Troop cuts and spending hikes: a big week for the war pigs

HMS Queen Elizabeth
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Troop cuts, defence budget hikes, billions in military aid and the spectre of war with China. It’s been a busy week for warmongers and war profiteers. British foreign secretary Liz Truss addressed the NATO summit in Madrid to lay out the Tory’s foreign policy vision.

High on the agenda was threatening China. In an interview with Times Radio she said the “free world” had to ensure Taiwan could defend itself:

This is a thing that we’re discussing with our allies.

Lessons of Ukraine

In a keynote speech during the conference, she warned that a miscalculation from China could lead to disaster:

I do think that with China extending its influence through economic coercion and building a capable military, there is a real risk that they draw the wrong idea that results in a catastrophic miscalculation such as invading Taiwan.

Truss drew on the example of Ukraine to highlight why she wanted to increase support for Taiwan. China considers Taiwan, a US ally, part of its territory:

We should have done things earlier. We should have been supplying the defensive weapons into Ukraine earlier.

Read on...

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She added

We need to learn that lesson for Taiwan. Every piece of equipment we have sent takes months of training, so the sooner we do it, the better.

Troop cuts

Contradictory though it may seem, troops cuts are being talked up alongside a defence budget increase.

As Liz Truss has it:

We all need to recognise that warfare now is different to warfare as it was 100 years ago, or 200 years ago.

The thinking seems to be that a move away from conventional military deployments and towards new technological solutions is what is required:

We need to make sure that the defence capability we have is fit for purpose for the modern world – and we face all kinds of new threats, whether it’s cyber threats, threats in space, new technology, new weaponry, and what’s important is the overall shape of those forces.

Unhappy general

The 10,000 cut to troop numbers was not well-received by the head of the army, general Patrick Sanders. In a recent speech he had hyped the threat of Russia, comparing the current political moment to 1937 and the rise of Hitler.

Yesterday, The Times reported that Sanders had been disciplined by Boris Johnson for suggesting the cuts were “perverse”.

The troop cuts row has also come at a time when the UK government has pledged an additional £1bn in military aid to Ukraine. Which, among other things, should be seen as a windfall for arms firms as The Canary has argued previously.

Speaking at the NATO conference, Johnson said:

UK weapons, equipment and training are transforming Ukraine’s defences against this onslaught.

New trends in war

There is more than an atom of truth in the notion that war has changed forms. Big military deployments are off the menu post-Afghanistan. But it is true of both modes of warfare that there are massive profits to be made.

It can be safely assumed that a large part of the new £1bn package of military aid will go to defence firms. And the general shift away from boots on ground towards new military technology will also fill the coffers of military corporations.

What’s missing, as ever, is any discussion of socially and economically just global security models.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons/Petty Officer Photographer Jay Allen, cropped to 770 x 403, licenced under Open Government Licence.

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  • Show Comments
        1. I guess at least he is in good company with the rest of the worlds Conservative Neoliberal War Criminals Thatcher, Blair, Bush, Obama, Johnson, Cameron, May, Macron, Trudeau, etc, etc, etc, but nevermind the facts, evidence or indeed the Nazis!

    1. “China considers Taiwan, a US ally, part of its territory.”

      This is actually the position of the UN as well, Taiwan IS Chinese territory and has always been according to history and internationally recognised territories. It was Donald Trump that declared Taiwan as being an independent sovereign nation.

      With regard to Taiwan being a US ally, again one needs to look at history; Taiwan government is and has always been, since the end of WW2, a US puppet. The official position of the Taiwanese government is that they are the sovereign government of ALL of China, not just Taiwan. This has been the case since the Chiang Kai Shek government fled to Taiwan following the Chinese revolution, and has been ‘supported’ by the US ever since.

    2. “Taiwan IS Chinese territory and has always been” but not according to the Taiwanese working class, so far as I can make out. It’s a difficult problem for socialists. Pew Research in 2020:

      “By a nearly two-to-one margin, people in Taiwan rate the U.S. more favorably than mainland China. There is widespread support for increased economic and political ties with Washington; enthusiasm for similar relations with mainland China is much more muted. Still, even as people are skeptical about closer political relations, half would embrace closer economic ties with mainland China. Younger people are particularly likely to support closer relations with the U.S., and they are less likely to embrace closer relations with China.”

    3. I guess at least he is in good company with the rest of the worlds Conservative Neoliberal War Criminals Thatcher, Blair, Bush, Obama, Johnson, Cameron, May, Macron, Trudeau, etc, etc, etc, but nevermind the facts, evidence or indeed the Nazis!

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