38 2 mins 9 yrs


There’s a row in government right now. The Treasury wants to impose spending cuts on the military which the MOD is attempting to resist. It’s nothing new. Tory governments always slash military spending. It’s their habit. What a coincidence though that the General Ray Odierno, (US) Chief of Staff of the Army, should choose this of all weeks to pipe up about British defence cuts.

His worry is that cuts will jeopardise joint US/UK military operations, and that Britain’s shrinking forces “will no longer be able to work alongside the Americans”. Oh no, we’ll have to stop joining these catastrophic wars all over the world. Instead of emptying the treasury on death and misery thousands of miles away, the Armed Forces might have to think about something else, like defending Britain maybe.

Sorry General, it’ll be a right bummer not being able to follow your adventures in future. Have fun and send us a postcard.

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  1. David, Agit, Ernest, Aileen

    The British defense budget has been shrinking in real terms since forever.

    Should the UK cut its defense even further? Should you increase it?

    I’ve advocated for ages here for the UK to increase its defense budget. For your own defense needs.

    What say you?

  2. Well said Pete. Let`s say no to more neo-con wars. But there are plenty of this parish that say yes, more wars plesae.

  3. Phantom,

    Personally I would like to see our military capability increased and increased dramatically.
    Europe has sheltered under the US umbrella for so long that as the old saying goes
    “familiarity breeds contempt”.
    You are being taken for granted by European nations that have forgotten the importance of a strong defensive capability.

    I think we need to become more flexible, bearing in mind that there are lots of easily portable rockets capable of bringing down a jet or a helicopter or incapacitating a tank. We need a strong navy with troop/transport/aircraft carriers but not battleships, plus smaller more flexible craft.

    Having said that we in the UK should stop following the US into ill thought out adventures that create more problems than they solve. We need leaders with balls, leaders who will say “No, this is not a good idea, and we won’t participate.”

    I agree with the Troll there is going to be a big meltdown in the Middle East before too long, certainly a few more skirmishes, but if the Islamic world continues to become more radicalised/extremist/purist/devout, I think there will be an all out effort to wipe Israel off the map.

    Also I think the western countries may be facing their own internal social conflicts, in which Islamic extremists implement plans (I am quite sure they are being worked on already) to stir up hatred, disorganise our police and military forces and use skills learnt in existing theatres of war.. ambushes, diversions, terror, ieds etc.

    That’s why I think we will need to beef up our military.

  4. Agit

    Wow, that is thoughtful.

    I will only add

    The UK has not always followed the US on these things. You refused to take part in the Vietnam War, and correctly so.

    And the seeds of the Iraq War were planted by Tony Blair, who was giving speeches about the Saddam threat before GW Bush was even elected. I remember this well. It is amazing that so few now do.

  5. Phantom,
    I think the US used material provided by the UK government to help justify the Iraqi invasion.
    But I don’t know how much the neoCons in the US government at the time also had connections within your weapons industry (kickbacks etc) and therefore seized on any material to justify what they intended to do.( Didn’t Colin Powell have a problem with the invasion?)
    I do think the Republican party has become corrupt, and the Democrats. Both are parodies of their original selves.
    There is a lot of cynicism abroad. You may be in the “bread and circuses” period, pioneered by the Roman Empire. 😉

  6. There were -no- ” neocons ” in the Bush administration. I know that its become quite the trendy word in England, but I would avoid it. It does not mean ” interventionist “

  7. I bow to your superior knowledge Phantom, but was there a provable link between some senior figures in that Administration and the arms industry?
    If you think about 9/11 for instance, it seems that the Bush family had strong and longstanding links with the Saudis, and (I think) it has been shown that a large number of Saudis departed shortly before the attacks took place. I don’t mean there was a conspiracy 😉 but obviously someone knew something. Perhaps the Saudis themselves knew something was going down.

    The great problem we face is that we don’t know what is going on behind the scenes in terms of the oil rich- economy oil dependent nations.

