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UK faces "hard headed re-appraisal" of foreign policy and security

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Paul Mason | 22:56 UK time, Friday, 15 October 2010

David Cameron has intervened tonight to broker a deal between the Ministry of Defence and the Treasury. The MoD had been facing a Treasury proposal to slash its budget by 20%. I'm told by Downing Street that it is less than that but they will not confirm a figure.

Meanwhile the UK is about to undergo a "hard headed re-appraisal of our foreign policy and security objectives" according to a draft National Security Strategy, dated 13 October, and seen by Newsnight.

In concrete terms what is being haggled over in the SDSR tonight is pretty stark.

One proposal, according to a senior source, is to cut the army by 7,000 short term. This is still the subject of negotiation. It is understood the UK will make clear its intention to leave Germany within a decade, and that the army will be re-organised into 5 combat brigades with 6,000 troops each.

The Royal Navy is facing cuts to its surface fleet: frigates and destroyers will be cut from 24 to 15 or 16.

The navy gets to keep the two aircraft carriers and the current draft proposes to buy 40x F-35 Joint Strike Fighters (not the 138 originally planned). There is no financial gain, I am told, over the next four years from cutting the carriers.

The National Security Strategy, to be launched on Monday lists four so called Tier 1 threats to UK national security, which some see as radically re-drawing Britain's defence priorities they are, in order:

  • A terrorist attack by Al Qaeda, including the threat of chemical, biological, radiation or nuclear attacks
  • Cyber attacks
  • The threat of natural disaster or major accident
  • And the threat of a international military conflict

The document states:

"No state currently has the combination of capability and intent needed to pose a conventional military threat to the territory and integrity of the UK. Yet history shows both capability and intent can change."
It says: "our main priorities for resources and capabilities will be to protect our operational counterterrorism capability, and intel and policing anhd the necessary technology to support them, while delivering some efficiency gains in these areas."

The UK will:

"Focus and integrate diplomatic, intelligence and defence capabilities on preventing the threat of international military crises while retaining the ability to respond should they nevertheless materialise."

I read this as the essence of the re-appraisal - with a greater focus on diplomacy before force projection. The document consistently places terror and cyber threat at the top of the list of threats likelty over the next five years, above conventional warfare with another state.

"The government, the private sector and citizens are under sustained cyber attack *today*."

The document warns that the UK is at the centre of "many global networks" - hence the new priority given to cyber warfare.

The document lists other, less imminent threats, so-called Tier Two and Three. Among the Tier Two threat is the renewed terrorist threat in Northern Ireland, a CBRN attack by another state and from large scale illegal migration and organised crime; and possible disruption to the UK satellite system.

Military sources said they were unhappy at the mismatch between the strategy - with its focus on multiple and emerging threats - and the force structure contained in the SDSR, which one described as "Cold War".

One source claimed that by cutting the surface fleet the UK would be unable to simultaneously defend the Trident submarines and the aircraft carriers at sea.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    On balance this sounds reasonably sensible (all in the context of general insainity I might add).

    The new leverage is not military, technology is increasingly blunting the effectiveness of military force to achieve geo-political objectives.

    This proposed strategy seems to recognise that, but not to the point where afew hundred Somali Pirates could sail up the thames with only a couple of beefeaters in their way or Argentina walk unopposed into the Malvinas / Falklands.

    With no disrespect to those serving, this defence review, in the context of modern 'warfare' is a bit of a side show to the main dynamic for conflict, which is better described in your previous post. That is not to say that we should not provide those whom go to fight at our collective request the best equipment available and enough of it (all in the context of general insainity).



  • Comment number 2.

    Paul wrote:

    "The document lists other, less imminent threats, so-called Tier Two and Three. Among the Tier Two threat is the renewed terrorist threat in Northern Ireland, a CBRN attack by another state and from large scale illegal migration and organised crime; and possible disruption to the UK satellite system."

    I would very much like the description of this threat to be expanded on in great detail!

    Someone else who posts on here regularly and consistently has commented that the greatest threat to this country is from anarchists/Libertarians within.

    As far as I conclude 1) He/she is correct and 2) WE are losing this particular conflict/war.

  • Comment number 3.

    A cyber defence force? Perhaps some of our 80,000 army could go into battle by working from home!
    Why does it take 10 years to get out of Germany - why are we there now?
    If we want to conduct a proper foreign policy lead strategic defence review we must first stop being Robin to USA's Batman. We should ignore the historical irony and be more like Germany in our armed forces. Yes we need a navy but if reports are true it seems the new aircraft carriers have to double as cruise ships (no frills Ryansea!) until we have aircraft to fly from them.
    As far protecting trade on the high seas goes our job would largely be to ensure that imports from China safely reach our shores.
    Cameron intervenes to save defence from big cuts after a warning broadside from the Clinton Woman O' war. So which public services will now receive another pounding from the Osborne howitzer?

