Could the four former SACEURS who sent that with respect seriously ill-advised letter to the Sunday Telegraph last week have sounded the death knell for NATO, albeit unintentionally?
The organisation has been searching for a role ever since the end in 1991 of what I call the First Cold War, the Second being with China of course. With Russia emerging as a modern democracy it could be argued that NATO is now past its sell-by date.
The fundamental underpinning of NATO was the Anglo-American alliance. Ironically, since he is the first British Subject to have become President of the United States since George Washington (Kenyan Citizens, as Commonwealth Citizens, are automatically British Subjects), it was the election of Barack ‘von’ Obama in 2008 which degraded that alliance.
Obama is the most anti-British president ever to occupy the White House. George Washington fought us, but in a just cause. As a former officer in the British Army he seems to have carried no hatred towards us, as opposed to the British Government of the day. (I doubt he ever knew that the British Government of the day was under the control of French Intelligence, who wanted to break up the British Empire).
We in the UK have come to understand that the Special Relationship is now essentially a Republican thing. The State Department caused outrage by asserting that the US wanted Britain to remain inside the EU, i.e. was opposed to the UK being governed democratically.
Obama and Hillary Clinton heaped fire on the flames by refusing to back Britain’s case on the Falklands, even after 98% of the islanders voted overwhelmingly to remain British. This has done enormous damage to the Anglo-American alliance.
No one in Washington is seriously proposing that the United States would become an aggressor nation and support a further Argentine invasion in battle and no one in Britain is drawing up contingency plans for war with a Clinton-led United States. Equally clearly, no one with a brain in London counts America as a reliable ally any more. It would be a waste of time asking either Obama or Hillary Clinton for help in the event of an armed attack on the UK or one of our colonies.
This is no reflection on the US Armed Forces, who have been valiant allies in battle in the Global War on Terror, and for whom I entertain the highest esteem and affection. I still recall with gratitude the courtesy I was shown on board the dear old USS Enterprise (CVN-65) when the Navy flew me out to her in 2006. Indeed I have not forgotten the kindness I was shown as a young boy when my family visited the USS Blue and USS Collett when they were in Brisbane on a much-deserved R&R visit after doing good work off ‘Nam. (I am not sure that the American people fully understand what excellent ambassadors for America the US Navy are.)
Few people in the UK have argued for a closer Anglo-American relationship than myself. I was a Fellow of the Atlantic Council of the United Kingdom, a member of the United States Naval Institute and still count many Americans as friends. However I can’t even get into the country now, as the Administration yanked (no pun intended) my ESTA clearance and went on to refuse me a visa the last time I applied, in 2014. That was after I had been invited to give evidence as an expert witness in the New York State Supreme Court.
If Donald Trump is elected – a matter entirely for the American electorate – then it’s a whole new ball game, as the alliance now only holds good so long as there is a Republican president. By definition, a part-time alliance is only useful for part of the time.
The Disastrous 1945 Settlement
‘Irv’ makes some excellent points, with respect, in his comments on last week’s column. The 1945 settlement was a disaster for Britain and the British Empire, and in turn a disaster for the peoples for whose welfare we were responsible. No one has ever dared count the death toll in India and our former colonies, for fear of the political repercussions, but it was over a million in India alone. Every former colony in Africa collapsed, either economically, or into civil war.
The US did do well out of World War II economically, as we did badly, with a staggering debt at the conclusion of hostilities. This was not by accident. The rapid US ramp-up after Pearl Harbor would not have been possible without the massive dollar investment by Britain in 1939-1941, much of it spent on obsolescent or under-performing aircraft types, like the Martin Baltimore or Boeing B-17C. The only unqualified successes, discounting the superb Anglo-American P-51B & D, were two Consolidated types, the Catalina (PBY in US service) and Liberator (B-24 with the USAAF and PB4Y with the US Navy).
The Truman and Eisenhower Administrations made no secret of the fact that they wanted to dismantle the British Empire, although the German (DVD) asset ‘von’ Eisenhower did make a secret of the fact that our former colonies were being handed over to German or Chinese proxies, like Kenyatta in Kenya or Nkrumah in the Gold Coast.
This idiotic prejudice against friendly Western colonial powers cost America dear in Indo-China. By not supporting France fully and getting their panties in a twist about the French restoring their colonial authority, the Truman and Eisenhower Administrations actively prevented a stable solution in French Indo-China, setting the stage for the Vietnam War.
