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2016 December January Issue

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THE HORRIFIC ATTACKS on Paris a couple of weeks ago have left a conversation ringing in my ears. Back in October, we interviewed Iraq’s new Ambassador for this issue (page 45).

Addressing the War on Terror, he said that one of his country’s greatest challenges was to “engage the international community in Iraq’s war against terrorism.” He followed this with an impassioned plea: “The international community must realise that defeating Daesh will dramatically improve their own national security.” How true we now see this to be.

Inevitably, discussion has turned to how to tackle this issue, both domestically and on the international front. Budget cuts and their impact on Britain’s diplomatic imprint and global influence is a topic that comes up constantly. So much so that a group of former British Ambassadors have come together to argue that in future the government needs to commit itself to spending at least 0.2 per cent of GDP on its diplomatic service. They argue that Britain will find it impossible to exert influence overseas or remain engaged in the world if it continues to cut back the FCO any further. Diplomat contributor Michael Binyon reports that the organisation is accordingly having difficulty retaining the quality of staff it requires to do the job.

Furthermore, in his Westminster Reflections column, Bernard Jenkin says defence cuts have undermined our military capabilities. He highlights that although comparisons have been made with 9/11, today the world faces a far worse position. Al Qaeda never held territory, but ISIL hold cities, banks and oil wells, and have an estimated income of some US$500 million per annum. This comes in anticipation of the UK government delivering its five-yearly National Security Strategy, followed by the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review.

In these uncertain times, leadership is essential, and nowhere is this more important than with the position of UN Secretary-General. Ban Ki-moon’s term is up at the end of 2016, so Diplomat highlights some of the key candidates in the race. Interestingly, there is a high chance that this will be a woman from Eastern Europe. We shall watch with interest…

As always, Diplomat reviews the Credentials of new heads of mission to the Court of St James’s, this month meeting with the Ambassadors of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Finland and Iraq.

In the lifestyle section, Diplomat experiences impeccably personalised service at The Cavendish on Jermyn Street, and enjoys hearty American fare at Christopher’s, in the heart of London’s theatre-land. Now the holidays are upon us, Diplomat sources the ideal gifts for colleagues, friends and family. Readers with a taste for culture will find valuable advice in our book and arts reviews, with two rather lovely exhibitions: one on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (at the British Library), and another on the iconic comic- strip hero Tintin (at Somerset House).

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