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#KeepingUpTheFight

thinkin

40 years after the Falklands: what can the British armed forces still do?

This is a newsroom ThinkIn. In-person and digital-only tickets are available.The Russian invasion of Ukraine has put defence spending back in the spotlight. April marks the 40 year anniversary of the Falklands War. The naval task force that set off on 5 April was a formidable one, and it marks the last significant conflict where British forces engaged an enemy alone. After 10 weeks of fighting, which was widely covered in the media, Argentine forces were repelled and the Union flag flew again over Port Stanley. Victory in the conflict allowed Britain to publicly show the world it was still a military power when it mattered. But four decades later, how have the British armed forces changed, for better and worse? Join us for a special ThinkIn where we explore military funding and the roles, responsibilities and capabilities of the UK as a military power. editor and invited experts Giles WhittellSensemaker Editor General Sir Christopher DeverellRetired British Army Officer; served as Commander of the UK’s Joint Forces Command Monty HallsBroadcaster and Author of ‘Commando: The Inside Story of Britain’s Royal Marines’ Tony HoareFormer SAS Trooper and Security Consultant. Author of ‘Born for war: one SAS Trooper’s Incredible Story of the Falklands’

thinkin

Russia and Ukraine: a return to conventional warfare?

This is a digital-only ThinkIn.The widely circulating images of Russian tanks and armoured cars rolling into Ukraine are powerful and deeply alarming. But at the same time, they are not exactly the futuristic images of modern warfare that one might have imagined from 2022. Instead, many of the photos are of Russian vehicles stuck in the mud or with burst tyres. This makes it seem as if Russia’s military isn’t quite as well-funded, and highly technical as many have imagined. Reports have instead suggested that Ukrainian forces have destroyed numerous Russian armoured vehicles using cheap drones from Turkey. Why is this the case? Is the invasion of Ukraine hampered by poor maintenance, obsolete hardware or general lack of preparation? As Nato strengthens the presence of troops, planes and defensive weapons across bases in member countries, are Nato forces better prepared? editor and invited experts Giles WhittellSensemaker Editor Bettina RenzProfessor of International Security, University of Nottingham Sam Cranny-EvansResearch analyst, Military Sciences, RUSI

thinkin

PTSD in the armed forces: could MDMA be the answer?

This is a digital-only ThinkIn.MDMA was originally developed by German scientists more than a century ago. In the 1970s some psychiatrists used the chemical to enhance communication with patients. The practice fell from favour when MDMA became better known as a party drug and the principal ingredient in ecstasy pills. ‘E’s kickstarted the ‘Second Summer of Love’ of 1989 in the UK and MDMA – also known as ‘molly’ –  became intertwined with club culture. Today, psychiatrists are successfully experimenting with therapeutic MDMA as a treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), with promising trials among US veterans. Last year, General Sir Nick Carter, the outgoing UK Chief of Defence Staff, gave his support to clinical trials of MDMA to treat British soldiers with PTSD. Early signs indicate it could be more effective than talking therapies, and offer thousands of veterans relief from serious mental trauma. What kinds of PTSD does it work for, and are there any other banned substances which could be used in treating mental health conditions?  Join us for this ThinkIn with General Sir Nick Carter and other experts and campaigners where we’ll explore how a Class-A recreational drug could become the latest psychiatric treatment.  editor and invited experts James HardingCo-founder and Editor General Sir Nick CarterFormer Chief of Defence Staff Gilly NortonCEO, Support for Wounded Veterans Rick DoblinFounder and Executive Director, Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)

