Defining British Interests and Threats to them

uk 75

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Something that has struck me since 1997 and the Blair Government's SDR is that "Defending British Interests" has come to be used by the Political and Military hierarchy to justify military adventures overseas notably Iraq and Afghanistan which to someone like me brought up with the legacy of Suez in 1956 and the withdrawal from Singapore and the Gulf in 1971 as "luxuries" bolted on to the key military tasks of defending the UK geographically and providing a "reasonable" contribution to our collective defence in NATO and our wider obligations under the UN Charter.

I understand the revulsion that greeted inaction over Milosevic's slaughters in the Balkans and the killing fields in Rwanda (I was in Uganda at the time). This led the well intentioned Blair Government down the path from Sierra Leone through Kosovo to the Quagmires of Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the economic collapse of 2008 has changed the world more thoroughly than even the events of 9/11.

China, Brazil, India, Russia and South Africa, and perhaps in all due time, Egypt are major regional powers with military capabilities and budgets that are growing rather than shrinking like ours. The United States remains a hyper-power and China has still some way to go before it can match the reach and abilities of the US Armed Forces.

In the recent debates about the future of Britain's Armed forces the best threat than anyone can come up with to our interests is Argentina and the Falklands. This is to ignore the modern world and the limitations of military force. We may hold the Islands but Argentina is winning the propaganda battle around the world. In the world of real time mobile phones and twitter, the biggest threat we face to the Islands is peaceful humiliation by Argentine protesters. A pussy riot on Mount Pleasant airbase would be more effective than any futile military strike.

Our interests around the world are many and varied but they depend much more on careful building of alliances and competing financially in the modern world rather than brandishing a military sabre.

My one reservation from this view is the legacy of nuclear weapons. They cannot be uninvented and so a minimum deterrent of the kind envisaged in the Trident replacement programme is rather like house insurance a burdensome but necessary part of the budget.

I throw the bar open..

UK 75
 

shedofdread

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UK75,

That's a rather thought provoking post you have there - one that I will consider. However, in the mean time, may I offer another?

Decline isn't innevitable - it's a choice.

Regards,

S
 

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