Reducing the defence budget is not the end of Britain

Joe Glenton, “Reducing the defence budget is not the end of Britain. It could be part of our rebirth,” The Independent, 17 January 2014

The tantrums which are emerging from the offense camp should be ignored. Britain has one of the largest military budgets in the world. As part of our swollen offense portfolio this small nation wields a preposterously expensive standing military which lacks utility (see Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya) and a nuclear arsenal which has no practical value beyond masculine prestige. There are three factors to consider.

First we ought to shackle the militaristic tendencies of our leaders. …

In Britain the idea of maintaining a substantial body of armed men outside of war time was once openly mocked and held to be irreconcilable with liberty. “No Standing Army” was once a political slogan in these islands. I don’t mean to disband the army tomorrow; we just have vastly better things to do with our money. Recalling and updating our anti-militarist British roots would be a start.

Secondly, good things occur when Britain lets go of imperial ambitions. Hawks may grumble about security, prestige, our ability to “punch above our weight” and our “standing in the world” but an urge to be at empire’s table is what drives them. …

Lastly, a smaller army and less nukes is logically less likely to entice the apocalypse than more troops and bombs. A reduced offensive capacity is not the end of Britain. It could be the start of a climb towards becoming a country favourably viewed in the world. If you don’t have oodles of shiny kit, you are less inclined to rely on it – you get clever. We can reflect this in the way we conduct ourselves diplomatically.

Read the full article here.