The current Government dithering over what cuts should be made to our already distorted and overstretched armed forces is taking place not in the context of what we need to defend Britain and her interests, but by asking how the cuts can be made to allow the dangerous and destructive fantasy which has been taken hold of British politicians for several decades – that Britain can perform the quasi-imperial role of bringing “enlightenment” in the form of political correctness to the benighted natives - to be sustained.
What Britain needs, as every state does, are armed forces to defend its territory and to intervene abroad when a vital British interest is at stake. The article below (which was published by Right Now! in the summer of 2004) attempts to define what such armed forces should be and give a broad defence strategy which goes beyond the armed forces.
Armed forces to defend Britain not to serve the New World Order (NWO)
For the British political elite the loss of empire did not signal the end of the imperial mentality. As a consequence, Britain’s defence capability continued for decades to be built upon the ridiculous assumption that she still had the military responsibilities of a great power. This has meant until recent years that Britain has shaped her defence to be able to operate, in theory at least, anywhere in the world, with a very full range of expensive military toys such as aircraft carriers and heavy tanks, neither of which is necessary for the defence of modern Britain.
That policy was mistaken but not inherently dangerous. It cost the British taxpayer a great deal of money spent unnecessarily, but it did not commit Britain to dangerous adventures or leave Britain incapable of defending herself.
In Tony Blair’s hands this “great power” mentality has transmuted into an ideology what might be described as New World Order (NWO) chic, whereby Britain’s armed forces are no longer intended to protect British territory but rather exist to operate as an arm of some ill-defined international order. To call them defence forces is rapidly becoming a misnomer. Equally important, the military enterprises which our armed forces are being shaped to perform are fraught with diplomatic, military and economic danger, not least because they are likely to be taken in conjunction with the USA.
Creating the NWO force of tomorrow
The shaping of our armed forces to serve the NWO rather than British needs is already well under way. This is exemplified by recent equipment proposals which, at massive cost, lumber Britain with weapons which are not needed. Two giant aircraft carriers have already been ordered at a current estimated cost of £13 billion and a new “mini-tank” which can be lifted to foreign fields by air is proposed at another œ6 billion (Sunday Telegraph London 5 10 03).
In addition to these vast equipment projects, Britain is committed to providing a rapid-response force for “international emergencies” and is being gradually lured, whatever Blair says, into an EU defence force. The effect of this reshaping of our armed forces is to starve them of the means to defend Britain. The aircraft carrier project alone will take a quite disproportionate amount of the defence procurement budget for many years, while the mini-tank project, if it goes ahead, will result in the end of our heavy armour regiments altogether.
The defence policy Britain needs
It is improbable that Britain in the foreseeable future will have to fight, as a matter of necessity, either an aggressive war abroad on its own or in alliance with another country such as the USA. What Britain needs are armed forces which will prevent attacks on Britain itself, guard her waters and (just conceivably) allow her to break a blockade. Such a policy could be easily met within Britain’ s present spending, because it is always easier and cheaper to defend your own territory than to have to invade another territory.
Having armed forces which are designed to operate only in the defence of Britain should mean that recruitment of both regulars and reservists becomes easier because long and frequent tours of duty abroad would no longer be a problem. In particular, shortages of specialists such as military medics should become a non-issue.
The policy would have the further great advantage of hamstringing politicians. Whatever their natural inclinations, even the most reckless politician is constrained in what he can do by simple practicalities. If Britain has armed forces which are only equipped to defend British territory, they cannot easily be sent to fight abroad, even in conjunction with a power such as the US.
Equally importantly for the long term interests of Britain, if politicians cannot engage in military action abroad, it is probable that their ability and desire to impose draconian “anti-terror”, laws such as those which the Blair Government has been eagerly passing since September 11, will be much diminished. Stripped of the propaganda engine of how Britain is militarily tackling “the war on terror” and “our boys are at war”, any government would find it very difficult to rush through authoritarian measures because opponents amongst the elite would be more willing to speak out.
What are we guarding against?
There are three general threats to Britain, nuclear war, conventional war/blockade/sanctions against Britain and terrorist attacks from within and without. Nuclear war we can only deter by possessing a credible independent deterrent, which would also deter a direct conventional attack. As for blockades and sanctions, these can be resisted by ensuring we are self-sufficient in necessities.
At present we have Trident and that is it for nuclear weapons. Trident may not be under our control - Tony Benn believes that it cannot be operated without the release of American codes because it is dependent upon US satellites for its guidance system – and we scrapped our freefall nuclear bombs in 2003. Britain should develop a variety of nuclear weapons and delivery systems.
