The government’s rhetoric about Britain being more assertive on the world stage is increasingly disconnected from reality

Richard Spence

Royal Marines conduct wader drills during OP BATAN

Last month, a group of activists staged a small demonstration in Portsmouth to coincide with the launch of the UK’s new carrier strike group. We noted in our press release at the time that the group would be travelling through what the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists accessed to be the most likely sites where a nuclear war could start. We also drew attention to a recent quote from former Sea Admiral Alan West (he played a key role in the carriers’ development) who said:

I still think with a proper balanced Royal Navy task group, with the F-35s, nuclear submarines and Type 45 destroyers that if we met up with a group of their ships – particularly their old, battered carrier (the Admiral Kuznetsov), which is rubbish – it would be a very good ending, we’d sink them all and be home for tea and medals.’

This mindset was evident in documents that were misplaced by an MOD official beside a bus stop in Kent and given to the BBC over the weekend. The BBC’s analysis of the links said only aircraft buzzing overhead and radio warnings were expected in a worst case scenario which seems to be the case as British officials expressed ‘surprise’ after the incident.

Anyone who was paying attention could have seen this coming, but the current government are seemingly disconnected from reality. Rhetoric of Britain being more assertive on the world stage from ministers, admirals and columnists in the Times with headlines such as “HMS Queen Elizabeth to stand up against Kremlin in show of British seapower” demonstrate such a mentality. Meanwhile France and Germany appearing to be seeking dialogue with Russia and President Biden turned down sending American warships to the Crimean coast.

The carrier group which HMS Defender peeled off from will be heading to the South China Sea, an area where even America will not send aircraft carriers and where it has recently been revealed that during a conflict that broke out in 1958 the American Joint Chiefs of Staff pressured President Eisenhower to start a nuclear war in 1958. The carrier itself has been reported to have a radar system which was ‘too sensitive to use’ back in January. This resulted in frantic efforts to get it operational in time for use. Considering the HMS Defender incident, previous faults by the UK military such as (unarmed) nuclear missiles being launched the wrong way and these top secret documents being left outside a bus stop it’s clear Britain has no place taking these actions.

This is especially clear as the reasoning used to justify these ‘freedom of navigation missions’ is not followed by the government. A UN court recently declared that the UK has no sovereignty over the Chagos Islands which had its population cleared by the UK to make way for a US military base decades ago. At least in Crimea’s case the annexation had the populations overwhelming consent and nobody within China, Russia or the anti-war movement advocates the Chagos Islands occupation being resolved with military force.

The UK government has managed to be the most irrational and hawkish country within NATO. Instead of engaging in this hypocritical warmongering it should be serving its own population’s needs. At our own protest in Portsmouth we noted that the cost of the two Queen Elizabeth class carriers is more than Labour’s 2019 manifesto set aside for constructing 100,000 council houses. The government has declared it will continue its current course and that it reserves the right to approach the Crimean coast and South China Sea and so we must continue to make it clear to the public that this brinkmanship is a great danger to all the worlds safety.

29 Jun 2021 by Richard Spence

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