Friday 8 July 2016

Challenging NATO and Trident

British troops are to be sent to Estonia and Poland. NATO promised Russia that it would not expand east by one inch. But remember, Russia is the bad guy.

If the EU, which we have not left, demanded two per cent of our GDP, then how would we react? Especially if it made no such demand of any other member-state. The Baltic States spend virtually nothing on defence. Anyone would think that they knew that the threat was not real.

If Finland and Sweden feel no need to be in NATO, then why do we? If Turkey is in NATO, then why are we? When is anyone going to say no to this madness? When Jeremy Corbyn is Prime Minister, that's when.

This week, the dear old Defence Select Committee has been doing what it does best. Lobbying for fat public contracts to be awarded to its members' past, present and future employers in the arms trade.

It has been 160 years since we were last at war with Russia. But we constantly have to pretend, both that we are teetering on the brink of such a war, and that the absence of it means that we are at peace.

Russia has been picked at random from among the nations of the earth, and we merrily go to war with any or all of the rest, just so long as we never do so with her, a possibility for which we must ever be on our guard. 

In reality, if NATO still has any military role, rather than merely organising top level weekend breaks in European capitals, then it is as the extension of Erdogan's Turkey. Compared to that, Putin's Russia is not an unattractive prospect. 

The eye-watering expense of Trident blinds us to the jaw-dropping increase in that cost every time that anyone bothers to check. Under any other circumstance, the Conservative Party would rightly go ballistic, so to speak, at a small proportion of any of those increases alone. Never mind at the whole bill, which is now completely out of control. 

Meanwhile, we now barely have a Navy. We had the mightiest that the world had ever seen, before nuclear weapons were ever even imagined.

A Commons vote on the national bankruptcy that is Trident "renewal" belongs in the same believe-it-when-you-see-it category as the invocation of Article 50, or a challenge to the Leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. But such a vote ought to be welcomed, and even forced.

Like the wannabe Shadow Defence Secretary, John Woodcock, the 64-year-old Michael Fallon has never worked outside politics. But the real Shadow Defence Secretary, the anti-Trident Clive Lewis, is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan.

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