Britain’s Strategic Culture in Context: A Typology of National Security Strategies

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British Foreign Policy and the National Interest


Palgrave Macmillan London

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Britain’s development of its first National Security Strategy (NSS) in 2008 (Cabinet Office 2008) was a welcome step forward in efforts to organise the ways, means and ends of the UK’s international affairs. Two years later, the Conservative - Liberal Democrat coalition government published a new NSS (Cabinet Office 2010a) and a Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) (Cabinet Office 2010b). The SDSR was controversial for reasons that are outlined below. It was notable, however, for its use of a risk-based approach to structure its analysis, which allowed policymakers to view threats in terms of their estimated probability and impact, instead of providing a simple laundry list of concerns. At the same time, the review and consequent developments reveal the problems Whitehall faces in its attempt to balance concerns about security risks with the concomitant goals of economic growth and deficit reduction.

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