13 April 2021 — Political Concern
In his March article (summarised here), Dr Steven Schofield denounces ‘Global Britain in a competitive age: The Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy’ as encapsulating everything that is wrong with the British state.
He points out that there is nothing integrated about:
- a strategy that ignores the existential threat of irreversible climate change to all life on the planet,
- a multi-billion-pound increase in arms expenditure, extending our subservience to the United States in global power projection
- and about fuelling a poisonous militarism that can only lead to further confrontations between the major powers and to the threat of conventional and nuclear war.
Rather than a common security agenda we have a common insecurity agenda and an accelerating arms race
Both Conservative and Labour governments indulged in the post-imperial fantasy that the UK remained a global, military power and maintained ‘the imperial delusion’ by retaining our ‘independent’ nuclear weapons through the Trident programme which relies on missiles leased from the US Trident fleet, since the UK has no ballistic-missile capability, and on warhead specifications determined by the United States.
The increase in nuclear warheads announced in the review demonstrates the government’s total contempt for its international obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the UK’s continued dependency on the US warhead development programme into the 2030s. (BBC News: Replacing Trident could take the UK-US ‘special relationship’ to “new heights”)
The Review serves to maintain a general sense of fear and anxiety about the state of the world, balanced by the reassurance that multi-billion-pound increases to military spending will keep the UK safe and strong. from major power confrontation, to terrorism and cyber war. That isn’t to say that the threats are illusory but that the deep, structural issues of poverty, environmental degradation and insecurity caused by the legacy of Western militarism can never be acknowledged.
Even climate change is weaponised as a source of instability requiring military options rather than being seen as a global, existential emergency that demands a fundamental re-evaluation of security priorities in which comprehensive disarmament must play a key role.
For the UK Military-Industrial Complex it is business as usual. Contracts will be celebrated for protecting manufacturing jobs and senior civil servants will move smoothly from the Ministry of Defence into senior management positions as global salesmen for BAE Systems.
Never has there been a greater need for a common security agenda prioritising the challenge of climate change, but the outlook has never been more bleak.
Over the next decade, the international community will spend trillions and trillions of dollars on a terrifyingly dangerous arms race, when those industrial, technological and scientific capabilities could have been used to rapidly decarbonise the economy, prevent irreversible climate change and address the structural problems of global poverty.
A Just Transition programme integrated with arms conversion would offer a range of new civil work in renewable energy and energy efficiency that more than compensates for the loss of fossil-fuel and armaments-related employment. Schofield ends:
“There is a smell of sulphur in the air. Any lingering hopes for disarmament and common security are being expunged.
“The peace movement faces an authoritarian, surveillance state where the police have the powers to crush popular protests against militarism and where its leaders will be demonised as, not only unpatriotic, but as the enemy within.
“The drumbeats of war are echoing over the horizon. The UK straddles the international stage with the nuclear weapon on its hip and its aircraft carriers sailing resolutely into the wide blue yonder. Here’s looking forward to the next review – ‘Security on a Dying Planet – Why the UK Needs to Expand Its Military Capabilities’ “.