Strategic Offence and Insecurity

Christopher Houseman

So, the great threats du jour are cyber-terrorism and international terrorism in the style of al-Qaida. Hmm… I can see why we’ll need a couple of new aircraft carriers to fend off those evil beasties, especially if HMG can’t afford to put any planes aboard them. Still, at least nobody’s talking about renting the (not yet completed) aircraft under a PFI scheme, along with the refueling tankers.

Meanwhile, in the name of “not giving in to the people who’ve been angered into action by our previous intrusions into their lives terrorists”, HMG has either got to carry on with business as usual (which means buying enough kit and posting enough troops in the right places abroad to placate the US government) or at least reassure everyone that’s what it intends to do as soon as it can print enough new money convince the markets it’s solvent again.

Personally, I doubt a mere 8pc cut in the MOD budget (while everyone else takes a hit of up to 25pc) will be enough to woo foreign creditors back in their droves. But at least as Remembrance Day draws near, we can all pause a while to give thanks for this country’s glorious victory over the evil Nazi supporters of “Guns before butter”, and encourage ourselves with the thought that the British people are far too noble and wise to fall for that old lie.

8 responses to “Strategic Offence and Insecurity

  1. Maginot Line

  2. There are of course departments that should be taking hits of 100%, such as “Children, Schools and Families”, and “Education”, and “Environment, Transport and the Regions”, and the “Passport and Identity Service”.

    If we were to close all these, now, we could afford body-armour and stab-proof-vehicles for all the “boys” in Afghanistan, and we could then bring them all home in a year or so. We might get a couple of dozen more of BAE’s nice new “attack boats” out of the small change. There might even be a hospital or two in it, if all the current “Hospital Trust Managers” would surrender their Ferraris quietly.

    If we shut down all the “Local” and “Metropolitan” “Councils”, totally (which would be rather good as they do nothing worthwhile) then we might be able to pay for some bullets too, and a good and hardened Space-Defence system which could target “terrorists” like the late Kim Jong-Il as soon as he just _thought_ about doing an attack.

  3. Christopher Houseman

    @Peter: Will anyone dare to promise that “Ils ne passeront pas”? Given the historic cost of keeping that promise, I’m inclined to hope not.

  4. Christopher Houseman

    @David: I very much agree, but it’s often harder to explain and expose the death-worship inherent in statist domestic policies to non-libertarians. This is not to say we shouldn’t try, but I suspect a 200-word blog entry won’t achieve it.

    With the warfare state, on the other hand, the death-cult is visible for all to see – it’s largely a matter of undermining the legitimacy of its claims, while showing people that they, like their ancestors, can at least live more freely if they exert themselves in that direction.

    In my experience, the last point is the biggest obstacle. Hope is the hardest thing to create, and the easiest to destroy.

  5. Considering how tiny a part of the budget defence is and how the defence of the realm is the basic moral justification for the very existence of the State i’m not going to waste too much time complaining about a couple of aircraft carriers being built.

    At least something tangible has been created, unlike most government spending, it’s just a pity that the aircraft carriers won’t actually have any aircraft to carry…..

  6. It’s interesting to compare the cost of the two carriers with two US SuperCarriers. The US carriers also have nuclear power plants which need to be refueled only every 25 years.

    Denis Healey wrote in his memoirs that the worst decision he made as MOD chief was the cancellation of the British carriers.


  7. Carriers will be no use without the following:-

    (1) some planes and copters to fly off them
    (2) some “attack boats” underwater to screen them from other attack boats,
    (3) some frigates to screen them from GramscoStaliNazi planes,
    (4) some clever people to decide when to deploy and not deploy them, and be My Chief Military Advisers,
    (5) a good and prescient Principal-Secretary-of-State-for-War who knows when not to over-ride his advisers,
    (6) a country where most bureaucrats have been sacked and their records destroyed.

  8. Christopher Houseman

    Well said, David. And this morning’s decision to scrap all the Sea Harriers (along with the Ark Royal) mean that until 2019 or so, there’ll be 1 carrier (Invincible – it’ll have to be) and no planes to fly off it. Makes you wonder what the point of a planeless carrier is.

    The other question worth asking is “What’s a carrier for anyway?”. It’s an inefficient way to defend UK airspace and territorial waters, and its height above the waterline and deep draught make a carrier largely useless for evacuating civilians (unless one includes the aircraft which can’t fly off it at the moment).

    True, you can fly helos off it, but they won’t be anything like as safe (to aircrew or passengers) for suppressing ground fire, they fly far lower and slower than jet aircraft and they’re pretty noisy. The only plausible justification for keeping an aircraft carrier is “force projection”. But if we’re honest, we all know that “force projection” in current UK military doctrine is to act as an assistant to the US in implementing the Ledeen doctrine. Michael Ledeen noted that, every 10 years or so, the US needs to slam a hapless third-world power against a brick wall to show who’s boss.

    Personally, I fail to see what exactly is libertarian, minarchist, Christian, or even vaguely morally valid about the UK’s current role in relation to the US – but I’ll hear out reasoned attempts to square such behaviour with the teachings of the New Testament (Christian), or the writings of Mises (minarchist) or Rothbard (anarcho-capitalist).

    PS. Eric Margolis has just written a great article on the current plight of the Royal Navy at

    PPS. Like many – or even all – of you, I agree 100% with the idea that the British people need an affordable and effective way to defend their lives, liberties and lands against any likely foreign aggressor. I just don’t think aircraft carriers, SLBM’s tipped with nuclear weapons reliant on US launch codes, or the British State as we currently know it are particularly cost-effective or credible ways to achieve such an objective.