thinkin

The Tortoise Cyber Summit

Transcript Before I get started, a short postscript to Britannia Unhinged, this week’s Slow Newscast on Kwasi Kwarteng’s attempted takeover of the Treasury. If you’ve had a chance to listen to it, you’ll know it begins with Kwarteng’s first act as chancellor: the sacking of Sir Tom Scholar. The process of replacing him was, if anything, more cack-handed and telling. Antonia Romeo, a charismatic and can-do civil servant who has her fans and critics for, perhaps, exactly those qualities, was asked to apply for the job as Permanent Secretary at the Treasury. She was said to be reluctant, having never worked there, but she was given to understand that she was the favoured candidate not only of the chancellor, but also of the prime minister. The Treasury’s appointment panel interviewed several candidates, knowing, of course, that Romeo was Liz Truss’ choice, but they advised against appointing her; they recommended James Bowler, a respected and experienced Treasury official. Truss overruled them. Last Saturday morning, Romeo was lined up to be permanent secretary – the press release announcing her appointment was drafted and, in effect, she started the job, appointing her two deputies. But by Sunday morning the pressure on the prime minister to restore at least the appearance of order in the management of Britain’s finances was such that she reversed: Romeo was stood down, Bowler, the experienced hand, was asked to step up. Romeo had been very publicly messed around; Bowler had been openly undermined as the second choice, the civil service’s people and processes had been, well, toyed with and Truss had marched people up the hill and down the other side again. Call it what you like: a U-turn, a merry-go-round, a mess. This time last week, Kwasi Kwarteng wasn’t the only person who Liz Truss had assured would be running the Treasury and, this weekend, finds they aren’t.  *** A few years ago, it became fashionable to declare the end of the West. The American century was over: the world’s policeman had been mugged, humbled in Iraq and Afghanistan, embarrassed in Libya and gun-shy in Syria. And the culture wars, Facebook and fake news, the Trump presidency – they all added up to a kind of democratic cannibalism, as freedoms seemed to eat each other alive; and the financial crisis and the Make America Great Again – the “Maga” – backlash against globalisation meant that the world had lost both the champion, but importantly also the hero of the market economy. The pandemic and the climate crisis both seem to shine a light on the empty chair once occupied by by American leadership. And, all the while, China’s kept growing, bound, it seemed, by the laws of economic gravity and historic inevitability to eclipse the USA and dominate the 21st Century. As Mad King George sings in Hamilton the musical, “Oceans rise, Empires fall”, and it all seemed inevitable. And, as we headed into the 2020s, there was – delete as appropriate – a widespread anxiety, resignation, schadenfreude or excitement that, just like Britain before it, America’s time had come and gone. But perhaps one of the signals of 2022 is that the US is not passing the baton quite so fast.  I’m James Harding, Editor of Tortoise, and in this week’s Editor’s Voicemail I want to suggest that we’re seeing some evidence of another American century. It’s hard to be dispassionate about the war in Ukraine. And we shouldn’t be. Outrage, fear and heartbreak drive the West to take sides and, as far as possible, action. But what has become clear in this war is that the US sets the terms of the international response and can dispense the military hardware that matters. It’s not just that Russia has been exposed as a rusty superpower, it’s that China and India are bystanders. The US is the guarantor of Poland’s safety and with it Europe’s freedom; the superiority of American strength and authority has been revealed. Simply put: Himars hit their targets. A simply story, in other words, of high-end chips and precision engineering. China, meanwhile, looks like it may be coming in second for longer. In his approach to Covid, technology companies and foreign investment, Xi Jinping has prioritised Chinese Communist Party control over growth. The importance of the Party being in power to celebrate in 2049 a century since Mao declared that “the Chinese people have stood up” seems to have trumped the riskier ambition of allowing the economic freedoms that set China on a faster path to being the world’s richest nation. And just as Xi is clamping down, the US is very deliberately pulling back. America is “friendshoring” – i.e. it’s moving is manufacturing bases to friendlier places – precisely so that it can retake control of supply chains. Now you might say that’s a euphemism for de-globalisation that ultimately could hurt America – but it certainly hurts China too. And at the same time, the US is cutting the wires in relations with Chinese tech and artificial intelligence businesses; it’s also weaponising standards to prefer businesses closer to home. As the IMF pointed out this week, the US economy has hotter prospects than most other places in the world. The US dollar is so strong that the world is one long shopping aisle for American bargain hunters out to buy companies, property and other assets. And the Inflation Reduction Act is not only going to juice the American economy with $2 trillion in subsidies and spending, it’s going to pump prime a torrent of investment in new green industries that look set to enable the US to capitalise on the wave of decarbonisation in much the way that it dominated the wave of technology innovation. History, of course, doesn’t repeat itself; the next century of American power, if it comes at all, won’t be like the last; and probably what we’re going to see rather than a return to an age of a single superpower, is an era of shared supremacies, some places stronger at some things than others. But for a few years now, the view has set in of a certain inevitability to the cycles of history. At the very least, 2022 is giving us reason, in so many ways, to think again.

