A Geopolitical Joke

A worldwide survey had only question which was: “Would you please give your honest opinion about solutions to the food shortage in the rest of the world?”

The survey was a huge failure. In Eastern Europe they didn’t know what “honest” meant. In Western Europe they didn’t know what “shortage” meant. In China they didn’t know what “opinion” meant. In the Middle East they didn’t know what “solution” meant. In South America they didn’t know what “please” meant.

And in the USA they didn’t know what “the rest of the world” meant.

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 Book Review: Nigel Williams ~ R.I.P. (2015)

Williams is the king of the suburban black comedy. He dives into the sheer nastiness of family life amongst the well-heeled with enthusiasm. This book is superb example of his genre.

 George Pearmain is a bank manager with a 99 years old mother who’s become very wealthy. Needless to relate many of the family regard her longevity as a nuisance. They want her millions. On the eve of her birthday, they gather together for a party which ends in Tom Sharpe mayhem. George’s ‘alternative’ sister was heavily into collecting herbs and, obviously, being organic doesn’t mean that they’re not lethal. George found out this truth when he was murdered with hemlock.

George dies, his mother dies (from an accident) and the family are involved in a double tragedy. Their pursuit of wealth is undiminished. George’s sister is murdered and his mother’s best friend is also murdered. Four bodies in a semi-detached house in suburban London!

But to cap it all George is a bone fide ghost enjoying his new found freedom.

It’s glorious fun just don’t get bogged down in LitCrit.

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Vox Populi

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This must be true

Psychic Wins Lottery

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Britain’s Nuclear Deterrent, 2022

Ben Wallace’s1 belief in Britain as a global military power is reflected in his justification for nuclear weapons. “It is vital for our national security and your safety that the UK continues to be an independent global actor, able to stand up for ourselves and protect our citizens against the most serious threats.” (my emphasis)2 By, ‘stand up for ourselves’ he means not relying on the USA. Wallace is asserting that Britain will, as a matter of conscious fact, engage in nuclear war independently of our principal ally. Wallace ignores 120 years of negative military experiences of Britain as an independent military power. He also ignores post-1945 history of the actual conduct of war by nuclear powers in wars they lost.

Theresa May, when Prime Minister, asserted that, “The whole point of a deterrent is that our enemies need to know that we would be prepared to use it…” She was oblivious to the long-standing understanding that nuclear weapons aren’t a deterrent. Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s most bellicose Prime Minister since Churchill, didn’t threaten a pre-emptive knock-out blow against Argentina in the Falklands campaign in 1982. She didn’t do it because it wasn’t politically feasible. Nuking Buenos Aires was entirely doable as she’d sent 31 nuclear missiles to the south Atlantic. She didn’t nuke Argentina because the impact on Britain would have been devastating.3

Thirty-four years later Theresa May discussed the nuclear renewal programme, “…the decision on whether to renew our nuclear deterrent hinges not just on the threats we face today, but on an assessment of what the world will be like over the coming decades.” The cost, ”…..is estimated that the four new submarines will cost £31 billion to build, with an additional contingency of £10 billion.”4 The single submarine, which is at sea permanently, will deliver nuclear weapons if the Prime Minister authorises an attack. All of which begs the question which was first raised in 1982: is this a fantasy?

May said that the decision depended on, ”…an assessment of what the world will be like over the coming decades.” This sounds shrewd until it’s appreciated that Britain’s Chiefs of Staff have significant biases which blind them to objective analysis. Major wars have been fought since 1945 and all of them have been lost because politicians haven’t learned strategic nous. Although it’s probable that military Staff Officers are taught about Clausewitz there seems very little evidence that it’s had any intellectual impact. Nuclear weapons are a relic from 1945.

Whilst the USA was losing wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, 1962-2021, the prospect of nuclear ‘solutions’ was discussed and dismissed as inappropriate.5 The USSR lost in Afghanistan,1979-89, and they too refrained from using nuclear weapons for the same reason. The data on the pointlessness of nuclear weaponry is compelling; those that have nuclear weapons don’t use them, nor make credible threats to use them.

British politicians are floundering. They can’t accept the reality of managing Britain’s decline and they strut the language of global power. This means squandering huge amounts of taxpayer resources. Nothing illustrated this more than when Wallace reduced the size of the British army whilst simultaneously talking of its global role,

The decision by the MOD to implement Army 2020, its programme to reduce the size of the regular Army and increase the number of trained Army reserves, was taken without appropriate testing of feasibility, according to the National Audit Office.6 (my emphasis) 

The management of decline is depressing. However, in the case of nuclear weapons there are clear and obvious arguments not to invest any resources at all. They’re pointless and tactically inept. If Britain needs fantasy military aspirations to placate nationalistic politicians, they should employ strategies with at least the possibility that they can be used.

Notes

1 Ben Wallace (politician) – Wikipedia

2 The UK’s nuclear deterrent: the facts – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

3 UK deployed 31 nuclear weapons during Falklands war (declassifieduk.org)

4 UK’s Nuclear Deterrent – Hansard – UK Parliament To put this into context the USA has 66 submarines weaponised with nuclear missiles United States Submarine Capabilities (nti.org)

5 Did the U.S. Consider Using Nuclear Weapons in Vietnam? | HistoryNet

6 Army 2020 – National Audit Office (NAO) Report

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Economic thinking in all its glory

A cyclist is a disaster for a country’s economy. They don’t buy cars or borrow money for a new one. Or, pay crash insurance policies. They don’t use paid parking and don’t cause major accidents. Because they’re fit and healthy they live a long life and claim years and years of pension payments.

They add nothing to the country’s GDP.

Walking is even worse they don’t even buy a bicycle!

