Fifteen Years

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I wrote the following five years ago today. It still seems appropriate now for the fifteenth anniversary of that horrid day.

There isn’t one of us who doesn’t remember what we were doing. I was having a day off and was watching Good Morning, America and I will remember to my dying day Diane Sawyer’s “Oh, my God!”.

I was very lucky, though, although I have family working in the financial district, I lost no one close to me. But in a very real sense they were all my family; the workers, the Firemen and Police doing their everyday heroics, the passerby. They were all our family: the family of the free. For this was an attack on freedom. For this was an attack on the free market system and the military that protects it.

To me then and now it hearkened back to another ‘Day of Infamy‘: 7 December 1941, both in the manner of the attack, a sneak attack on a peaceful country, and in how I instantly understood, as I never had, what my parents and their generation had felt on that awful Sunday afternoon.

And I knew something else, even as they had, I now lived in a country at war, where nothing short of victory was acceptable. I thought my country was united in that, I still think most of it is. I also knew that the retribution of America and her allies would be terrible and no interference by anyone would be tolerated. For indeed “They had sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat”.

And I was heartened by the reaction of the world, especially this:

Nobody ever showed their support better, which is not surprising, after all, the Queen has known us well since she was Princess Elizabeth driving an ambulance in the Second World War.

Another thing I understand now was my Dad’s and his generation’s respect for Roosevelt even if they disagreed with almost all of his policies, he was the war president. I now have that feeling, even love, for George W. Bush.

We really are an exceptional nation, nobody in the world, outside of the Anglosphere understood our determination, in Bevin Alexander’s words “to proceed door to door in the very heart of the Arab-Muslim world, to make clear that we were ready to kill and to die to stop our society from being undermined, and to say, gun in hand, to the people, and to the governments who permit terrorists to exist, “What is it that you don’t understand about leaving our country alone?”” And I find it notable that those stalwart Allies of the Anglosphere are marching forward to the battle in step with us, as it has been for nearly a century now.

And so, almost before we knew what was happening the first counterattack was underway. It ended in a smoking hole in Pennsylvania, it was a very expensive counterattack but it was successful. And like the targets of the attack itself, it was conducted by ordinary Americans, no different than you and me.  The counterattack launched with that simple command, “Let’s Roll”.

The time for our superb military had not yet come. But it would, with dire consequences for our enemies.

Bin Laden should have studied us better, for indeed the man who said this was half American:

We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land, and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be.

The American people are difficult to turn into an enemy, for we much prefer to be everyone’s  friend, but attacking the homeland will do it, every time. There is no more fearsome enemy in the history of the world than the aroused people of America.

A quick look back will show this. On 7 December 1941 the battleship USS Arizona was sunk on battleship row in Pearl Harbor. 35 months later, the other old battleships of the 7th Fleet, also sunk at Pearl Harbor, sank the Japanese fleet at Leyte Gulf, in the last surface gun action ever fought. The new battleships in the 3rd fleet were off chasing the IJN’s aircraft carriers. Moored close to the Arizona is the USS Missouri on whose deck 11 months after Leyte Gulf, in Tokyo Bay, Imperial Japan surrendered. Yes, we are impatient, and sometimes fickle, but do not mess with our homeland.

It never fails to amaze me how much the enemies of the United States rely upon the goodness and restraint of the United States. The Taliban who supported al Qaeda knew that their sheer existence beyond the next 30 minutes depended exclusively on the forbearance of the United States.

If we were the imperial power that we are so often accused of being, Afghanistan would now be the world’s largest sheet of glass. If a city rebelled against Imperial Rome, the retribution was that every living thing, right down to the dogs, was put to the sword, the city was destroyed and the ruins sown with salt, so nothing would grow. I dare you to find Carthage on a current map.

Instead, we very carefully target our retribution on those that we believe are guilty. Indeed, we have developed weapons that allow us to target an individual  from several hundred miles away. Instead of our massive air raids in World War II we now use a stealth aircraft with individually targeted missiles. I have seen reports that say that the Pakistanis, when they see one of our drones overhead, calmly go about their business, knowing that only the target is in danger, as opposed to the panic when their own air force is attacking.

This is the way that America, a country that values each and every human life makes war.

