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The August/September edition of the RUSI Journal reflects on some of the momentous events that have marked the summer of 2016. They include the publication of the Report of the Iraq Inquiry (Chilcot Report), handed down at the beginning of July after nearly a decade in the making; the fallout of the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union, whose outcome came as shocking news to many at home and abroad; and the failed military coup in Turkey in mid-July with the ensuing government crackdown. All three are likely to have long-term consequences, if in very different ways: the Chilcot Report as a result of its assessment of the failures of military and civilian leaders in directing the UK’s war effort in Iraq, and the ramifications of such failures for the country’s future international military commitments; Brexit for the reorganisation of the UK’s formal and informal ties with its European neighbours; and Turkey’s failed coup as the potentially growing instability at the outer edges of Europe, already a critical junction for the dual challenges of conflict in the Middle East and migration. All are issues that will remain with us for the foreseeable future. In their immediate aftermath, Christopher Elliott assesses some of the findings of the Chilcot Report and highlights some of its shortcomings; Matthew C Benwell and Alasdair Pinkerton explore the impact of the EU referendum campaign on the UK’s Overseas Territories and its effects on traditional and wider understandings of security; Jonathan Eyal discusses the risks and opportunities that lie in front of both the UK and the EU in the wake of the referendum result; and Francesco F Milan surveys the legacy of fraught civil–military relations that provided the background for the failed military coup of 15 July in Turkey.
Civil–military relations are also the subject of Gregory Foster’s analysis, which draws some fascinating conclusions from a survey of the views of students at the National Defense University in Washington who are destined for the top military posts in the US; in a similar vein, Steven Paget analyses the role of culture and mutual understanding within multinational forces to ensure interoperability is possible at more than the technological level.
New technologies are, of course, at the heart of new thinking when it comes to making security and defence policy that can both take advantage of technological changes and mitigate their potential negative effects. Cyber is the most obvious of these new challenges: David J Lonsdale analyses the UK’s experience in the cyber-domain, and argues that the country does not yet have a fully fledged cyber-strategy.
In an in-depth study of UN sanctions of Iran, Jonathan Brewer focuses on asset freeze requirements and exemptions, using a case study of an Iranian financial entity to show how in this case the outcome was a successful one.
In the military history section, Andrew Stewart takes the opportunity of the upcoming 90th anniversary of the Royal College of Defence Studies to revisit how the college was reopened in the wake of the Second World War to educate military leaders on how to project influence in a changing international environment through both soft and hard power.
Finally, Alex Mayhew interviews photographer Michael St Maur Sheil to ask about his work on the battlefields of the First World War, and what memories lie dormant in these now peaceful landscapes.
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