chapter  1
20 Pages

Crises and Reviews in British Defence Policy

Introduction The period from 1945 to 2000 has witnessed a series of crises in British defence policy. Indeed, much of the defence literature has been focused either on specific reviews and crises or on their cumulative effects. Frequently they have been identified as key 'turning points' in the evolution of policy, both during and after the end of the Cold War. This is particularly true for those involved in the declinist debate who have often used the various reviews and crises as evidence to support their arguments. For example, Jackson points out that one of the most visible changes in the nature of British defence policy during the Cold War was the move from a global to a regional power and implies that this change in defence policy was part of a general decline in Britain's economic position vis-it-vis the rest of the world. 1 In this argument he points to the series of reviews conducted under the auspices of Denis Healey. Such a view is supported by the majority of defence economists who see the effect of decline impacting upon defence policy. In contrast Malcolm Chalmers argues that defence spending has been one of the causes of Britain's economic decline." He has argued that the costs of this investment have restricted the capacity for future production in other areas, that defence investment has utilised a disproportionate share of scarce high-technology inputs and that it has had an adverse effect on the balance of payments.