  • Comment number 4.

    I read somewhere that if we got rid of Trident we would save £100 Billion. I would have preferred getting rid of that and increasing the conventional war stuff. All the arguments I hear about why should keep Trident totally unconvincing. The funniest one I read was that we need Trident because of the technological sophistication of third world countries! I jest thee not.

    DebtJuggler @2
    Trident would be no defence against anarchist-communists like us taking over this country, joining an alliance with the anarchists/Libertarians in the US and create an anti-statist new dawn.

  • Comment number 5.

    "ALL IN THE CONTEXT OF GENERAL INSANITY" (#1)

    You surpass yourself Jericoa. Your all-encompassing credo shall be Britain's epitaph.

    I would question one thing: Mercenary adventurers seem almost to relish the 'wing and a prayer' (should that be bayonet and belly?) mission. I am reminded of Blackadder's father, returning in triumph from routing Muslims (!) with 'a small fruit knife'.

    They probably also revel in being led by General Insanity!

  • Comment number 6.

    "2. At 00:48am on 16 Oct 2010, DebtJuggler wrote:

    Someone else who posts on here regularly and consistently has commented that the greatest threat to this country is from anarchists/Libertarians within."

    Bet he/she is popular!

    Reading the Fabians' and their liberal opponents even a century ago:

    http://oll.libertyfund.org/?option=com_staticxt&staticfile=show.php%3Fcollection=76&Itemid=27

    shows just how much we have allowed our language to be corrupted over the years. How many people think liberals are the caring ones? It's most ironic. Liberals are historically anti-social(ist) individualists.
    Liberals are those who open up borders in the interest of free trade so that hordes of grateful consumers can come to line the pockets of those owning the retail sector and its services (and the banks which lend them money to do so). Nigel Lawson said on Newsnight the other night that Blair was probably a Tory, and even Wikipedia:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entryism#In_the_United_Kingdom

    has a line stating that Kinnock rather implied that New labour was an entryist movement (although why Kinnock would ever suggest that they now have their party back under the New Left's leadership in Ed Milband surely just makes Kinnock a suspect?).

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11434981

    Still, next week's Comprehensive Spending Review with Paul Mason's sound analyses will probably help more to better see just how much is for the chop - which is presumably what the economic 'crisis' was really strategically engineered to achieve)?

    Look forward to a massive public sector firesale for those with the readies? Bet you and I won't be there at the auctions though. History repeats itself.

  • Comment number 7.

    ENTRYISM - I'M STILL SEEKING. (#6)

    So: does it mean infiltration and/or subversion?

    Kinnock is certainly suspect. I suspect him of being typical of the political animal and Westminster Creature.

    I still can't help feeling there is a continuum from sustainable ape through fire, language, agriculture and technology, with ever increasing communion (but without cohesion) to our present unsustainable, terminal frenzy - across the globe. We are just an eddy in the swamp, with Kinnock a rather irritating bullfrog.

    Genetic entryism, in the mists of time, perhaps?

  • Comment number 8.

    I’m delighted that the UK is about to undergo a hard-headed re-appraisal of its foreign policy and security objectives.
    The haggle: SDSR (Strategic Defence and Security Review).
    It’s understood the UK will make clear its intention to leave Germany within a decade. Why a decade? There has been speculation that two of Scotland's three RAF bases, the Black Watch HQ at Fort George near Inverness, and the Royal Marines base in Arbroath will go. I think it’s time to bring back the Highlanders from Germany and station them in one of the bases the RAF may vacate.
    Tier 1 threats to UK national security:
    A terrorist attack by Al Qaeda, including the threat of chemical, biological, radiation or nuclear attacks.
    The more that the UK distances itself from American policies, especially in Muslim countries, the less of a target she will be.
    Cyber attacks
    The more that the UK distances itself from American policies, especially in Muslim countries, the less of a target she will be.
    The threat of natural disaster or major accident
    Are we talking "natural" or man-made, as in HAARP. This is important because with the Americans, you are either with them or against them; there is no middle gound for British policies.
    And the threat of a international military conflict
    The more that the UK distances itself from American policies, especially in Muslim countries, the less of a target she will be.
    The document states:
    "No state currently has the combination of capability and intent needed to pose a conventional military threat to the territory and integrity of the UK. Yet history shows both capability and intent can change."
    The more that the UK distances itself from American policies, especially in Muslim countries, the less of a target she will be.
    The UK will:
    "Focus and integrate diplomatic, intelligence and defence capabilities on preventing the threat of international military crises while retaining the ability to respond should they nevertheless materialise." The UK should declare herself neutral, and that she will not engage in any military activity that does not fall under the auspices of the United Nations and is not approved.
    A greater focus on diplomacy before force projection!
    Excellent.
    The document consistently places terror and cyber threat at the top of the list of threats likelty over the next five years, above conventional warfare with another state.
    The more that the UK distances itself from American policies, especially in Muslim countries, the less of a target she will be.
    The document warns that the UK is at the centre of "many global networks" - hence the new priority given to cyber warfare.
    The more that the UK distances itself from American policies, especially in Muslim countries, the less of a target she will be.
    The UK has enough to do with renewed terrorist threat in Northern Ireland. Stay home, take care of your own.
    The more that the UK distances itself from American policies, especially in Muslim countries, the less of a target she will be.
    One source claimed that by cutting the surface fleet the UK would be unable to simultaneously defend the Trident submarines and the aircraft carriers at sea. If you can’t defend them at sea, bring them home.
    The United States: the most damaging aspect of UK weakening value as a military partner is to your alliance with the US. There is mounting evidence that the US no longer takes the UK seriously as a military partner. General Casey, the US Chief of General Staff, at the Aspen Summit a few months ago explicitly said that looking at declining defense budgets, he was concerned about Europe, and particularly the UK, as a future partner.
    I for one think this is a good thing! There is a time for war and there is a time for peace. There is a time for war and a time for negotiation. The United Nations should be the focal point, not the USA.

