Category Archives: Defence Review

Cameron: I Speak My Mind


Look Charlie, I’m getting tired of all this criticism. What I told the public – and some believed me – was that we Tories were going to roll up our sleeves and get things done. You should at least acknowledge that we have been successful in this. Not a day passes without a new iniatiative: legislation, white papers, special committees’of enquiry. You name it and we’re doing it.

That’s just my complaint Dave. These so-called reforms of your’s are half-baked and driven by ideology, a narrowly based schemata of outdated right-wing philosophies common in the South of England and loathed elsewhere. You do not recognise the difference between a statement of principles and a detailed implementation of a policy, you do not genuinely consult the people who will be affected by Coalition changes and then of course when you get tired of banging your head against the wall you change your mind and parade a retreat as a victory. Do you wish me to list these policy retreats? No, I thought not.

Charlie, you are not fair. For the sake of this argument, let me accept that we have made some mistakes. But I would suggest to you that we are quick to react to intelligent comment and we have the guts to change our mind to accommodate good suggestions. Isn’t that a sign of maturity and inclusion? Well it may be Dave but I would prefer to describe it that you are indeed quick to recognise a cock-up when someone points it out to you.

I think  that this is not worthy of you Charlie. I have read a book on leadership ( I can’t remember the title for the moment but when I do I shall tell you). Anyway, Charlie, this author categorised types of leader and I used these to recognise and define my own style. I am a pathfinder, Charlie. I find the right path and charge down it shouting for others to follow me. I do not want you to tell people Charlie but Tony Blair was a pathfinder! I can believe it Dave. Did you think of Tony Dave when you committed British armed forces to Libya? I seem to remember being told by Tony that ian invasion of Iraq would be a 7 day wonder. In and out in no time. Today eight years later we finally withdrew  our sailors. Did you not tell us something similar Libya? How much longer will we be wasting scarce resources there.

There’s no comparison Charlie and you know it. I am determined to exercise my leadership everywhere in this small world. Just you wait and see. It will all work out well in the end. I confidently predict that we will be out of there by the next General Election (unless of course we run out of amunition!) Ha, ha Charlie, that’s a joke. Seriously, though Charlie you have a point. Not much of a point but a point. You will notice that after a year or two we shall slow down and consolidate. We have to leave something yet to be done of course. We don’t want to run out of cornucopia, so to speak. When I win the next General Election Charlie I shall grant you an interview and you can publicly admit that you were wrong about me. That’s if you want one!

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Filed under Cabinet, Cameron, Coalition Government, Defence Review, Ghadaffi, Libya, Middle East, Politics, Tony Blair, Treasury, United Nations

Libya and the Anglo-French Zone of Influence


Do you remember the European Defence Force (EDF) proposed by the France as an alternative to NATO and rejected by the British? You do, good. I have news for you it is alive and kicking (with a little help from Italy). There is new foreign policy strategy. Britain and France have declared that the Mediterranean area including North Africa be deemed their  sphere of influence. There is no immediate need for Britain to have an aircraft carrier for French one will do and the Italians will provide an air base in Southern Italy. If we act now and together there will be no more influx of unwanted immigrants into Frence and Italy. Like all speres of inluence it would be better for the client country to have a similar political system of our own  Trade and investment prospers best in democracies amd a reliable commercial law. To be fair to ourselves her in Britain this has always been the case. All these jolly colonies were reformed into democratic societies and when all was hunky dory we went home and they had their independence. Of course there many wars to achieve this but achieve it we did. Gradually the atlas studied by English schoochildren turned from the pink of Empire to a cacophany of other hues and anthems. 

It dawned on me as I watched French helicopters fir on the Presidential Palace in the Ivory Coast that nothing much had changed. We do not call it Empire any more, these African states are not colonies but the white man’s mission continues. The emotion felt by the former colonisers remains the same.

But I saw other things in this state of confusion as well as well. On the Palace wer trained the guns of UN helicopters. In Afghanistan it was a UN agency that was being stormed. The Un commitment to nation building was in full flood. While I had looked away for a moment or two the UN had developed a role of its own and it wielded armed forces of its own. It came as quite a shock to me.

Why am I getting so excited about this? Well think a bit. There is work to be done to persuade all those African and Arab countries to come into line and to make the region fit for invest and the export of oil. I cannot come about over night. After Libya there will be many other states waiting for our attention. The USSR did not find it easy to have all those client states in Eastern Europe. And let me tell you what happnened to them. They collapsed. All those years of economic sacrifice and political attention and then,  almost over night, nothing.!

I am conscious that this new regional foreign and defence policy has mnot been debated by the House of Commons. It is stealing up on us. Is this neo-colonialism in the interest of  Britain. What will be the efects on our alliance with the USA, the cohesion of NATO and the unity of Europe. No room for the Huns in all this! Germany can sort out the Eurozone and serve them right.

