Yesterday a bomb exploded in Liverpool, near the cathedral where a memorial day service was later held. Three men were subsequently arrested under the Terrorism Act.
Over the weekend, Mateusz Morawiecki, Polish Prime Minister, called on NATO to intervene as migrants are headed to his country’s borders by the government of Belarus. Behind Alexander Lukashenko, its president, stands Vladimir Putin. The American government reportedly informed allies last week that Russia is preparing for a possible invasion of Ukraine.
A month ago, today, David Amess was killed. Ali Harbi Ali, who was referred to the Prevent program as a teenager, was charged with the murder of the Southend congressman and previous preparation of terrorist acts.
The interpolation of events in Eastern Europe between two deaths in Britain may seem strange. But it is a way to reiterate a point about the government’s foreign and defense policy that is developing on this site.
“Conservatives risk obsession with China to the exclusion of other threats, including Russia and Islamist extremism,” I wrote in July of last year.
To be clear: this site is not a fan of the Chinese Communist Party. I agree with the broad thrust of what Neil O’Brien, our former columnist and now minister, and with Tom Tugendhat, the chairman of the select committee on foreign affairs, wrote for us about China.
O’Brien wants it removed from our businesses, infrastructure and universities. Tugendhat agrees, and wants a new commercial initiative to counter the Chinese ring road, “strengthening the rule of law as the basis of international trade”.
The two parliamentarians co-founded the Chinese research group, which “seeks to consider the long-term challenges and opportunities associated with the rise of China and its industrial and diplomatic policies”.
More power at his elbow. But as the government ends the “golden decade” of Anglo-Chinese relations ahead of time, and parliamentarians try to drag China to court for genocide, it is important to consider the threats to our national security in the round.
Perhaps we find it harder than ever to do this because, in the way of Twitter (and other social media), the way we live now is to follow some topics that are “trending” – or in other words, that are of the moment.
China is in trend recently and Islamism is not, in the wake of the collapse of ISIS and therefore of the latter’s appeal to Muslims: so much so that Boris Johnson he didn’t even mention Islam during his speech at the Munich security conference earlier this year.
Meanwhile, Putin’s current exploitation of migrants is in tune with his recent exploitation of gas. Whether Russia invades Ukraine or acts through delegates, Eastern Europe is fragile, we have troops in the Baltic states, and NATO is a troubled institution.
In the absence of an Iraqi or Afghan-style conflict, the potential of Islamists to radicalise the British Muslim population towards violent extremism appears to be limited.
The deeper conflict with Russia is something else, and the signs of the times are not good. The major parties in Germany are lined up behind the Nord2 project. Emmanuel Macron was rotating towards Putin.
As France fuels small boat crossings, the media is obsessed with the outside interests of MPs and Boris Johnson mulls over Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol, be prepared to stop these disruptions.
The Prime Minister seems more willing to welcome China than some of his colleagues – including perhaps Liz Truss – and not just because he wanted your help at COP26 (which was held).
The government integrated strategy on security, defense, development and foreign policy has produced a balancing act: “wWe will continue to pursue a positive business and investment relationship with China, while ensuring that our national security and our values are protected ”.
Some want a more emphatic anti-Chinese slant that a military capability in the Pacific would be part of. They need to explain how this is consistent with maintaining our strength at home and closer to overseas given limited budgets.