Tag Archives: defence

American Sniper misses  the target – film review

Robert Henderson

Main cast

Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle

Sienna Miller as Taya Renae Kyle

Max Charles as Colton Kyle

Luke Grimes as Marc Lee

Kyle Gallner as Goat-Winston

Sam Jaeger as Captain Martens

Jake McDorman as Ryan “Biggles” Job

Sammy Sheik as Mustafa

Mido Hamada as The Butcher

Director Clint Eastwood

This is a frustrating film.  Eastwood as the director  guarantees that it is technically well made. It moves at a good pace, taken individually the action scenes in Iraq are dramatic  and  the subject  (the role of the sniper) is interesting in itself  and has novelty because  it is  not often extensively examined in film. And yet, and yet ….American Sniper has an emptiness, the sum of its parts being decidedly less than the parts.  The film ends up teetering on the edge of boring.

The large  majority  of the film is devoted to Kyle’s four tours of Iraq, with much of that screen time devoted to sniping and house-to-house searches.   Therein lies the first problem with the film as drama. The action  scenes become  repetitive because there is not that much difference from watching Kyle shoot one person from the top of a building and him doing the same thing to quite a few people.  Similarly, the house to house searching has a sameness about it when the streets look the same and the outcome is always  either dead bodies after an exchange of gunfire or the taking of prisoners.

There are attempts to vary the emotional content of  the sniping , for example the first people Kyle  shoots are a young boy and  his mother who are attempting to use a grenade against US soldiers. There are  also subplots involving an Iraqi sniper known as Mustapha  who is portrayed  as having a  duel with Kyle  (which Kyle wins)  and a search to find the  al-Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi which involves track of   al-Zarqawi’s second in command who known as the Butcher for his delightful habit of torturing people with an electric drill.

But all this generates a  most curious lack of tension because the events are rarely develop into  more than snapshots. Nor is there any sense that anything Kyle or his  comrades has any real purpose beyond the immediate end of preventing American troops from being harmed.  Ironically, what the film unintentionally does  is to provide  a depressing essay on  exactly how futile not only the Iraq war but any war fought by Western Armies in Third or Second world countries is fated to be.

The sniping action scenes are rather strange. Often Kyle is shown shooting from the same position on more than one occasion. This is a no no for a sniper unless he really cannot help it. Understandably snipers are both hated and feared by the other side for the constant threat they offer not only in reality but in their enemy’s mind.  Consequently, the enemy will  make great efforts to locate and kill snipers and the most likely way of doing that is if a sniper stays in the same position and shoots more than once. Modern sniper rifles come with equipment to dull and distort the direction of  sound  and suppress the flash of a round being fired but it is not a complete solution to the problem of giving away your position. To remain in the same position and fire other shots after the first round has been fired is just asking to be located and killed.  There is also an absurd episode towards the end of the film when Kyle shoots the sniper Mustapha at well over 1,000 yards range and in doing so alerts Iraqi insurgents to Kyle and his fellow soldiers’ whereabouts who immediately attack the building in which Kyle and his comrades are hiding.

Another baffling part of Kyle’s behaviour in the film was when he left his sniping position on his own initiative to join in the house to house searching and suffered no disciplinary action. I would have thought that going from his sniper’s position without orders and leaving the soldiers without sniper protection would have been a court martial offence.  (The idea of sniper protection in this situation is that a sniper is put on a high building overlooking the area  being searched by troops and shoots anyone who appears to be ready to attack the soldiers).

Because the film is trying to pack so many  action scenes in there is little opportunity for character development  even of Kyle who is rushed from one action scene to another  with breaks every now and then for a return to the States for leave with his wife. Apart from Cooper the only other character with an extensive part is Sienna Miller as Kyle’s wife Taya.  She is adequate in the part but it really does not demand much of her beyond  her agonising over how Kyle “isn’t here”  even when he is home.  The rest of the cast does what it has to do well enough  in the very  limited and unvaried scenes  in which they appear.

