Saturday, 13 January 2007

East of Suez

Yesterday Tony Blair gave a speech on the role of the UK’s Armed Forces in the 21st century.
Our Nation’s Future - Defence

I quote one paragraph:

The frontiers of our security no longer stop at the Channel. What happens in the Middle East affects us. What happens in Pakistan; or Indonesia; or in the attenuated struggles for territory and supremacy in Africa for example, in Sudan or Somalia. The new frontiers for our security are global. Our Armed Forces will be deployed in the lands of other nations far from home, with no immediate threat to our territory, in environments and in ways unfamiliar to them.

Great Britain ceased being a true World Power 1941 when it required USA assistance to defeat Germany.

It emerged from World War 2 still thinking and trying to act as a World Power.

It took another ten years, and the failed attempt in 1956 to regain control of the Suez Canal and to topple Nasser, for the World to know Great Britain was no longer a World Power..

It took a further ten years, and the Labour Government of 1966 to drop the pretence of being a World Power. And the policy was put in place to by 1971 withdraw troops from East of Suez.

Subsequent Governments still tried to act, if not as a World Power, but certainly as a Country with influence on the World Stage. This pretence was supported by two props: the permanent seat and veto at the UN Security Council, and being a nuclear power.

For the next twenty years, irrespective of the public posturing, Governments knew their limitations and acted accordingly. There was a series of Defence Reviews, each resulting in the downsizing of the Armed Forces.

In 1997 New Labour won the General election, within a year Tony Blair had taken the Country into the first of five Wars.

At the start of 2007 Great Britain has troops on operational deployment in: Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia & Kosovo, Northern Ireland together with various UN missions. Blair is determined Britain should remain a nuclear power. But his latest speech is an attempt to roll back the years, and once again put on “The Emperors Cloths” of a World Power. We will once again try to influence events East of Suez. And to achieve this with a poorly paid, inadequately equipped, abysmally housed armed forces.

Blair, as one last desperate attempt to salvage his image and leave some heritage, has called for a great debate on Britain’s foreign policy. The big question is not Britain’s foreign policy but Blair’s powers of judgement?

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