  8. I always thought a NeoCon was a Republican politician who wanted the USA to be great, but wasn’t averse to outsourcing. A politician who wanted to use American military power to project American influence by setting up regimes friendly to the US and who believed that the American democratic/consumerist way of life was what all the rest of the world should want.
    He said he wanted small government, but he KNEW what was best for the American people, and believed HIS interests coincided with American interests. I think it was a deeply cynical manipulation of good American values, complete with “good ole boys” wearing big hats striking deals with one another in cigar smoke filled rooms.

  9. A neocon is basically a liberal American who has changed his views dramatically, and later sees the need for military intervention in irredeemably bad regimesthat are seen as threats.

    The first ” neocons ” were Jewish .

    The use of the word is usually as an uninformed curse word by Europeans. It has no meaning, like the use of the word ” communist ” by the uninformed Tea Party Confusion.

  10. I found this definition..
    ” Neoconservative
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    38 up, 13 down

    Also called neo-con, this political philosophy is a combination of liberal and traditional conservative views.

    On domestic issues, Neocons say they are for limited government, free market solutions and things like that. However, when non-interventionist tactics do not yield the result they want, they have no qualms about using government power to garner the desired result.

    For foreign policy issues, they tend to refrain from using diplomacy. Neocons tend to participate in nation-building in the attempt to set up desired governments in other countries. They claim to support liberal democracies and human rights abroad but generally are more than willing to abandon this goal if it won’t create the desired effect. Neocons usually want to use massive military force to solve most international issues despite the fact that very few of them have ever served.

    Neocons see the world in binary, good vs evil and us vs them, terms. They are generally upper middle and upper class white people with college educations (ie the stereotypical WASP) but there is also a strong neocon segment among poor whites with little education (ie the stereotypical redneck). Tending to be socially conservative, they often belong to evangelical Protestant Christian churches and claim to have strong moral values. They love the status-quo.
    Neoconservative people primarily belong to conservative groups and parties such as the GOP and NRA. This leads to power struggles in these groups as tradition conservatives, paleoconservative and conservative libertarians (all sharing similar values) fight the neocons for control and to be the face of the group.

    The most famous neocon is George W Bush

  11. Don’t give up Phantom.
    Definitions can be very blinkered and rigid, and anyway that was an American definition..
    You didn’t answer my question about connections between senior figures in that Administration and the weapons industry.

  12. Agit8ed-

    That’s a flawed piece.

    GWB was just a tool who probably doesn’t know if it’s day or night. Neocons, true to their Trotskyite roots, are massive socialists at home and purely interventionist abroad. There’s nothing free market there and they have nothing in common with paleoconservatives.

  13. “That’s a flawed piece.”
    You mean the American definition or mine?
    An American definition of a Paleoconservative..

    ” Paleoconservatives or ‘old conservatives’ are not white supremacists or white anything-ists. Paleocons are simply Constitutional conservatives who believe in small government, low spending, national sovereignty, and maximum personal freedom. A neoconservative, by contrast, is simply a liberal Republican. In order to properly illustrate what paleoconservativism is, we must draw parallels between paleoconservatives and neoconservatives (aka “the Republican base”).

    A paleoconservative believes foremost in the Constitution as the highest law of the land. Any law or measure that rejects, misinterprets or by-passes the Constitution is unacceptable. Neocons, on the other hand, can frequently be heard making statements like “The Constitution isn’t a suicide note” to justify unconstitutional or Constitution-bending actions. Mind, this only applies in the neocon mind if the actions are undertaken by a Republican president or congress.

    A paleoconservative is a firm believer in the Jeffersonian view of smaller, less powerful government. Neocons claim to believe in smaller government, but frequently overlook that in 8 years, a Republican president and congress doubled the size and cost of government. The main difference between a neocon and a paleocon is that the neocons will give you a pass on this behavior as long as you have an ‘(R)’ beside your name, where paleocons will not. Most paleocons are in favor of repealing the Income Tax as a good incentive for our government to spend less and reward achievement rather than punish it. The neocon has given very little thought how to curb government spending or why it’s important – they just like when someone promises to, preferably in between clever digs at Democratic senators.

