|Volume 47 Number 5, March 11, 2017||ARCHIVE||HOME||JBCENTRE||SUBSCRIBE|
The government has recently announced what it refers to as its International Defence Engagement Strategy as part of its overall attempts to make Britain's "defence policy international by design". The strategy is part of the government's aim to establish a "Global Britain" as the country leaves the EU and means that the interventionist approach which has been favoured by previous governments will be developed still further. "Defence engagement" essentially entails increased collaboration or interference with other countries, depending on their relative military strength, integrating other armed forces with those of Britain's, enabling the government to intervene globally as the need arises. The Strategy report explains, "as we leave the EU we will be more prominent on the world stage than ever". In short it is a strategy of global intervention and interference which maintains the orientation of successive pro-war governments, a commitment to invest in war preparations and the enslaving "international aid", which is used as a subsidy for the big monopolies and a means to intervene in the economic affairs of poorer countries.
As it prepares to leave the EU the government is trying to create a rationale both for increased intervention in the affairs of other countries and to enhance its leadership role in the warmongering NATO alliance, the Anglo-American led United Nations Security Council and through various bilateral and multilateral agreements. Another key part of the strategy is to work more closely with the big armaments monopolies in order, through the export of arms, to establish close military, economic and diplomatic connections with other countries and strengthen the interests and influence of Britain's rulers throughout the world. At the same time, the report makes clear that what the government presents as humanitarian intervention, such as Britain's participation in the UN Prevention of Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative, are part of a wider strategy of global intervention for the same interests and influence. In the language of big powers there is the employment of both "hard" and "soft" power to achieve interventionist aims. The government's report makes much of the efforts to develop influence and intervention in certain areas, particularly in West Africa, the Gulf region and the Asia-Pacific area. It highlights, for example, the sabre-rattling activities of the RAF in collaboration with the US Air Force in South Korea last year. While in West Africa the report stresses that the British military has strengthened its neo-colonial "training and advisory support" in Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon, allegedly to assist in countering the threat of Boko Haram. In addition, under the auspices of the UN, British troops are also in Sudan and Somalia, while "special forces" are deployed in many countries throughout the world. The British military also co-operates with France in a Combined Joint Expeditionary force and with Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore in the Five Powers Defence Arrangements. Military co-operation agreements also exist with other Commonwealth countries and with the Gulf Co-operation Council members.
The most important aspect of the government's strategy to defend and advance the interests of the big monopolies and financial institutions is its continuing membership of the warmongering NATO alliance, which is provoking and attempting to bully Russia by placing troops along its western border. As part of this encirclement, which is a manifestation of the contention between the big powers to control Europe and dominate Asia, the government boasts that it is leading both the NATO Response Force and the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force this year; that along with France and Denmark it is sending an entire battle-group to Estonia and supporting the US battle-group deployed in Poland. The British armed forces will take part in sabre-rattling NATO exercises throughout the Baltic States and Poland, as well as in Romania. In addition, Britain is taking the lead in the development of Joint Expeditionary Force, alongside Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands and the Baltic States that can act as part of NATO and independently. In recent weeks, Britain's Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, has been robust in his defence of the importance of NATO, has reiterated the government's opposition to any EU military force, and has re-emphasised the government's bellicose attitude towards Russia. In the past, Britain and other NATO member used the situation in Ukraine as a rationale for their attitude towards Russia, while more recently they are raising the issue of alleged cyber-attacks. The government prides itself on being the closest ally of US imperialism within NATO and one of only a few countries meeting the US imposed target of 2% of GDP spent on war preparations.
As well as its pre-occupation with Russia, at the latest NATO summit there were also discussions on strengthening NATO's "Southern flank", a euphemism for much of the rest of the world. In this regard, the government was particularly keen to strengthen NATO's "training and capacity building" activity in Iraq but there was also an announcement that the organisation would provide "training" and "security support" for the armed forces of the Libyan government of Fayez al-Sarraj, the faction that has the support of Britain and its allies. Already commentators are pointing out that such a commitment is likely to lead to a greater deployment of NATO ground forces in Libya, since the so-called Government of National Accord controls very little Libyan territory and is opposed by other forces such as the Libyan National Army, which has the backing of Egypt and the UAE. Most significantly it also has the support of Russia. It was in this context that Michael Fallon recently issued his threat to Russia to keep its "paws" out of Libya. Speaking as if Libya was somehow a British colony he warned that Russia's interest in Libya was a direct threat to the NATO alliance.
The continuing membership of NATO and alliance with US imperialism, war preparations and subservience to the interests of the armaments monopolies are propelling Britain on a dangerous course, contributing to global instability and the increasing danger of world war. All this is done without even the consent of parliament, much less the people of Britain and presented as if it is vital for the defence of "British values" or "national security and defence". In short it is done in such a way as to deprive the people of any knowledge of what is being done in their name and depriving them of any decision-making power. All this points to the urgent need to find the means to deprive the imperialists and warmongers of this power to deprive the people of their decision-making power, to find the means to establish an anti-war government.