The aircraft carrier will claim ‘Britain is back’ but its purpose in fact is to deliver the ‘warlord’ agenda of world division

Jenny Clegg

The HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier strike group will shortly set off on its maiden voyage heading towards the South China Sea.  It is said to be the biggest military and aerial deployment since the Falklands war in 1982.

The journey is symbolic of the future direction for Britain for the coming decades – a clear demonstration that Global Britain with its IndoPacific tilt is being military-led.

Following Brexit, Johnson promised Britain’s return to its rightful place as an independent power, leading the world. Nothing could be further from the truth!  This new turn in direction of British foreign policy will join us in to the US hostile competition with China.

The aircraft-carrier itself is massive, its flight deck the length of 3 football pitches.  It is kitted out with state-of-the-art technologies (which may or may not work) and is carrying 18 F-35 fighter jets – somewhat less than its capacity of 72.  10 of these are from the USAF.  It is to be accompanied by 3 destroyers, again one is from the US, 2 frigates and a nuclear submarine armed with Tomahawk missiles.

The cost is huge: over £6bn for two aircraft carriers together, plus £1bn spent so far on the F-35s –  we are supposed to buy 138 in total which makes an additional £13bn.  This is a colossal misallocation of funds, the fruits of austerity.  With a crew on this journey of 1,600, the running costs alone amount to 15 per cent of the military budget or by rough calculation £8 or £9 bn.

The route takes the strike group through the Mediterranean, the Suez Canal, the Gulf, round India then up through the Malacca Straits into the South China Sea, passing numbers of trouble spots on the way.

The 28-week voyage will see the group visit 90 ports in 40 different countries – more than on fifth of the world’s nations.  Most are former colonies, and by rebuilding military relations the aim is to push these countries to line up in the new Cold War agenda.

Along the way, the strike group will serve as a focal point for regional joint military exercises.  The military manoeuvre planned in the South China Sea with the US and probably other states, possibly even Japan, will be highly provocative and dangerous. The area is a tinderbox: as warships and coastguard vessels mill around each other in the waters, there is a high risk of accident which could rapidly escalate into war.  In which case, we could find ourselves in armed conflict with another nuclear-armed state.

The decision to build two new aircraft carriers came from the same place as the one to extend Britain as a global nuclear power until the 2050s and the Iraq war, namely, the Tony Blair government.

Now the Tories’ plans for Global Britain set out in the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, identify China is a systemic competitor ‘‘challenging our prosperity, security and values’.  Its IndoPacific tilt follows the US plans for an Asian NATO initiated by Trump in the form of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue – the Quad – involving Australia, US, Japan and India.

This loose multilateral grouping has now been made a priority by Biden, who within his first 100 days in office upgraded the dialogue into a heads of state meeting.  Biden so far has not changed Trump’s key policies on China, and is even stepping up the action sending warships and destroyers into the Taiwan Straits.  He’s taking a more ideological approach aiming to draw together a ‘summit of democracies’ to stand against authoritarian regimes.

The US establishment has been taking stock: the unipolar moment has gone; China clearly was able to withstand Trump’s pressure. Recognising the US can no longer go-it-alone, hardline Cold Warriors are calling on key allies to form a single economic, technological and military bloc – aligned according to ‘America First’ priorities and sharing the military costs of the agenda – so as to exert enough pressure on China to bring it to heel, subordinate to US leadership.

Biden’s selective multilateralism is designed to re-order the regions of Asia along Cold War lines by finally demolishing the cornerstones of their post war and post colonial order: in the Middle East, the division between the Gulf States and Israel over Palestine; India’s principle of non-alignment; South East Asian independence and Japan’s Article 9 of the constitution, known as the Peace Clause, renouncing war as a sovereign right.

The Queen Elizabeth will claim ‘Britain is back’ as it travels through the Middle East, India, South East and East Asia but its purpose in fact is to deliver the ‘warlord’ agenda of world division.

In the Middle East, it will bolster Britain’s military presence allowing the US shift its focus more on China, and whilst India under Modi is drawing closer to the US, the UK aims to assist this: at a recent webinar, a speaker from the IISS itemised ways the UK could insert itself into India-China dialogue on issues of Afghanistan, nuclear deterrence, vaccines and so on.

In South East Asia, the US has long harboured plans for a regional alliance structure similar to, and joined with, NATO.  Now the aircraft-carrier group will give more backbone to the multilateral military exercises carried out under the Five Power Defence Arrangement that the UK has with Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand.

The end goal is the renewal of military links with Japan.  This has historical significance given the role of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance in Japan’s emergence an aggressive militarist imperialist state in the early 20th century.  Britain’s role will be  to encourage the Japanese military to break its post war constraints and once again to take active part overseas in regional naval exercises.

Travelling from the Middle East in a circle round China to Japan, the armada led by the Queen Elizabeth aircraft-carrier is symbolic of Britain’s new role as subcontractor-in-chief of US anti-China foreign and military policy.  It remains to be seen how China will react.

24 May 2021 by Jenny Clegg

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