Subjective Objectivity – The Blog of The Reasonable Man

July 23, 2010

The limited point of the British military

Filed under: Uncategorized — mikeshotgun @ 1:52 pm

I missed this from Defense Secretary* Liam Fox yesterday:

Since the Second World War, the nation has maintained a force that can conduct all-out warfare, counter-insurgencies such as in Afghanistan or medium scale campaigns like the Falklands or Sierra Leone.

But Dr Fox has given the strongest signal yet that it will have to give up one or more of these capabilities, which have been maintained at the same time as contributing to collective security pacts such as Nato. “We don’t have the money as a country to protect ourselves against every potential future threat,” he said. “We just don’t have it.”

“We have to look at where we think the real risks will come from, where the real threats will come from and we need to deal with that accordingly. The Russians are not going to come over the European plain any day soon,” he added.

Good stuff! It goes a little downhill as he proceeds to fudge the issue somewhat, but the ethos is encouraging.

A large portion of the problem as regards our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan is the fact that we had a standing force capable of providing the level of support that we did. Neither of these countries (nor any polity that exists today) is an existential threat to this country. But if you have in place the capabilities to engage, then no one should be surprised when, upon invitation to have their budgets justified accompanied by the sound of sabre rattling and jingoism, engagements will occur.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not in favour of slashing the whole lot, as the future may breed actual enemies, and we should really be in a position to fight back the coming robot apocalypse. But our situation for now is such that there is little that can truly justify the expense our defense budget. And no, “national pride” doesn’t count.

*On a side point, I really think that the Defense Secretary should revert back to its previous title of Secretary of State for War, to reflect its actual portfolio. I think the public would be less inclined to instinctively support every desire of the “War Department.

Cross-posted at Something Quotable

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