Britain's ”Back” With Some Messages for Its Allies (12/11)     Print Email

By Michael D. Mosettig, Former Foreign Editor of PBS News Hour

Bolstered by last week's parliamentary vote authorizing military action in Syria, Britain's Defense Secretary Michael Fallon has been in Washington with a double set of messages:first, his country is back as a key player on the international scene and second, key British allies should not let emotions get in the way of good policy.

Of course, Prime Minister David Cameron and his front bench would argue that Britain never staged a global retreat, which has been the fodder for columnists and retired generals and military analysts assessing and conflating big defense spending cuts between 2010 and 2014 and the House of Commons 2013 vote nixing military action in Syria.

At an appearance at the Atlantic Council and a series of media interviews, Fallon assured American listeners that Britain was standing side by side with the United States and other allies in the fight against ISIL/Daesch terrorists and that it was matching its words with a military buildup.

"We are not just sitting on the sidelines," the minister said.

But at the same time, Fallon tried to put a damper on emotions that are charging politics inside two key allies, the United States and France. Without citing either country by name nor speaking specifically of Donald Trump or Marine Le Pen's comments about Muslims, he said “the allies should do nothing that hands a propaganda coup to Islamic extremists.” He concluded his prepared remarks asserting that western countries should not fall back on the politics of  fear or despair.

Fallon described to his Atlantic Council audience some specific elements of a recently completed strategy review including stepped up spending that brings Britain to the target of 2 percent of GDP for defense and creation of expeditionary ground, navy and air forces.  Asked why the government is spending more now after years of cuts, he said the country had to get its economic house in order, cutting deficits, as a key element of national security.

 "All the pressures came together," he said of the events driving Britain's more muscular policies ---the spread of ISIL from Iraq into Syria, a new Parliament after the 2015 election and the terror attacks in the capital of its closest neighbor.

  • 5G and the World Radio Conference 

    By Patricia Paoletta, Washington DC

    You may have heard that the United States is in “a Race to 5G.” 5G—or the Fifth Generation of wireless broadband—will be 100x faster than 4G, connect up to 100x more devices, and be 5x more responsive through lower latency. 5G is expected to connect people, things, transport systems, and cities in smart-networked, always-on environments. 5G will transport a huge amount of content much faster, reliably connect millions of devices, and process very high volumes of data with minimal delay.

    Read more ...

UMD Jean Monnet Research Project

The University of Maryland has received a Jean Monnet grant from the EU to conduct a series of policy exchanges between Europe and the US on filling infrastructure needs and the utility of public/private partnerships as the financing mechanism. If interested in participating in or receiving more information about these exchanges, please contact Rye McKenzie (

New from the Bertelsmann Foundation

The Bertelsmann Foundation is an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit think tank in Washington, DC with a transatlantic perspective on global challenges.

"The Troubles with Brexit", by Anthony T. Silberfeld

"Shared Values No More?", by Emily Hruban

"Trick or Treat", by Anthony T. Silberfeld



Summer Course

Get updates from EI@UMD