To have a potent threat below the nuclear, Britain should also pursue the development of weapons such as the neutron bomb and lasers and any other appropriate sub-nuclear new technology which arises. Such technology would permit Britain to defend the Falklands with some certainty whilst deploying little manpower.
The Navy and Airforce should be reshaped utterly. To defend Britain, we require not giant carriers but plenty of submarines, minesweepers and small assault ships such as destroyers to police our immediate seas. The airforce should turn its efforts towards the development of unmanned planes and a space programme capable of at least launching our own satellites – at present we are entirely dependent on Nasa or European Space Agency satellites the use of which could be denied at any time. The space programme would be run in conjunction with general missile development.
The regular army is large enough as it is (approximately 110,000) provided women are excluded from the count and it is supplemented by a decent sized TA and properly organised reservists, ie, the regular soldiers who have completed their service and then go onto the reserve list.
In the end, the only certain defence is that which a country can provide for itself. Relying on foreign suppliers for military equipment is self-evidently dangerous because it places us in their hands. There is also the inability of Britain to ensure that foreign equipment is upgraded through further development.
A country like Britain has it within its power to produce all the weaponry and associated equipment it needs. That is especially so if the defence of British territory is the sole concern of Britain, because the range of equipment needed becomes much reduced, for example, we would not need heavy tanks or aircraft carriers.
Those who doubt that Britain could go it alone in producing their own equipment should reflect on the fact that until the early sixties Britain produced virtually all its defence equipment, including cutting edge planes such as the Lightning fighter and the V bombers, when our national wealth was, in real terms, very much less than it is today.
To those who argue for the economies of scale in joint-projects with other countries I would simply say one word “Eurofighter”. Originally intended to enter service in the 1990s, it has still to do so, nor is it clear when it will.
Nor is simply buying foreign a panacea. Take the case of the Apache Helicoptors purchased from the USA. These have a rather distinctive design fault: rockets can only be fired from the right-hand side of helicopter because if they are fired from the left hand side debris may hit the tail rotor which is situated on the left-hand side.
There is more to defence than men and armaments. The more self-sufficient a country is the less vulnerable it is to foreign pressure. There is no point having the best equipped defence force in the world if a country is reliant on the import of much of its food or raw materials such as iron and energy sources such as oil.
With modern farming practices, Britain could feed herself at a pinch. Presently, we produce approximately 60% of what we eat. In addition, we export a substantial amount of food. We might not be able to produce as much food as we consume today, but if we had 80% of what we consume now – something which could be achieved by temporarily banning exports and maximising the use of existing agricultural land – in time of emergency we could continue to feed ourselves.
We also need to maintain the capacity to produce all necessities, not necessarily at the level we now consume, but to have the ability to manufacture them. In time of emergency the capacity could be expanded. If no capacity exists it cannot be expanded.
Energy needs should be entirely met by the country. The only practical way of doing this rapidly is by engaging in a nuclear power building programme. In the longer term, other renewable energy sources can be expanded.
Lastly, strategic stockpiles of vital raw materials should be created by the government sufficient to provide five years working stock. This would allow time to withstand a blockade or devise ways to evade sanctions.
International treaties and joint defence
Mutual defence treaties are a perpetual source of mischief, providing an ever-open door to unnecessary war. For example, in 1914 Britain went to war ostensibly because of a treaty signed in 1839 which committed Britain to the defence of Belgium.
Presently we are primarily tied into Nato. I came to the conclusion that Nato was essentially a PR vehicle around 1970, when I could not quite bring myself to believe that the US would launch a nuclear strike on the Soviet Union simply because the Soviet Union invaded or attacked any part of Western Europe – which was the bottom line of Nato. I find it even less probable that an enlarged Nato would come to the aid of a member if it was attacked, not least because the most likely attacker of a Nato member is another Nato member.
Whatever the utility of defence treaties in the past, nuclear weapons have changed the rules of the game. If a country has a nuclear capacity it is most unlikely to be attacked. Thus defence treaties are, for nuclear powers which have no aggressive ambitions, practically redundant.
Britain should withdraw from them, together with any other treaty, such as the Treaty of Rome, which restricts Britain’s freedom of action and control of her borders.
Let us not sleep-walk to disaster
Should Britain continue to have forces which are shaped to engage in NWO expeditionary adventures there will be no end to military and political quagmires such as those which now find British troops trapped in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the absurd but sinister “War on Terror” will carry on indefinitely. There is no end to the madness and peril such policies could engender. We need to remove temptation and opportunity from politicians.