A Defence Review 72

The defence review is admitting the bleeding obvious – that there is no real danger of armed invasion of the UK, and that terrorism does not pose an “existential threat” to the UK and our way of life. That is a real advance, because Blair, Reid and Blunkett were determined to convince us that it was an existential threat, “on the scale of the Second World War” as Reid once ludicrously opined of a menace that killed under 70 people inthe UK. What did become a threat to our way of life was New Labour’s hyping of that threat to impose unprecedented authoritarianism.

By contrast the current review is almost rational. Everyone seems very pleased at the highlighting of cyber attack, though I tend to think this too is ramped up a la swine flu. But at least nobody is suggesting drone attacks on weddings to take out laptops – at least yet. I like the whole Dr Who sound of “Cyber attack”. We should prioritise Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart in defence spending (sorry, that will mean nothing to anyone under 50. I was 52 on Sunday).

But do not expect any further rationality. Trident missiles are no use against any actual threat, but we will be told we still need them, in reality because they make British politicians feel they are more powerful and important than German and Japanese ones.

The aircraft carriers are important to our ability to support US invasions abroad.They have no other purpose. The big question so far ducked is whether we have abandoned the disastrous “Blair doctrine” of liberal interventionism. or bombing foreigners to make them better people. The unspoken presumption isthat we are still maintaining this option.

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72 thoughts on “A Defence Review

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  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ Alfred,

    So because alternative arguments are put, then dreolin is brainless and so am I,and you shall have your say because :-

    ” There ain’t nobody here who understands nuthin,..”


    “Oh fuck off Courtenay.”

    Actually, I would rather not. I quite like Craig’s blog.

    Could say some really nasty things myself, but I am not that kind of person.

    Have a nice peaceful day Alfred.


    PS Belligerent words start wars.

  • Freeborn

    The doctrine of “human intervention” used to legitimize the spate of attacks-that began in 1991 with the attack on Iraq-against weaker states in geopolitical “pivot” areas like the Middle East and Yugoslavia ante-dates Blair by some years.

    We could start with the advocation by Einstein of a post-war World Government led by Britain,the US and Soviet Union. Einstein allowed that some smaller nations might not want to join the World Government but even in these the World Government would have the right to intervene where “minority was oppressing a majority.”

    The Anglo-US-Soviet-led World Government would also have the nuclear stick with which to beat recalcitrant states into line.

    Bertrand Russell took the World Government concept one step further. His plan was that the fear of nuclear annihilation be used to force all nations to give up their sovereignty and join the UN!

    By the end of the Cold War “humanitarian intervention” was back on the agenda especially of powers like the US and Britain who were keen to extend their influence in the states of the former Soviet Union. Minerals and narcotics in the Balkans;oil and gas in the Caspian were the real driving force behind the thinking of the new breed of “humanitarian interventionists”.

    The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace,which actually pioneered the idea in 1908 that it was best for the US to be kept involved in wars,recommended in 1992 that NATO and the OCSE be re-aligned in the new post-Cold War period to deal with the new European security problems that had presented themselves since the break-up of the Soviet Empire.

    The same year in a paper called “Self-Determination in the New World Order” Carnegie strategists advocated support for ethnic groups desirous of their own states in the face of the egregious behaviour of their parent governments.

    “Humanitarian intervention” saw its inaugural burnishing as a secret geo-strategic weapon when it was employed as a cover for the planned break-up of Yugoslavia.

    In an ominous foreshadowing of all that has happened since the US Islamist terrorist database Al Qaeda and the Albanian mafia played a leading role in Bosnia and Kosovo on behalf of Western power interests.

    Blair became a key player for the powerful Western interests who instigate wars as a key element of their international business operations.

    The expansion of Rothschild Inc on the back of the take-down of Yugoslavia is well covered in Vlada Sindjelic’s book The Rothschild Octopus.


  • Alfred

    “@ Alfred,

    So because alternative arguments are put, then dreolin is brainless …”

    You said that, not me. I would not dream of saying such a thing.

    “Could say some really nasty things myself, but I am not that kind of person.”

