Shifting Power and Influence

As the centre of global economic activity continues to move East, stronger Asian leadership and US constraint stimulate a global power vacuum.

As the 2021 Integrated Review also makes clear, we are seeing fundamental changes in the global balance of power. Broadly speaking, we are witnessing an accelerating shift in global economic activity Eastwards, with stronger Asian leadership, especially from China, and simultaneously further US retrenchment stimulating a period of global uncertainty. Western markets are weakening.

In recent years, and notwithstanding the new Biden administration, the US has become less interventionist, and there is growing concern around both China’s ambitions for wider influence and Russia’s increasingly assertive behaviour.

Alongside this, there is a trend in many regions towards increasingly centralised, authoritarian rule, which is evident in countries such as India, Brazil, and Turkey, and typified by China and Russia. This has coincided with the rise of right-wing nationalist populist governments, and parties in parts of Europe where, with mounting pressures on the EU, the different priorities of north and south are also becoming evident.

Some experts warn that we may have reached the end of the era of globalisation, and looking ahead, we will experience greater fragmentation, instability, lasting and significant economic pressure, stronger competition, and a potential escalation in international conflict. Given this, it may be that the traditional global structures such as the United Nations (UN), the World Health Organisation (WHO), and the World Trade Organisation (WTO), may no longer be capable of steering a middle path. This is all happening at a time when Britain’s perceived status and role in the world post-Brexit has yet to be clarified, and many are concerned that its reputation as an international power player will be difficult to justify and maintain. There are multiple consequences resulting from this assumption, but in the context of transition, a reduction in global status may influence civilian understanding of the benefits a career in the Armed Forces can offer.

A consequence of this may well be an increased sense of disillusionment and an acceleration of the number of Service personnel who decide to transition. In turn, this could increase the pressure on the support services around them. More subtly, the accompanying loss of pride and sense of inadequacy may make it more difficult for some to articulate the transferrable skills that they gathered when in Service.

Example Implication: Notwithstanding the 2021  Integrated Review, a lack of shared clarity around purpose, relevance and influence may contribute to a decline in public and political support for the Armed Forces, and fuel a sense of inadequacy among serving and transitioning personnel.




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