Royal Navy in NY Post.....

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Peeler, Jan 14, 2007.

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  1. I know it's the wrong forum but the Sunday New York Post had a full page Opinion piece on the state of the Royal Navy

    Slideshow image
    Last of the breed? The light carrier HMS Ark Royal, shown here with a Merlin helicopter, is the fifth ship to bear the name. The Royal Navy's most up-to-date aircraft carrier, it can only manage vertical-takeoff-and-landing craft (unlike the previous Ark Royal).
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    January 14, 2007 -- A 400-YEAR epoch of world history is about to draw to a close. If Britain's current Labor government has its way, Britain's Royal Navy will mothball at least 13, and perhaps as many as 19, of its remaining 44 ships, or nearly half its effective fleet.

    With one bureaucratic stroke, the Ministry of Defense will end a naval tradition reaching back to Sir Francis Drake - reducing the Royal Navy, which 40 years ago was still the second-largest fleet in the world, to the size of navies of countries like Indonesia and Turkey.

    This decision, of course, has to be set against the background of Britain's decades-long decline as a world power. But it also reflects a struggle for the soul of Great Britain that has been going since World War II: Is Britain part of an English-speaking, Atlantic-based strategic alliance that includes the United States and Canada? Or is it part of Europe as envisioned by technocrats in Paris, Brussels and Berlin?

    NEXT month's final decision on whether to scrap the Royal Navy may supply us with the answer. Because the Blair government's drastic plans include more than taking existing ships out of commission. The service's entire future as a blue-water navy (that is, a navy capable of operations outside Britain's own waters) may be forfeit.

    According to The Daily Telegraph, plans for two new fleet carriers of the kind vital for fighting today's War on Terror and projecting power overseas - and for which $6.9 billion had already been set aside - will also be scrapped. Two new destroyers, which were supposed to replace at least some of the retired ships, are also out of the picture. The Telegraph even reports (Jan. 8) that all officer promotions in the navy are to be suspended for the next five years.

    Many in the government and in the media blame these cuts on Tony Blair's support for the U.S. war in Iraq. They claim the British troop presence there is eating up the British defense budget, leaving the other services like the navy to fight over table scraps.

    But this is far from the whole story. Since the mid '80s, British defense spending has shrunk by more than 30 percent, to less than 2.5 percent of GDP. Today it is at its lowest level since 1930. Even welfare states such as France and Germany spend more on their military. (Meanwhile, Blair is busy hacking back the British commitment in Iraq from 7,000 to 4,500 troops - less than 4 percent of the coalition total.

    The truth is that for two centuries Britain and the Royal Navy played the role of globocop, policing the world's sea trade lanes which keep the global economy going. (Even today, 95 percent of the weight of all intercontinental trade travels by sea.)

    AFTER World War II, the U.S. Navy gradually took over that thankless but essential task; the British felt free to relax. From a postwar peak of 388 ships and submarines in 1950, the Royal Navy had dwindled to 112 vessels in 1980. By 2004. it was down to just 46.

    Yet the British navy still takes pride in sharing the globocop burden with the United States in vital strategic areas like the Persian Gulf, and even being able to project power trans-oceanically alone when it has to, as during the Falklands War.

    Analysts agree that once these forecast cuts go through, this will be impossible. Indeed, a Royal Navy of only 25 vessels would require at least some cooperation from its European neighbors even to defend Britain.

    This is a ominous trend for many reasons. It not only increases the burden on the U.S. Navy around the globe. It also reflects a decision to move Britain away from its traditional maritime culture, which is the basis of its strategic relationship with the United States, and toward a decaying Europe.

    SINCE 1945, Britain has been torn be tween the two, like a would-be bride torn between two suitors. Winston Churchill (who was half-American) and Margaret Thatcher knew which to choose. "There is no hope for civilization," Churchill used to say, "if we drift apart," meaning the United States and England.

    Blair, it is true, has been supportive on Iraq. But (like many recent British politicians) he has been eager to ingratiate himself with his continental neighbors, including by compromising Britain's defense capability. For example, his government stuck with the ill-fated EFA-2000 Eurofighter project, even though it cost Britain 21/2 times the original estimated cost ($37 billion versus $13.7 billion) and the RAF only got its planes after a 41/2-year delay.