This is America the Avenger. Not on the innocent people of cities and countries, but upon the malefactors hiding in its back streets and hills.

This is America at war. Not destroying cities and countries but only individual enemies.

This is America, the superpower that can destroy any country on Earth in an hour but chooses to put its own sons and daughters at risk to find only the guilty.

This is America, where steel from the World Trade Center now is incorporated into the bow of the USS New York, leading the ship into harm’s way.

This is America, the first revolutionaries, who learned to control the revolution, but not to let it die and slip back into tyranny, about whom our President said, long ago:

  We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans—born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage—and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

and who later that day also said:

  Now the trumpet summons us again—not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are—but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation”—a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.  Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind? Will you join in that historic effort?

  In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility—I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it—and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

This is the America that I grew up in and love, and I will not allow the destruction of, from without or within. For above all others, this hill, with its city gleaming bright, is worth dying for and worth living for.

Many things have happened since President Kennedy said those words on a cold January morning.

The Berlin Wall was built up and torn down.

The World Trade Center was built up and knocked down.

The specter of the Soviet Union no longer threatens the world.

The threat of Islamofascism has arisen from the shadows.

From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain that had descended across the Continent, has now been lifted.* Old and proud states of eastern Europe have been liberated. Many having seen what America believes, in action, have become proud allies of America.

Al Qaeda decided that the old American will had been eroded and has had that illusion shattered, and is on its way to destruction. Almost weekly we hear of the demise of more of its leadership as America again sorts out the guilty from the innocent.

Many things have happened since 9/11/01 also. How will it all work out? We will never know. This is the eternal war between liberty and slavery.

As Cassandra of Villainous Company put it on 27 June 2005:

Our own Revolution was not without blemish. Innocent men were tarred and feathered. Families torn asunder. People bled, and suffered and starved. There was even [shudder] terrorism. But it lit a flame that has burned brightly for over 200 years. There are signs that this is happening in the MiddleEast: Arabs are looking at election day in Iraq and Afghanistan and demanding democratic reforms in Egypt and Lebanon and Kuwait. The fire in men’s (and women’s) hearts is spreading.

We would like certainty. We would like painless progress. We would like closure. We will not get any of those things.

On July 4th we must ask ourselves, what do we believe? Our military – brand new immigrants who enlist before the ink is dry on their visas – believe in those words so strongly that they will lay down their lives to spread the fire of democracy. They also believe (as I do) that their purpose is to serve American foreign policy aims, no matter how abstract and long-term they may seem. No matter how difficult to explain to the American people. No matter how frustrating in the short term.

What kind of world will we bequeath to our grandchildren? It may be that long before we know. But our actions today will have an incalculable effect on that far-off tomorrow. And if our policy is not firmly grounded in the spread of those long-ago words:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights

…then I wonder if we shall not be the first Americans who fail to pass the blessings of liberty on to the next generation?

“The only thing necessary for evil to triumph. is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke.

And so as we remember and celebrate the lives of the victims of that horrible day ten years ago, so we must also renew our determination that their sacrifice and the sacrifices of our military since shall not have been in vain. For as another President said:

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Ultima Cumaei venit iam carminis ætas;
Magnus ab integro sæclorum nascitur ordo.
iam redit et Virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna,
iam nova progenies cælo demittitur alto.

From the  Eclogue of Virgil:

which translates as follows:
Now comes the final era of the Sibyl’s song;
The great order of the ages is born afresh.
And now justice returns, honored rules return;
now a new lineage is sent down from high heaven.

* Adapted from Sir Winston Churchill at Fulton, Missouri.


So, I said and believed then, five long years ago. Do I still? I want to, but as the wastage of our young people in foreign wars, for no good purpose continues, as well as the degeneration of our society. I have come to doubt that our leadership has the interest of America in its heart. Perhaps it does, and I misread the signs. I hope so. Or perhaps we will see a change in direction, for truly all things are possible, under God.

In the meantime, we must carry on, such that if this Republic shall last for a thousand years, our descendants will remember us with pride.