    A paleoconservative believes in hard currency and a balanced budget. The framers of the Constitution called for United States currency to be based on precious metals to avoid a devalued currency and inflation such as we have today. Paleocons would also like to balance the budget before we borrow more money from China than our grandchildren’s grandchildren could ever possibly repay. Neocons assume that this is a non-issue because of the Bush tax cuts. The budget is already balanced and we have 0 national debt because a Republican president would certainly demand that it be so. And even if said President did not, “it’s not that big of a deal”. And even if it was a big deal, not wanting China to own this country is something only liberals worry about. It is of little importance to the neocon that pork-barrel spending also doubled under their president, because fiscal responsibility takes a backseat to party politics in in the mind of the neocon. ”

    Personally Pete,
    I find definitions dangerous because they force people into straitjackets, and people are in fact incredibly complex.
    You for instance, are a very good example. 🙂

  14. I am indeed a complex man, Agit8ed. But then I’m also not complex. It’s a part of my simple complexity.

    There is a problem with definitions. For example look at the American use of “liberal”. There’s nothing liberal about the modern day (American) liberal. A great and honourable label was royally hijacked by people who are the opposite of liberal.

    Your definition of neocons just above is better, though is doesn’t draw out the distinctions, in my view, between the neocons and paleocons (or the libertarian Old Right which had dominated). There was a war inside the GOP between the two. Bill Buckley’s repellent neocons won it by the 60s and the GOP has been an arm of the state-socialist war machine ever since.

    Like all good Trots, neocons have appropriated their enemy’s language (in this case, about free markets and liberty and the constitution etc, and we see here parallels with how the far Progressive Left appropriated the moniker “liberal”), while remaining enemies themselves of those notions.

  15. Pete,
    I don’t really like definitions of this nature. I recognise that there are hard, powerful men who manipulate -but not in the way that Allan thinks (worldwide domination conspiracies). Cartels and the like yes.
    But applying definitions to most people stereotypes them and doesn’t allow for the developmental/parental expectation/bullying/disappointment/failure type stuff that we try to hide but nevertheless has gone towards building that construct we present to the world as “Me”.
    I think that’s partly why American politics is becoming so rigid and cynical. You’re either this or that. No in-betweens.
    Anyway apart from that, look at Phantom’s original question and give a Pete the Complex take on it..

  16. Agit8ed –

    Phantom’s question: “I’ve advocated for ages here for the UK to increase its defense budget. For your own defense needs. What say you?”

    For our own defence needs, the budget is fine as it is. Ours is still the fourth largest national military budget. If we need to increase spending so do at least every other country below us.

    The point is how you spend it. If we gear up for wars of occupation in the Middle East then we’re not gearing up for a defensive military actions, which is what is happening. An island nation like ours needs a strong fleet and air cover for national defence. Instead, a huge amount of money is blown on vehicles which wouldn’t be required for national defence, but which are required to ferry troops around some sandpit. Meanwhile, we’ve scrapped our aircraft carriers, the new ones are some years away from launch and even then it’ll be some more years before they can carry aircraft. It doesn’t seem wise strategy to me.

    If we’re going to have the fourth largest military spend (behind the US, China and Russia, three countries with much larger populations and land areas) then at least we should make it relevent to some defensive requirement. Just because this is 2013 does not mean in any way that we will not need such defensive capabilities in future. Every generation thinks it has kicked war into history.

  17. David

    Do you think that the UK defense budget should be increased?

    If there is an attack on Iran, should the UK be part of the attacking force?

  18. Phantom,
    You’ve added to your original question.
    “If there is an attack on Iran, should the UK be part of the attacking force?”
    The only pre-emptive attack I can see would probably be by Israel. She might attack in the event that the Iranian regime (lets agree on that one) fires rockets at her or more likely, has a proxy group (or a poxy group if you prefer) fire them instead.
    That way she could deny involvement and accuse a gullible world that Israel is the aggressor.

  19. Sorry,
    that should say
    “the only attack I could see would be a pre-emptive one by Israel.”

  20. Phantom

    I am really not in a position to judge. For that I would need to know what the requirement is. the implications of not funding, the implications of funding (inc implications of not spending it elsewhere), where the money comes from, what the options are and the implications of those options.

  21. Agit

    What about in the days/ months after a pre emptive attack?

