The Retreat from Strategy

Britain’s Dangerous Confusion of Interests with Values

September 2024 9781911723677 336pp
Forthcoming Pre-order
Available as an eBook
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Britain is sleepwalking to disaster, because London has abandoned all forms of proper strategy. That is the sobering message of this powerful analysis exposing the great failings of British security and defence policy.

Britain long ago abandoned the art and science of grand strategy, even though this is crucial for establishing the country’s direction of travel. Without grand strategy, national strategy has been reduced to little more than a political game of how much threat Britain can afford, and who gets what from an ever-shrinking resource pot. However, it is Britain’s defence policy where the contradictions and self-delusion of abandoned strategy are most apparent, and which explains why the balance between ends, ways and means—as sound strategy would demand—has become not just elusive, but nigh on impossible.

This essential, incisive book offers Britain a pathway back to strategic realism, by ending the profound confusion of interests with values that has done so much damage to Britain and its vital place in the world of the twenty-first century.


David Richards (General The Lord David Richards of Herstmonceux) commanded British troops in East Timor, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan, then served as Chief of the Defence Staff and a National Security Council member.

Julian Lindley-French is Chairman of The Alphen Group; Eisenhower Professor of Defence Strategy at the Netherlands Defence Academy; and the author of Future War and the Defence of Europe.

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