Monday 18 September 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Monday. 18/9/2023

The Monocle Minute

The Opinion

Security / Andrew Mueller

A fair, well, to arms

By and large, arms fairs get a lousy press – and this is understandable. The core function of the goods on offer is the delivery of destruction and death, and the trade has hardly acquired a reputation for best ethical practice. But wandering around the immense biennial Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) fair in London last week, it occurred to me that there is another way of viewing such an event, especially in Europe’s present context, which is that everything on show is also designed to protect somebody – and not only the people who are driving, flying, sailing, launching or firing it. Granted, the more obviously offensive weaponry drew the bigger crowds. US gun manufacturers – Sig Sauer Inc, for one – presented racks of rifles and pistols, permitting European civilians a rare caress of such firepower. There was a queue for a General Dynamics simulator that allowed you to command the turret of an Ajax armoured fighting vehicle. An exhibitor of buggies adaptable for use by special forces in deserts and snowfields alike acknowledged that the first response of many visitors was, “Wow, this is cool.” (In fairness, it really was.)

Sun’s out, guns out

Image: Getty Images, SAAB
Image: Getty Images, SAAB

But it was the ingenuity of more purely defensive measures that impressed this correspondent. Saab displayed a US-made Oshkosh JLTV – or “joint light tactical vehicle”, a Humvee-like troop carrier – draped in Barracuda multispectral camouflage, which not only hides the vehicle and deflects hostile radio waves but also, through some sorcery, still permits outgoing transmissions by its occupants.

Sadiq Khan, London’s mayor, was previously critical of DSEI, saying prior to its 2021 iteration that he wanted it gone from the city, as it was insulting to those Londoners – and there are many – who have fled conflicts waged with weapons such as those on display. Khan was noticeably quieter on the subject this year. As another exhibitor noted, “In Europe’s current situation, DSEI becomes much more than a trade fair.”

Andrew Mueller is a contributing editor at Monocle and presenter of ‘The Foreign Desk’ on Monocle Radio. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.


Working hand in hand: Asean military chiefs

Image: Getty Images

Defence / Asean

Troubled waters

Member states of the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) are holding military drills today on the waters of Indonesia’s Batam island. While members have conducted joint exercises in the past with external countries such as the US and China, this will be the first involving internal members only. Officially called the Asean Solidarity Exercise Natuna, the drills will mostly focus on security, disaster response and rescue operations rather than combat.

“The importance of this first drill should be measured less by its potential military effects and more by the political decision to make it happen,” Alessio Patalano, professor of war and strategy in East Asia at King’s College London, tells The Monocle Minute. “At heart, it is an opportunity to show that Asean countries are exploring ways for the association to remain politically relevant in the region. And, as tensions over territorial disputes in the South China Sea increase, the exercises offer an opportunity to indicate that Asean states are interested in working together to address the growing volatility.”

Missing in action: not Rishi Sunak’s environment

Image: Alamy

Politics / UK & UN

Climate of change

The 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) commences today with the Sustainable Development Goals summit, a climate gathering attended by heads of the world’s largest economies. One leader who won’t be there, however, is Rishi Sunak, who will be the first British prime minister to skip the UNGA in more than 10 years.

While a spokesperson for his office cited a busy schedule, reports suggest that he chose to avoid the event over fears of the UK being downgraded. The UN’s secretary general, António Guterres, is said to have written to leaders, stating that while all were welcome to attend, only countries with ambitious climate policies would be allowed to participate. Given that the UK government seems to be wavering on its net-zero commitments, Sunak could well have found himself sidelined. Either way, his decision to snub the summit is indicative of the UK’s declining status as a world player – and of a government seemingly content to diminish it further.

Urbanism / Europe

Bus a move

European Mobility Week, an EU-sponsored initiative prompting local communities, councils and NGOs to promote sustainable transportation options and reduce car dependency, began on Saturday and runs until Friday. The move aims to inspire cities across Europe to improve their infrastructure and planning initiatives, as well as measure air quality. Some cities are having fun with the brief that they were given. In Georgia’s Tbilisi, residents are invited to explore the metro after it closes or hop on their bikes for a communal night cycle. Dortmund’s streets in Germany will become recreational learning areas for children, while buses will host DJ sets in Tartu, Estonia. With many modern cities moving away from polluting vehicles and towards a higher quality of life, it is a welcome initiative that prioritises the needs of the public.

Beyond the Headlines

In print / Issue 166

Open house

With its lively HQ-cum-gallery in one of Rome’s most imposing buildings and its modern Tuscan factory where workers are viewed as artisans, Fendi is proving itself to be a transparent and progressive business as it continues to set standards in luxury fashion. Monocle’s fashion editor, Natalie Theodosi, attends the brand’s menswear runway show in Capannuccia and speaks to creative director Silvia Venturini Fendi.

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 Artisans outside the renovated Tuscan factory

Image: Andrea Ferrari, Yu Fujiwara

 Silvia Venturini Fendi, Creative Director of Accessories, Children’s and Menswear

Image: Andrea Ferrari, Yu Fujiwara

Neutral tones

Image: Andrea Ferrari, Yu Fujiwara

 Fendi café in Capannuccia

Image: Andrea Ferrari, Yu Fujiwara

On the runway

Image: Andrea Ferrari, Yu Fujiwara

Monocle Radio / The Menu

Tom Kerridge and Care’s food summit

This week we sit down with beloved British chef Tom Kerridge to discuss the release of his new cookbook, ‘Pub Kitchen: The Ultimate Modern British Food Bible’. Also in the programme: Monocle’s Milan correspondent, Ivan Carvalho, heads to the ethical-food summit, Care’s, on the picturesque island of Salina in Italy. Plus: the week’s top food and drink headlines.


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