  • Comment number 9.

    "THERE IS A TIME FOR WAR AND A TIME FOR NEGOTIATION" (#8)

    In a matter of days, Johnnie Foreigner has watched the Coalition declare military might a priority and pledges, honourably, not worth the paper they are signed on.

    That sounds like a failed, rogue state to me. I would bomb us immediately, on grounds of pre-emptive defence.

    Our wars are unwinnable and our pledges unbelievable - and we are some of the most righteous, pompous, interfering wannabe-colonialists on the planet.

    We should be quarantined.

  • Comment number 10.

    So we get to build two aircraft carriers but will not have enough aircraft for the two?

    So one carrier will either be moth-balled or turned into a helicopter carrier except that we won't have enough helicopters to fly from one - and the limited range of helicopters will mean sending in the carrier dangerously cross to a land mass for helicopters to be of any use - perhaps the most expensive way to build a replacement for the not needed to be replaced HMS Ocean?

    So we get to build carriers but they will not be long enough to gain enough air flow at speed to launch conventional aircraft meaning we will have to buy the more expensive, and hence more complicated and expensive to repair and maintain, V/STOL F-35s? Oh, and they will have a shorter range, air fuel time and weapons load due to the complicated, heavy and big V/STOL engine?

    Oh, and we lose surface ships needed to protect big, slow, very expensive easy targets such as, um, aircraft carriers?

    On the plus side the carriers will make great HQs for flag-flying missions, for sending to disaster zones and for politicians to puff and look important on.

  • Comment number 11.

    Mason wrote that the fourth threat to UK national security is "the threat of a international military conflict." dceilar believes that Trident is no longer necessary.

    Trident is necessary to prevent countries like China from bullying the UK. Even a few Tridents allows the UK to maintain a "Mexican stand-off" policy, aka MAD. Aircraft carriers are only useful for invading other countries and protecting far off territories; is the annual cost of your carriers worth the Falklands?

    In #4, dceilar wrote that "Trident would be no defence against anarchist-communists like us taking over this country, joining an alliance with the anarchists/Libertarians in the US and create an anti-statist new dawn."

    I hope he was kidding. If the Tea Party is the devious future of the USA, then the future of the UK is a Clockwork Orange world in which the UK is populated mostly by spoiled, selfish, drunken thugs who beat-up Tube passengers on a whim (and if you do not know what I'm referring to here, view the Telegraph's video report "Three escape jail for 'high-five' Tube attack" of today), or vicious losers who wear hoodies, carry knives, have a mad dog on a leash, and terrorize everyone they meet. Stereotypes go both ways.

    In #8, BluesBerry wrote: "The more that the UK distances itself from American policies, especially in Muslim countries, the less of a target she will be."

    Why was Madrid targeted on 11 March 2004? Spain was a minor player in Afghanistan (I'm not denigrating Spain, just pointing out facts), but they have lots of home-grown terrorists.

    The Telegraph reported in "Al-Qaeda magazine published 'tips on how to kill Americans'" of Samir Khan, who said "We pledge to wage jihad for the rest of our lives until either we implant Islam all over the world or meet our Lord as bearers of Islam." People like him will not be satisfied if the UK distances itself from the USA. How many people exist like him? No one knows, but it does not require many, as was seen on 7/7.

    I very much hope I am wrong, but I think there is a definite possibility that your home-grown terrorists will attack either just before or during the 2012 Olympics, unless your security forces get lucky. London-2012 could be Munich-1972 2.0.

  • Comment number 12.

