MORAL DISARMAMENT – A DefenceSynergia Opinion Piece

21 Mar

Our guest blogger, Dave Tisdale, recently published this opinion piece on the DefenceSynergia website, and kindly allowed us to reproduce it here. DefenceSynergia is a defence & strategy research group that exposes the incoherence and weaknesses in the United Kingdom’s defence and security strategies. Read more about the organisation here.

The Prime Minister (PM), David Cameron, is reported to have said:”…What has happened with respect to the Crimea is unacceptable… Russia has acted in flagrant breach of international law… This matters to the people of Britain because we depend on a world where countries obey the rules…”

As a graduate of Oxford, Mr Cameron must have a basic understanding of Great Britain’s geopolitical history. Not least the uncomfortable realisation that his stand against Russian ambitions in Ukraine, especially the Crimea, has striking symmetry with that of Mr Neville Chamberlain leading up to the 1938 Munich crisis. Like the hapless Mr Chamberlain the current PM has been taken off guard by the vehemently nationalistic intentions of a European leader who simply makes his own international ‘rules’. Herr Hitler in 1938 and Mr Putin in 2014 both using ethnic diaspora to provide the casus belli to initiate military intervention.

In the aftermath of the First World War Ukraine was absorbed into the emerging Soviet empire. Some seventy years later as the Soviet Empire itself disintegrated Ukraine declared its independence from Moscow and in 1994 the Russian Federation, the United States of America (USA) and United Kingdom (UK) became guarantors of Ukrainian independence when the new state gave up its nuclear arsenal. Yet it is Russia, one of those guarantors, that has violated the agreement on the flimsiest of pretexts to ensure Russian interests dominate along its borders.

FIRST IN LAST OUT – A Case for Government Joined Up Thinking

18 Nov

The motto of Tactical Supply Flight in Royal Air Force Germany in the early 1970′s was ‘First In – Last Out’. This small section of RAF supply personnel was formed to provide full logistic support to the 3 squadrons of Harrier jump jets based in Germany which, on exercise or in war, operated in the countryside, within a short distance of the forward edge of the battle area providing a plethora of support and mobile infrastructure ahead of the aircraft and aircrew’s arrival. However, ‘first in’ could easily have been applied to other supporting units too. The Royal Engineers constructed mobile runways, taxi areas and revetments for portable fuel tanks and explosive storage; the Royal Corps of Signals provided long and short range communications; the Territorial Army of the Royal Corps of Transport (now Royal Logistic Corps) provided railway specialists to assist in the move of hundreds of weapons; the provost branches of the Royal Military and RAF Police provided liaison teams for convoy support; RAF Field Catering fed us; RAF Light Aid Detachments kept our vehicles serviceable; the RAF Medical Branch kept us healthy; RAF Engineers set up the flying sites – so we few in tactical supply were not exactly alone as we deployed, some days ahead of the fast jet strike force.

And this is just a microcosm of the logistic infrastructure required today to support Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) policy for HM Forces to operate world wide in an expeditionary capacity. In 1970 the operation of forces in Germany was primarily predicated on a 30 day war, in-theatre assets and surface movement. Today, with a world wide role, longer term three dimensional thinking is required – sea, air and ground with more emphasis on sustainment, recuperation and regeneration.


6 Sep

On Thursday 29th August 2013 at around 2230 hours the British Prime Minister (PM) lost a vote in the British parliament. Not for the first or last time to be sure but in this case the government motion being debated concerned the PM’s ability to conduct foreign policy – for the United Kingdom to join allies in punitive military strikes against the Assad Regime in Syria. The decision of the leader of the opposition (supported by a sizeable number of government back bench members of parliament (MPs)) to oppose the motion not being, on the face of it, too outlandish as it was just another exercise in democracy. Except, this particular decision by the leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition broke with precedent and in so doing possibly changed the political landscape for all future administrations; not least the PM’s prerogative to conduct foreign policy without constantly having to refer decisions to a vote in parliament. Indeed, not long before the recent parliamentary recess MPs were debating this very issue and although the back bench initiated motion was calling for parliament to be consulted ahead of any military action in Syria underlying the motion and the speeches was a view that the Executive should always consult MPs before committing British forces.

Thoughts on EU stuff, including intergenerational equity and EU membership as a variably-valued asset

8 Jul

This month I attended a Gatehouse Roundtable event, which focused on ‘Brexit: What future for Europe and the UK’.

The roundtable explored the declining British influence in the EU and the deficits of the current EU system, involving a lovely confluence of: a breakdown in relations between Germany and France; the issue of a democratic deficit within the EU; and the internal weakness of leadership in the European Commission. Let alone the ongoing economic crisis.

PASC Calls for Government to Engage the Public in National Strategy

2 Jul

On Friday 28th June the Public Administration Select Committee released its publication: ‘Engaging the public in National Strategy’. It called for Government to begin to use opinion polling to understand better what the public want for the UK and to inform national strategy. It claims that Parliament should start to hold the Government accountable to the public’s aspirations in this way. Read more about it on the PASC website here.

Thoughts on the PASC Report on Public Engagement in Policy Making

13 Jun

On the 3rd June, PASC released its report on the topic, calling for an approach to policy-making where public opinion, ideas and contributions are sought and welcome at all stages of the policy cycle. PASC says that Government should be able to demonstrate that it has adopted this approach alongside ministerial leadership and responsibility for policy and its outcomes…

Vision and Strategy

31 May

NATIONAL VISION AND STRATEGY – AN ALTERNATIVE VIEWPOINT What is a national “vision”? Vision is the big idea of foreign, domestic and national policy. It is the overarching concept that links ends, ways and means; the organizing principle that allows the state to purposively plan and prioritize the use of all instruments of power; it [...]

Rapping about Scottish independence

21 May