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I blame the parents

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A layabout’s interview in a Job Centre

Layabout: I’m looking for a job. Anything will do but it’s got to be well paid and not too strenuous.

Clerk: Perfect timing. We’ve just had a request for a minder for a billionaire’s nymphomaniac teenage daughter. £100k pa and a company car.

Layabout: You’ve got to be kidding!

Clerk: Well, you started it.

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The British Army’s Global Delusions

Ben Wallace is the latest in a long line of British Defence Secretaries who pander to the Chiefs of Staff and the armaments industry. He was born into a military family and educated at Sandhurst, Britain’s principal military college. He served in the army as a junior officer.1 Wallace isn’t independent. He’s an advocate for the pressure group, which masquerades as the Chiefs of Staff.

All discussions about the army are driven by the fantasy that Britain is a global military power. Wallace, like other Defence Secretaries, ignores military history and economic realities. He’s hynotised by Britain’s supposedly glorious military history and desperately wants to regain the glory days when Britain was a superpower. One outcome of this is that Britain has been at war every year since 1945 – apart from 1961. Britain is a warrior nation.

The British army’s last significant military victory was the Boer War, 1902. The Irish war of Independence, 1919-22, ended in stalemate as did the northern Irish Troubles, 1968-98. Colonial wars, after India and Palestine were lost in 1948, have been a series of dismal defeats. British imperial territories were lost after vicious campaigns, the worst example of which was the defeat in Kenya, 1952-6, where the campaign developed into crimes against humanity and war crimes.2 Recent colonial issues have been decided peacefully with constitutional changes and the replacement of the Queen as head of state.

British military failures aren’t unique. The USA was defeated after 18 years in Vietnam, the USSR lost in Afghanistan after ten brutal years. The Soviet failure in Afghanistan was repeated by the USA, 2001-21. That Afghan war was coterminous with Iraq 2003-11 where Britain shared the USA’s defeat at the hands of a Third World country. 46 years of failure and no sign politicians, or their Chiefs of Staff, have learned anything. Technically superior weapons don’t guarantee victory in asymmetrical wars.

Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, 2019-present, described the role of the army as one, “…. [that] will now be reorganised to operate on a continuous basis, fielding all the relevant capabilities for this era of constant competition and persistently engaged around the globe….crucially, it [the army] will also be an army designed for genuine warfighting credibility as an expeditionary fighting force that will be both deployable and lethal when called upon to fight and win”.3 (my emphasis)

Wallace believes the British army will, “operate on a continuous basis, … persistently engaged around the globe… [as an] expeditionary fighting force.” The last 77 years has been disastrous for Britain. Defeat has followed defeat. There have been no conflicts where British involvement tipped the balance into victory. Only the 1990 Kuwait war resulted in a win for the USA’s coalition. This was the only occasion the USA followed the precepts of the 19th century military-philosopher Clausewitz, which said campaigns should have an exit strategy, in brief that, ‘You know what you want’ and stop when you’ve got it.

The Afghan and Iraq wars revealed that the British army relies on obsolete, strategies. Asymmetrical wars are fought using tactics which inflict heavy casualties on traditional armies. The British response was a £5.5 billion procurement programme for sophisticated reconnaissance vehicles. Contracts were signed for 589 vehicles in 2014 after four years of planning. The Ajax vehicle is being built by General Dynamics for delivery in 2017 at a fixed price. The design was predicated on deployment in Afghanistan and was combat specific. Delivery times have been extended to 2030, eight years after the war finished.4

The Public Accounts Committee have written a scathing report on the Ajax programme, “The Department’s management of the programme was flawed from the outset as the programme was over-specified and the Department and General Dynamics did not understand the scale of the technical challenge. We have seen similar failings again and again in the Department’s management of its equipment programmes”.  (my emphasis)

(If Ajax is ready in 2030 will there be a version of the Afghan war where Britain is an active participant? If there is, then we’ll be ready with excellent equipment.)

Wallace, and virtually every British politician, colludes with the Chiefs of Staff in a delusion, which is that Britain has a global role.5 They even have a desire to be the ‘World’s Policeman’ as though the British Empire is alive and well. The British army ought to be subsumed into a permanent international coalition with joint Chiefs of Staff. At present Britain is impoverishing itself and utterly failing as a military power.

Notes

1 Ben Wallace (politician) – Wikipedia

2 Caroline Elkins Britain’s Gulag: the brutal end of empire in Kenya 2005

3 Defence Secretary announces Future Soldier for the British Army – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) For Ben Wallace This hubristic viewpoint is also that of the Chief of the Army, General Sir Patrick Sanders, “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine underlines our core purpose to protect the UK by being ready to fight and win wars on land,” he said. (my emphasis) British troops must prepare to fight in Europe once again, says new head of Army (msn.com) Considering he served in both Iraq and Afghanistan he’s remarkably untouched by failure in ‘wars on land’. In 2021 the army’s war games had to be ended early because they’d run out of ammunition in eight of the ten days allocated. British Army ‘ran out of ammo in eight days in online war simulation’ | Daily Mail Online

4 Delays to Ajax armoured vehicles risk national security, MPs warn – BBC News For the parliamentary scrutiny see  Armoured Vehicles: the Ajax programme – Committee of Public Accounts (parliament.uk) The previous vehicle had upgrades to cope with Afghanistan but clearly add-ons and made the vehicle situation-specific See Up-armoured vehicles begin Afghanistan operations – GOV.UK (www.gov)

5 Eisenhower and the Military-industrial Complex | Odeboyz’s Blog (oedeboyz.com)

 

 

 

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Vote Sadomasochism!

A thought for ‘Red Wall’ voters
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