    Then in 1998 he endorsed Germany and France's idea of a European Defense Force separate from NATO - and the United States. Again, the cost of cooperation will be to reduce the British army to just one more unit in a European military coalition led from Brussels, not London.

    Now come the naval cuts. Pure coincidence? It is not difficult to see the distant hand of the Paris-Brussels-Berlin axis at work.

    And disasters like this will continue as long as British politicians fool themselves into thinking their future lies with the shrinking economies and aging populations of the continent of Europe.

    IRONICALLY, Britain just celebrated the 200th anniversary of its naval vic tory over France at Trafalgar, which allowed Britain to build an empire and dominate the world's oceans. If these navy cuts go into effect, France will have a larger fleet than Britain for the first time since the mid-1600s.

    The victory the French couldn't win at sea, they will win effortlessly and painlessly at the bureaucrat's desk.

    Arthur Herman is the author of "To Rule the Waves: How the British Navy Shaped the Modern World," which was nominated for the Mountbatten Prize for best book in naval history in 2005. His latest book, a study of Gandhi and Churchill, will be published next year.
  2. Stonker

    Stonker On ROPs

    So much for B'liar sustaining a close and benefitcial relationship with America, if this is how his (admittedly, extraordinarily stupid) decision to mothball half the Royal Navy is to be understood over there.

    I have to say, long after accepting that - like it or not - Britain is a 2nd class power these days, faced with a choice of America or Europe as first choice of ally, my heart has always said "Europe", but my head - knowing we will not be welcomed as 'proper' Europeans, as long as France has a land border with Germany - has always said "America".

    But, implicit in this NYT piece, is a lumping of Britain in among the Europeans, as yet another washed-up 'Old World' nation.

    It is deeply, deeply depressing, that after 10yrs of Blairite arrse-licking, this is how we are viewed by - at least some of - our 'Transatlantic Cousins'.
  3. And where are the Argentinians now that we need them again!
  4. Given that the US Navy currently possesses 276 vessels (according to thier website), the Royal Navy losing 19 is not going to lead to a tremendous increase in pressure upon the Americans - heck, they'll just build some more and the shipyards will be grateful for the work - and to suggest that our Strategic relationship is largely based upon the strength of our Navy, as the author clearly infers, is simplistic to the point of absurdity.

    Damn those nefarious Euro-weenie foreigners and their underhanded ways. Nice use of the word "Axis" as well, that brings WW2 nicely to mind. Whose side are we meant to be on here, huh?

    Unlike the young and virile Americans, going from strength to strength and not at all facing increased competition from, for example, the Chinese.

    Give me a break, are you sure this whole article wasn't a cut and paste from one of the Daily Mail's more ferocious "journalists"?

    This article has nothing to do with the cuts in the RN and everything to do with the author whinging about Britain leaning toward Europe instead of America - you're meant to be our friend, not theirs. The cuts are merely being used as a basis for the rant.

    Stonker says:

    I'd disagree - what is implicit in this piece is that some sections of the U.S Establishment are deeply worried about Britain turning away from them and toward Europe, and that they regard the "Special Relationship" with the same level of importance that many people over here do (hence all the anti-Euro rhetoric and allusions to historic rivalries).

    The Amis want us on side and so do the Europeans - our affections are being fought over, boys and girls, and that's always a nice position to be in. Maybe we should sell to the highest bidder :thumleft:

    <anticipating someone saying "Or we could tell them BOTH to feck off - vote UKIP">
  5. Maybe if they'd stop fecking about and bickering we could have both.
  6. The NY Post is the Spam equivalent of the Scum:

    Eh? *checks map* Yup we're still part of Europe!

    So its not Mr Broon's craggy hand counting the beans then?
  7. At least the author is well aware of the siutation with our armed forces.

    I don't believe it is a case of whether we go to war with USA or Europe, I think it's a case of whether or not we retain the capability to go to war on our own.

    We shouldn't *need* either of them. We to a great extent should be able to protect our interests at home and abroad with our own native armed forces; only calling on other countries to give a helping hand.

    Perhaps more money into our armed forces to stop the rot, and a speech making it very very clear we are friends with both our continental cousins and that lot across the pond would make our preferred position clear?