    #5

    The youth we send often do go willingly, but more out of a sense of mis-directed spirit of adventure than any direct mal intent or joy in state sanctioned killing. I remember the army really appealed to me when I was a lad, right up until I came accross Wilfred Owen, whos gift for stripping out any trace of glory or purpose from war through prose has yet to be surpassed.

    The 'war' in Afghanistan should take more of a central role in defence cuts. By extension of the debate on the defense review above, we would be better placed in using the funds currently used in Afghanistan at home to better monitor borders and better understand our home grown terrorism and engage with our own communities.

    Afghanistan, it seems to me, is simply exporting our own failure in the UK to a comfortable distance from our own shores to try to sort it out..., which of course will not work and is likely to make it worse..

    The terrorist threat from within is where we should concentrate resources, the ghetoing of our society voluntarily along religious and cultural lines makes it feel like we are crossing unstated borders within our own country. It is a failure to provide any broader vision that is to blame.

    That is not to say we should pull out of Afghanistan overnight, having embarked upon this mess we should at least undertake damage limitation in extracting ourselves from it in as controlled a manner as possible.


    Ceratin nations should be honest about thier underlying terrible motivation and its extension (the nuclear option), then simply leave them be and try to engage with them in ways which do not involve dropping bombs on families or winning hearts and minds by walking around kids playing football with loaded weapons.(all in the context of general insainity of course).

    I dont know Barrie, in the midst of such overwhelming mass brainwashing and resulting ignorance and completely pointless suffering what is one to do. The dominating cultural and religious and anarchistic influences in the world seem to be the ones with all the options, between them they cover all of humanities bases, be it tapping into human hard wired pre-programmed greed or tapping into human fears or both we dance to thier tunes like pupets on strings.

    Sooner or later it will not end well in a big way if that does not change, then I find myself thinking that that is the only way it WILL change.

    There appears to be no good outcomes here except, as an individual, taking to the mountains and staying there as a wistful observer not an active participant.

    Participations only seems to make me feel my own hopless inadequacy to do anything about it more keenly. Maybe noah had the right idea. None of this is new.

  • Comment number 13.

    THE WAY THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE (Can Dave learn from a Kent parish?)

    Your post #12 is moving Jericoa.

    That parish has said: "Up with this we will not put" - Bravo!

    Britain is stuck with out-dated military self-belief. When war was physical, Nature always won: either the bright or the strong or those who combined both, won the day. Now, as we deploy technology before men, the geek shall inherit the earth. As for alcohol, the need for it is fuelled by lives, empty of meaning. Westminster is not known for added meaning - indeed, they prefer not to mean anything that can be defined or challenged. Westminster as currently manned, will never improve our lot. Even closing the bars is beyond Decisive Dave.

    SPOILPARTYGAMES

  • Comment number 14.

    #13

    Thanks Barrie, you are one of the very few who really do understand, we are in a tiny minority I am afraid, the main problem being understanding is experienced rather than being communicated... but you knew that already.

  • Comment number 15.

    RELAX EVERYONE - WE ARE NOT CUTTING ATTACK SPENDING, ONLY DEFENCE.

    Since St Blair tied us into the doctrine of PRE-EMPTIVE DEFENSIVE ATTACK, we simply do not need ANY defence.

    Don't mess with Westminster logic.

  • Comment number 16.

    Saucy @11

    Trident is necessary to prevent countries like China from bullying the UK. Even a few Tridents allows the UK to maintain a "Mexican stand-off" policy, aka MAD.

    Why would China want to invade or 'bully' Britain? Bully us to buy more of their exports? How would nuking, or threatening to nuke us, going to help China? Nuclear America is trying to bully non-nuclear Iran, but they are giving Uncle Sam the middle finger. There is no logic to your argument, I would go as far to say its a non-sequitur.

    Just because countries like China and Iran want to be independent sovereign states does not mean they want to take over or bully the world. That's what white Europeans do.

    Aircraft carriers are only useful for invading other countries and protecting far off territories; is the annual cost of your carriers worth the Falklands?

    At least aircraft carriers are useful, and will be used. They are also a damn sight cheaper. Argentina would not had invaded the Falklands if an aircraft carrier was there (our nuclear 'deterrent' was a fat load of good).

    BTW I was kidding with the second quote of mine. And the Clockwork Orange world is the present.

  • Comment number 17.

    In #16, dceilar wrote: "Why would China want to invade or 'bully' Britain? . . . That's what white Europeans do."

    I realize it is a stretch, but I disagree that it is a non-sequitur. China would not want to invade the UK, but it might want to bully competitors. I could see competition with Germany heating (hotting) up because of export issues. There are lots of news articles covering the China-Japan clashes and China against its neighbors in the South China Sea, all because China wants to assert its dominance in the area like European powers, the USA, and Japan have done in the past. Japan in the early to middle 20th century was not filled with white Europeans.

  • Comment number 18.

