hms iron duke

hms iron duke

Monday, 9 March 2015

Britain in Danger

Alphen, Netherlands. 9 March. Britain is in danger.  It is in danger from a revanchist Russia, determined to turn back the clock of history.  It is in danger from Islamic State and Al Qaeda determined to turn back the clock of civilisation. It is in danger from Jean-Claude Juncker and his fellow EU-federalists who want to replace the European nation-state with an EU super-state.  Yesterday, Juncker opportunistically sought to capitalise on Russia’s aggression by calling for an EU Army.  It is in danger from the seemingly interminable Eurozone crisis.  It is in danger from irresponsible immigration and those on the political Left and Right who for their own reasons refuse to recognise the very clear link that exists between some aspects of mass-immigration (by no means all) and insecurity.  However, the greatest danger Britain faces is from its own political class who seem to become daily more detached from any sense of the national interest or the vital role Britain still has to play in Europe’s security, and that of the world beyond.

In my now many years on this planet I have endured many British general election campaigns.  The current ‘campaign’ is quite simply the worst, most unworldly, most cynical, I have ever endured – on both sides of the political divide.  Indeed, whilst most elections are fought out as a rush to occupy the political centre-ground, the May 2015 General Election seems to be a rush by both Labour and Conservative leaderships to evacuate the middle ground…and sod reality in the process.  Indeed, Britain’s increasingly radicalised, professional political class bring to mind former Irish Taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald who when confronted with a particularly irate Margaret Thatcher at the height of difficult negotiations for the 1985 Anglo-Irish agreement said, “That is all very well, Prime Minister.  What you say may indeed work in fact, but does it work in theory?”

Neither Team Cameron nor Team Miliband seems to have any sense of the national interest, or the real and very dangerous world which exists beyond the Westminster/Whitehall bubble, and which is getting daily closer.  Cameron has tried to effectively kill any debate about Britain’s security and defence and has absolutely no interest in discussing Britain’s place in the world.  Miliband and the Left simply trot out the unworldly mantra that aid and development IS an investment in security, implying that ring-fencing the aid budget should be seen as an alternative to defence investment. 

When I wrote my new paperback Little Britain? Twenty-First Century Strategy for a Middling European Power (five-star reviewed at it was a cri de coeur, a plaidoyer (and other French words) for London’s High Establishment – both political and bureaucratic – to return to effective statecraft, and to craft Britain’s still not inconsiderable soft and hard power into coherent national strategy.  Critically, the book pleads with politicians to for once put strategy before politics and defend Britain’s vital national interests at a vital time by re-embracing political realism.  And yet, later this year, be it Cameron or Miliband, Britain will abandon the minimum NATO commitment of 2% GDP on defence – the foundation upon which all British influence and effect is built. 

This will happen not because of sound strategic analysis, although national and defence ‘strategies’ will be prepared to provide some form of political alibi.  It will happen because both Cameron and Miliband are isolationists who for their respective reasons are locked into their respective ideological positions both of which in some way involve and require the abandonment of political realism.  Cameron is committed to deficit-busting cuts at any cost whatever is happening in Britain’s strategic environment.  Miliband is committed to transferring as much national wealth as possible into the National Health Service, social care and welfare.  Given the balance to be struck between strategy, security and affordability it is Britain’s defences that will inevitably be raided.    

So, in the vain hope reality may at some point break-out in Britain’s High Establishment let me point out Britain’s hard realities.  President Putin by 2020 will have injected some £700bn in new armed forces.  Between 2015 and 2020 the US will cut its defence budget by more than Europe’s entire collective defence investment. According to a Home Office report leaked this weekend of the 700 or so Islamists who left Britain to fight with Islamic State, over 300 have returned to Britain many of whom are actively planning terrorist attacks.  This weekend it was announced that Islamic State had established a strong presence in Libya.  There are some 200,000 refugees waiting in Libya to cross into Europe.

In an ideal world Dave, George and Ed could indeed raid Britain’s defences to bribe their respective sets of core supporters.  Sadly, the world is anything but ideal and like it or not Britain is a security anchor-state. If Britain abandons political realism for political fancy it is not just Britain that will suffer, but Europe, and much of the world beyond.

How I weep for thee my country. What did we British do to deserve these politicians?

Julian Lindley-French

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