Mary Kaldor, 15 August 1991
This is the much heralded first post-Cold War White Paper, which has been eagerly awaited for two years. Last year, after the revolutions in Eastern Europe, it was hoped that the end of the Cold War would enable Western countries to reduce their defence efforts drastically. Tories like George Walden, in a celebrated speech to Chatham House (published in the London Review of Books), suggested that Britain’s international position had been ‘artificially inflated’ by the Cold War and that Britain would ‘be forced to spend less time basking on summit slopes’. Alan Clarke was appointed by Mrs Thatcher to be Minister of Defence Procurement and was reportedly pushing for dramatic changes m Britain’s defence, including the abandonment of Britain’s European role (which accounts for a major chunk of the defence budget) and a focus on Britain’s post-imperial role, ‘out-of-area’ (i.e. Third World) intervention capabilities and nuclear weapons. The aim was to release a substantial peace dividend in time for the next election.