    Oh, but you are. You have falsely and repeatedly called me a “militarist” and a “racist”. And you continually repeat the insult.

    “Belligerent words start wars.”

    Actually, most wars are started by fools.

    Had Churchill’s late 30’s belligerence emanated from the PM’s office not the back benches we might have avoided the Second World War.

  • Alfred

    Ruth said,

    “I see why our rulers in the public eye and behind would want wars but I can’t see how the general public would want one given that we have basically nothing to fight for.”

    Whether a nation wins or loses by a war can never be known for certain because we cannot explore the alternative universes (if you believe the many worlds theory) in which we did not have a war.

    But wars are undoubtedly fought either for gain or to avoid loss. Sometimes the gains or losses affect only the ruling elite. But often the people benefit, or expect to. Hence jingoism.

    There’s no room here for an attempted cost benefit analysis, but think of Genghis Khan, 18 million living descendants according to DNA analysis. Or consider BP, pumping a million barrels a day in Iraq (reserves of that one field conservatively estimated at 18 billion barrels), etc.

    As for “We might in fact get a better deal from an invader.”

    Well, that’s what we, US/UK/Canada etc. keep telling the Afghans, but they don’t seem to get it. No doubt it was what Genghis said as he raped the pick of the women prisoners.

    I should add that what I have said here is not an endorsement of aggressive war, universally acknowledged to be a criminal enterprise. That might seem obvious, but with people like Courtenay Barnett who, if you say the height of the Sears Tower is 527.3 metres, will charge you with lobbying for the construction industry, it needs to be spelled out.

  • dreoilin

    “Oh God, Dreoilin, you’re as clueless as Courtenay.”

    “Oh fuck off Courtenay.”

    ‘So because alternative arguments are put, then dreolin is brainless’ [and so am I]

    “You said that, not me. I would not dream of saying such a thing.”

    How childish, Alfred. Whatever I expected from you, it wasn’t classic ad hominem. It’s what I expect from Larry the troll. I’ll know better in future. I should have been well-warned by your treatment of Technicolour, i.e. very rude attempts at superiority and Godly omniscience, otherwise known as, How to Win Friends and Influence People.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ Alfred,

    I said:-

    “Could say some really nasty things myself, but I am not that kind of person.”

    Indeed I did.

    Alfred responded:-

    “Oh, but you are. You have falsely and repeatedly called me a “militarist” and a “racist”. And you continually repeat the insult.”

    Indeed I called you a ‘militarist’ and do in fact perceive you as such. ‘Racist’ if I used the term in reference to you then please show me. I prefer the term ‘English natinalist’ and I belive that accurately describes you.

    “Belligerent words start wars.”

    Indeed they do Aflred.

    Actually, most wars are started by fools.

    O.K. – go prove it.

  • Apostate

    Couldn’t you adolescent dingbats cite some sources for your view re-issues like how wars start?

    Without such sources or reasoned debate of any kind the conversation degenerates to Cathouse Larry level.


    You could start with Stoessinger’s Why Nations Go To War as a primer and graduate to Diplomacy by Kissinger.

    The above notion that wars are initiated by fools strucks me as utterly ahistorical and misguided. It’s merely a mindless regurgitation of the “cock-up” theory of history.

    Par for the course on this comment board!


  • Steelback

    What about the classic on its subject by Clausewitz:On War?

    The book founded the basis for the systematic study of war as a human enterprise.

    Mandatory reading,guys!

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ All – some on this thread believe that they are the only one who is aware of, or has read Clausewitz on war. So, with the permission of Steelback, I share a chapter I had written some years ago. Surprise! Look what I found in it – the name – of all people – Clausewitz.


    To understand modern theory and practice of war, we can start with Napoleon. His practice of warfare left its impression on theorists of the time. Two such theorists, Carl Maria von Clausewitz (1780-1831) and Antoine Henri Jomie (1779-1869), set a foundation for modern thought. Claussewitz held the view that war cannot be humanised because it is an act of violence dependent for success upon a “push to the utmost” to destroy the enemy. Jomie, who once served in the French army, produced a theory of rational and tactical principles for campaigns of war. Among twentieth-century military theorists, there is the American, Herman Khan, who wrote about the probable uses of nuclear weapons in the current world; Vo Nguyen Giap, the Vietnamese strategist of revolutionary warfare who organised against both the French and the Americans; and the Soviet naval strategist, Sergei Gorshkov.