There is also a frustrating   lack of  context  for Kyle being in Iraq. Kyle’s motivation is ostensibly a simple unquestioning God-fearing  patriotism built upon the Bush Administration’s  line that the USA was in Iraq to protect Americans in America. That is reasonable enough  for Kyle’s character but there is nothing to balance that mentality, no character to challenge his imple faith.

Finally, then there is the problem of Cooper as Kyle.  Cooper  strikes me as one of those actors who can only play himself. That is not necessarily a problem as many film stars have shown, but the person must have a quality which makes them interesting such as  charm, menace, sexual  attraction.   For me Cooper lacks any exciting or engaging quality.  In American  Sniper he is seriously wrongly cast for this requires not only a convincing tough guy but a character with some emotional hinterland.  Cooper is unconvincing as a hard man  and displays  as much psychological subtlety as a brick wall. His limitations are  particularly exposed   in those parts  of the film where Lyle is home on leave. These   are designed to variously show Kyle’s detachment from ordinary life and addiction to living in a warzone, but these are very cursory and unconvincing.   Ryan Gosling in the role would have made the film much more interesting because he has both psychological depth and is a convincing hard man.

The ending of the film is deeply unsatisfactory from a dramatic point of view.  Originally the ending  was going to be centred around Kyle’s shooting to death by a disturbed ex-marine Eddie Ray Routh who has just been found guilty of murder and sentenced  to life in prison without parole. But Kyle’s wife asked them to drop the scene  and the director substituted a tepid ending showing Kyle leaving with Routh  to travel to the shooting range where the killing took place with a very  anxious Sienna Miller looking on as if she had a premonition of what was to happen, something which must  surely have been a post hoc addition to the real-life  story.  One can understand the wife’s reluctance to have the murder scene  removed but presumably she must have originally given it the thumbs up.

Judged by  the box office takings American sniper has been immensely  in the USA and criticism  of the film’s subject matter  has generated violent responses in the mainstream and social media . In particular, there has been ill-judged criticism from the likes of Michael Moore that snipers are cowards because they kill without putting themselves in dange. This is double-dyed nonsense. To begin with snipers are always having to guard against being spotted and shot themselves.  In a war such as that in Iraq the risk and fear of being seen and killed is  enhanced  because it is a war fought in towns and cities where there is no readily recognised enemy who may be anywhere and come in any human form from  a young child to trained soldier.

To that rebuttal of the charge of coward can be placed a  more general  exculpation of snipers.  War has never been anything but ugly and unchivalrous.  When the crossbow was introduced in mediaeval times it was condemned  as illegitimate by the nobility because the armoured knight was vulnerable to its bolts. The weapon  also had a range   much greater than that of a conventional bow which introduced death meted out from a serious distance. Later the same sorts  of complaint were levelled at firearms.  Long before modern breech loading artillery was devised muzzle loading guns could send their shot miles.  By the late 19th century the machine gun had arrived with the capacity to mow down dozens of men quickly.  By the middle of the twentieth century  bombers were delivering  huge payload from a great height onto  civilian populations. Sniping is no more or less cowardly, no more or less brutal than war is generally.

More pertinent perhaps  are the criticisms that the Kyle of the film is a sanitised version of  what Kyle was, that Kyle was far from being the simple God-fearing patriot of the film. Indeed there are strong reasons that he was both a braggart and a fantasist who made up stories such as claiming to have gone down to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and killed many of the  “bad guys” who were looting.  Yet in the film he is shown as being intensely  embarrassed when an veteran of Iraq who has post a leg stops him in a store and praises him effusively for what has  done in Iraq.

Overall the film has a nasty whiff of being a propaganda film, not intentionally but in effect.   If you go to see it bear that in mind and treat it a primer for an understanding  of the ordinary American’s mind these days.


Hands up everyone who still takes NATO seriously

Robert Henderson

There is an indecent amount of huffing and puffing  by NATO members as they  posture and strut futilely in the face of Putin’s Ukrainian adventure.  The latest NATO gathering in Wales has produced a new 3,000 rapid response force and a reiteration that an attack on one NATO member is an attack on all NATO members and will be met by all NATO members. That is the treaty obligation as laid down in  articles 5 and 6 of the NATO Treaty

Article 5

The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security .

