Will British tanks be moth-eaten? Will the cannons be removed? Will the infantry battalions be disbanded? Will there ever be enough fighter jets for an aircraft carrier? The answers to these questions are provided by the “Integrated Review” on Foreign, Security, Security and Development Policy. When it was unveiled in February 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared that “greater reassessment of Britain’s position in the world since the end of the Cold War” clashes with reality.
The original vision is now run by Dominic Cummings, a discounted Downing Street consultant. It dictated that the UK would turn Brexit into a world power by supporting the “trillion-dollar” technology sector and engaging in space warfare. At the same time, Cummings called for an end to routine security plans that would “devour billions of pounds and enrich some of the worst buzz in the economy.”
Johnson’s promise in early February last year in the symbolic context of the old Royal Naval College from the 18th century echoed the same sentiment: a business-oriented Great Britain that would prevent an overreaction to COVID-19 from standing in a new way.
However, after the onset of the epidemic in March, the combined reassessment was discontinued. “They thought, ‘They could completely reorganize the armed forces without involving industry and management, but they realized that was not possible.”
When the process resumed in the fall, the process was defeated by officers and leaders in the security apparatus. However, geopolitical policy remained unaffected. Meanwhile, Johnson switched to the PR slogan of “Great Britain Great.” During the 2016 election campaign for the Brexit referendum, he created a leave campaign to confront the accusation of a “Little England” mentality and instead discuss imperial nostalgia. “Integrated reassessment” should therefore shift British defense policy towards this goal.
Here emerges a picture of a medium power pursuing global aspirations without a realistic budget.
As a result, Great Britain’s renewed emphasis on maritime power, with the intention to reduce and deploy troop numbers to participate in US – led operations with a new aircraft carrier to ensure free navigation in the South China Sea and the Arctic. All of this is being marketed as a “move towards the Indo-Pacific region” and a departure from British cooperation with Europe.
After decades of cuts, the British Armed Forces already have a shortage of 9,000. According to reports, the number of troops is to be further reduced; The four units, which have no military expertise, are referred to as the “Fish and Chip Regiments” and must be integrated with the others. In addition, according to the British National Audit Office, the equipment budget of the Ministry of Defense shows a long-term deficit of up to 17 17 billion, although 2020 16.5 billion was paid in November 2020, mainly for the purchase of existing warships.
Here emerges a picture of a medium power pursuing global aspirations without a realistic budget. The film reflects the position of the Johnson administration, in fact the whole embarrassment of Britain finding itself after Brexit.
In all the security and security reassessments that have taken place in recent years, British planners have not noticed accidental risks: first al-Qaeda and IS, then the military aggression capability and the Russian “hybrid” war and change China. The risk of an infection was recognized as a “Level One” threat in 2015, but firm arrangements were made in the rear burner.
The underlined threats are designed around the arrogant notion of “global access.”
The threats outlined in the statements are instead framed around the arrogant concept of “global access” (which was the defensive slogan before the slogan “global Britain”). Under Prime Minister David Cameron, the government decided to resume routine operations “east of Suez” without significant political debate; A naval base was opened in Bahrain, where the armed forces were organized around “strike forces” and, instead of monitored vehicles, wheeled vehicles were used, which were more suitable for foreign missions.
The fact that the British wanted to “do a little bit of everything” and wanted to preserve the ability to be active “everywhere” may have prevented the establishment of a unit that specializes in warfare in the European context, which has in fact been the declared target of military planners since 2015. If the integrated reassessment had taken place openly and with the participation of Parliament and the public, it could have provided an opportunity to honestly confront this strategic reality.
Great Britain was a moderate military power on the edge of Europe. With the exception of France, the only European country with nuclear weapons has the capability and historical readiness to carry out intensive multinational operations during the war. Britain is at the forefront of the routine blockade against Russian attacks in the Baltic Sea. Once the Arctic trade corridors have opened, an integrated reassessment highlights the need for British action in the Arctic.
Prior to the release of the report on the integrated revaluation, the anti-labor movement called for a defensive defense strategy towards Europe.
If logic prevails over McLaughlin, the British Armed Forces will have to be restructured in order to assume leadership roles in NATO and Europe. Regardless of what US President Joe Biden is doing in the Pacific and what is currently happening on the Indo-Chinese border in the Himalayas, the geopolitical focus of British security policy should be on the people of Europe.
But that probably won’t happen. Johnson is determined to send Queen Elizabeth II to the Chinese coast with a new aircraft that will swallow 600 600 million per voyage, fitted with F-35 fighter jets borrowed from the US Marine Corps and protected by warships representing anti-ship missiles. An “interim solution” because after the cuts in the defense budget, the original missiles fell out of the way without being replaced.
Prior to the release of the report on the integrated revaluation, the anti-labor movement called for a defensive defense strategy towards Europe. Shadow Defense Secretary John Healy told Royal United Services last month that while the US-China rivalry was affecting Britain’s national security, “it is essentially a war of superpowers.” He continued: “As the United States faces the long – standing challenges posed by China, Britain’s leading military role in Europe is increasingly important.”
I will clarify it even more. The real strategic threat to Britain’s security lies in the disruption of the rule-based global order. If the rules-based global system collapses, there is no military solution; However, all Western democracies need to adapt themselves to higher security priorities. The United Kingdom, as a maritime power and with its globalized supply chain, has a strong interest in maintaining this order.
But the Johnson administration’s founding myth is Brexit’s rule-breaking act.
The fact that Johnson has broken the rules on several occasions shows that he does not see a real threat to Great Britain’s strategic interests.
When the United Kingdom turned on the EU and, above all, on security and security cooperation, it did great damage to the rule based on the rules. Great Britain has lost access to the Galileo satellite navigation system. Although the integrated reassessment helped to purchase hundreds of boxing armored vehicles made and manufactured in Europe, the country was not industrially involved in the project because it withdrew from it long ago.
While the uprisings caused by Brexit are already felt in the fishing industry and in the new trade frontier in the Irish Sea, it would take many years for all geopolitical implications to emerge if Great Britain does not participate in key European defenses. The plans have said nothing about the conflict over regional rights in Greece and Cyprus and have distanced themselves from the growing European plan for collective security.
Johnson has demonstrably violated the rules on several occasions, for example, in the Brexit talks at the end of 2020, and now again in the struggle for the domestic trade frontier, showing that he does not recognize the real threat to Great Britain’s strategic interests: in a world without rules, the country must change itself. The UK will find itself on a completely wrong path after a joint reassessment with Irish friend Biden at the White House and Foreign Minister Anthony Blingen in Franco. Britain should justify arms exports to Saudi Arabia after the United States reconsidered its relationship and shut down the Biden pipeline and surrendered to the Saudi royal family.
Britain needs armed forces that can do their job; This includes preventing the usual Russian occupation of the Baltic Sea, the Baltic states and the North Atlantic, but also dealing with epidemics and climatic events in one’s own country and the humanitarian crisis abroad. These forces must immediately cooperate with European forces and the EU Command Center, as they do with NATO and the US military. This is not a policy, it is a geopolitical fact. Unfortunately, politics stands in the way of accepting this fact.
This article is a joint publication of Social Europe and IPG-Journal.
Translated from English by Anne Emmert