Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Back to East of Suez

In1968, when Denis Healey was Defence Minister, it was estimated that there would be a considerable net saving in withdrawing British forces from "East of Suez".  It now appears that prime minister Johnson believes we must and can afford to return, even though our forces are now less than a third the size they were in '60s, recruitment is difficult and the state of our equipment is the constant object of criticism. On top of that, the PM is considerably increasing (in breach of our non-proliferation undertakings) our stock of nuclear warheads. Although these are manufactured here, key components have to be bought from the US

It stands repeating that our existing nuclear arsenal did not deter Russia from seizing Crimea and the Donbas, nor from carrying out assassinations at will on British soil. It has not established peace in the Middle East or eliminated terrorist groups. We need to increase and properly equip our conventional forces, and invest more in intelligence. The budgets for both these are almost certain to suffer under Johnson's "tilt".

As I write this, Islamist militants are beheading children as young as 11 in Mozambique, a Commonwealth country, and Johnson is indifferent. Rather than flapping the Union Flag round the Pacific, this government should concentrate on defending our true interests and those of our friends.

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