    Analysis on the theoretical and operational levels of war is as much a part of attitudes to war in the world as are popular, heartfelt or loosely defined sentiments for peace.

    The technological and strategic complexities of warfare have increased enormously in modern times. The first nuclear weapon test on 16 July 1945 at Alamorgodo, New Mexico, changed the implications of war forever. Once the bomb existed, it inevitably had to be used. Hiroshima, 6 August 1945. Nagasaki, 9 August 1945. Since those original A-bombs, weapons of far greater destructive capacity have been developed. Now we hear of Star Wars ?” space-based anti-missile and anti-satellite systems. What next?

    Deterrence? A rationale has developed that the existence of nuclear weapons and the development of more, to keep pace with the other side, will restrain the enemy from attacking. Nations, significantly the U.S.A. during the cold war era, and the then U.S.S.R., negotiated terms of agreement and treaties to secure mutually acceptable positions.

    After 1945, the race for supremacy in weaponry between the U.S.A. and the then U.S.S.R. followed a central logic, propelled by the dynamic of the military, political and industrial goals of those countries. As America had the A-bomb in 1945, so the Soviets acquired it in 1949; in the 1950’s, America decided to develop the H-bomb, and so began the intensified contest for superiority. Negotiations for limitation and control became increasingly complex. Thus the world saw SALT I, SALT II, then START opened in Geneva in October 1982, and so on.

    Proliferation simply means the spread of nuclear weapons to other countries. In 1968 a nuclear non-proliferation treaty was established. However, many nations have since acquired or are on the way to acquiring nuclear weapons. They include India, Israel, Pakistan, North Korea and other countries.

    What hope is there, then, for peace? Nuclear weapons may not prevent conventional wars from being waged. If there is a nuclear war, then for self-interest and self-preservation neither side will resort to the use of nuclear weapons. What use then for defence purposes can further deployment of these weapons have? It would make better sense to negotiate for fewer and fewer weapons and avoid the ridiculously costly waste of escalation. I must here in fairness consider “counterforce” weapons made for use directly against enemy missiles. These weapons, so the argument runs, can be used as controlled counterforce, attacking only military targets. By these rules of containment, only if one side attacks other targets, e.g. “counter-city attacks”, may the war possibly escalate to an all-out matching of will and determination to win. May this mad theory never be tested!

    If both sides have nuclear weapons with a capacity for total destruction, then in the interest of self-preservation, they will not use them, but instead rely on conventional warfare. No nice option either.

    There may be some merit in the argument about deterrence if one considers situations such as the 1956 Suez Canal crisis or the Cuban Missile Crisis. Fear of the other’s intention to hold its position, and an acceptance of that position, result in both nuclear-armed powers negotiating and accepting the “positions”, “interest” or “sphere of influence” of the other. To do otherwise would ensure mutual destruction.

    What can be done? For the long-established holders of nuclear weapons, a first practical step appears to be a subscription to the concept “no-first-use”. This could be followed by a negotiated reduction in nuclear weapons. At the moment, the best to be hoped for is a reduction to a level of “minimum deterrence” ?” that is, the smallest amount of nuclear weapons to place the other side in fear of an “unacceptable level of damage in a retaliatory strike”. For the rest of the world, “no first acquisition” appears a humane concept. A principled starting point, for both conventional and nuclear weapons, would be for all the arms-exporting countries to agree to a moratorium or practical limitation on the types, range and capacity supplied to buyers. “No first acquisition”! But how practical is this when there is so much money to be made by the arms-exporting countries supplying to the Third World? And, there are significant military and strategic considerations.

    So I ask again ?” what hope for peace? This can be considered on two levels. First, that of the nation-state. Second, at the level of people and popular movements. States do display a willingness to minimise the ill effects of war. They make treaties and agreements which establish limits beyond which the signatories are not expected to step.