    And then I woke up and Labour were still in power... *sigh*
  8. Stonker

    Stonker On ROPs

    I hate to say it, but - unless that's a spello I've marked up - you're wrong.

    We cannot RETAIN what we do not have. Our dependence on the US has significantly increased since the Falklands war. Strategic lift, intel infrastructure (and much 'technically' acquired Int - meaning "not-HUMINT") and even the ability to navigate and thus to target effectively using NAVSAT data, are all horribly horribly in the gift of our "cousins".

    The have, I believe, told UK Plc to match the American 'digitisation' standards and timetable, or cease to be Unca Sam's favourite soldiering chums - and we like good little allies, have had little choice but to try to comply.

    Suggest amdt 1 might be:
    DELETE "retain"
    INSERT "regain"

    a rather more expensive proposition.

    For spack_bandit's benefit That is a horribly one-sided "Special Relationship": and I'm curious to know which sections of the American body politic are feeling stressed about 'losing' Brit'n to the Europeans? I'd wager Dubya wouldn't lose sleep over it even now.

    I'd also point you to Christopher(?) Meyer's BBC4 "Mortgaged to the Yanks". Remember that these were the people who deliberately set out to break the British Empire, and the value of Stirling, to bolster their own trading postion in the aftermath of WW2. Sure some 35%(IIRC) of US overseas investment in in Europe - and some of that is in UK Plc, but even so, you mustn't over-estimate the importance of what is to some extent a Churchillian dream, rather than an eternal bond.
  9. Of course, my apologies.
  10. Keeping the UK PLC business metaphor, and our 'corner shop' country, a bit like Lyons tea shop, unchanging, austere, underinvested, this is a case of ‘strategic positioning’ (Acheson: lost an Empire, looking for a role).

    Our defence strategy has to align with our 'position' in the world, based on largely economy and security. Defence reviews haven’t had a clear plan from the UK’s CEO since the 50s, so they flounder without reference to clear national objectives.

    What is our current position? It’s a member of the EU AND US partner.
    In detail:
    a) we’re the counter-balance to Frances’s political vision of Europe (the Anglo-Saxons; fair play; honesty; single market first) and;
    b) US’s aircraft carrier for Europe and beyond (Anglo-Saxon friend; emotional motherland; reference point for etiquette; confidante; fur stroker; whipping boy; explainer of atlases; explainer of irony; explainer of how other cultures work and think and source of tartan products).

    What should be our future position?
    In detail:
    a) Increasing alignment with EU AND realistic US partner (recognise there is no economic ‘special relationship’ in the sense of pure capitalism is purely dog eat dog)
    b) Clearly changing our internal model from ‘pale reflection of our former selves’ to:
    i) Reformed and modern monarchy (end emotional connection with Empire)
    ii) Renewal of vision for Britain as ultra-modern European nation (socio-economic renewal, from cycle paths to major urban re-engineering)
    iii) The best European trained and equipped European ‘miltary' that recognises no ambition to global 'prestige' (support US globocop role but not strategically).

    ...I'll have two lumps with that, if that's alright, no hurry...
  11. Don't be daft. We're downsizing ourselves. And cancelling.

  12. The US Navy is emphatically NOT downsizing, at least in terms of ship-numbers:

    Also the article about the LCS merely relates to a delay in building the second ship of one of 2 variants of the LCS - the GD version is going ahead anyway. Frankly, the RN would dream of the USN's 'downsizing problem'.
  13. Once the greatest nation on Earth, now a tinpot banana monarchy.
    I am immensly proud of being British and thoroughly disgusted at how low Britain has sunk.
    We can all argue the why's and wherefor's but simply put, at the rate things are going we will soon be incapable of defending our own shores for the 1st time in nigh on a thousand years (let alone our interests around the world).
    The Royal Navy smaller then the French Navy? its a fecking outrage.
    I personally couldn't care less about the EU or the USA, I'm British, end of. Who Teflon Tony choose to pledge his allegiance to this week is immaterial to me.
    The fact that the Defence of the Realm is so far cut back that it makes the early 1930's look wonderful troubles me greatly.
    Kind of beggars the question that in these days of incredible taxation where is my (and yours) money being pissed away?
    Tony's Defence Policy? more like Treason to me
  14. No it's Britain, we're British and those cnuts in Brussels and Washington can both feck right off!