    Saucy @17

    Personally I find all justifications for Britain keeping Trident a non-sequitur. Mason wrote that the fourth threat to UK national security is "the threat of a international military conflict." It does not follow that this justifies Britain keeping Trident - nuclear weapons would be pretty much useless in such conflicts. Indeed this justifies an increase in conventional weapons and personnel.

    I would also like to see British military getting involved in international humanitarian activity aka a 'peace corps'. A small payback by the UK for messing up the world in the first place.

    You mention Japan. I heard on the radio yesterday that she was pretty much isolated from the outside world till about the 1850s. America sent a warship there so as to force her into doing trade with them. Japan were no match and quickly began trade with the US. Westernisation was very quick. Japan never forgot how this Westernisation came about.

  • Comment number 19.

    Not unrelated to the debate on here, angela merkel's statement today that multiculturalism in Germany is a failure is quite forthright and correct. I think her statement is timed to prevent problems along racial or cultural lines not to provoke them, that nation being more sensitive than most to such a dynamic, and as such I agree with her in doing this at this time.

    The trouble is finding a broader vision that captures the imagination across cultural, racial and religious boundaries, a vision that by-passes the natural tendency for minorities within a country to 'entrench' rather than engage and participate.

    It is not all bad though, it is often said in brazil that African culture (pre slavery) is better preserved in brazil than it is in Africa because of the dynamic to 'entrench' to prserve and if you experience that preserved culture in Brazil it is deep, rich, joyful and positive (albeit with abit of crazyness thrown in).

    To break the deadlock in countires like germany or the Uk to preserve the 'good bits' and get rid of the 'bad bits' of multiculturism you have to confront taboo subjects head on, which will, cause issues as those taboo subjects are plugged straight into mans deepest fears, something religion is particularly good at exploiting and it tends to provoke severe and non rational instinctive biological level reactions.

    non of this is going to be easy but the battle will never be fought and won in Afgahnistan, if it is to be fought and won at all \(and i am not hopeful it will be) it will be in our own cities amongst our own citizens, hopefully in a peaceful way.

    The defence review should seek to keep the high technology as 'defence' the rest should be substantially cut back to a bare minimum and more funds and thought put into the ideological battle in our own towns and cities, the rest, in time, will follow to the streets of kabul, it is not the other way around.

    but hey, why do I bother.

  • Comment number 20.

    Jericoa @19

    Historically Europeans have always been uncomfortable with Semitic cultures and that is the taboo subject. Where there are Europeans you will find some sort of antagonism towards either Judaism or Islam. Thankfully the antagonism towards the former has rescinded, but the antagonism towards the latter has remained. Germans have issues with the Turkish immigrants - the Turks are probably the most secular and European of all the Islamic cultures. Why does European culture (and that includes the USA and the Commonwealth) hate the Arabs and Islam so much?

    All you Moslems are welcome in Europe and America, but only on the condition you don't act so Moslem. It is us dear Jericoa that have the problem, it is us.

  • Comment number 21.

    In #20, dceilar wrote: "Why does European culture (and that includes the USA and the Commonwealth) hate the Arabs and Islam so much?"

    You are kidding again, right?

    Try 9/11, London 7/7, Madrid 3/11, NY Times Square bomber, shoe bomber, underwear bomber, The Fort Hood shooter, the threat to blow-up lots of planes over the Atlantic using liquid-based explosives, the Lockerbie bombing, the Mumbai attacks, etc.

    And try al-Qaeda and its many offshoots, the Taliban, al-Shabaab, Anwar al-Awlaki, Anjem Choudary, Somali pirates, Yemeni Islamists, etc.

    And try Saudi Arabia which will not allow a Christian church to be built in its country, but the USA is supposed to roll over and allow a mosque to be built in a building damaged on 9/11.

    And try Muslims and Arabs which burn American flags -- something very near and dear to many American's hearts -- but some crazed preacher is a latter-day Hitler for threatening to burn a Koran.

    And try Samir Khan, who recently said "I am a traitor to America because my religion requires me to be. We pledge to wage jihad for the rest of our lives until either we implant Islam all over the world or meet our Lord as bearers of Islam."

    And try the Taliban which often throws acid into the faces of girls merely trying to attend school.

  • Comment number 22.

    Saucy @21

    This time I am serious. European culture's antagonism towards anything Semite goes back way beyond 9/11, back to nearly two thousand years. There are many other immigrants in Europe from cultures that keep themselves to themselves like the Chinese, Indians, Polish, and Gypsies for example. We don't hear people moaning much about them as much as they do about Arabs and Muslims.

    Arab dislike of America stems from the hideous things the British and French did to them in the first half of the 20th Century (yes it is mostly our fault they hate you so much). Churchill, when discussing the Kurds, advocated "using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes" (a source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gas_in_Mesopotamia). The British "Manual of Military Law" stated that the rules of war applied to only conflict "between civilized nations" (HMSO, 1914, p. 235). The Arabs, and in particular the Kurds, were not considered civilised so were considered fair game for chemical warfare.

