By Lex, on October 19, 2010
The decision to scrap HMS Ark Royal has even alarmed contributors to the left wing Guardian in the UK:
Today the Royal Navy is in danger of losing its main capability: that of being able to project such national power and authority that we have left to us – which is still considerable – wherever and whenever we chose to do so. “Talk softly, but have a big stick.” For centuries the navy has been the “big stick” that won us the greatest empire the world has ever seen – or ever will see again. This country is avowedly the seventh richest in the world, and is still greatly respected by many nations. However, we have sat on our laurels and for half a century since the end of the second world war we have been steadily disarming. By its end this country was spending 60% of its gross national product on the war which, Winston Churchill always maintained, could have been avoided had he been listened to in the early 1930s – the time of the great depression. We are now in almost precisely the same situation, and we should learn from history. For more than 20 years we have cut the budget for our armed forces year on year and poured the savings into the now bloated budgets of health, education and welfare that have seen increases of anything from 150% to 400%. At the same time the defence budget has been the sacrificial cow reduced by the same amount. We now invest barely 2p in every £1 of the nation’s GNP. We have a massive deficit (depression) yet we are still disarming. Our plea is stop it before we are weakened beyond redemption.
Even the Deity is invoked, for Gaia’s sake!
“It is upon the Navy under the providence of God that the safety, honour and welfare of this realm do chiefly attend.”
Since the Marshall Plan helped restore Europe to health, US arms have been the bulwark of Western Democracy. We have sacrificed blood and treasure to permit them the space and time to create cozy social welfare states. Apart from Britain, Europe has been so long defended by overseas defense expenditures that a sleepily comfortable people have come to believe that there are no real enemies to civil society left, that war is unthinkable and that military power is therefore unnecessary.
And who knows? Maybe they’re right. Perhaps mankind has secretly risen from its fallen state. But as an island nation prepares to dissolve its fleet and its Atlantic partner prepares, in fits and starts, to follow suit, I suspect we will very soon find out.
Update: A couple of quotes to buttress my preference for the Royal Navy over the royal family –
Prince Charles recently visited a Mumbai shantytown and praised its “sustainability” in which residents recycle their waste and build their own homes out of whatever materials come to hand. There is of course a word for this form of “sustainability”, it’s called grinding poverty.
And then there’s this:
“If I were reincarnated, I would wish to be returned to Earth as a killer virus to lower human population levels”. —Prince Phillip, World Wildlife Fund