Monday, September 11, 2006

A very slight inconsistency

If anything, it was politically astute on today of all days for opposition leader David Cameron to give a speech on foreign policy and national security to the British American Project.

And, central to the Boy King's thesis was the importance of the relationship with America, with him declaring:

The fact is that that Britain just cannot achieve the things we want to achieve in the world unless we work with the world’s superpower. So when it comes to the special relationship with America, Conservatives feel it, understand it and believe in it.
He takes great pains in his speech to tell us that he is a "liberal conservative", with a lower-case "c", which he then attempts to define, in terms of a foreign policy requiring "our intelligence, our patience and our humility".

But the one thing the Boy does not do is attempt to define the "special relationship", although he talks of "rebalance", whatever that means. Had he done so, he might have had cause to refer back to Winston Churchill's speech at Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri on 5 March 1946. It was there that Churchill did define the relationship, with this particular extract spelling it out in some detail, when he declared that, "This is no time for generalities, and I will venture to be precise":

Fraternal association requires not only the growing friendship and mutual understanding between our two vast but kindred systems of society, but the continuance of the intimate relationship between our military advisers, leading to common study of potential dangers, the similarity of weapons and manuals of instructions, and to the interchange of officers and cadets at technical colleges. It should carry with it the continuance of the present facilities for mutual security by the joint use of all Naval and Air Force bases in the possession of either country all over the world. This would perhaps double the mobility of the American Navy and Air Force…
Whatever else, therefore, the bedrock of the "special relationship" was not only a military alliance but the effective integration of the military forces, the "intimate relationship between our military advisers…", etc.

It is here that the Cameron thesis falls apart for he tells us glibly that "it is not military might alone which will deliver security to us, or freedom for the world", never once acknowledging that not even military might can deliver security unless it is deployed effectively, with the military properly equipped, working to a clear mandate and able to work alongside its allies – in this case the United States.

To explore this very slight inconsistency between the Boy's speech and reality (the two rarely have anything in common), one must go to a little-reported public meeting in Dorchester last week organised by the Campaign for an Independent Britain, where two speakers, Roger Helmer and Oliver Letwin, under the general title of "Conservative Party Policy - Does membership of the EU benefit the United Kingdom?"

It was there that Letwin expounded the central ethos of the Cameron policy towards the EU, which amounts to a belief that that Britain needed membership of the EU.

But, unspoken, it that a core policy of continued membership is military integration, a policy which Conservatives initiated back in the 1970s and which many still support. Yet it is the pursuit of this policy which has been the proximate cause of the diversion of billions of pounds into unnecessary defence projects (detailed here), which has left our armed forces singularly ill-equipped to undertake their present roles.

Yet, the progress of this integration continues apace, about which the Boy King has nothing to say – and in principle supports. Yet, unless he gets the military component of the "special relationship" right, it simply does not exist. Furthermore, since the process of European defence integration is essentially directed at forming a "counter-weight" to American power, British participation is not so much incompatible with the special relationship but inimicable to it.

However, while this may be the case, and it is largely the case that Conservatives understand and believe in the special relationship, the problem is that the Boy King isn't a Conservative.

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