Archive for the ‘Defence & Security’ Category

A Littler Britain – Michael Webster

jeudi, avril 9th, 2015

When David Cameron came to power, he promised that Britain, with the fourth largest defence budget in the world, a close relationship with the United States and an important role in the EU, would play a major role in world affairs with a highly active foreign policy.

His actual record has been a dismal, even reprehensible one.

He is reneging on Britain’s moral obligation to NATO to devote 2% of our GDP to Defence and already reduced Britain’s ranking from fourth to sixth in the world. Possessed in the past with a highly skilled diplomatic corps and an admired military capacity, punching well above its weight, Britain is now much less engaged in foreign affairs and plays only a subdued role.

It has raised doubts in the United States about its capacity to be an ally one can count on with an army reduced from 120,000 to 80,000. Whereas it used to be a member that played a notable part in the formation of EU policy, it is losing support and is increasingly disregarded. In the past our civil servants, highly regarded, filled a disproportionately high number of senior posts. They are now far fewer, being replaced by Germans.

In the Ukraine dispute, we left negotiation to Merkel and Hollande, we voted against participation in action against Bashad, we contribute almost nothing to the air strikes against ISIS in Iraq and offer no support for the French in Africa.

The Foreign Office’s budget has been cut 30% under Cameron and the results are felt everywhere in the Service. And how many of us can name the Foreign Secretary?

So, what of the future? Discounted by the Americans, cold-shouldered in the EU, prestige diminished, how long would it take to once more regain our standing in the world?

Michael Webster
BCiP Member

Defence & Security: A Current Electoral Issue

lundi, mars 16th, 2015

Of immediate concern in Parliamentary circles is the Defence Budget as part of the Conservatives? ?electoral platform? for 2015.

At issue is David Cameron?s refusal to commit the Party formally to a Defence Budget equal to 2% of GDP in conformity with NATO policy. At the same time, he maintains that he does not necessarily see a need not to commit but wants flexibility.

This seems to me to be ill-advised. Firstly, from a public-relations point of view it can serve as an example to other NATO members to drag their feet. Secondly, it has alarmed our American ally, already concerned by cuts in our level of military spending.

From a practical point of view, present cuts of 20,000 men in the Army, 5000 in in the RAF and 5,999 in the Navy have been met with criticisms from our Defence chiefs that we have fallen below the level of our commitments.

This seems to me to be a very dangerous time for instituting economies in our Defence Budget. The international scene has taken on a more threatening aspect than we have seen for some years: again an increasingly threatening attitude from Russia, a Middle East engaged in increasing turbulence, an as yet immeasurable threat from terrorists.

This is a time not for Mr Cameron?s ambivalence but for the strengthening of our defences and a firmer attitude from our political leaders.

Michael Webster
BCiP Member