Of Danegeld and Iranians

s749518301978605088_c4_i3_w640From Fortune Magazine

The controversial $400 million payment that the U.S. sent to Iran in January, just as four American hostages were released—a planeload of Euros, Swiss Francs and other currencies—was only the first of three American cash deliveries to the country, the Obama administration reportedly told lawmakers on Tuesday.

During the 19 days following the first shipment, the U.S. sent two more planeloads of cash, totaling $1.3 billion, to Tehran, reports The Wall Street Journal. The two planeloads, which passed through Europe on Jan. 22 and Feb. 5, followed the same route as the earlier payment, a congressional aide who was briefed told the Journal. In the first payment, an Iranian cargo plane picked up the money in Geneva.

via TREASON: Obama admits he really payed 1.7 BILLION to the Iranians – The Right Scoop

Ralph Peters called it a bribe, and the post that I took that quote from calls it Jizya. In neither case do I think they are exactly wrong, but I think it something else.

When we combine it with the continuing naval harassment in the gulf, it reminds me of something.

We all know that Obama is not fond of the Anglo-Saxon part of his heritage, or indeed of England/Great Britain/ the United Kingdom, many would add the United States to the list. That’s as may be, but it begs the question, has he learned the lessons that came down in that heritage? We learned many years ago about this.

More than a century ago Rudyard Kipling brought our attention to our ancient wisdom, when he wrote

Dane-Geld

A.D. 980-1016
It is always a temptation to an armed and agile nation
To call upon a neighbour and to say: —
“We invaded you last night–we are quite prepared to fight,
Unless you pay us cash to go away.”

And that is called asking for Dane-geld,
And the people who ask it explain
That you’ve only to pay ’em the Dane-geld
And then you’ll get rid of the Dane!

It is always a temptation for a rich and lazy nation,
To puff and look important and to say: —
“Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
We will therefore pay you cash to go away.”

And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we’ve proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.

It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
For fear they should succumb and go astray;
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
You will find it better policy to say: —

“We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that pays it is lost!”

And that is why Saxon silver was found all over the Viking world, they hadn’t learned that yet, and that is also why at the end of the Viking age, we find the King of Norway and the Duke of Normandy contesting the Danish heir to the English throne.

Anyone who was bullied as a child knows the answer, though. When confronted on the schoolyard, win or lose, one must stand up to the bully, or the bullying will continue. Too bad that our PC Administration never learned that lesson. Even Thomas Jefferson learned; that’s how the USMC got their sword, right in that neighborhood, in Lybia to be exact.

And as we are relearning to our sorrow, nobody respects the man who pays the Danegeld.

Reminded me of this, as well

They used to say that you don’t have to worry about that angering the United States because they might drop a couple of hundred bombs on you. You have to worry about angering the United States because they might drop two bombs on you.

Who should rule Syria? Nobody

Here’s a bit of common sense:

The long civil war in Syria is still far from conclusion. Any real possibility of rebel victory ended with the entry of Russian forces last autumn — but while the initiative is now with the Assad regime, the government’s forces are also far from a decisive breakthrough. So who, if anyone, should the UK be backing in the Syrian slaughterhouse, and what might constitute progress in this broken and burning land?

It ought to be fairly obvious why a victory for the Assad regime would be a disaster for the West. Assad, an enthusiastic user of chemical weapons against his own people, is aligned with the most powerful anti–western coalition in the Middle East. This is the alliance dominated by the Islamic Republic of Iran.[…]

Not a friend of Western Freedom, then.

In November last year, David Cameron claimed to have identified 70,000 ‘moderate’ rebels ready to challenge Islamic State in the east of Syria. That figure was a myth. Yours truly was among the very first western journalists to spend time in Syria with the rebels. I recently returned from a trip to southern Turkey, where I interviewed fighters and commanders of the main rebel coalitions. With no particular joy but a good deal of confidence, I can report that the Syrian rebellion today is dominated in its entirety by Sunni Islamist forces. And the most powerful of these are the most radical.

The most potent rebel coalition in Syria today is called Jaish al-Fatah (Army of Conquest). It has three main component parts: Ahrar al-Sham (Free Men of the Levant), a Salafist jihadi group; Jabhat al-Nusra, until recently the official franchise of al–Qaeda in Syria, now renamed Jabhat Fatah al-Sham; and Faylaq al-Sham (Legion of the Levant), whose ideology derives from the Muslim Brotherhood branch of Sunni political Islam.