Article 6 (1)

For the purpose of Article 5, an armed attack on one or more of the Parties is deemed to include an armed attack:

on the territory of any of the Parties in Europe or North America, on the Algerian Departments of France (2), on the territory of or on the Islands under the jurisdiction of any of the Parties in the North Atlantic area north of the Tropic of Cancer;

on the forces, vessels, or aircraft of any of the Parties, when in or over these territories or any other area in Europe in which occupation forces of any of the Parties were stationed on the date when the Treaty entered into force or the Mediterranean Sea or the North Atlantic area north of the Tropic of Cancer.

Does anyone honestly believe that NATO would  engage in armed conflict with a  nuclear-armed Russian state?  Can anyone imagine the USA risking nuclear war if Russia attacks European territory?   Unless the answer to those questions is an unqualified yes then NATO is a dead letter as far as European security is concerned.  For myself, even during the Cold War  I never believed  that the USA would risk nuclear war unless its own territory  was attacked and  that Russia (then in the guise of the Soviet Union) would, however belligerent their rhetoric , always pull back  from provoking nuclear war, as happened over the Cuban missile crisis.

But let us suppose that the threat of nuclear war was ignored. Would NATO members, and most particularly the USA, be prepared to engage in a conventional war to, for example, eject Russia from  the Ukraine and Crimea?  That would also seem improbable, not least because most European NATO members  lack the military capacity to join in such action and US action without meaningful support from European members would be very unlikely in the present political atmosphere in America.

How should the West deal with Russia?  It should recognise that Russia has  (1) its natural sphere of influence which includes the Ukraine and (2) reasonable fears of the Ukraine becoming a Western vassal state through membership of the EU and NATO.  The senior conservative MP Sir Edward Leigh is one of the few MPs to recognise these facts, viz:

“My personal view is that we should balance any moves to the West, either to the EU or Nato, with convincing the Russians that we have no desire to take Ukraine out of Russia’s traditional orbit.

“The fact is that for all of its history, bar a couple of years in the 1920s, and since 1990, Ukraine has been part of Russia. It’s not just power politics, to the average Russian, the source of their country – the Kievan Rus’ – comes from Kiev in the middle of Ukraine.

“They consider that Ukraine is as much a part of the Russian soul as we consider Canterbury or Kent is part of our soul. So this isn’t some power grab by the Russians to take over the rest of Europe. I don’t approve of Putin sending in tanks, but whatever we say, this is the facts on the ground.”

“Putin is not going to give up, and therefore let’s try and accommodate and deal with him, and reassure him that we’re not trying to grab Ukraine.”

In addition to the Russian problem,  NATO’s open-ended commitment for members to come to the assistance of any of  the  twenty eight current members  (see below) is  a standing danger . For example, suppose Turkey was attacked by Iran. The  NATO member states would be obligated to fight Iran. Nor is it clear what would constitute an armed attack. Articles 5 and 6 do not stipulate an attack has to be from a nation state or alliance of states.   Would an attack by ISIS on a NATO member qualify?  There would seem to be nothing to disallow such an attack as qualifying under the NATO treaty obligations.

Then truth is NATO is worst than useless: it is a standing invitation to war. European nations need to attend to their own security. The simplest way of doing that is to scrap treaty obligations such as NATO’s  and, at least in the case of the larger states, to build their defence around  nuclear weapons and have conventional armed forces designed to defend national territories not forces to act in the interests of liberal internationalism.

Current NATO members

ALBANIA (2009)

BELGIUM (1949)


CANADA (1949)

CROATIA (2009)


DENMARK (1949)

ESTONIA (2004)

FRANCE (1949)

GERMANY (1955)

GREECE (1952)

HUNGARY (1999)

ICELAND (1949)

ITALY (1949)

LATVIA (2004)




NORWAY (1949)

POLAND (1999)


ROMANIA (2004)



SPAIN (1982)

TURKEY (1952)



The English origins and value of the USA’s Second Amendment

“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” (American Constitution Second Amendment)

American liberals have a problem. They wish to remove the constitutional right to bear arms from the American people.  Their problem is the Second Amendment. To honestly achieve their aim they would have to amend the Constitution. But such amendments are difficult going on impossible.