    On the non-governmental level, a strong movement developed in Europe. Nation states responded to mobililsed calls for comprehensive global banning, through treaties; but for example, land mines, demonstrate official state policy’s true interest in sustaining global arms sales and conflict. There are those countries which see greater safety in breaking treaties and stating that security is to be found in increased military expenditures.

    The West in Europe sees a good market in arms sales to new European Union member states, for so-called security (against whom in this post cold war era?). The U.S. has embraced a strategy of pre-emptive strikes in pursuit of a policy of counter proliferation. The U.S. policy change has been from deterrence as previously described, to a policy of aggressive military dominance. The consequence will be that those who can, will seek surreptitiously to develop nuclear power, for that the threat of mutual destruction will be a definite deterrence in a world where the U.S. is perceived as the aggressor. Those groups or nations which cannot develop nuclear weapons may support terrorism, as a means against which nuclear weapons are, quite frankly, totally useless, as 9/11 demonstrated.

    However much the purveyors of weapons, bombs and destruction may try to convince their citizenry that more expenditure on arms means greater security, this philosophy of defence is mainly the military industrial complex’s way of boosting arms production and profits. Real issues of lasting security and peace in the world cannot be dealt with through the “mad man strategies” which dominate the world.

    The sane way forward really has to be by way of an emphasis on compliance with global non-proliferation treaties, reduction of existing arms stockpiles and global consensus building through a co-operative strategy of international governance. To think for a moment that military might and bullyboy tactics makes right will quite definitely stir more global resentments and more and more tensions which will translate into terrorist attacks. Of course, I can say this because I do not own a military factory that produces bombs; I do not have any vested interest in stirring wars and tensions in the world; and, I am a genuine peace loving human being ?” which is in stark contrast to the prevailing reality of those who run the world and have economic power.

    The Russians having the Stealth Satellite System Terminator (SSST) puts in question the entire effectiveness of the U.S. missile defence system. Viewed from another angle, and to respect the entire system is also useless against a single determined terrorist willing to effect a suicide mission, which 9/11 so horribly demonstrated.

    I ardently support moves towards peace and justice in the world. As to the use of nuclear weapons, I fear their destructive capacity. Expenditure on arms, directs funds away from alleviation of global poverty and other areas of pressing human need and also presents a threat to peace, through deliberate promotion and sustenance of global tension, of which India and Pakistan provide an actual example.

    It is necessary to inform ourselves about these issues. Having researched the arguments and counter-arguments, if you then end up with views like mine that arms production and sales should be curtailed or ended, then think, write, act, and even borrow a phrase…


  • Courtenay Barnett

    If I recall correctly, Stoessinger did emphasise the importance of personalities involved as a source of understanding the cause of the war(s). So if someone says, tounge in cheek, that “Belligerent words start wars.”

    maybe someone on this thread ought not be too hasty to mention Stoessinger’s name and read the sentence merely in a constricted literal sense.

    Actually,the sentence comes as a little tease of ol’ Alfred, and this does not in the least imply that many are not aware of the either the writings of Stoessinger, or the writings and murderous wrongdoings of Henry Kissinger.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ All ?” so that we have a better understanding:-

    Quotation from:-

    Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja

    “Ordinary citizens do not have passion for war as it disturbs their safety and security, and destroys the living habitats. The ruling elite, the actual warmongers, force people to think in extreme terms of hatred and rejection of others so that people would be forced to align with the rulers to support and finance the war efforts. Sheldon Richman describes how Herman Goering, Hitler’s second in command, understood the discourse of war-making:

    “Of course the people don’t want war… .but after all, it’s the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it’s always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether, it’s a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a parliament or a Communist dictatorship.” (Sheldon Richman, “War is Government Program”)”

  • Suhayl Saadi

    They’ve tried one way, then another nd have decided on this – flooding, as they’ve been beaten in every other way. Their trolls are useless and have been exposed. They do not want CM to remain an active political figure – that much has been clear for years. Now he’s resumed blogging, suddenly these massive spams arrive: “I’m looking through you.” Rubber Soul.

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