Eisenhower of course knew that Ho Chi Minh was DVD and that the French were being ambushed at Dien Bien Phu. He was fully committed to the collapse of the Fourth Republic and wanted to see his allies the Vichyists back in power, albeit fronted by de Gaulle and with a change of name.
US policy led to serious resentment in Britain, not least after Suez, amongst intelligence-illiterate politicians and newspapers editors who had no idea that Eisenhower was working for Germany. US backing for Nasser effectively ruled out British participation in ‘Nam. Unlike Korea, where a British Commonwealth light carrier like HMS Glory was usually on duty off the west coast of Korea, there were no British carriers on Yankee or Dixie Stations, sadly.
The search for a full-time strategic partner began in London in earnest once it was appreciated how anti-British Obama really was. Although we had bio-leverage over Obama because we knew where he was born, and were able to extract some concessions, it was clear that with Obama in the White House the Special Relationship was in abeyance.
Absurdly, the Coalition Government of 2010-2015 settled on France as an alternative, partly because both Britain and France were in the EU. This even went so far as a proposal that the Royal Navy and the French Navy should jointly share Britain’s new Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers. Which half of the ship would surrender when the French did was not made clear. The whole idea of Britain being in the EU is an offensive nonsense anyway, but the even more fundamental misconception was the idea that France controlled her own destiny. Germany has controlled France’s destiny since 1958.
The highpoint of the dalliance with France was the removal of the brutal, DVD-backed dictator Colonel Gaddafi, who was very nervous of me by the way after I discovered that the DVD has sponsored the coup against nice old King Idris. The chaotic aftermath of his removal however showed how difficult it is to conduct joint operations with the French. You can never be sure whose side they’re on, except their own. They don’t make good allies.
The obvious alternative ally for Britain is Russia. We were on the same side in the Napoleonic Wars and both World Wars. The First Cold War was a strategic error, based upon faulty intelligence in London and Washington about the extent of German influence in Moscow (Stalin worked for Canaris, e.g.).
There is great warmth towards Britain in Russia, and vice-versa, once you get out of Whitehall. The Litvinenko nonsense can easily be cleared up by releasing the original autopsy report, which cleared the SVR completely. GCHQ have the overheads for the MH17 shoot-down and know perfectly well that the plane was shot down by a Chinese SAM, in concert with a Ukrainian Su-25. Fairy stories about Russian rebels firing a Buk missile without the aid of radar and access to the firing codes are strictly for gullible journalists, who will swallow any old nonsense as long as it’s official. Their credulity knows no bounds.
More importantly, Britain and Russia have a common enemy, in Germany, indeed we have done since the formation of the German Empire. Both our countries’ monarchs faced German assassination attempts after 1871, the assassination of Tsar Alexander II sadly succeeding.
The Russian political system is more stable than the American, with fewer wild gyrations of policy, i.e. Russia’s friends and allies are able to engage in long-term planning. With the Obama Administration long term means next week. With Russia long term means next century.
Britain also retains dear friends in the Commonwealth, such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, India and strategically situated Uganda. Broadly speaking these ties of friendship, unlike the Special Relationship, are supported across the political spectrum, i.e. do not depend upon which party is in power.
In the Middle East, Israel would be a valuable ally. Their armed forces don’t surrender either. The British and Israeli Armed Forces worked well together during the Suez War, smacking Johnny Egyptian about to good effect.
Implications for NATO
The reason the joint letter from the formers SACEURs sent such a shockwave through the Tory Party and Whitehall is that NATO has always been seen as supportive of democracy and aloof from the internal politics of the member states of the Alliance. By indicating such strong support for British membership of the EU, very obviously with NATO backing, the flag and general officers concerned sent out a signal that NATO and EU membership are now seen as a package.
Since the EU is not only undemocratic, but committed as a core principal to the destruction of the democratic nation states within its orbit what the flag and general officers were really saying is that NATO is no longer committed to democracy. Of course I am aware of the existence of the European Parliament. I have not only visited it, I once stood for election to it, on a Eurosceptic platform of course.
Like the Reichstag before it however, on which it is modelled, the European Parliament is no more than a fig-leaf. It is a consultative assembly only and cannot originate legislation.
NATO has also been dangerously expansionist, causing unnecessary tensions with Moscow.