    The Arabs wanted Arabia to be one country, but that didn't fit in the interests of the British and French. So what we ended up with is a mish-mash of artificial nation-states that cut through ancient tribes and societies. Then after WW2 the US became the prominent force and got the black gold of Saudi for a very cheap price. The only Arabs who benefited were mostly the Saudi Royal family while the rest lived in poverty. The Saudis don't like the US for that.

    This is just the 20th Century I'm talking here (there's also a lot more that the West did to the Arabs and Iran in last century), I could go back much further like to the crusades and the Spanish Inquisition (you didn't expect me to bring that up did you).

    To quote Malcolm X: the chickens are coming home to roost.

  • Comment number 23.

    dceilar - unfortunately nearly every country with straight lines for borders has the symptoms you describe. Britainia ruled the waves, and used a ruler for the borders. Let's hope most of them don't bear a grudge! I think most don't, especially the young ones eg young Iranians and young Japanese.

    The military cuts are not the beginning of the end of empire, they are a symptom of general failure (late at that, probably kidney failure).

    Amazing really, who'd have thought that instead of loosing all our power in a military defeat, we loose it by electing in a bunch of left-wingers who pay people who don't work to vote them back in, and who don't know how to regulate finance. How mundane. Out with a whimper.

  • Comment number 24.

    Ben @23

    we loose it by electing in a bunch of left-wingers who pay people who don't work to vote them back in, and who don't know how to regulate finance.

    It's not just the left wing that don't know how to regulate finance. Look at the USA, the right wing don't know how to do it either. There seems to have been an international consensus on managing financial markets, and it was the consensus that ultimately failed. IMO the catalyst was the weak dollar producing too high a cost in oil that broke the camels back.

  • Comment number 25.

    I blame the Romans.

    My work here is done.


  • Comment number 26.

    dceilar - sure not a blanket dismissal of one ideology. The USA is an even bigger mess. I'm just saying the last govt in the UK, not all left-wing governments in history or to come.

    I'm thinking the dollar / yuan spat could make the UK cuts a side-show. Either way it will be an interesting week. Liked the FT article this weekend on how the UK middle class are arguing about trivialities in the lull before the cuts. I wish I could study history in the year 2100 as this will be a great case study. To link into tawse57 - fiddling while Rome burns!

  • Comment number 27.

    dceilar (22)

    "Arab dislike of America stems from the hideous things the British and French did to them in the first half of the 20th Century (yes it is mostly our fault they hate you so much)."

    If you look more closely, I think you'll find that New York (9/11) is mainly Black, Hispanic and Jewish, and if one listens to what the Arabs were saying they were against, it was largely Israel's aggression and their perceived supporters in America. I don't think the Hispanic and Black Americans (or Asian Americans) had much a problem with Arabs, nor did most Non Jewish American White Americans, until recently, when they were lured into the Middle East conflict as cannon fodder. There are those who benefit form blurring these groups of course. I guess that's what some call cleverness )or stupidity depending on your point of view).

  • Comment number 28.

    DeadZeb @27

    Yes. I left out Israel and the Occupied Territories because it is an emotive subject. Many Arabs believe the USA is very active in attempting to wipe Palestine off the map. IMO Palestine is emotively used as an expression for the history of the region as a whole. A long lasting peace settlement between Israel and Palestine may not necessarily solve the problem - it will help of course.

    Why bomb New York when it is a melting pot of so many other cultures and nationalities? The same reason why London was bombed - London too is a melting pot of other cultures and nationalities. When the IRA was setting off bombs in London they didn't care if you were Irish, Catholic, agreed with them, or whatever. Terrorists just don't care.

  • Comment number 29.

    dceilar (28)

    "Why bomb New York when it is a melting pot of so many other cultures and nationalities? The same reason why London was bombed - London too is a melting pot of other cultures and nationalities".

    Because these are the two world centres of Jewish capital, so the Islamists assert.

  • Comment number 30.

    In #22, dceilar wrote: "The Arabs wanted Arabia to be one country, but that didn't fit in the interests of the British and French"

    Actually I know something about this. You are quite right about the British and French. This time, my country is mostly blameless. As Margaret MacMillan (a great grand-daughter of Lloyd George) wrote in "Paris 1919," Wilson wanted to create a Kurdistan to incorporate all Kurd populations. Wilson lost the fight against Lloyd George and Clemenceau, so we have the Turkish-Kurdish war going on in southern Turkey, not to mention the Iraq implications.

