UK Defence Minister: The era of the peace dividend is over

January 18,2024 2146
UK Defence Minister: The era of the peace dividend is over

The era of peace has ended, and the world has entered a pre-war period, stated Grant Shapps, UK’s Minister of Defence, on January 16 in his address at Lancaster House, as quoted by European Pravda.

Thirty-five years ago, Margaret Thatcher gave a short speech here in Lancaster House. She spoke of her optimism about the changes taking place between East and West. Barely two weeks later the Berlin Wall fell. It was the dawn of a new era. Existential threats were banished. And a new global feel good factor spread to Defence. This was the age of the peace dividend. The notion that while our defences should be maximised at times of tension they could be minimised in times of peace. Conflict didn’t disappear of course. But with no great power menacing the continent, peace gave the impression of being just around the corner. Yet, not everyone got the memo. In fact our adversaries were mobilising. The belligerent autocratic state was making a comeback – having got away with the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, Putin launched his brutal invasion of Ukraine eight years later,” Grant Shapps said.

Currently, Russia persists in its unlawful war in Ukraine, while China assesses Western patience. New states, both nuclear and aspiring to become nuclear, align with Moscow and Beijing. “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.”

The United Kingdom is making significant efforts to mobilize its defense apparatus and enhance its capacity to counter threats, particularly through support for Ukraine.

Today, for the very first time this government is spending more than £50bn a year on Defence in cash terms, more than ever before. And we have made the critical decision to set out our aspiration to reach 2.5% of GDP spent on defence. And as we stabilise and grow the economy, we will continue to strive to reach it as soon as possible. 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,” the minister said. 

The world may witness numerous conflicts involving Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea in the next five years. “Ask yourselves – looking at today’s conflicts across the world – is it more likely that the number grows, or reduces? I suspect we all know the answer – it’s likely to grow.”

The year 2024 is anticipated to be a pivotal moment for the world. “For Ukraine, this will be a year when the fate of their nation may be decided. For the world, this will be the greatest democratic year in history with nearly half of the world’s population going to the polls. And for the UK it must also be a moment to decide the future of our national defences. The choice is stark,” Shapps said.

Read the full text of the speech at the link

Cover: Shutterstock

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