To initiate amendments, either two thirds of both houses of Congress must vote for them or two thirds of the State legislatures must call for a convention for proposing amendments. That is just the proposal process. This is followed by acceptance by the individual States. In the former case, three quarters of the States must ratify the amendment individually: in the latter three quarters of the convention must vote for the amendment.

Those are stringent terms to meet in any political system, but particularly so in a state as vast and diverse as the USA and with such a strong tradition of regional government. Add to those structural difficulties the existence of widespread gun ownership and powerful lobbies such as the National Rifle Association and the mountain becomes practically  insurmountable by honest means. So what does the liberal do? What he always does when he wants to ban something which is permitted by the Constitution: he pretends that the Constitution does not mean what it manifestly says.

In the case of the Second Amendment the attack takes the form of pretending that the Amendment was merely meant to provide for a militia rather than affirming and protecting the right of people to arm themselves individually. Happily, there is plenty of ammunition with which to shoot down this claim: in the Constitution itself, in the historical circumstances in which the Constitution and Amendment were drafted, in the very logic of a militia.

The claim that the amendment is simply to safeguard the right of America’s military forces to keep and bear arms is self-evidently absurd. If true all the amendment would mean is that the federal government could not disarm the militia soldiers who represented the majority of its armed forces. It would be practically a redundant clause.

The fact that the Amendment states that the right is not merely to bear but to keep arms might be thought by most honest folk to be a pretty clear indication that the private
ownership of weapons was what the framers of the Amendment had in mind. Moreover, what would be the point of the Amendment if it was not to confer such a right to the
individual? Any other permission to keep and bear arms must of necessity be dependent upon permission from those with political power and authority. It would thus again be a futile and redundant clause. It is noteworthy that nowhere in the Constitution, amended or otherwise, is any instruction on the exercise of such state power given or hinted at.

When judging the intent of the framers of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights (which contains the Second Amendment) it is necessary to know the general social and intellectual backcloth against which they worked. They were heir to the English tradition of liberty and government by consent rather than pure tyranny. The Americans who rose against the England of King George 111 did so because they considered themselves part of the tradition of English liberty. In seeking independence, they were not repudiating that tradition but in their own minds returning to what they imagined was the true path of English liberty which had become corrupted in England. It is against this ancient English tradition that the Constitution and the Bill of Rights must be set.

What does the unamended Constitution of 1787 say about the protection of the newly formed United States? Section 8 of Article 1 grants to Congress the right:

To raise and support Armies, but no appropriation of Money for that Use shall be for a longer term than two years.

“To provide and maintain a Navy.

“To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces.

“To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions.

“To provide for organising, arming and disciplining the Militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress.

The first point to note is that the Army and the militias are clearly distinguished as separate entities. The second is the time limit on the power to raise money for armies. This is highly significant. There was a very long tradition in England of professional standing armies being heartily mistrusted as the tool of despots. It was the attempt to
institute a standing army of thirty thousand men which was one of the main reasons why King James 11 was overthrown in 1688. Armies were raised for wars, but in peacetime militias were the order of the day. Indeed, until the first world war England never had a great standing army. (The English tradition is also echoed in the absence of any time restriction placed on the funding of a navy by the Founding Fathers. The English never feared a strong navy as such because it could not be used against them).

With this English mistrust of standing armies and reliance on militias went a tradition of not merely allowing weapons to be generally held, but of such a practice being  positively encouraged to ensure the defence of the country. Feudal military obligation was in fact built on the private provision not merely of men but of arms and equipment. In late medieval times statutes were enacted to encourage long bow practice. The Spanish Armada which attempted to invade England in 1588 was repulsed by a mixed English fleet of private and Royal ships.