Nor here, either. I fail to see any reason we should not root for both of these bunches to lose. Nothing in either their belief systems or their actions leads me to believe they have anything in common with anybody concerned with freedom.

Like the author, I see no chance of Syria emerging from this mess as a unified state, that gone with the hot wind of war. Two of the contenders, one backed by Russia and Iran, the other by Saudi Arabia (and others) offer no chance of freedom to Syrians, or even much chance of living really. But there is a third choice, and amazingly, the US and the UK stumbled into them.

The West, too, has established a successful and effective patron-client relationship — with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. Dominated by the Kurdish YPG, but including also Arab tribal forces such as the Sanadid militia, this is the force which is reducing the dominions of the Islamic State in eastern Syria, in partnership with western air power and special forces.

In contrast to the sometimes farcical attempts to identify partners among the Syrian Sunni rebels, the partnership with the Syrian Democratic Forces works. Weaponry does not get passed on to or taken by radical jihadi groups, because the SDF is at war with such groups. Training and assistance produces a united force with a single chain of command. And this force captures ground and frees Syrians living under the vicious rule of Isis.

I learned long ago, when I first read von Clausewitz, not to mention Liddell Hart, that one is wise to reinforce success and starve failure. This would appear to be a very good example of this, And so we should.

What matters is that three outcomes be avoided: the Assad regime should not be permitted to reunite Syria under its rule, the Islamist rebels should similarly not be allowed to establish a jihadi state in the country, and the Islamic State should not be permitted to remain in existence. By strengthening the alliance with the SDF, utilising it and its allies to take Raqqa and destroy Isis in the east, and then allowing its component parts to establish their rule in eastern and northern Syria, these objectives can be attained. For a change, the US and its allies have found an unambiguously anti-Islamist and anti-jihadi force in the Middle East which has a habit of winning its battles. This is a success which should be reinforced.

via Who should rule Syria? Nobody

Indeed it should. And you know the other thing, as long as the SDF fights and holds their own (or wins) the other sides can not even start to get complacent. Liddell Hart famously said this

Helplessness induces hopelessness, and history attests that loss of hope and not loss of lives is what decides the issue of war.

And that has a goodly bit to do with keeping the common people’s hope alive.

56 Movie Mistakes: The Longest Day

2014-06-05-robertmitchumlongestday-thumb

Then there is this attempt to denigrate the movie The Longest Day recounting the Overlord operation to liberate Europe.

The Longest Day, which was made in black and white, features a large ensemble cast including John Wayne, Kenneth More,Richard Todd, Robert Mitchum, Richard Burton, Sean Connery, Henry Fonda, Red Buttons, Peter Lawford, Eddie Albert, Jeffrey Hunter, Stuart Whitman, Tom Tryon, Rod Steiger, Leo Genn, Gert Fröbe, Irina Demick, Bourvil, Curt Jürgens, Robert Wagner, Paul Anka and Arletty.

Many of these actors played roles that were virtually cameo appearances and several cast members such as Fonda, Genn, More, Steiger and Todd saw action as servicemen during the war, with Todd being among the first British officers to land in Normandy in Operation Overlord and participated in the assault on Pegasus Bridge. So just for some fun here are some of the movie mistakes – we expect you spotted most of them anyway 🙂

When the ships are about to begin bombarding the beaches you see a group of planes fly by the camera these are Douglas Sky Raiders which did not see service until the late 1940s.

The currency notes in Schultz’s winnings are of a later issue than was in circulation in 1944.

Features LCM-8s, which weren’t built until 1954.

German General Max Pemsel says: “Wir haben starke RADAR-störungen” (We have strong radar interference). The word “radar” was not used, perhaps even not known in Germany in 1944. They used a somewhat similar system, but called it “Funkmeßgeräte” (radio measuring equipment).

General Gavin is wearing a Senior Parachutist badge in 1944.The Parachutist Badge was formally approved on 10 March 1941. The senior and master parachutists badges were authorized by Headquarters, Department of the Army in 1949 and were announced by Change 4, Army Regulation 600-70, dated 24 January 1950.