thinkin

40 years after the Falklands: what can the British armed forces still do?

This is a newsroom ThinkIn. In-person and digital-only tickets are available.The Russian invasion of Ukraine has put defence spending back in the spotlight. April marks the 40 year anniversary of the Falklands War. The naval task force that set off on 5 April was a formidable one, and it marks the last significant conflict where British forces engaged an enemy alone. After 10 weeks of fighting, which was widely covered in the media, Argentine forces were repelled and the Union flag flew again over Port Stanley. Victory in the conflict allowed Britain to publicly show the world it was still a military power when it mattered. But four decades later, how have the British armed forces changed, for better and worse? Join us for a special ThinkIn where we explore military funding and the roles, responsibilities and capabilities of the UK as a military power. editor and invited experts Giles WhittellSensemaker Editor General Sir Christopher DeverellRetired British Army Officer; served as Commander of the UK’s Joint Forces Command Monty HallsBroadcaster and Author of ‘Commando: The Inside Story of Britain’s Royal Marines’ Tony HoareFormer SAS Trooper and Security Consultant. Author of ‘Born for war: one SAS Trooper’s Incredible Story of the Falklands’

thinkin

Russia and Ukraine: a return to conventional warfare?

This is a digital-only ThinkIn.The widely circulating images of Russian tanks and armoured cars rolling into Ukraine are powerful and deeply alarming. But at the same time, they are not exactly the futuristic images of modern warfare that one might have imagined from 2022. Instead, many of the photos are of Russian vehicles stuck in the mud or with burst tyres. This makes it seem as if Russia’s military isn’t quite as well-funded, and highly technical as many have imagined. Reports have instead suggested that Ukrainian forces have destroyed numerous Russian armoured vehicles using cheap drones from Turkey. Why is this the case? Is the invasion of Ukraine hampered by poor maintenance, obsolete hardware or general lack of preparation? As Nato strengthens the presence of troops, planes and defensive weapons across bases in member countries, are Nato forces better prepared? editor and invited experts Giles WhittellSensemaker Editor Bettina RenzProfessor of International Security, University of Nottingham Sam Cranny-EvansResearch analyst, Military Sciences, RUSI

thinkin

PTSD in the armed forces: could MDMA be the answer?

This is a digital-only ThinkIn.MDMA was originally developed by German scientists more than a century ago. In the 1970s some psychiatrists used the chemical to enhance communication with patients. The practice fell from favour when MDMA became better known as a party drug and the principal ingredient in ecstasy pills. ‘E’s kickstarted the ‘Second Summer of Love’ of 1989 in the UK and MDMA – also known as ‘molly’ –  became intertwined with club culture. Today, psychiatrists are successfully experimenting with therapeutic MDMA as a treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), with promising trials among US veterans. Last year, General Sir Nick Carter, the outgoing UK Chief of Defence Staff, gave his support to clinical trials of MDMA to treat British soldiers with PTSD. Early signs indicate it could be more effective than talking therapies, and offer thousands of veterans relief from serious mental trauma. What kinds of PTSD does it work for, and are there any other banned substances which could be used in treating mental health conditions?  Join us for this ThinkIn with General Sir Nick Carter and other experts and campaigners where we’ll explore how a Class-A recreational drug could become the latest psychiatric treatment.  editor and invited experts James HardingCo-founder and Editor General Sir Nick CarterFormer Chief of Defence Staff Gilly NortonCEO, Support for Wounded Veterans Rick DoblinFounder and Executive Director, Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)

