Transnational organized crime
- Instability driven by failed and failing states
- Civil emergencies
- State-based threats to the UK
The threat assessment acknowledges that threats posed by other countries or states remains the same as in 1998. The UK reasserts the view articulated in its 1998 Strategic Defence Review that
“for the foreseeable future, no state or alliance will have both the intent and the capability to threaten the United Kingdom militarily, either with nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction, or with conventional forces.”
The current U.S. view of countries like Iran and Syria differ profoundly from this assessment. Our national security strategy argues that “Syria and Iran, continue to harbor terrorists at home and sponsor terrorist activity abroad.” And that “We may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran.” What do the British know that we don’t? Or are they missing something we’re not?
Okay, back to the slopes for me. We’ll dig into other relevant aspects of the new UK national security strategy next time.