During the go/no go sequence, a jet can be heard flying overhead as the naval representative is speaking.

During a very early scene in France, the back end of a Citroen 2CV can be seen parked at the side of the street as the German soldiers march down it.

via 56 Movie Mistakes: The Longest Day

And so on for three pages. Yes, it’s interesting and very likely true. But you know, it doesn’t matter a damn. Like the John Ford Trilogy, the story is the thing, and these warriors of America, Canada, Great Britain, France, Poland, and still others did something so heroic here, that all of these relatively picayune mistakes, while regrettable, just don’t matter. This is not a technical documentary, this is a commemoration of one of the greatest days in history, one of the first to try to be fair to all the participants.

I couldn’t find the whole movie on YouTube for you, but if you run the playlist in autoplay, it’ll be kind of like watching it on TV, which is where I fist saw it, long ago and far away.🙂

Britain’s global role: stepping up

Fallon

Some of you were surprised, I suspect, that I was (and am) quite taken by Theresa May as Britain’s Prime Minister. It’s true enough that I likely share more beliefs with Andrea Leedsom. But politics is the art of the possible, and in Mrs. May I saw a chance for Britain to resume its confident way, and more than anything for the Conservative Party to reunify. I don’t have many Britons horror of Nigel Farage and the UKIP. In fact, I like them, and think them very good for Britian, but that horror is there.

But one of the things we all expect from Britain is confidence in defense (or should that be defence) matters. And it looks to me that in Michael Fallon, Secretary of State for Defense, Mrs. May chose well. I’d like to see Americans once again speak as clearly.

FROM THE MoD…

Speech by Michael Fallon, Secretary of State for Defence.

This year marks 70 years on from Winston Churchill’s famous speech “The Sinews of Peace” delivered in Fulton, Missouri in March 1946 in which he talked about the “special relationship.”

While that phrase is well known, it is perhaps less well known that Churchill was in the United States to receive an honorary degree from Westminster College.

An apt name as Westminster was the place he received a large part of his political education.
And Churchill more than anyone seemed to embody the will of the British people.

To the extent that both sides in the recent Referendum campaign sought to claim that he would have backed their particular position.

We can’t ever be sure how Churchill would have voted.

We do know that whatever the outcome he would have accepted the result, rolled up his sleeves and got on and delivered using all the considerable powers at his command to help us forge a new path.

Now I’m very much aware that vote has raised questions about the implications for Britain’s role in the world.

I’m here to assure you that we have a new Prime Minister

…technically a new government

…who wants Britain to continue to play a global role

…a government that is determined to make Brexit a success

…but a government that will put security front and centre of its efforts.

Today I’d like to set out the UK’s government’s approach.

It is based around 3 things.

1. Defence of our values

First, on the defence of our values of democracy, of the rule of law, and of freedom.

Back in that speech of 1946, Churchill memorably imagined an “Iron Curtain” spreading from east to west across Europe.

Today the Cold War is over but new threats continue… that spread an equally serious shadow.

In recent weeks we’ve seen the horrific truck attack on innocent men, women and children from France enjoying a summer’s evening on Bastille Day.

That attack and the others we’ve seen over the last year in places as far apart as Orlando, Brussels, Paris, Ankara, and Baghdad are similar r manifestations of extremism.

This isn’t the only danger we’re facing.

We’re seeing a resurgent Russia and a more assertive China.

We’re seeing North Korea continuing to rattle the nuclear sabre.

We’re seeing cyber attacks on states as well as companies and hybrid warfare.

Dangers which, taken together, seek to undermine our rules based international order on which the security and prosperity of ourselves and the next generation depend.

Like Churchill, we believe Britain, like the US, has a responsibility not just to defend its own security but the global system itself.

And we do have have the will and intent to respond to those threats whenever, or wherever, they come from.

Thanks to the Strategic Defence and Security Review we published before the end of last year, we are going to match that will with greater capacity.

Our SDSR gives us stronger defence with more than $200 billion to spend over the next 10 years on a more agile Joint Force with more ships, more planes, more troops at readiness, better equipment for Special Forces, and increased spend on cyber.

Let me tell you about those forces.

Last year our forces were active all round the world.

Some 80,000 soldiers deployed on more than 383 commitments during the year.