    If you have not read "Paris 1919," you should do so soon. It has many great side stories. For example, Ho Chi Minh was a waiter during the conference trying to convince France to give Vietnam its independence. History would be quite different if anyone had listened to him.

    dceilar wrote: "I could go back much further like to the crusades"

    Why stop there? Seriously. The first Crusade was around 1095. Most liberals point to that as the beginning of the animosity towards Muslims. However, that was not the start. Shortly after Muhammad died, Muslims started working their way into Europe. In 711, Muslims invaded the Iberian Peninsula. They tried to cross the Pyrenees Mountains into France, but the Gauls refused to surrender. Depending on the source you read, Muslims either lost around 720 or in the Battle of Poitiers in 732. Muslims, aka Moors, were not kicked out of the Iberian Peninsula until the time of Columbus's voyage to the Americas.

    In other words, Muslims started the violence more than 300 years before the Crusades. The first Crusade was in retaliation for the invasion of the Iberian Peninsula.

    And if you want to read about recent Muslim aggression in the Balkans, read any history of the Balkans of the late 1800s. Most people concentrate on the Armenian Genocide, where at least one million Christian Armenians were killed by Muslim Ottomans around 1915. But that is not when it started. The Genocide really started in 1894-96 with the Hamidian Massacres, with the Adana Massacre of 1909 happening shortly thereafter; the total number of Armenian dead approaches 2 million.

    This is one of my favorite subjects.

  • Comment number 31.

    In #30, I wrote: "Depending on the source you read, Muslims either lost around 720 or in the Battle of Poitiers in 732. Muslims, aka Moors, were not kicked out of the Iberian Peninsula until the time of Columbus's voyage to the Americas."

    Geez, I can be such a dumb bunny. Change that to:

    Depending on the source you read, Muslims were prevented from going any further, i.e. into France, either around 720 or in the Battle of Poitiers in 732. Muslims, aka Moors, were not kicked out of the Iberian Peninsula until the time of Columbus' voyage to the Americas.

  • Comment number 32.

    "No state currently has the combination of capability and intent needed to pose a conventional military threat to the territory and integrity of the UK. Yet history shows both capability and intent can change."

    Which states have capability to pose a conventional military threat (or any other military threat)within the time horizon?

    Which states are likely to change their intentions within the time horizon

    What other NON CONVENTIONAL ATTACKS other than Al Qaeda are expected within the time horizon?

    I thought there is a risk of a major international war in the Near and Middle East at the present time.

    Who has the capability to mount a cyber attack in this CONTEXT?

    What exactly is the Governments policy on supporting international efforts to offer relief and reconstruction or is this just pie in the sky rather than help on the ground.

    Should we ask the CIA for the answers?





  • Comment number 33.

    POSTMAN PAT HAS ALL THE ANSWERS - EVEN IF HE DOESN'T KNOW THE QUESTIONS

    Johnson has just a speech - but who told him what to say? Why should we accept, effectively, 'AN UNSIGNED DOCUMENT'.

    Labour scorned the reneging of LibDems on a SIGNED DOVUMENT. But which is the greater falsehood?

    SPOILPARTYGAMES

  • Comment number 34.

    dceilar (28)

    "When the IRA was setting off bombs in London they didn't care if you were Irish, Catholic, agreed with them, or whatever. Terrorists just don't care."

    Marketing. Sadly, most of us in Britain, just like many over in the USA, have been very successful in turning other nations into terrorists whether Catholic or Muslim through wars of liberation abroad, but just remember, in post WWII Palestine, it was the Jews who were classed as terrorists. In recent times we have been urged to detest both the Catholic church and Islam, which serves well to sustain domestic populations of compliant, free and extremely liberal people. Might it not help to create, and periodically reinforce, an image of foreign, authoritarian, terrorists along with other state sponsors of bogeyman (like paedophiles) as an enemy in the fight for economic liberalism at home?

  • Comment number 35.

    DeadZeb @34

    but just remember, in post WWII Palestine, it was the Jews who were classed as terrorists.

    Not all the Jews. Zionism at that time was not the violent right wing incarnation it is today. The Stern Gang were without a doubt terrorists and didn't care who they collaborated with to get what they wanted - even with Nazis. These terrorists are celebrated today in Israel.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stern_Gang

  • Comment number 36.

    Saucy @30

    The Reconquista (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reconquista) refers to the Catholics taking control, the Spanish Inquisition (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Inquisition) was the eradication of the Jewish and Islamic (and Protestant) peoples from the region which is something completely different. BTW the Moors existed before Islam (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moors).

    In other words, Muslims started the violence more than 300 years before the Crusades. The first Crusade was in retaliation for the invasion of the Iberian Peninsula.

    LOL. It sounds like the "It's their fault they did it first" school ground mentality. The Moors were only doing what practically everyone else in Europe was doing at that time. You mention as well the 'Muslim Ottomans', you mean: the Turks.

