We're the losers in Blair's war games MARGO MacDONALD The independent voice of Scotland SO, the Scottish regiments are safe . . . in the meantime. Chancellor Gordon Brown seems to have been stymied in his attempt to include defence in his list of spending cuts. Army, Navy and RAF bosses were expecting to have to cut 2400 armed services personnel based in Scotland, but, for the moment, political considerations have taken precedence over economic prudence. The Chancellor says Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon has to cut his coat, etc. Westminsters all-party select committee on defence says cuts would be dangerous because the hi-tech weaponry thats meant to replace squaddies on the ground is still only at the development stage. The committee also says the Ministry of Defences policy relies on terrorists such as al-Qaida playing the game as theyve done up to now. In other words, the MoDs planning for the last war, not the next. But the UKs lack of money is at the bottom of it. So why not do as our prudent Chancellor suggests? Successive Westminster governments have never come clean about the cost of going out to play war games with the big boy. So soldiers in Iraq had to write home to the folks to ask them to buy clothing and supplies suitable for desert warfare. The MoD sent them to Iraq without the equipment to do the job and safeguard their lives. As the world is now a much more dangerous place than it was two decades ago when the Berlin Wall divided East from West, why should we be even contemplating spending less on the defence of the UK, when the threat to the security of the British Isles is much more diffuse and difficult to counter than it was during the Cold War? If were too hard up to pay the Armed Forces to protect us, why do the establishment political parties agree that one economy just cannot be made, no matter how many of the poor bloody infantry are sent to Iraq with guns that jam, and without boots? Why do we still have Trident, our nuclear submarines that a brand new and politically-incorrect American ambassador, William Price III, once described to me as "peanuts"? Why are we still paying billions every year for a deterrent that doesnt faze in the slightest the likes of al-Qaida, who have taken over from the traditional communist state enemies of the West, who played the Cold War game according to the same rules as us? Our enemies in todays world dont play by anyones rules and the suicide bombers arent deterred from their course of action by the UK being a nuclear power that can barely afford to put its nuke subs to sea. Yet Tony Blair hangs on to his useless nukes and depletes the defence forces to the stage when they cant even find time for proper training before men and women are sent into dangerous, sensitive war zones. Why? Because, he thinks, without Trident, George W Bush wouldnt have him stand shoulder-to-shoulder to defend the American Presidents ill-judged response to 9/11. Without Trident, the UK wouldnt be sure of remaining a permanent member of the UNs Security Council. Until fairly recently, most people in the UK didnt give much thought to such things. Partly because acceptance of international responsibility for keeping the peace was one of the legacies of the UKs Second World War experience, and partly because, as a result of the echoes of national superiority conferred by having been a huge imperial power, most people vaguely thought it a price we paid for being "Great" Britain. But that attitude has all but faded away, as has the need for nukes to underscore the "special relationship" between the US and the UK. If Tony Blair had turned up at the White House after the Twin Towers outrage, with forces armed with pea-shooters and spears, Bush would still have warmly welcomed him as the first of the few to support his ill-conceived "war on terrorism". Bush needed the UKs political backing, not military support, for his illegal war on Iraq. But against public opinion here, the British Government took our troops to war, toppled a dictator who was of no immediate threat to the UK, or even his nearest neighbours in the region, and unleashed a campaign of terror across the globe. And that, as much as the born-again pure nationalism of the lads who arent answering the call to join the Scottish regiments in which fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers fought proudly as part of the British Army, is a reason for the Scottish regiments recruiting difficulties. Army top brass are worried the Scottish regiments will become Scots in name only because of their failure to recruit. They put it down to lads having a more acute sense of their own, Scottish, identity than their parents had at the same age. The Army bosses say these young Scots dont want to fight in a British Army. I suspect theyd feel much the same about fighting in a Scots army, or an EU one, come to that, if they disagreed with the reasons for going to war, knew they were ill-prepared and over-stretched, and suspected the Government was risking their lives for a grand political strategy quite unconnected with the defence of the realm.