More than 30,000 sailors deployed, on over 700 ship visits, from Africa to Asia, Europe to Latin America.

More than 10,000 Royal Air Force personnel deployed in over 60 countries on operations, training exercises and defence engagement.

And we will have a similar level of effort this year.

2. Stronger NATO, stronger defence

My second point is that to defend our values we will rely on a stronger more united NATO.

And we ill continue helping that alliance to adapt.

Two years ago our Prime Minister, David Cameron then stood with your President at the Wales Summit and challenged other nations to step up, to spend more on defence and new capabilities.

Since then we have led by example.

And having honoured our pledge to meet the 2% target we’re now seeing other nations follow suit.

Twenty allies have now increased their spending since Wales and the overall decline in alliance defence spending has been halted.

As well as increasing spending, NATO has now agreed its Readiness Action Plan to ensure that the allies can respond swiftly and strongly.

Once more the UK is at the forefront of these efforts.

Our Typhoons are today conducting Baltic air-policing missions from a base in Estonia.

Our ships are making a significant contribution to NATO’s naval forces.

And we will lead NATO’s Very High Readiness Taskforce next year, with 3,000 UK troops ready to deploy within days.

And at last month’s Warsaw Summit we again helped to lead the way as NATO adapted its deterrence posture to challenges from east and south.

In the east, we are helping to reinforce the Wales’ commitment to act against aggression by delivering an enhanced forward presence in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland.

The UK is one of four nations to lead a framework battalion, including the United States.

These battalions will be defensive in nature, but fully combat capable. Our force will be located in Estonia with 2 UK companies, a headquarters element and equipment including armoured vehicles, Javelin anti-tank guided missiles and mortars.

That contribution will be underpinned by our network of allies, including our partnerships with the French and the Danes… “multi-national by design”, reflecting the “international by design” approach in our SDSR.

In addition, to positing a formed Battalion to Estonia we will also deploy a company group of troops to Poland.

We also continue to train the Ukrainian Armed Forces with a further 4,000 troops due to be trained by this year.

All this is NATO’s response to Russian aggression.

A response rooted in balancing strong defence and dialogue.

Dialogue where it is right and in our interests to deliver hard messages to promote transparency and build the understanding necessary to avoid the risk of miscalculation.

As well as its efforts in the east, the alliance is also enhancing its role in the south.

We are increasingly seeing unstable, or fragile states threaten our collective security.

Putting a greater onus on NATO’s role in tackling potential conflict at source.

And following the Wales Summit NATO now has a defence capacity building initiative, to provide more tailored support to project stability.

And we will conduct more training and capacity building under a NATO auspices inside Iraq.

NATO’s biggest operation is its Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan. That mission has helped local forces take on the responsibility for providing security across their country.

As a leading member of NATO, it is right that we stand by our allies and the Afghan people as they seek to build a safer Afghanistan because that also helps to keep our streets safe.

So next year, we will be increasing our t troop contribution by 10% to help build the capacity of the Afghan security institutions. And let me welcome the United States’ on going commitment to that particular mission.

Finally, we have promoted and supported initiatives that respond to the longer-term demands of 21st century warfare with initiatives on cyber and hybrid warfare among others agreed at Warsaw.

Nuclear deterrent

But if our defence and deterrence are to retain their credibility, they must respond to both conventional and nuclear dangers.

NATO remains a nuclear alliance, and our independent nuclear deterrent in Britain makes a key contribution to the overall security of the alliance.

That’s contribution recognised by the Warsaw Communiqué, and I quote:

“The independent strategic nuclear forces of the United Kingdom and France have a deterrent role of their own and contribute to the overall security of the alliance. These allies’ separate centres of decision making contribute to deterrence by complicating the calculations of potential adversaries.”

And what’s clear to us, as the world becomes more dangerous and unpredictable, is that the nuclear threat has not gone away. If anything, it is increasing.

We can’t today second guess the sorts of extreme threats to our very existence that we might face in the 2030s, 2040s and 2050s.

So our deterrent gives us that priceless advantage so that our adversaries know that the cost of an attack on the UK or our allies will always be far greater than anything it might hope to gain.

So our Defence Review committed to building 4 new Successor submarines to replace the Vanguard class which start going out of service in the early 2030s.