thinkin

The Tortoise Cyber Summit

Transcript Before I get started, a short postscript to Britannia Unhinged, this week’s Slow Newscast on Kwasi Kwarteng’s attempted takeover of the Treasury. If you’ve had a chance to listen to it, you’ll know it begins with Kwarteng’s first act as chancellor: the sacking of Sir Tom Scholar. The process of replacing him was, if anything, more cack-handed and telling. Antonia Romeo, a charismatic and can-do civil servant who has her fans and critics for, perhaps, exactly those qualities, was asked to apply for the job as Permanent Secretary at the Treasury. She was said to be reluctant, having never worked there, but she was given to understand that she was the favoured candidate not only of the chancellor, but also of the prime minister. The Treasury’s appointment panel interviewed several candidates, knowing, of course, that Romeo was Liz Truss’ choice, but they advised against appointing her; they recommended James Bowler, a respected and experienced Treasury official. Truss overruled them. Last Saturday morning, Romeo was lined up to be permanent secretary – the press release announcing her appointment was drafted and, in effect, she started the job, appointing her two deputies. But by Sunday morning the pressure on the prime minister to restore at least the appearance of order in the management of Britain’s finances was such that she reversed: Romeo was stood down, Bowler, the experienced hand, was asked to step up. Romeo had been very publicly messed around; Bowler had been openly undermined as the second choice, the civil service’s people and processes had been, well, toyed with and Truss had marched people up the hill and down the other side again. Call it what you like: a U-turn, a merry-go-round, a mess. This time last week, Kwasi Kwarteng wasn’t the only person who Liz Truss had assured would be running the Treasury and, this weekend, finds they aren’t.  *** A few years ago, it became fashionable to declare the end of the West. The American century was over: the world’s policeman had been mugged, humbled in Iraq and Afghanistan, embarrassed in Libya and gun-shy in Syria. And the culture wars, Facebook and fake news, the Trump presidency – they all added up to a kind of democratic cannibalism, as freedoms seemed to eat each other alive; and the financial crisis and the Make America Great Again – the “Maga” – backlash against globalisation meant that the world had lost both the champion, but importantly also the hero of the market economy. The pandemic and the climate crisis both seem to shine a light on the empty chair once occupied by by American leadership. And, all the while, China’s kept growing, bound, it seemed, by the laws of economic gravity and historic inevitability to eclipse the USA and dominate the 21st Century. As Mad King George sings in Hamilton the musical, “Oceans rise, Empires fall”, and it all seemed inevitable. And, as we headed into the 2020s, there was – delete as appropriate – a widespread anxiety, resignation, schadenfreude or excitement that, just like Britain before it, America’s time had come and gone. But perhaps one of the signals of 2022 is that the US is not passing the baton quite so fast.  I’m James Harding, Editor of Tortoise, and in this week’s Editor’s Voicemail I want to suggest that we’re seeing some evidence of another American century. It’s hard to be dispassionate about the war in Ukraine. And we shouldn’t be. Outrage, fear and heartbreak drive the West to take sides and, as far as possible, action. But what has become clear in this war is that the US sets the terms of the international response and can dispense the military hardware that matters. It’s not just that Russia has been exposed as a rusty superpower, it’s that China and India are bystanders. The US is the guarantor of Poland’s safety and with it Europe’s freedom; the superiority of American strength and authority has been revealed. Simply put: Himars hit their targets. A simply story, in other words, of high-end chips and precision engineering. China, meanwhile, looks like it may be coming in second for longer. In his approach to Covid, technology companies and foreign investment, Xi Jinping has prioritised Chinese Communist Party control over growth. The importance of the Party being in power to celebrate in 2049 a century since Mao declared that “the Chinese people have stood up” seems to have trumped the riskier ambition of allowing the economic freedoms that set China on a faster path to being the world’s richest nation. And just as Xi is clamping down, the US is very deliberately pulling back. America is “friendshoring” – i.e. it’s moving is manufacturing bases to friendlier places – precisely so that it can retake control of supply chains. Now you might say that’s a euphemism for de-globalisation that ultimately could hurt America – but it certainly hurts China too. And at the same time, the US is cutting the wires in relations with Chinese tech and artificial intelligence businesses; it’s also weaponising standards to prefer businesses closer to home. As the IMF pointed out this week, the US economy has hotter prospects than most other places in the world. The US dollar is so strong that the world is one long shopping aisle for American bargain hunters out to buy companies, property and other assets. And the Inflation Reduction Act is not only going to juice the American economy with $2 trillion in subsidies and spending, it’s going to pump prime a torrent of investment in new green industries that look set to enable the US to capitalise on the wave of decarbonisation in much the way that it dominated the wave of technology innovation. History, of course, doesn’t repeat itself; the next century of American power, if it comes at all, won’t be like the last; and probably what we’re going to see rather than a return to an age of a single superpower, is an era of shared supremacies, some places stronger at some things than others. But for a few years now, the view has set in of a certain inevitability to the cycles of history. At the very least, 2022 is giving us reason, in so many ways, to think again.

