Another day and another leak to the Daily Telegraph which seems to have more moles in Whitehall than we have in our local cricket pitch. It almost has one wondering if there is some ministerial sleight of hand involved. But they wouldn’t do that would they? As they say in Pantomime oh yes they would. At the very least today’s appearance on the front page of the daily leaker will have done the cause of Liam Fox no harm at all. Whatever the slashers and cutters now do to our armed forces he will be seen as the man that warned against it!
In his ‘for your eyes only’ letter to David Cameron, Dr Fox has emphasised that draconian cuts cannot possibly be carried out at a time when we are, rightly or wrongly, engaged in what is going to be a long war in Afghanistan. As he argues such action at a time when our troops are overstretched, and suffering constant fatalities, would lead to a dangerous loss of morale. It would also leave us short of replacements needed to enable the front line men to have vital breaks. Most people probably agree with Ed Miliband’s description of the Iraq invasion as a terrible mistake and many will extend the verdict to Afghanistan but the fact remains we are committed and our armed forces are suffering terrible consequences. To simply accept defeat as we did in Basra would give a hugely dangerous boost to terrorists. We have no option than to battle on. I say we but the battling is down to brave men who had no part in the decisions to go to war. To talk of redundancies would be the most abject betrayal of each and every one of them.
Dr Fox has gone well beyond war in his refusal to accept significnt cuts and he is surely right to do so. We cannot foretell what other emergencies will require the use of troops. He has cited examples such as a strike by firemen, Mumbai -style attacks, the 2012 Olympics, flooding – there is a near endless list of possible emergencies when the use of troops is the only answer. And he has not confined himself to the army.
The proposed reduction in ships would make many of our present commitments in the Falklands, Indian Ocean, Caribbean or Gulf impossible. The loss of amphibious shipping would rule out for ever any special operation such as the one we staged in Sierra Leone. And the defence of our traditional last line of defence, the English Channel would be in jeopardy. In today’s world air is often the biggest factor of defence and Dr Fox has set out the risks involved in reducing our airforce to what some experts are predicting will be its lowest number of aircraft ever. We may no longer be in a position to intercept incomimg ‘rogue’ hi-jacked aircraft, mount air-sea rescues or provide vital back-up in places such as Afghanistan. In other words we will for the first time in our history have inferior forces to those of our potential enemies and will certainly not be in a position to unite with NATO countries in common cause.
It is one thing to talk of cutting Quangos ( always provided it is properly planned) and quite another to even consider divesting ourselves of the nation’s defence. Even if the war in Afghanistan was to end tomorrow the need for fully manned and armed forces would remain. So long as it continues any reductions would spell utter disaster.
Who knows whether the wily old Fox knew anything about the leak of his letter. But if ever a leak has drawn the need for plumbers to the nation’s awareness this is it. Either way the doctor has for once served the nation well.There was always potential for uproar on this but the knowledge that even the Minister regards it as lunacy serves to reinforce the public view that, howver dire our Banker-induced crisis may be, we cannot tolerate the destruction of our national security.
The American dramatist Tennessee Williams ( Thomas Lanier Williams) wrote in 1953 that “We have to distrust each other. it’s our only defence aginst betrayal”. Good advice. Fortunately for once it is not the hunting enthusiast Cameron who has the fox cornered. The shoe is very much on the other foot!
IS MANKIND IN DANGER FROM GLOBAL WARMING?
Scientists continue to warn that man’s time on this planet is limited unless drastic measures are taken to prevent the destruction of the environment. But I continue to draw comfort from the fact that no government shows any real concern and most people still regard issues such as Lady Gaga’s head-covering or Adrian Chile’s demeanour as infinitely more important. As I splash around the flooded allotment my self understanding tells me that I am essentially an ostrich, but even with my head buried I still worry about signs that the boffins just may be right.
Last week provided more food for thought for ostriches. On Monday a typhoon in China poured more than 640mm of rain accompanied by winds up to 123mph. The storm triggered landslides and up to 60 people were killed. Between Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning a storm system in the US brought over 75 mm of rain around Minnesota and some places were drenched with over 150mm. Meanwhile on Thursday in Asia , Seoul was hit by torrental downpours and the South Korean capital received its highest rainfall levels since records began in 1908. The Gangseo area had 293mm! At the same time New Zealand suffered winds of 62mph and more than 70 pilot whales became stranded at Spirits Bay, Northland.
Never mind, we can console ourselves with the fact that politicians are in charge of our destiny!
A READERS THOUGHT FOR TODAY; Life’s biggest battles are never seen for they all rest in your head! With thanks to Bob the Builder.
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. India 2. Becuse of fuel shortages
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. In which year did Turkey invade northern Cyprus? 2. Which organisation, founded in Britain, won the 1977 Nobel prize for peace?