Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Fighting Fantasy Chequebook

Simon Jenkins in the Guardian can be irritating and arrogant, and quite often I disagree with him. (Though not as often as I used to disagree with Michael Gove when he write for the Times: his Europhobia and Islamophobia were the main reasons I switched from the Times to the Guardian several years ago.)

This week, though, he published a piece with which I find myself wholly in agreement.
("My once-in-a-generation cut? The armed forces. All of them.)

A sample:

Each incoming government since 1990 has held so-called defence reviews "to match capabilities to policy objectives". I helped with one in 1997, and it was rubbish from start to finish, a cosmetic attempt to justify the colossal procurements then in train, and in such a way that any cut would present Labour as "soft" on defence.

Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and George Robertson, the then defence secretary were terrified into submission. They agreed to a parody of generals fighting the last war but one. They bought new destroyers to defeat the U-boat menace. They bought new carriers to save the British empire. They bought Eurofighters to duel with Russian air aces. Trident submarines with nuclear warheads went on cruising the deep, deterring no one, just so Blair could walk tall at conferences.

Or this:

Despite Blair's politics of fear, Britain entered the 21st century safer than at any time since the Norman conquest.

There can be no possible justification for the obscene amounts being spent on keeping our army in Iraq (where it was sent to protect us against imaginary WMDs) or Afghanistan (where it went to find Osama bin Laden - see how well that worked out). When Blair was Prime Minister and was up to his adding machine in British Aerospace's fake accounts, it was at least pretty clear why we were lining the pockets of arms dealers for no benefit to the nation. But now? We may not have cleaned the Augean stables, but we've got rid of the most egregiously dung-bespattered horse. If Cameron and Osborne really want to cut waste and save money, there's £45 billion a year being pissed away on totally inappropriate "defence".

No doubt we need some of it. No doubt it's a tiny fraction of that collosal sum. Let's review every penny and see what value we're getting.

(End credits: thanks to Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone for providing the inspiration fot my title.)


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