On Monday this week the Prime Minister made it her first duty in Parliament to lead the debate on renewing that nuclear deterrent.

And the House of Commons voted by an overwhelming majority of 355, over 100 more than when it was last debated in 2007, to maintain our deterrent to protect our way of life and that of our allies.

3. US-UK partnership

A powerful NATO is vital to our future.

So too are our key bilateral relationships.

And leaving the EU means will be we will be working harder to commit to NATO and our key allies.

We are now focused on reshaping our relationship with Europe, restoring sovereignty to the British Parliament but making sure our security, and trading relationship remain strong, while we forge new relationships right across the globe

70 years on from Churchill’s speech, the UK still has no stronger ally than the US.

We’re proud that together we continue to lead the world on security.

Nowhere is this better demonstrated than in our operations against Daesh.

At the end of last year, the UK erased the stain of its previous Syria vote in Parliament in 2013 with the new Parliament voting overwhelmingly to extend our airstrikes from Iraq to Syria.

Since then we’ve upped the intensity of our efforts.

Our aircrews have conducted more airstrikes in Iraq and Syria than any other country other than the United States.

Our aircraft are co-ordinating Coalition aircraft and providing a significant amount of the Coalition’s overall ISR.

And those collective efforts are paying off. Daesh has lost 40% of the territory it once held. Major progress has been made in the key cities of Ramadi, Hit and Fallujah.

But we’re going this year to go further.

At the Counter Daesh ministerial. which I have just come from, we have focused on reviewing our campaign plan and building on the progress we’ve already seen in the Euphrates River Valley and Tigris River Valley.

And we are responding to calls for the Coalition to accelerate its efforts by increasing our presence in Iraq.

We will be sending additional trainers to Al Asad Airbase in Western Iraq to instruct more Iraqi Troops in how they counter improvised explosive devices, improve infantry skills and provide combat first aid.

Those extra trainers will be working closely with US and Danish forces, providing training to the Iraqi Army 7th Division to their Border Guards and Federal Police.

We’re providing more people to assist in guarding the airbase, personnel to form an HQ to command the mission, and an engineering squadron to build the necessary infrastructure.

Those efforts as part of the Counter-Daesh coalition are just a small illustration of our co-operation with the US.

A collaboration as broad as it is deep.

And that joint-working is only set to intensify.

On exercises we’ve recently agreed to integrate a UK division more effectively into a US corps.

And on equipment there’s on going collaboration on F-35 and a week ago we saw this fifth generation fighter soaring over our new Queen Elizabeth carrier from whose decks they will fly in years to come.

And I look forward to the day when not only do our planes fly from your carriers but your planes too fly from ours.

And our carriers will be protected by another of our new equipment collaborations.

Our 9 new P-8 maritime patrol aircraft whose multi-billion dollar purchase I announced last week…alongside a further decision to buy 50 Apache attack helicopters.

But besides thinking of today’s technologies, we’re looking together with the US to tomorrow’s.

Last year, on his visit to London, Ash Carter and I challenged our 2 teams to develop together new technologies, new disruptive capabilities and new concepts of operation.

And we’re now seizing on the exciting opportunities. Last week, we announced the first project to develop autonomous robotic technologies…driverless technology that can ferry equipment over that last, most dangerous mile up to the frontline

That’s the kind of collaboration that will help us maintain the West’s technological edge.

And it’s that fraternal association between Britain and the US that Churchill was speaking about 70 years ago when he said:

“If all British moral and material forces and convictions are joined with your own in fraternal association, the high roads of the future will be clear, not only for us but for all, not only for our time, but for a century to come”

Conclusion

In conclusion, let me reassure you, Britain is not stepping back. On the contrary, we’re stepping up.

Standing up for our values.

Strengthening NATO.

Backing our nuclear deterrent.

And seeking a stronger alliance than ever with you in the US.

There’s been much speculation in recent weeks about our defence and security policy.

Let me reassure you.

The UK is leaving the EU.

But we’ve not forgotten that deterrence and defence are underpinned by cohesion and solidarity.

We’re still committed to those vital sinews of peace.