Perhaps the strongest single circumstantial reason for dismissing the liberal’s interpretation of the Second Amendment are the well attested motives for those promoting
the Bill of Rights. Those who pushed for the first ten Amendments did so because they believed that the rights and liberties of the individual were not guarded explicitly
enough by the original Constitution. Thus ,if we are to believe the liberal, we must accept the truly fantastic explanation that in the case of the Second Amendment the
protection of individual liberty was utterly cast aside without reason, public acknowledgement or, most compellingly, any contemporary comment, adverse or otherwise.

There is also a question of simple practicality. When the Amendment was passed (December 1791), the infant federal government simply did not have the means to finance the arming of militias. Thus, they can only have envisaged private arms being put to the service of the state, a tradition which as previously mentioned had a long history in
both England and the Thirteen Colonies. Moreover, subsequent history bore this out, for the greater number of troops employed by the American Union in its wars against Britain and Mexico in the first half of the 19th century came from militias. In an age of minimal government, the Second Amendment underpinned the whole scheme of national defence.

Does the Second Amendment allow for any government abridgement of the right to keep and bear arms? It might just be possible to sustain an argument that a register of guns would not breach the Second Amendment provided there was no restriction on the right to own and bear weapons, that is no person could be denied the right either to appear on the register or bear arms. But even here it could be argued with some force that the registration of weapons – particularly if it required complicated bureaucratic procedures – was an interference with the general right to bear arms. Moreover, if a right is general and absolute, it is by no means clear how any procedure initiated by and insisted upon by the state could be legitimate because by definition there can be no legitimate restriction of the right.

Americans produce a multitude of reasons for retaining their guns. They argue on the grounds of personal liberty. They argue on the grounds of deterring crime. They argue on the grounds of personal protection. They argue on a dozen and one grounds. This to my mind is a mistake. Good causes do not need to be bolstered by a battery of  arguments. Good causes need but one argument. The only necessary argument for private gun ownership is in the Second Amendment: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to bear arms shall not be infringed.” The key words here are “a free state”. That phrase cannot mean solely to maintain the state in its independence from other states, because that could as well apply to a dictatorship as well as a democracy. In the context of the reasons for the American War of Independence “a free state” must also mean the maintenance of the freedom of the citizens from the oppressive power of the state. That after all was what the whole breach with England was about. Moreover, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are written in a manner which actively extols the individual over the state, viz: “We the people of the United States in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” (preamble to the Constitution).

The general motivation for demanding gun control is not the saving of lives. (Its only effect in England has been to leave guns predominately in the hands of criminals and the state). Liberals wish to remove the general right of gun ownership in America for the same reason that they wish to interfere with peoples’ lives generally: they are natural authoritarians. They know that their philosophy (such as it is) conflicts utterly with human nature and are thus driven to suppress any resistance or dissent through the intimidation of political correctness and the practical control of public life. The disarming of the American people is part of this oppressive strategy.

The desire to restrict the holding of arms has always come from those who wished to not only monopolise power but to do so on their own terms. When the crossbow was invented, the medieval nobility attempted to ban it because it reduced the effectiveness of the armoured and mounted knight. Failing in that, they attempted to restrict, with some success, its ownership to people they could control. The Samurai in Japan enforced ruthlessly their rule that only Samurai should carry swords. When the demobbed conscripts of British Army returned to Britain after the First World War, the British government passed the first serious laws regulating gun ownership not because they feared that the British would begin to murder one another in great numbers but because they feared Red revolution.

If Americans wish to retain what is left of their freedom, they will do well to keep the Second Amendment intact. This means not merely retaining the status quo, but the mounting of legal challenges to every restriction on the holding and bearing of arms in the United States. The plain and hideously inescapable fact is that every attempt to restrict both gun ownership (or indeed any other weapon) and the bearing of arms made since the inauguration of the United States has been illegal. That applies whether or not the interference with the Constitutional right was undertaken at the federal or the state level. I suggest that legal action should consist not merely of Constitutional challenges, but civil actions for damages against the federal and appropriate state governments by those actively and personally denied the right to bear arms.

Armed forces to defend Britain not to serve the New World Order

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.

Military procurement

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.

National self-sufficiency

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.

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