After the War: How to Keep Europe Safe, by Paul Taylor

Second paragraph of third chapter:

Russia’s act of aggression against a neighbour jolted the EU into becoming more of a geopolitical actor, forcing it to demonstrate a degree of unity and purpose, which the fractious 27-nation bloc rarely achieves in quieter times. The EU and member states deployed a broad toolbox of measures to support Kyiv, assist Ukrainians, sanction Russia and reduce supply chain dependencies for food, energy, minerals and microchips. They also, for the first time, used collective funds to supply lethal weapons to a partner country under attack.

I’ve decided to be a bit more assiduous about tracking my work-related reading, some of which qualifies as books to blog here. This is a mercifully brief report – 120 pages, available here – which was presented at a conference that I attended last month – I don’t recall actually speaking but I’m visible in the audience at several points.

For those of us inside the policy bubble, there’s nothing very surprising here, but it’s good to get the orthodox view down on paper (or pixels). Taylor reports that both NATO and the defence aspects of the EU have been strengthened, of necessity, after the Russian attack on Ukraine, and that policy-makers are now grappling with the likelihood that we’ll need to be combat-ready for the next decade at least. Lessons have been and are being learned about what armaments are and aren’t necessary. There remains a spectrum of debate but there’s a consensus among defence experts about the big picture.

Necessarily he concentrates on the countries that really drive this – France, Germany, in NATO but outside the EU the UK and USA, and the central and eastern European frontline states. His recommendations are largely things that the main actors are doing or want to do anyway. But it’s a very handy summary of what’s really going on in the policy world, and I hope a helpful counterbalance to the extremists of left and right who prefer to lie about these important issues.