And we remain committed to European security and we are not turning our back on Europe or the world.

from Ministry of Defence – Activity on GOV.UK http://ift.tt/2adSNZ6

 

via Speech: Britain’s global role: stepping up – Think Defence

Chilcot

2563 (1)If you missed it, yesterday morning the British published a report on the Iraq War. It’s two and a half million words, took thirteen years to prepare, and it says very little we didn’t know thirteen years ago. Chalcedon of at Jess’ site has written about it, better than I can. And yes, I believe it applies almost word for word to the United States, as well.

So, we know now what most of us thought we knew, which is that the Iraq war was undertaken because America wanted it and because Tony Blair wanted to stay in with America; not much to surprise us there. Victory has many fathers, and had things gone well, then many would have been claiming the credit; given that it did not, defeat, or at least this level of failure, ensured the opposite – that no one would claim paternity.

I began my academic career by studying the very first Anglo-American occupation – Operation ‘Torch’, the invasion of French North Africa in November 1942. I came to the conclusion that it was ineptly planned in terms of the follow through because no one on either side had bothered to think about the politics of the aftermath of a successful invasion. So, when it transpired that one of the Vichy leaders, Admiral Darlan, was in Algiers, the Americans cut a deal with him and then wondered why the press in America and Britain, and the Soviets, all complained that they were dealing with a Nazi collaborator. The same thing was true of planning for the 1944 D day invasion, when, again, the Allies planned to govern France and found that the French wanted to govern themselves-  and went ahead and did so. Much the same failures marked the Iraq invasion. Over-sanguine assumptions about how an invasion would be received, and over-optimistic calculations about how the invaded territories would be governed. So, whatever Chilcot implies, there is nothing new about the failures of Bush and Blair here. Churchill and Roosevelt were very fortunate no one conducted an 8 year inquiry into their conduct of those operations; none would have escaped whipping.

Blair did nothing that most post-war Prime Ministers have not done – he decided that at all costs Britain must keep step with America; Churchill started that line, Macmillan restored it after Eden broke it at Suez, and Thatcher and Blair perfected it. Those who think Britain should have an independent foreign policy, but who also distrust the EU, have a duty to explain just how such a foreign policy could be run in the absence of cooperation with the USA.

via Failure is always an orphan: reflections on Chilcot (1)

And I’ll add just a smidgen from today’s

The parallels between the reaction to Chilcot and Brexit ought to worry us. In spite of 2.6 million words which show that Blair believed the intelligence he was given, those who had already decided he was lying maintain it is so. Evidence? Experts? They don’t need those things, they have feelings, they are that most coveted of modern phenomena – ‘victims’. Chilcot thinks Blair should have challenged the Intelligence reports, but omits to specify on what grounds? Imagine for a moment that, as the Intelligence said, Saddam still had WMDs (he had had them, he had lied about having them, and he had used them in the past) and Blair had refused to believe it – and Saddam used them. Can you imagine what Blair’s critics would have said about his hubris in ignoring what every expert had warned him about? So, the experts were wrong? That happens sometimes, experts are just that, people with experience using their best judgment; they are not the Pope pronouncing on matters of faith and morals.

via The politics of emotion: Chilcot (2)

That happens sometimes (far too often actually), the experts were wrong. In fact, they’ve been wrong so often, that experts are in disrepute. Yes, to an extent with me as well. But the real problem with Iraq, was just as Chalcedon states above, like Torch, we had no realistic plan for victory, we started bringing troops home, and left a vacuum, and terrorism loves a vacuum. Eventually, Bush listened to some experts on the ground, and went with the surge, and we had it won, pretty much. All we really had to do at that point is stay on the ground, and keep watch, it was safer than being a cop in Chicago.

Then we bugged out because Obama didn’t have the stomach to continue the skeer. Now we have a horrendous mess, that has killed more Iraqis than Saddam and the US together. That’s why you must finish the mission. It’s also a testament to the futility of nation building, not to mention mission creep. Napoleon once said you can do anything with bayonets, except sit on them. He should have taken his own advice, he might not have ended up on St. Helena.

But he didn’t, and neither did the British, nor did we, and so now, as it has been for most of history, the Middle East is a dog’s breakfast, and the chaos is spreading into our homes as well. Quite a legacy.

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