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.