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Thursday, March 17, 2005


Military facing 'capability gaps'
The UK's armed forces could be facing "gaps in capability" because defence equipment is being withdrawn before new technology is ready, MPs warn.
Equipment is being phased out over the next two to three years but new, more capable, kit will not be operational until after 2010, they said.

They sounded far more huffy in the radio report I heard this morning, all about not spending enough on the proper capabilities for the vast ranbge of missions and all that But the MPs are missing the point, of why more should be spent on the armed forces's capabilities, right? Well, my cuties, perhaps I can recommend some reading to you, namely
Delivering Security in a Changing World. Defence White Paper
In it you will find the following statement (p.7):

But we will not need to generate large-scale capabilities across the same spectrum, given that in the most demanding operations we will be operating alongside the US and other allies, where capabilities such as air defence and naval escorts are less likely to be at a premium.

What this means is, that there is no capability gap. As the UK is in the views of this Government not required to be able to carry out proper wars without US or EU support there is no problem.
There are political points to this the MPs have ignored. Underlying this behaviour is the belief -or rather wishful thinking- that come an emergency our allies will be there and ready to fill in our gaps. What if they don’t want to? (see my short comment at the report’s publication).
This will then create a situation where we will be, by a technical fait accompli, forced into the Blairite vision of an “interdependent” world and his Euro-American bridge thingy. It could of course mean that the UK has to choose between the US and the EU, or international engagement and isolation. Either way the political arguments about this are being ignored here right now.
If you disagree with this course of events, now might be the time to say so, because in a couple of years time military technology will have made the choice for us.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2005

As you may have noticed my blog has fallen into one of its irregualar posting phases, apologies for that, especially because it’s going to last a little longer too, as I currenlty don’t have quite the neecessary peace of mind to blog properly at the moment. But at least you can look forward to some changes in a few weeks time, including a full site redesign and a proper concept for issue I will cover, which I will then cover consistently to boot. And that is surely something to look forward to.
Anyway, as this week’s stop-gap measure here’s a round-up of some interesrting bits and pieces:

- David Aaronovitch argues we were not lied to over Iraq’s wmd. Well, he makes it sound very compelling and as a hawk I’m inclined to agree, but something still doesn’t quite fit. I supported regime change anyway and continue to do so, but I’m not so sure about this issue. Let’s be honest Mr Blair hasn’t always been a hundred per cent accurate with the facts on other issue either has he? If it did turn out Blair lied, I would not change my mind about Iraq, and it wouldn’t change my mind about him either.

- Turkey continues its effort to become part of the European mainstream political culture:

Turkey renames 'divisive' animals

Even animal names can become contentious in politics Turkey has said it is changing the names of three animals found on its territory to remove references to Kurdistan or Armenia. . . . Some Turkish officials say the names are being used to argue that Armenians or Kurds had lived in the areas where the animals were found. . . .

Well, it doesn’t really bother me too much, I support Turkish membership (just about) in an EU which is more a cooperative low-key stability structure rather than an integrated state for geopolitical reasons alone, so I guess this doesn’t really affect my views. But if I were on of those Europhile integrationist types who wants Turkey to join in his happy big new nation I think I would feel distinctly uncomfortable to see Turkey continuing its campaign to deny to Armenians and Kurds that they have any historical connection to territory that formed their ancient homelands for millenia before it came under Turkish control.

- John Rosenthal explains how the outrage about Rumsfeld’s “Old/New Europe” remarks was fabricated. Given the nigh on hysterical reactions by many parts of European opinion you think he was certainly hitting some raw nerve.

- If you have never heard of the Jewish refugees of the Middle East this gives you an idea.

- Libby Purves tells us to mind our language: what do we mean when we talk of “Middle England”? Purves says it’s simply daft or/and an insult and we should stop. Quite right.

- and finally . .. the porn joke of the week (yeah I know I’m getting desperate); even though it does attach itself to a serious story:

A £6m campaign to spread information about the EU Constitution could be illegal, a Conservative MEP has said.
EU officials claim the drive will only inform and not promote a "yes" vote in referendums on the Constitution.
But Den Dover, who led the fight against the plan approved by MEPs on Tuesday, said it was part of an agenda to win support for the treaty.

I wonder if in any way he is related to Ben Dover? Or is it just a chnage in the nome de guerre? I think we should be told.

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Friday, March 11, 2005

I suppose I share a lot of common ground with libertarians onmany grounds, but at the end of the day I am not one of them. For reasons of clarity I always call myself conservative, which is not really all that clear when you think about it, but it’s better than mumbling something about-sort-of-centrist-but-I-don’t-want-to-be-tagged answer.
Anyways, what brought this to my attention was this daily comment from the Cato Institute on energy policy.
I agree with virtually everything they dislike about Bush’s new energy bill, even though I’m still very sceptical about the ability of market driven technology changes to deal with environmental problems alone, as Ronald Baily argued recently. But that’s not really my point here.
The authors quote Bush as saying that

we need an energy bill, one that encourages reliability for electricity, and one that encourages conservation and helps us become less dependent on foreign sources of energy

Read this commentary from this point onwards and notice what’s missing: independence from foreign sources of energy. That is of course one thing the market left to itself cannot deliver. Now if you’re a Cato-style libertarian you’re probably more inclined to ignore this issue because it can only be solved by state intervention. As a conservative I find the idea of the state intervening in the economy for the national interest entirely acceptable, and government action to lower the dependence on Middle Eastern oil is an idea I already endorse.

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