1 July 2020 – CHACR Weekly Take Away Newsletter Issue 15

This is the 15th issue of the weekly CHACR Take Away newsletter.  In these newsletters, you will find links to the latest products by the CHACR, but also links to key reports and studies by external experts and institutions which we think you should pay attention to.

A Word From the Director

The morning routine of scanning the headlines to see what’s going on in the world done, I turn to jot down a few thoughts for this week’s newsletter. A casual glance at this morning’s BBC news front page online, then a quick cast of the net a bit further afield to absorb a wider range of views from other news sources: the Guardian, The Times, The Telegraph, Sky and so on, then a quick flick into Europe and further afield from Le Figaro just across the Channel to Al Jazeera’s more distant global news. As one scans through the headlines to garner an idea of what is going on in the world you could easily be forgiven for thinking
that, COVID aside, it was all pretty quiet out there, as everyone, worldwide, struggles with becoming, remaining or emerging from being locked down. But hidden away amongst the white noise of COVID are the muscle movements that should receive the full attention of the strategically-minded observer or the professionally curious soldier. Last week Angus Lapsley, now the DG Strategy and International in the MoD (and immediately before that the Director for Defence, International Security, and South-east Europe in the FCO), treated CHACR regulars to a real ‘tour-de-force tour d’horizon’ during his excellent webinar. He took us round the world helping us to catch a glimpse of those major events that, like distant planets, may move on, largely unseen by us, but whose irresistible gravitational pull may draw us in. Yet I was struck by how many of the questions that were posed to him from a wideranging audience drew him, irresistibly, back into ‘what will Coronavirus mean for the UK and, specifically, for the IR?’ Yet China keeps pushing the boundaries in the Pacific and South China Sea, while ‘chesting-up’ to India in the Himalayas, and changing the whole game in Hong Kong; dynamics in Syria, Turkey, Russia and Iraq still pull and push at each other; Yemen still endures “the worst humanitarian crisis in the last one hundred years”; Putin plays his ‘President for Life’ card; and so on.  Brexit held our attention so firmly that Coronavirus seemed to descend upon us like a storm from a clear blue sky – but that’s just because we had given up with the long-range forecast. Angus Lapsley’s comprehensive webinar was a timely reminder that, regardless of Coronavirus, we need to keep looking over the horizon.

Maj Gen (Ret) Dr Andrew Sharpe