thinkin

Is Britain quietly retiring its army?

Transcript Before I get started, a short postscript to Britannia Unhinged, this week’s Slow Newscast on Kwasi Kwarteng’s attempted takeover of the Treasury. If you’ve had a chance to listen to it, you’ll know it begins with Kwarteng’s first act as chancellor: the sacking of Sir Tom Scholar. The process of replacing him was, if anything, more cack-handed and telling. Antonia Romeo, a charismatic and can-do civil servant who has her fans and critics for, perhaps, exactly those qualities, was asked to apply for the job as Permanent Secretary at the Treasury. She was said to be reluctant, having never worked there, but she was given to understand that she was the favoured candidate not only of the chancellor, but also of the prime minister. The Treasury’s appointment panel interviewed several candidates, knowing, of course, that Romeo was Liz Truss’ choice, but they advised against appointing her; they recommended James Bowler, a respected and experienced Treasury official. Truss overruled them. Last Saturday morning, Romeo was lined up to be permanent secretary – the press release announcing her appointment was drafted and, in effect, she started the job, appointing her two deputies. But by Sunday morning the pressure on the prime minister to restore at least the appearance of order in the management of Britain’s finances was such that she reversed: Romeo was stood down, Bowler, the experienced hand, was asked to step up. Romeo had been very publicly messed around; Bowler had been openly undermined as the second choice, the civil service’s people and processes had been, well, toyed with and Truss had marched people up the hill and down the other side again. Call it what you like: a U-turn, a merry-go-round, a mess. This time last week, Kwasi Kwarteng wasn’t the only person who Liz Truss had assured would be running the Treasury and, this weekend, finds they aren’t.  *** A few years ago, it became fashionable to declare the end of the West. The American century was over: the world’s policeman had been mugged, humbled in Iraq and Afghanistan, embarrassed in Libya and gun-shy in Syria. And the culture wars, Facebook and fake news, the Trump presidency – they all added up to a kind of democratic cannibalism, as freedoms seemed to eat each other alive; and the financial crisis and the Make America Great Again – the “Maga” – backlash against globalisation meant that the world had lost both the champion, but importantly also the hero of the market economy. The pandemic and the climate crisis both seem to shine a light on the empty chair once occupied by by American leadership. And, all the while, China’s kept growing, bound, it seemed, by the laws of economic gravity and historic inevitability to eclipse the USA and dominate the 21st Century. As Mad King George sings in Hamilton the musical, “Oceans rise, Empires fall”, and it all seemed inevitable. And, as we headed into the 2020s, there was – delete as appropriate – a widespread anxiety, resignation, schadenfreude or excitement that, just like Britain before it, America’s time had come and gone. But perhaps one of the signals of 2022 is that the US is not passing the baton quite so fast.  