    In defending your argument that it is the Muslims who are the aggressors is the Moor's conquest of Iberia and the European Ottoman Empire's atrocities all you got? In honesty what they did were nothing compared to what the British, French, and the European settlers did to other places in the world - in particular their contribution to the slave trade, and the hideous insurance scams ran by the slave masters - where they insured the slaves, worked them to death or shot them, and claimed the money. Then they brought more slaves.

  • Comment number 37.

    In #36, dceilar wrote: "BTW the Moors existed before Islam"

    From the first few sentences of that Wikipedia page: "some of whom came to conquer and occupy the Iberian Peninsula for nearly 800 years. At that time they were Muslim"

    That was my point: at that time they were Muslim. Of course the Moors were different before Muhammad. So what? The British Isles were Catholic before Henry VIII had his fun, but now the UK is Anglican.

    And as long as we are throwing Wikipedia pages around, here's one for you, the Wikipedia page for "Dhimmi". Muslims treat infidels as second class citizens after Islamic governments are established. It happened in the Iberian Peninsula, the Balkans, and a few other places. In the Balkans, many locals converted to Islam simply because it was easier to live that way within an Islamic society. That's why the current troubles are so hard to fathom, as many of the people on opposing sides are ethnically the same.

    dceilar wrote: "It sounds like the "It's their fault they did it first" school ground mentality"

    This is exactly what you did when you mentioned the Crusades; you thought you ended the argument. I merely pointed out that the Crusades were triggered by actions by Muslims. Liberals always mention the Crusades as the starting point for hatred against Muslims, when in fact the Muslims pushed the first domino trying to spread Islam by the sword as Muhammad commanded.

    dceilar wrote: "'Muslim Ottomans, you mean: the Turks."

    No, not really. Turkey did not exist until after the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1922, thanks largely to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. All of the components of the Armenian Genocide happened on the Ottoman's watch. If you meant Turk (Turkic) as an ethnic group, then you have a point.

    dceilar wrote: "what they did were nothing compared to what the British, French, and the European settlers did to other places in the world - in particular their contribution to the slave trade"

    Is that all you got? Greece, Rome, the Ottoman Empire, India, China, Persia, the Mongols, the Islamic Caliphate (overlaps with Ottomans), and even ancient people of the Americas (before Europeans arrived) practiced slavery until around 1860.

    The words "slave" and "Slav" are derived from the same root, because so many Slavs were taken as slaves in the early Middle Ages, i.e. after the fall of Rome. The perpetrators were from all over, including the Caliphate of Cordoba, the Ottoman Empire, Arabia, and the barbarians living in what is now Europe.

    From the Wikipedia page on "Slavery_in_medieval_Europe": "After the Muslim conquests of North Africa and most of the Iberian peninsula, the Islamic world became a huge importer of slaves from Eastern Europe."

    Ever read Herodotus' "The Histories"? Xerxes was Persian, aka Iranian. His army was filled with slaves, and they enslaved many people along the way. Xerxes' invasion included the famous episode of the 300 Spartans.

    The Battle of Lepanto in 1571 resulted in 12,000 Christian galley slaves being freed from the Ottoman Empire.

    The Wikipedia page on "Slavery" notes that "In the 9th and 10th centuries, the black Zanj slaves may have constituted at least a half of the total population in lower Iraq."

    More from that webpage: "The Moors, starting in the 8th century, also raided coastal areas around the Mediterranean and Atlantic Ocean, and became known as the Barbary pirates. It is estimated that they captured 1.25 million white slaves from Western Europe and North America between the 16th and 19th centuries."

    As to slaves from Africa, guess who sold them to Europeans? That's right, other blacks. Slavery was rampant in Africa since the beginning of time and it is still happening, black on black. The reason we do not have African recorded history similar to that of Greek and Roman historians is that Africans did not write history.

    Stop blaming slavery solely on Europeans and derivatives thereof.

  • Comment number 38.

    Saucy

    Thanks for the diatribe. We all know slavery has long existed. The slave trade carried out by the Europeans was done on a truly massive scale. Lloyds of London estimate 15 million slaves that were insured by them 'died'. That's just one firm and not all slaves were insured. Britain's economic rise was built on this massive trade. I don't know how you can compare previous slave trades. Not all previous slavery were holocausts.

  • Comment number 39.

    Saucy again @37

    Liberals always mention the Crusades as the starting point for hatred against Muslims, when in fact the Muslims pushed the first domino trying to spread Islam by the sword as Muhammad commanded.

    Firstly, I am not a liberal and I don't know what they have to do with it. Secondly, where in the Koran does Mohammed say to followers of Islam to spread it by the sword? The Koran says 'there shall be no compulsion in religion'.

  • Comment number 40.

    You British and Europeans are so funny. All throwing your weapons away. Keep some sticks handy. The world hasn't changed. It must be real foggy there.

 

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