    I don’t see Israel doing this on its own for many reasons, including unfavorable geography

    Would you want the UK to help Israel and its allies in any way, directly or indirectly?

    How many RAF planes?

  22. I reverse order..
    we’ve got more gliders than we got planes. If the wind’s favourable we’d be there i a week to ten days..
    The operational RAF planes we do have would be quickly surrounded by members of our Iranian community and supporters and forbidden to fly..

    I don’t see what the point would be in putting boots on Iranian turf. Surely by now we realise that that doesn’t turn out too well..

    I think Israel would carry out a surgical air strike -perhaps with covert help- and wait to see what the fall out would be.
    I doubt very much if we or Europe would get involved except to send letters of protest that Israel had broken another 90 UN resolutions..

  23. Agit8ed –

    “I don’t see what the point would be in putting boots on Iranian turf. Surely by now we realise that that doesn’t turn out too well..”

    You’re not a power elitist, and their interests do not coincide with yours.

  24. It is extremely doubtful if any force could subdue Iran, let alone Israel. There would be no practical benefit as the Iranians would close ranks to defend their country, and the nature of warfare has changed dramatically anyway.

  25. ot
    I found out my Italian Scarpa boots were actually made in Roumania.
    I wonder if the guy who put them together is coming over next year?

  26. //Would you want the UK to help Israel and its allies //

    Who are Israel’s allies?

    By the way, Phantom, if Israel decides to launch attacks against Iran, do you think the US should support it?

  27. Agit8ed –

    It must be a new plant. Until a couple of years ago all Scarpas were still made in Italy.

    What did you do with your boots/feet in the end?

  28. This is a problem that is not going to be solved with a surgical strike.

    I would reserve all options, but if Israel were to do a strike against the wishes of the US, I would not support them.

    Who are Israel’s allies? I’m afraid we’re it. We’re the only ones writing checks.

  29. //if Israel were to do a strike //

    Another topic, but isn’t it really weird how this “crisis” seems to ebb and flow, ?

    For a few months it is a real urgent crisis, and all the talk’s of red lines and pre-emptive strikes in the near future, then it dies down again for a few months and you don’t hear a word until the next emergency comes.

    I wonder if the present lull is in any way related to the last massive US cash injection.

  30. The cyber war attacks against the Iran project and the lasering out of a few Iranian nuke scientists has cooled things down

  31. //out of a few Iranian nuke scientists has cooled things down//

    I doubt if that’s the reason. Israel was crying out for red lines long after the last killing of an Iranian scientist.

    Either some successful undercover work is going, or new intelligence has been gathered (confirming what I’ve been claiming all along: that Iran is nowhere near a nuke) or the whole thing is a bluff.

  32. “What did you do with your boots/feet in the end?”

    Double amputation and a pair of old lawnmower wheels grafted on.
    After seeing me mow the lawn Mrs Agit8ed is now reconsidering her threat to trade me in for an electric blanket…

    Actually I have kept them.
    The fault as they say dear Pete,
    “Is not in our Scarpas, But in our feet, that (specifically) my left big toe is sore on the underneath and especially on the side.
    I think it’s a doctor job, but as my annual bath is not due for another couple of months it wouldn’t be fair to pull my socks off in front of him.
    (He too is asthmatic..)

  33. You can still get the boots fitted more precisely.

    The shape can be altered to “blow out” any areas which might a touch tight. I was going to mention footbeds as well but I recall (I think) you have one fitted. Go back and ask the fitter about lacing too. Go during the week when it’s quiter and get all the info you can. There are many ways of making boots fit differently.

    Then slap on plenty of proofing and walk then into a softer condition.

    Are they fabric or leather?

  34. The boots are leather Pete,
    I don’t think it is the boots,
    it is my toe.
    I have those green superfeet insoles and have moved them around from walking boots to steel toecapped work boots with the same result.
    Your “then slap on plenty of proofing and walk then into a softer condition” is a good suggestion though.
    We would still like to do at least a bit of the Camino d’Santiago walk though. Especially as my sister and her husband are all fired up from watching “The Way”.
    I shall have to talk to my doctor and see what he thinks.

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