I’m James Harding, Editor of Tortoise, and in this week’s Editor’s Voicemail I want to suggest that we’re seeing some evidence of another American century. It’s hard to be dispassionate about the war in Ukraine. And we shouldn’t be. Outrage, fear and heartbreak drive the West to take sides and, as far as possible, action. But what has become clear in this war is that the US sets the terms of the international response and can dispense the military hardware that matters. It’s not just that Russia has been exposed as a rusty superpower, it’s that China and India are bystanders. The US is the guarantor of Poland’s safety and with it Europe’s freedom; the superiority of American strength and authority has been revealed. Simply put: Himars hit their targets. A simply story, in other words, of high-end chips and precision engineering. China, meanwhile, looks like it may be coming in second for longer. In his approach to Covid, technology companies and foreign investment, Xi Jinping has prioritised Chinese Communist Party control over growth. The importance of the Party being in power to celebrate in 2049 a century since Mao declared that “the Chinese people have stood up” seems to have trumped the riskier ambition of allowing the economic freedoms that set China on a faster path to being the world’s richest nation. And just as Xi is clamping down, the US is very deliberately pulling back. America is “friendshoring” – i.e. it’s moving is manufacturing bases to friendlier places – precisely so that it can retake control of supply chains. Now you might say that’s a euphemism for de-globalisation that ultimately could hurt America – but it certainly hurts China too. And at the same time, the US is cutting the wires in relations with Chinese tech and artificial intelligence businesses; it’s also weaponising standards to prefer businesses closer to home. As the IMF pointed out this week, the US economy has hotter prospects than most other places in the world. The US dollar is so strong that the world is one long shopping aisle for American bargain hunters out to buy companies, property and other assets. And the Inflation Reduction Act is not only going to juice the American economy with $2 trillion in subsidies and spending, it’s going to pump prime a torrent of investment in new green industries that look set to enable the US to capitalise on the wave of decarbonisation in much the way that it dominated the wave of technology innovation. History, of course, doesn’t repeat itself; the next century of American power, if it comes at all, won’t be like the last; and probably what we’re going to see rather than a return to an age of a single superpower, is an era of shared supremacies, some places stronger at some things than others. But for a few years now, the view has set in of a certain inevitability to the cycles of history. At the very least, 2022 is giving us reason, in so many ways, to think again.

thinkin

Citizenship: should we bring back national service?

The arguments over Brexit, the divisions between London and the rest of the country, the ties between the four nations of the UK have all strained the idea of a sense of nationhood.  How do we refresh the ties that bind us as a country? Do we want to? And, if so, would a modern national service, whether as a period of military or social service, improve social cohesion, social mobility and a shared sense of belonging?   What is a Tortoise ThinkIn? A ThinkIn is not another panel discussion. It is a forum for civilised disagreement. Modelled on what we call a ‘leader conference’ in the UK (or an editorial board in the US), it is a place where everyone has a seat at the table. It’s where we get to hear what you think, drawn from your experience, energy and expertise. It’s where, together, we sift through what we know to come to a clear, concise point of view. It is the heart of what we do at Tortoise. Drinks from 6.00pm, starts promptly at 6.30pm. If you are late to a ThinkIn you can ‘SlinkIn’! If you would like to contribute to this ThinkIn, let us know by emailing thinkin@tortoisemedia.com We film our Thinkins so we can watch them back, edit the best bits and share them with members who weren’t there in person. Members can find their ThinkIn booking code in My Tortoise, under My Membership.