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Libya: the Anglo-French Bellicose Alliance


I have a complaint to make. Could not the media, and in particular the  television news channels, raise its game in the reporting of the Libyan crisis? Can anyone explain for me the rationale behind an Anglo-French alliance pressing for war to aid the overthrow of the Libyan regime? Of course, I know the bit about the importance of supporting democracy throughout the Middle East and the horror of a government slaughtering its own people to maintain an authoritarian and unpleasant dictator and his family. Let me pin my colours to the mast. I am on the side of the rebellion. But is it not a fair question to ask for a reason for Britain and France to be the most bellicose Western powers and alone in pressing for armed intervention? Why is France so premature in recognising the rebel Council in Benghazi as the legitimate government of Libya? Is there anything in the history of Anglo-French relations with Libya that might help an analysis of the issue.

Look, I am hesitant in suggersting an over-riding issue. But what distinguises Britain and France from other members of the European Union? Hold your hats, please. They are major suppliers of arms to Libya and other African states. David Cameron has told a wondering British public that  the principal objective of British foreign policy under the Coalition  is now to be the promotion of trade. Is he not fresh back from visits to authoritarian Middle Eastern states accompanied by British arms dealers? Hasn’t he nailed his colours to the mast? Could it not be that he has his eyes on the opportunities that would be opened up for arms deals if the Gaddafi Libyan regime were to fall?

As for France, in 1967 the French government was quick to welcome the Gaddafi regime in  and became a major arms supplier for his regime. But France was greedy and insisted on selling the sme equipment to Gaddafi’s African neighbours so nullifying any Libyan military advantage.  Libya decided to buy its weapons elsewhere. Here is a new opportunity for France. Aid the rebels and rearm Libya.

And then there is the issue of oil. Could it be an interest of Britain and France to gain new oil concessions and protect existing contracts? That is a major issue in its own right. But you get my drift. And what unworthy thoughts they are. I’m suggesting that these two right wing governments are desperate to be on the side of new democratic countries which they imagine are evolving from the ruins and contradictions of the existing authoritarian regimes.  I am suggesting more than this. In the world of real politik they are desperate to take any action, no matter how absurd and reckless, to place themselves in the vanguard of the revolution.

Let us suppose that they are wrong. Could it be that the regimes that emerge from the ruins of the old are very like the ones they supplanted and their national interests  are unchanged? Could it be that our government in its desperate search for fools gold has got it wrong? Is it too wrong and misguided of me to point this out? Come on, BBC. Isn’t that your job? Never mind the pictures what are the issues?

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Cameron and Arms Deals


Sometimes I wish myself to be ubiquitous.You know what I mean: to possess powers  to look in and over,  to find out what  has really been going on in the corridors of power. For example, who were the arms dealers who accompanied David Cameron on his recent trip to the Middle East and what did they sell and to which authoritan regime. In this age of transparency you would think it easy enough. It isn’t and if you doubt me try it yourself. To mix my metaphor, so to speak, sell bullets to the wrong dictator and they can come back to bite you. This task is so difficult that I have been obliged to invent my own un-Parliamentary questiosns and answers.

Q. What arms deals were negotiated with what regimes on the Prime Minister’s recent trip’. A. Following parliamentary proceedure I cannot answer this. I would remind the questioner that there has been no change in the guidelines that rightly govern these transations. Q. Can the Government confirm that over the past five years, no arms have been sold to Libya. A. If a company wishes to sell arms to any particular country, such as Libya, it must apply for an export licence in the normal way. As I say the rul;es have not changed. Q. Will the Prime Minister confirm which companies on his recent trip will be applying for export licenses and in respect of what arms and to which regimes? A. Britain is one of the world’s most successful arms exporters and I shall do nothing to undermine its efforts to sell arms to a diverse range of countries. In the nature of things a power we regard as responsible at one moment of time may become irresonsible the next. We cannot stand over them when they pull  the triggers, can we? Look chaps, some of you types that have attended schools in Wolverhampton and Walsall understnd the facts of life that are learnt in the playgrounds. If you think it was easier for types like me on the playing fields of Eton you are deluded. It is tough and you do not survive without a bruise or two. Basically the rules of the game are simple. You do not take on a bully at the height of his powers. You wait until his position has weakened and when he has lost some of his friends. Then you pounce on him when he least expects it yelling that you are the boss now. If need be get a few friends to help you. Give him a few kicks. Make sure that all the other kids know that you are the champion now. That’s what we are doing with Libya. Never mind the past, ignore the previous arms deals and the British banks stuffed full with his illegal funds. Force majeure and all that and you are the champion now. The others soon fall into line. And that is our policy now. Move over you swine, you might say. We are the champion now. And the rest of you buying arms from us today. Don’t think that we won’t turn on you in the future if we have too. Oh yes, we are not cissies. Look at my muscles. Well come to think of it, perhaps not.

