Britain relies on France for its defence? What could go wrong?

November 7, 2010

Oh, how about a French aircraft carrier breaking down?

As President Nicolas Sarkozy prepares to use a historic London summit to announce the use of RAF jets off the Charles de Gaulle, his naval chiefs have told him she is no longer seaworthy.

“She’s meant to be heading to Afghanistan to support the war there but is instead in home port with a faulty propulsion system,” said a French Navy source.

“This is a carrier which is meant to be defending not only France but also Britain over the next decade. As far as the London summit is concerned, her breaking down could not come at a worse time.”

Following Britain’s strategic defence review last week, it looks certain that the UK and France will each have just one operational aircraft carrier each towards the end of the decade.

But Britain will have to rely solely on the Charles de Gaulle until at least 2020 while the Queen Elizabeth, a new carrier, is being built.

This follows the announcement of the scrapping of the carrier Ark Royal and its Harrier Jump Jets.

I earlier covered the sad state of the Royal Navy, which is being reduced to it’s smallest size since the 16th century. And now this: reliant on Britain’s most ancient enemy for naval security, yet that enemy is… incompetent.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the future of the US military under the social democracy the Democrats so dearly desire. Europe, when it went down this path, could rely on us to bail them out. Well…

Just whom do we rely on?

And, Anglophile that I am, I have to say it again: Nelson weeps.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


The end of the Royal Navy?

October 8, 2010

 

The Royal Navy's "White Ensign"

The White Ensign of the Royal Navy

 

 

This is sad news. Because of the budgetary crisis brought on by profligate government spending and the recent recession, the Royal Navy has offered to reduce itself to its smallest size in over 450 years, when Henry VIII was King:

The Navy is set to be reduced to the smallest size in its history after admirals yesterday offered drastic reductions in the fleet in order to save two new aircraft carriers from defence cuts.

Under the plans, the number of warships would be cut by almost half to just 25, with frigates, destroyers, submarines, minesweepers and all amphibious craft scrapped.

(…)

It is understood that the Navy has offered to slim down to as few as 12 surface ships, leaving it with six Type 45 destroyers and six Type 23 frigates. In addition, its submarine fleet would reduce to seven Astute hunter-killers plus the four Trident nuclear deterrent boats. With the two carriers, this would reduce the fleet by half from its current total of 42 ships.

“If we want the two carriers it means we have to mortgage everything and by that I mean reducing the fleet by almost a half,” said a senior Navy source.

Navy analysts warned that the cuts would mean Britain reducing its fleet to the size of the Italian navy and almost half the size of the French.

Emphasis added. This is what the heirs of the victors of Trafalgar are reduced to? Oh, the shame.

The Admiralty apparently is offering to make these cuts because they want to complete the construction of two new aircraft carriers, which they claim is essential to maintaining Britain’s status as a world power. Perhaps so, but I’m not sure what good carriers are if you don’t have enough other ships to protect them. Besides, as the article points out, Her Majesty’s Government may not even be able to afford to put any planes on them.

So, they’re gutting the Royal Navy to build floating planter boxes?

It’s a depressing turn for what was once one of the greatest naval forces to ever sail the oceans. Along with its great battle victories, the Royal Navy essentially ended the transatlantic slave trade and guaranteed freedom of the seas, until we took over that latter role. Indeed, the US Navy took many of its traditions from the Royal Navy, and for the last 100 years the two have fought side-by-side against the deadly enemies of both nations.

And now it’s come to this: just 25 ships, a fleet that’s little better than a coastal defense force.  Great Britain thus leaves itself reliant on the EU and soft power for its security.

Nelson and Churchill weep.

LINKS: This possibility was first discussed roughly three years ago; I wrote about it then, too, and the observations I made then seem just as true today.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


The End of Europe as a world power?

May 13, 2010

Is Europe’s reign as dominant global power over after roughly 500 years? Richard Haass of the Financial Times looks at the state of the EU in the early 21st century and says it’s time to say goodbye (registration required):

Even before this economic crisis, Europe was weakened by a political crisis. Many Europeans have been preoccupied with revising European institutions, but repeated rejections of the Lisbon treaty demonstrate that a united Europe no longer captures the imagination of many of its residents. Lacklustre leadership of European organisations is both a cause and a result of this loss of momentum.

Behind this drift is the stark reality that Europeans have never quite committed to Europe, largely because of the continued pull of nationalism. If Europeans were serious about being a major power, they would trade the British and French United Nations Security Council seats for a European one. This is not about to happen.

Europe’s drift also manifests itself militarily. Few European states are willing to devote even 2 per cent of their budgets to defence; and what they spend their money on makes little sense. National politics and economics dictate expenditures, so there is much replication of what is not relevant and little investment in what is needed. The whole is less than the sum of its parts.

Afghanistan is a case in point. The European contribution there is substantial, with more than 30,000 soldiers from EU countries. But the involvement is uneven, with nearly a third of the troops coming from the UK. In many cases the roles are diluted by governmental “caveats” that limit missions, a lack of equipment and commitments of uncertain duration. European political culture has evolved in ways that make it harder to field militaries willing to bear the cost in blood; the US secretary of defence describes this as “the demilitarisation of Europe – where large swaths of the general public and political class are averse to military force and the risks that go with it”. All this limits Nato’s future role, as Nato mostly makes sense as an expeditionary force in an unstable world, not as a standing army on a stable continent.

Time and demographics will not improve the situation. Europe’s population has levelled off at about 500m and is rapidly ageing. By mid-century the percentage of Europe’s adults who are older than 65 is projected to double. Fewer will be of military age; a smaller number will be working to support the retired.

Or, as Mark Steyn likes to say, demography is destiny.

One thing to bear in mind was the Europe’s extensive (and enervating) social-welfare state was made possible because the United States largely bore the cost of keeping the Russians from eventually rolling on to the Atlantic after World War II. At the time, it was necessary: Britain was bankrupt and Western Europe was largely flattened by the war. But the moral hazard created by having someone pay for their defense beyond the point their economies could afford to pay their own way let them instead buy social peace (and votes) through large-scale government welfare. This in turn lead to fewer children being born, and hence fewer people of working age to support the increasing number of elderly retired folks (who retired at ever-younger ages), until they hit they point they’re at now, when the state can no longer afford those promised benefits.

It’s hard to say what could have been done differently, however, given the geopolitical realities of the Cold War.