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Defense Policy

The United Kingdom should be able to use military force to defend its global interests after leaving the European Union, Defense Minister Gavin Williamson said 11 February 2019. "Brexit has brought us to a great moment in our history. A moment when we must strengthen our global presence, enhance our lethality, and increase our mass," Williamson said in a speech in London. He also said that boundaries between peace and war are getting "blurred," and that Britain and its allies should be prepared "to use hard power to support our interests."

Williamson said: "The UK is a global power with truly global interests. A nation with the fifth biggest economy on the planet. A nation with the world's fifth biggest Defence budget and the second largest Defence exporter. And since the new Global Great Game will be played on a global playing field, we must be prepared to compete for our interests and our values far, far from home."

The Conservative Party manifesto for the 2017 election stated "... a responsibility to sustain our fine armed forces so that they can defend the realm, our overseas territories and our interests around the globe. We will play a leading role in NATO and maintain the ability to conduct strike operations, peacekeeping, security missions and the deployment of a joint expeditionary force. We will maintain the overall size of the armed forces, including an army that is capable of fielding a war-fighting division. We shall expand our reach around the world. We will retain the Trident continuous-at-sea nuclear deterrent to provide the ultimate guarantee of our security.

"We have the biggest defence budget in Europe and the second largest in NATO. We will continue to meet the NATO commitment to spend at least 2 per cent of GDP on defence and we will increase the defence budget by at least 0.5 per cent above inflation in every year of the new parliament....

"Our two new aircraft carriers will project British military power for the next fifty years: HMS Queen Elizabeth begins sea trials in the summer and HMS Prince of Wales is due to enter active service in 2020. Alongside our new Type 45 destroyers, we will build eight Type 26 anti-submarine frigates and develop our programme for a new class of lighter, general purpose frigates so that by the 2030s we can further increase the size of our fleet. We shall also deliver five Offshore Patrol Vessels....

"The Royal Air Force will receive, with the Fleet Air Arm, the Lightning II strike fighter, as well as new Maritime Patrol Aircraft. Taken together, this is the largest programme of investment in our armed forces for generations."

The Labour Party manifesto for the 2017 election stated "The last Labour government consistently spent above the NATO benchmark of 2 per cent of GDP. Conservative spending cuts have put Britainís security at risk, shrinking the army to its smallest size since the Napoleonic wars. The scrapping of Nimrod, HMS Ark Royal and the Harrier jump-jets have weakened our defences and cost British taxpayers millions.

"Labourís commitment to spending at least 2 per cent of GDP on defence will guarantee that our Armed Forces have the necessary capabilities to fulfil the full range of obligations, and ensure our conventional forces are versatile and able to deploy in a range of roles.

"Labour supports the renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent. As a nuclear-armed power, our country has a responsibility to fulfil our obligations under the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty. Labour will lead multilateral efforts with international partners and the UN to create a nuclear-free world."

On 26 May 2017, in the midst of a fiercely contested election campaign, Jeremy Corbyn's speech was not only an indictment of the failed "war on terror" and how it has traditionally been waged, but the costly, futile, and equally destructive Western military "interventions" far beyond Iraq's fractured borders.

In this regard, Corbyn made what many other politicians consider a politically fatal admission: Britain, France and the United States (or their regional proxies) invading and dropping bombs on Afghanistan and other, predominately Arab countries - from Iraq, Syria, Yemen to Libya - year after dreadful year have fuelled, rather than stemmed, the terror visited upon so many, in so many places.

"Many experts, including professionals in our intelligence and security services," Corbyn said, "have pointed to the connections between wars our government has supported or fought in other countries, such as Libya, and terrorism here at home."

Corbyn pointed a blunt, accusatory finger at the usual gaggle of pundits, presidents and prime ministers who continue to insist that more troops, invasions and bombs are the requisite answer to terror. "The blame is with the terrorists, but if we are to protect our people we must be honest about what threatens our security," Corbyn said, "but an informed understanding of the causes of terrorism is an essential part of an effective response that will protect the security of our people, that fights rather than fuels terrorism." Corbyn vowed to "change what we do abroad".

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Page last modified: 12-02-2019 18:55:05 ZULU