Thursday, 20 October 2011

British Military defend the Union.

The Left Foot Forward Blog has posted on a former Chief of the General Staff Lord Richard Dannatt,has launched a withering attack on Alex Salmond’s failure to set out his thinking in any detail over Scotland’s defence and foreign policy in the event of independence.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, the head of the UK Army between 2006 and 2009, argued that Alex Salmond had to set out a blueprint for defence and foreign policy prior to a vote on independence if the electorate were to be able to make an informed decision. He concluded:
"There is undoubtedly merit in the argument that Alea Salmond should make it clear how an Independence Scotland should organise it defence ."
but the article seems to be based on looking at defence based on the current British system of behaving like an Imperial power and giving the impression it has an influential role. Though most of the World see them as merely a arm of the US .

Of course in many ways this a palticular more difficult ptroblem than Wales. for Scotland 

Scottish Regiments were after all the backbone of the British Empire and thier shipyards built many of the Royal Navy  ships and they were enthusiastic tools of the Empire

But Lord Dannatt has also supported the views of his predecessor, General Sir Mike Jackson, who in May argued that an independent Scotland would require the building of a completely new military from scratch, arguing that the military could not serve two political masters. (Has he forgotten NATO?) It has been seen as  rebuke of suggestions that the SNP are considering some sort of “independence lite” option, in which defence and foreign policy would be shared with England.

Most people will argue that there will be two Independence referendum s 
One to Establish the principle and open negotiations on how to split the arms of government which will include  defense and

One to approve the settlement.

Responding to the developments, shadow defence Minister and Scottish Labour MP, Russell Brown argued:

“Knowing how we would defend ourselves, whether the shipyards would close, how many aircraft carriers we would have, the size of the army, our membership of Nato, our role on the UN Security Council: all these must be answered before the referendum, not after. On defence, our relationship with Europe, the currency, on pensions, Alex Salmond might run from the questions but he can’t hide from them.“

But what Dannatt, Russell Brown  and Left Foot Foward can't see is its not for them to decide on the future defence of an Independent Scotland and neither is it for the SNP . It will be for the future government of Scotland who free from the British Imperial mentality and those who have a vested interest in this either military commanders or the armaments industry who for their own reasons would not like to see a smaller commitment to defense expenditure. 

The British Involvement in Iraq, Afgahanistan  and Libya  shows that the Westminster Parties still see the UK as a world power and are still prepared to spend Billions of pounds but much worse sacrifice the lives of hundreds of servicemen in order to maintain this illusion.

Plaid has in the past had a greater anti-militaristic  tendancy than the SNP  though opposition from the leadership was muted and it was left to the likes of Leanne Wood and Welsh Ramblings to voice the traditional Plaid view.

Lets exam an Independent Wales .
Initially we could inherit the current Welsh regiments and bases and we could run them as they are for a .  year period before establishing our own force based on what Wales needs.
The Air force basis  of St Athens and Valley in Anglesey will eventually be the responsibility of the Welsh Government but they could remain open on a shared basis by the Welsh, Scottish and English and perhaps Irish governments. 

Wales will need very little Navy probably just some coastal vessels. Why would we need Aircraft Carriers and battleships?

Eventually a Welsh defense force similar to that of the Republic of Ireland should emerge.with a similar defense expenditure of 0.6% of GDP to the UK 2.6(World 2.6). For all countries see here

What is clear from the argument on Left Foot Forward  is that they think this could be Alex Salmond and the SNP Achilles Heel. the Military complex is a powerful body which has been increasingly more political its not surprising that they are being pulled out to defend the Union.

1 comment:

  1. Alex Salmond certainly does need to answer these questions. It's part of the reason I post "Independence Minutae" on my blog. Sometimes it's the little things that make the big difference to the vision of what an independent Wales would/could be like to live in.

    Defence obviously isn't a "little thing", but I'm sure Salmond can set out a clear vision for Scottish Defence and one which would be appealing to the electorate compared to, as you put it, "world power" UK.

    There wouldn't need to be a referendum on military assets as such. The Vienna Convention mandates that a % of all assets and debts transfer to the successor states proportionally - including movable military equipment. So Wales and Scotland could bargain shares of fighter jets and nuclear weapons for reductions in debt, more useful military equipment for our needs (i.e. helicopters) or something else entirely.