Sir Rupert Smith is one of Britain’s most decorated soldiers – a former Deputy Supreme Commander of NATO who led a British battle group of 35,000 in the first Gulf War. Since leaving the army in 2002 Sir Rupert has spent his time writing and lecturing on how regional and global conflict is changing, and what it means for the balance of world power. His best selling book The Utility of Force (2005) argued that the best military forces in the world were equipped to win battles but kept losing wars because they are now won and lost “amongst the people” – ie. “the people in the streets and houses and fields – all the people, anywhere – are the battlefield. Military engagements can take place anywhere, with civilians around, against civilians, in defence of civilians. Civilians are the targets, objectives to be won, as much as an opposing force.” Smith argues that as a result an outcome can no longer be resolved directly by military force.
Sir Rupert’s new book. ‘The Great Disenchantment’ is published shortly, and will make the case for a new settlement between world powers to replace the international order which grew out of WWII and the Cold War.