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Cameron the Cowboy


Q. Dave, when you were a young lad were you a Cowboy or an Indian and why?  Answ. A Cowboy, of course. I believed that the Cowboy’s were the winners and the Indian’s the losers, and history proved me right, did it not? Q. Who were the moral winners? Answ. The Coyboys of course, the right is always morally superior. Why do you start with such a question? Q. For good reasons. You have recently approved an SAS and Royal Airforce mission into Libya in what appears to have been a storm in the desert, that is an intrusion into the airspace of another country, the use of ground troops and the involvement of Royal Air Force C130s without the approval of Parliament , NATO or the  the UN. Wasn’t that an incredibly dangerous thing to do? When President Carter tried it he made a terrible mistake and became the laughing stock of the world. Answ.  Oh come off it. we won didn’t we. The British public love the SAS and we pulled it off didn’t we? Q.  What I understand is that a plane was hit by small arms fire and wasn’t some attempt made to slash the tyres of one plane? What if the people firing had heavier calibre weapons, might that not have brought the plane down with the loss of 150 lives including foreign nationals. Answ. I never comment on operational details. Are you saying we should not have acted to save these men? Q. Yes, I am saying that? Answ. Well I think you will find that British people are on my side in this. Everyone loves a winner. Q. Another question Dave. Were these C130s given fighter aircraft cover and if not why not? Answ. Good question. Naturally, I took advice but every Captain must in the end trust his own judgement. I didn’t become Chief Cowboy, if you pardon the mixed expression, by accident. Q. Straight answer Dave, please , yes or no? Answ. Look, you know me well. I’m a politician I can’t give you such an answer. Q. Were the Chiefs of Staff consulted? Answ. Ditto. Look I’m getting rather cross about this. Chief Cowboys are not asked these kinds of question. Q. OK. Let’s vary it a little. Have you had any military resignations over this and are there any in the offing? Answ. Well I can answer that one. No. And I don’t expect any. Q. Last questions Dave. Isn’t this a prime example of the strategic advantage of aircrat carriers. Not in the misty ages to come BUT now? Wouldn’t the Ark Royal and a few Harriers have provided the air cover that a mission like this needed?  And secondly, did you consult the Americans? Answ. Look you liver-lilied journalist (a joke, let’s see you smile). A Leader must lead and journalist must follow. Isn’t that the right order of things, the Scheme of things? As for the American’s, all you journalists go on about the inability of Britain to act independently but when I do it you are the first to criticise. And thank you for the session , very invigorating it was too. Now back to the war games. Tally oh, chin chin, and all that. All I need now is a twiddly moustache. Can’t afford the wax in this age of austerity. All the responsibility of the previous Labour administration as I have said before.

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Into the Valley of Death


I have oftened wondered. When the cavalry were ordered to charge Turkish positions at Balaclava in 1855, an event immortalised byTennyson, did anyone query it? Did someone say, ‘Hold on Colonel, we cannot possibly achieve any strategic objective and we shall be riding to certain death. Get back to Headquarters and explain the circumstances.’ It was not the moment for that:  a blinding and overwheming passion had gripped the Squadron. Do and die were the echoing voices.

I am reminded of it by the news that the Coalition cabinet met yesterday to discuss the Spending Revew and to start the process of determining draconian cuts in public expenditure. I imagine that the discussion was general. You know the sort of thing. Here is the scale of cuts proposed so far. It is not good enough, big enough. Go back to your Departments and do better. There were cheers. How refreshing to be reminded of the missionary task confronting them all. We are all in this together. Soon we shall reassemble and all that we have hoped for will be seen to be possible, and as we all know it is inevitable, it is our mission to save the country from financial ruin. I do not know how they do things in the Cabinet. Did someone put up their hand and say, It is too much. No one round this table should be asked to do more.  It would be better to do less. Did someone say, the public would understand and support us if we said we have had secondthoughts. We must cut to reduce the Budget deficit but more slowly and we shall do nothing that hits the poor and disadvantaged. It is impossible to shield the deseving poor from cuts on this scale and I for one do not wish to be a party to it. And another voice said, my objection is practical. By slowing the economic recovery at this point of the recession will be counter productive and the pace of deficit reduction slowed. A third might have chimed in to say the public would understand and support us if we started the process of reduction now but held some of it back. We could tell people that we are not irresponsible fools with a blind faith in some discredited economic theory. We should say we have identified further savings but we are not so reckless as to make them unless economic circumstances considered in the round permit us to do so.

But other eyes are glinting. This is a challenge they have waited for all their lives. Like the Cavalry assembled 155 years ago the task is afoot, the blood surges, you can hear the hurrahs in Surrey and the more salubrious watering holes of the Southern Counties. This is their moment. They have waited a long time for it. Impatience , conviction, faith in the impossible is their’s. Off with their heads. Charge.

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