The obvious course for the United Kingdom is to denounce the Washington Treaty and withdraw from NATO, following BREXIT, which is now looking increasingly likely. Canada would be likely to follow us out.
Implications for the Welfare State
The Welfare State was only made possible because of our excessive reliance upon America, which permitted left-wing and centrist politicians to slash defence expending and cut our Armed Forces to ribbons. They are currently tiny, and could barely defend the Isle of Wight, let alone the Falklands.
Very obviously we now need to stand on our own two feet. The defence budget will need to be trebled, increasing our value as an ally in the process.
The Welfare State, as it is presently structured, will have to go, including the failed National Health Service. We should return to the insurance-based principles of the Beveridge Report. Mass immigration from the Third World and latterly Eastern Europe, which was only made politically possible because displaced unskilled and semi-skilled workers could be put on benefits, will also have to end. We should only permit people with needed skills, or capital, to enter our economy.
As unwanted immigrants leave and our world-class defence industries ramp up, unemployment will tumble, as it did after Munich.
Implications for our Nuclear Deterrent
Since we can no longer rely on the American nuclear umbrella except when a Republican president is in office, we cannot settle for a like for like replacement for the Vanguard class boomers. We will need to develop a British replacement for the admittedly excellent Lockheed Martin UGM-133A Trident II missile. Lockheed are a fine company (I know them well and have always valued my visits to the Skunk Works at Palmdale), but they are overly dependent as a company upon Pentagon contracts, having pulled out of civil aviation, sadly, after the superb L1011 Tri-Star.
We can no longer rely on guaranteed spare parts and support for the Trident II missile system. Our next-generation boomers should therefore be designed around a new, all-British SLBM. Since SSBNs are now vulnerable to being tracked by Muon Scattering Tomography sensors carried aboard both aircraft and satellites, and since Democratic administrations permit the transfer of critical US defense technology to Red China, our new missiles will need to have much greater range than the Trident II, which in turn means more solid propellant and larger rocket motors, which in turn means a wider diameter launch tube and a broader-beam boat.
In order to provide a credible deterrent the new boomers need to be able to launch well outside the tactical radius of Chinese air and sea assets, which in practice means patrol areas in the southern Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean and South Pacific, ideally with a nuclear-sub base at Singapore. They should also be double-hulled, probably with titanium, thankfully now much cheaper thanks to a new British process for milling titanium, in order to be able to cruise at much greater and safer depths than the Vanguards. They are fine boats, but they tend to doodle along just below the Transition Layer.
We will need two boats continuously at sea as a minimum, which means a class of at least six and preferably more. They ought to have 20 missile tubes each, preferably 24, with greater habitability than the Vanguards, which are a bit cramped, although they wouldn’t seem so to my old friend the late Vice-Admiral Sir John Roxburgh KCB, who did sterling work in the Med with the tiny HMS United. (I will always be grateful by the way to the US Navy, who kindly acted on my suggestion that they be represented at his funeral – after Jerry had effectively murdered a bunch of GIs going home at the end of the war, John pranged the U-Boat responsible, with a little something extra in the attack package, so that nobody needed to waste time searching for survivors).
Response to Comments
Somebody was kind enough to make my point that you cannot debate with anti-Semites for me. The idea that the Jews were responsible for all the wars of the last century is just plain silly. Israel did not even exist in 1939, let alone invade Poland, nor indeed does the State of Israel invade anywhere without just cause.
I am still unclear as to the precise motive for shooting down EgyptAir MS804. My senses tell me there was a person of interest on the plane, but the jury is still out.
The great Lord Keynes was at least bisexual and probably gay.
My commiserations to the United States on the loss of Muhammad Ali, a much-loved figure in this country as well. We won’t mention that deliberate cut in the gloves when he fought the late Sir Henry Cooper!
He was a brilliant boxer, light on his feet yet able to pack a terrific punch in his day. He also had a great sense of humor, and probably wasn’t quite as boastful as at times he sounded. I didn’t know him, but a mutual friend assured me that he was a genuinely nice guy, loyal to his friends, who took his professional commitments very seriously.
There is no doubt that the world will be a poorer place without him.
Michael Shrimpton was a barrister from his call to the Bar in London in 1983 until being disbarred in 2019 over a fraudulently obtained conviction. He is a specialist in National Security and Constitutional Law, Strategic Intelligence and Counter-terrorism. He is a former Adjunct Professor of Intelligence Studies at the American Military University.