Defence: A Sense of Balance
Much has changed since the days when all we needed to do to defend our national interests was to send a gunboat or dispatch an expeditionary force. Not only is there the increasing range and sophistication of defence technology. Governments today have necessarily to consider such factors as the cohesion of alliances; the credibility of particular forces or force structures; the effect of words or actions on allies and opponents alike; the political, financial and industrial cost of particular courses of action; the need to reassure their publics that their defence policies are the right ones; the arms control side of the security coin; and so on. All of this requires them to perform a very difficult balancing act. Indeed, I sometimes think that the job of a Defence Secretary is very like that of a circus acrobat: he has to keep a number of balls in the air at the same time, while walking a narrow tightrope with a bucket of whitewash poised above his head. And if he should slip, there is no safety-net underneath. For that you need a highly developed sense of balance and a strong nerve.
KeywordsNuclear Weapon Security Policy British Government Defence Policy Defence Budget
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