London Defence Conference; RepComms Listens in at Bush House

Lean in! Mark Urban talks to Labour foreign and defence shadow secretaries at the London Defence Conference

More on RepComms‘ increasing incursions into the world of diplomacy, defence and geopolitics as Bush House, former home to the BBC World Service, hosted the London Defence Conference, now in its third and busiest year.

A collaboration between Reaction and King’s College London, the two-day invitation-only event lined up panellists and speakers from academia, politics, the defence industries and colleges as well as military figures of global influence.

Among the politicians, Defence Secretary Grant Schapps topped the bill with putative replacements John Healey and David Lammy tag-teaming on Labour’s world view. And with Lord Hague chairing a panel on emerging technologies, that had better include R&D and a hand-in-glove collaboration with private sector innovation.

Counterpoised was the EU and Continental Europe, struggling to come to terms with a new reality in which Baltic states on the ‘NATO lake’ and the Russian border are suddenly front and centre. Sweden and Poland prominent contributors, the former a new convert to mutual defence pacts, the latter, including Foreign Minister and speaker Radosław Sikorski, heading up the NATO GDP spend table. Whither nuclear France, “NATO is brain dead” and conflicted, catch-up Germany?

Elsewhere, regulation, regulation, regulation with one speaker claiming the EU’s regulation on AI is ‘effective disarmament’ in a world of drone swarms and hypersonic missiles and anecdotes about US truck movements hampered by emissions laws.

AUKUS to the fore, Churchill’s Fulton speech made flesh, with Australia providing the view from the Pacific and some valuable lessons learned.

US politics also a consistent theme and Niall Ferguson of the Hoover Institution, ever masterful in combining history, economics and geopolitics in a bravura panel performance under the capable  chairmanship of former BBC Diplomatic Editor, Mark Urban.

Plenty of emphasis too on resilience with Deputy PM, Oliver Dowden spelling out some COVID based realities.

The surface scratched in this whistle-stop tour of a fascinating and engaging two days at the London Defence Conference. Want to know more? Well, you know who to ask.



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