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162411, 2024-01-17 12:29:25  



Back in the days of the Cold War there remained a sense that we were dealing with rational actors.

But these new powers are far more unstable, and irrational.

Can we really assume the strategy of Mutually Assured Destruction that stopped wars in the past will stop them in future, when applied to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard or North Korea?

I am afraid we cannot.

Particularly since there is now another new worrying consideration: Our adversaries are now more connected with each other.

Now some argue these threats are not existential to the UK.

And yet, what happens elsewhere, quickly happens here.

In the past few years weve seen terror attacks on the streets of London, attempted assassinations in Salisbury, theft of Intellectual Property, attempted interference in our political processes, a cost-of-living crisis, brought to you by Putin, thats hurting families here at home.

And now, our trade. 90 per cent of which comes by sea, is the target of terrorists.

Proving that not only do our adversaries have the intent to target us but they have a widening array of weapons with which to wreak havoc.

In our online world our adversaries dont need to jump in a tank board a sub or strap into a fighter jet to hurt us.

Cyber warfare simply means hacking into our networks and watching the economic carnage unfold.

Last year, almost a third of businesses in the UK suffered a cyber breach or attack. And the total cost to the UK economy runs into billions.

We know significant numbers of these attacks come from Russia and China where they are also developing satellite killing technology, capable of degrading us from space.

Even mass migration can be cynically used against us as a weapon of war, as Poland, Norway, and Finland have been experiencing.

In other words, nation states plus non-state actors with greater connections between them plus more creative weapons all adds up to more trouble for the world.

But now is the time for all allied and democratic nations across the world to do the same.

And ensure their defence spending is growing.

Because, as discussed, the era of the peace dividend is over.

In five years time we could be looking at multiple theatres involving Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

Ask yourselves looking at todays conflicts across the world - is it more likely that the number grows, or reduces?

I suspect we all know the answer its likely to grow. So, 2024 must mark an inflexion point.
hese projects are not just about building nuclear powered subs, sixth generation fighter planes, and innovating in all forms of Defence.

They are about sharpening our strategic edge so we can maintain our advantage over our adversaries.

They are precisely the deep relationships needed to preserve national and regional security.

And theyre emblematic of the way we will work in the future.

But its not enough to deter. We must lead. Standing up for our values around the world.

And Ukraine is a test case.

This year, its future may well be decided.

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