Sunday 12 June 2011

NATO: This Is How The World Ends

The US defence secretary Robert Gates has delivered himself of a blistering and long overdue broadside against Germany and the other sleeping member of NATO. (It's mostly Germany since the UK, Canada, France and Italy are generally onside at the moment when it comes to actual fighting, if sometimes variously deficient in the contributions they make. But we all fall short in some way or other.)

In a blinding instant of shock-and-awe clarity we can see how the cosy western world comes to an end. There will come a moment - who knows when, but China plays a long game - when some ghastly, Europe-threatening crisis arises (Iran ? Turkey ? or another financial meltdown ?) and Europe is confronted squarely with its own flabby uselessness. Couldn't face down Libya unaided, as Gates has gently pointed out: & certainly can't face this putative future challenge, without contemplating some seriously bloody bayonet-work (and/or precipitous standard-of-living reduction). No stomach for that - and the US has decided it's had enough.

And then ... and then China or India has a quiet word in Brussels. Leave it to us, they say: and all we want in return is ... look, we've written it on a piece of paper for you. Territory. Technology. Resources. Disarmament.
Debt. 'Environmental' transfer payments. Work permits. Migration rights ...

You think not ? Consider how patiently the US pursued its anti British Empire strategy. But they saw us off in the end - and we were friends !

Germany's extra-EU foreign policy today consists in one simple imperative: keep Russia onside because that's where the gas comes from. In itself, that's not entirely wrong: but it is pathetically limited in its vision. For the rest, they are just looking to achieve some intra-EU deckchair re-arrangements.

Not good enough. Every one of Europe's Big 5 needs to step up to the plate. The world ain't getting any more tranquil or civilisation-friendly that I can see.



Anonymous said...

For all the noise the USA makes about democracy and trade, they tend to be be very picky as to which nation to be friendly with and who not. The big decider for the States is, does that country have oil which we need, and will they let us have a lot of that lovely oil, if the answer to both questions is yes then they are friends, good buddies, democracy goes out of the window, if that country has lots of that lovely oil but will not sell it in the quantities we want they are not friends and democracy is wheeled out.

Demetrius said...

Once upon a time The Defence of the Realm was the key function of government. Now it seems to be a long way down the list and after the issue of weekly refuse collections.

SumoKing said...

Europe doesn't have a military, it has a handful of guys in uniforms with guns who routinely get shatt on when something actually needs done and a massive budget for spunking money down the throat of the bloated useless aerospace industry (well done BAE for moving all those high tech jobs to the US)

Which means that we have a ton of aeroplanes and fcuk all else of any use, take Lybia. Oh check the tornados, responding rapidly by flying 3000 miles and refulling in the air and firing a total of 3 short range storm shadow missiles twice the price of the naval launched cruise missles fired from off shore and in a quantity of about 100.

And check out the effecitiveness. We don't need a carrier we have planes based in italy that can fly over to lybia and do stuff..... except we actually needed the army to come in with apaches to take care of the job..... and we had to launch these off a carrier.

Fcuking nonsense, no wonder the US is pissed. Europe (the UK is part of Europe) doesn't have minsitries of defence we have ministries of aerospace subsidy.

Check out the madness of the new A400M cargo plane for more aerospace madness

hatfield girl said...

Mr SumoKing, Nothing the matter with aerospace subsidy, some of us have grown up on aerospace subsidy (and Weetabix).

Pity it ran out.

The Axis Powers resurgent get another boost today as it looks as if we have got the quorum against any development of nuclear power in Italy (bit earthquaky for nuclear power here) and will be joining Germany in a gas-fired foreign policy.

Steven_L said...

I don't see why the UK can't launch cruise strikes unless someone isn't willing to hand over the intel / coordinates etc???

Need to know?

Budgie said...

Sumoking said: "We don't need a carrier we have planes based in Italy .... "

Yes CMD has a lot to answer for.

James Higham said...

It's a scenario as good as any and I've studied a few. It's the rearmament in Germany which is the one to watch, methinks - that and the sabre rattling coming from Bavaria.

Sackerson said...


SumoKing said...

I don't see why the UK can't launch cruise strikes unless someone isn't willing to hand over the intel / coordinates etc???
Yes, but you don't fly round dropping bombs circa 1945, the storm shadow carried by tornados is a cruise missle

You fire them at the radar source, and then once you have blasted everything to buggery you get someone to fly over and see if anything new wakes up and you blast that to buggery, from the sea, with cruise missiles

UK should bite the bullet that there is going to be an EU Military and make sure it is basically the RN bristeling with missiles and nice cheap carrier launched planes, f18s or somethig like that

Bill Quango MP said...

We have never been independent. Never.
Even at the height of the Royal Navy's powers after Trafalgar the Empire had to have allies. our entire history is about making alliances.

Nick Drew said...

