Excellent piece …
The fearmongering over cyber-warfare with Russia isn’t about actual threat, it’s about vanity, history and MoD greed.
The Russians are coming. The terrorists are at the door. Feel afraid, feel very afraid. Give us the money.
Every year at budget time, the defence lobby waves shrouds and howls blue murder. With yet another defence review in the offing, the army fears it will lose thousands of soldiers, while the navy and the Royal Air Force fear the (long overdue) merger of the paratroop and marine brigades and the loss of more frigates.
Britain’s defence budget is one of the largest in proportion to population in the world, the largest in the EU and the second largest in Nato. This is unrelated to threat and entirely related to history. That is why each year no one asks what the nation needs, only whether it can “do with” less than the year before.
Last year, Britain’s second aircraft carrier was launched, bringing their cost close to £7bn, wildly over budget. Trident was extended. A sign of Trident’s lunacy is that the Treasury proposes to remove it from the defence budget altogether. It will go with HS2, overseas aid and Olympics legacy under the heading “vanity project”.
More below the fold …
Britain’s three services should long ago have merged into one, so that defence could be viewed in the round, not as a derivative of mutual lobbying. Defence should be seen from threat upwards, not history downwards. Such is the anarchy that British taxes are now financing the country’s “defence” in no fewer than 80 overseas outposts around the world, chiefly as mercenaries to American interventionism.
The row over defence spending has nothing to do with defence, but with an arbitrary target, unrelated to threat, for it to consume 2% of the nation’s wealth.
- ○ Britain’s Theresa May Shelfs Damning Saudi Terror Report
○ Undeniable Blowback from Decades US Foreign Policy – 1996
In 2015, the Pentagon successfully tested the B61-12 nuclear gravity bomb as part of a $1 trillion effort to make the nuclear arsenal more accurate and lethal. This redesigned weapon is equipped with “dial-a-yield” technology, which allows the military to adjust the destructive force of the B61-12 before launch, for an explosive range of 0.3 to 50 kilotons of TNT. Many government officials believe that not only does rebuilding this bomb violate the Non-Proliferation Treaty, but that the U.S. is more likely to launch this nuclear weapon at targets.
According to Zachary Keck from the National Interest, “This combination of accuracy and low-yield make the B61-12 the most usable nuclear bomb in America’s arsenal.” Nuclear attack simulations show that if the U.S. were to counterstrike against China’s ICBM silos using a high-yield weapon, 3-4 million people could be killed. However with a low-yield nuclear weapon, this death toll could drop to as little as 700.* With casualties this low, using a nuclear weapon has become thinkable for the first time since the 1940s.
Of the 10 mostly post-communist countries that joined the European Union exactly a decade ago today, none has benefited more from membership than Poland. First and foremost, there’s the cash: the country received £56bn in development funds between 2007 and 2013, money that was used to build hundreds of kilometres of highways and express roads as well as youth sports facilities, modern sewerage systems, kindergartens and pre-schools.
Add to that the £60bn earmarked for Warsaw in the EU’s 2014-20 budget and the country will have enjoyed a windfall equivalent to roughly double the value of the Marshall Plan, calculated in today’s dollar figures. And that does not take into account the tens of billions of pounds that Polish farmers continue to receive in agricultural subsidies from Brussels. What we are witnessing is, without doubt, one of the largest wealth transfers between nations in modern history.
Then there is the boost the Polish economy has enjoyed thanks to its booming exports, which mostly head to other EU countries. A year before accession, Poland generated an annual GDP of £130bn; by 2013, that figure had grown to £305bn. Meanwhile, GDP per capita has risen from 44% of the EU average on accession to 67% today and is forecast to reach 74% by 2020. Small wonder then that some nine out of 10 Poles support their country’s membership of the EU, according to a survey last month.
Poland says it is bolstering its armed forces in the face of perceived Russian aggression, and says that is “has to be ready” for what it calls its greatest threat since the Cold War.
The Nato member, which borders the Russian military enclave Kaliningrad [NYT] to the north and the authoritarian pro-Russian state Belarus to the east, has increased its defence spending by 18 per cent.
Speaking to Sky News in Warsaw, Poland’s defence minister Tomasz Siemoniak said his country must be prepared for Russia to look to expand in eastern Europe beyond its annexation of Crimea.
He said: “We can see that Russia is going in the direction of restoring the influence it had at the time of the Soviet Union.
“If that is the case then the situation is not over by any means with Crimea and it will move on to the territories of other countries, that will either be targeted by aggression or by some other measures taken by the Russian federation, so we have to be ready.”
Mr Siemoniak’s comments come as Russia issued a new travel blacklist for Western political figures in retaliation for economic sanctions imposed over the Ukraine crisis.
And in a further deterioration of diplomatic relations between Russia and the West, Moscow’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov described the EU’s criticism of the travel bans as “absurd”.
“The reverse sanctions that were introduced applied to officials who have been most active in supporting the state coup that led to the start of persecution and discrimination of Russians in Ukraine,” Lavrov told a news conference, confirming Russia had drawn up the list.
The European Commission on Wednesday took the unprecedented step of triggering Article 7 of the EU Treaty against Poland, stepping up pressure on Warsaw over controversial changes to the judicial system by the country’s ruling conservatives.
The move means that the EU’s executive wants the bloc’s member states to declare that the rule of law in Poland is under threat.
Under the procedure, a majority of four-fifths of EU members — 22 countries — can now determine there is a “clear risk of a serious breach” of the bloc’s fundamental values.
The move could pave the way for sanctions being imposed on Poland, for example suspending its voting rights in the European Union. But penalties on Warsaw would have to be backed unanimously by EU member states, while Hungary has said it would not support sanctions.
Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjen vowed that his country would “defend Poland against unjust” and “political” measures.
The European Commission on Wednesday gave Warsaw three months to implement the EU executive’s recommendations on the rule of law.
Legal case against Poland
The Commission also filed a lawsuit against Warsaw to the Court of Justice of the European Union after Poland introduced a new law on “ordinary courts.”
Brussels claims the law is a threat to the independence of the judiciary in Poland. Poland’s ruling conservatives have rejected such charges.
I’ll add a follow-up diary later …