Letter: Wider consultation needed in Government defence review

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The Independent Online
Letter: Wider consultation needed in Government defence review

Sir: Polly Toynbee, in her polemical attack on the defence review ("A Boy Scout motto: prepared for what?", 14 July), is correct to identify, amongst all too many senior officials, a continuing cold-war mindset and a reluctance, verging on a refusal, to open their minds generally. She is completely wrong, however, to believe that we can secure a better and fairer life at home and do good in the world without having effective, fully equipped military capabilities.

Sir Michael Alexander (letter, 16 July) can fairly and properly defend ministers' intentions to make the review process as open as possible and bring in contributions from all with something to contribute. But the lists of those actually invited to the two seminars held so far undermine his implicit claim that participation was fully representative.

It was, in fact, highly selective, largely composed of a particular favoured few, amounting to less than 5 per cent of the 150-200 academics doing serious work on defence and security issues in this country and almost entirely ignoring those working on strictly military issues - which is what the review is actually about.

Officials (and ex-officials like Sir Michael) will have to do much better than this if the review process is to justify the open government objectives to which ministers rightly attach such importance.

HUMPHRY CRUM EWING

Research Fellow

Centre for Defence and International Security Studies

Lancaster University

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