HG - gas-fired foreign policy - OK but have you looked at the map (ah, maps) of Qatar and seen exactly where the gas comes from ? which brings us back to ...

the RN bristeling with missiles and nice cheap carrier launched planes yes, Mr Sumo we sure need a Navy. My own plan would be for the European powers to declare war on Indian Ocean piracy - and mean it. That is truly in all our national interests. It has the benefits of (a) being a policy with a precedent (and incidentally how we came to be so pally with my old friend the Sultan of Muscat's forefathers) and (b) a great way to highlight - and rectify - our collective shortcomings, in a very useful way.

Bill - so when would you say we were at our most self-sufficient ?

rearmament in Germany, James - ??

Dick - back to those maps for you

BTW, in WTO negotiations the Indians are holding out for 200 million work permits (sic) ... they have an entire subsistence-farming population to re-locate, and their own cities are full to bursting ...

Budgie said...

"Even at the height of the Royal Navy's powers after Trafalgar the Empire had to have allies. our entire history is about making alliances."

BQ - that is disingenuous. Alliances were sought to spread costs, shorten wars and promote diplomacy. Not because we didn't have the kit, as now.

Bill Quango MP said...

ND/Budgie..I can almost feel another thread coming on..

The Uk/British Empire world strategy since Trafalgar was to have a navy that could fight the next two largest navies combined. This meant the army was always second in funding to the navy, and suffered in some areas as a consequence.

In order to achieve world navy status the UK land forces were the smallest on any world powers.
That includes the Empire having a massive recruitment pool from India.

In 1914 the standing British Army, ready for France, from all regions,was 71 battalions. Some 90,000 men which were at only around 70% of establishment strength.
And bear in mind this army had just been INCREASED in size after the debacle of the Boer war that had required 500,000 commonwealth and Empire troops in Africa to end the rebellion.

Imperial Germany had about 1,400,000 infantry available at the start of WW1. Both Germany and France had more and better artillery and cavalry.

Nick Drew said...

OK but when were we closest to being militarily self-sufficient, i.e. not in need of any alliances (outside of Empire), after (say) 1815 ?

Timbo614 said...

No one here has connected the dots with this and western-world-wide money printing/creation...

It strikes me that we will all muddle along (sort of in step) all the time no large subset of the people, corporations, banks or governments are unduly put upon to actually pay their debts (or somebody else's) because if asked to actually "Settle the tab", when no one can, the system would implode, and with it international and inter-European peace. Billions of hungry westerners, deprived of their luxuries, would a fearful army make (or are we all too soft for that sort of thing now?).

Subsistence farming (after the implosion and the ensuing violence) would at least be a peaceful and pursuit. The Indians would of course excel at making a go of it.

So more money is simply made available to put off the inevitable wars that would result from NOT making it available, and to enable the provision of more weapons in case the kicked can rolls back down the hill towards us...

Bill Quango MP said...

Hard to say Nick. Between 1815 & 1914 {BQ's special topics history paper from long ago} there were only 6 years with no conflicts involving British soldiers.

The two largest were the Crimean, with allies of Turkey and France, and Boer war 2, with allies of no-one.

110,000 British/empire men involved in the Crimea. some 20,000 death, mostly from disease.

Boer war, some 500,000 troops involved and some 22,000 deaths.

The army mostly fought colonial actions. But even some of these were not small. The famous Zulu war involved 100,000 British and Empire/native and territorial troops. The Afghan wars {both lost} involved around 25,000 troops.
The Sudan, began in 1870's, Lost by Gordon, and won finally by Kitchener in 1898 in the most one sided result in history involved 25,000 troops. Most Egyptian and French.

In general, where the English faced solely native troops, they could win. Not as easy as it sounds as logistics and medicine were usually the key.
But we didn't win all the wars and did suffer some terrible defeats well into the industrial age.
Where the army and navy could be jointly used the chances for success were very good. Ie China, Ghana,New Zealand.

Britain won its wars through finance. We were the USA of our day and could pay to keep lesser allies in the game. We had a navy that no one could beat, right up until the 1920's. And after the 1920's it was still the largest, and one of the most modern, in the world, and could, and did, fight three other major powers at once.

But I still contend that Britain could not just fight anyone it wanted and win. It was no where near the best equipped army in Europe. It wasn't until the late 1870's that something approaching a modern professional army was created. Britain's army has always been small, its navy large and its air force above average size. Right up until the end of the 20th century.

None of this takes away from Mr Drew's point. The yanks are sick of the Germans getting a free ride on the back of US defence.
When we looked at US foreign aid a while back we decided that US/UK/Nato defence of Europe was worth around 5-10% of GDP to Germany.

Nick Drew said...

Britain could not just fight anyone it wanted and win

that's a fair one, for certain: but surely we could do more or less whatever we actually wanted to do in most of C19 - and, more importantly, feared no man

the fact that allies were handy for achieving this-&-that is ... sort of tautologous ?