Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Welfare not Warfare

Simon Jenkins is a long way from being one of my favourite Grauniad columnists but he is spot on today in calling for the elimination of expenditure on "defence."

If our Con-Dem Government really wanted to "think the unthinkable" about public spending then the - almost entirely unproductive - expenditure on maintaing a standing army, Navy and Air Force would come under scrutiny.

Before urbanisation the very idea of a standing Army in peace time was seen as a threat to liberty. From the eighteenth century on the Army has existed not so much to defend the "nation" as to defend the rulers of the nation, if necessary from its own people.

It's not just the extreme and absurd expense of Trident replacement (an expensive exercise in global posturing to prop up the weak claim of the United Kingdom to a permanent seat on the UN Security Council as part of our Walter Mitty Great Power status).

The whole infrastructure of a system that has 180,000 people bearing arms in our small, peaceful and secure islands off the North West coast of Europe is a monumental waste - and the existence of these forces encourages our rulers to engage in foreign adventures to justify this expense.

If there were a threat of invasion to a democratic nation (the former doesn't apply at present and the latter is a questionable definition of our status quo) then it would be possible to invest in genuinely defensive "defence" expenditure (as advocated by Peter Tatchell a quarter of a century ago).

There are many other important economic arguments to be had about why cuts in public spending are a damaging and politically motivated attack upon the working class - but it will be worth remembering as we resist pay freezes, job losses, pension cuts and service closures that there is no moral or political case for any of these measures whilst the UK wastes billions on armed forces which contribute nothing to the defence or security of the people of this country.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

off the NW coast of Europe? Fog in the channel -continent stranded? Are we europeans or little britain?