Thursday, 30 September 2010

We Will Always Be Fighting Alongside The Americans

Discussion of defence matters in the United Kingdom is often beset by arguments which have little basis in either logic or fact.

One of the most common of these is the argument that "We will always be fighting alongside the Americans".

More often than not this is used to justify getting rid of a particular military capability.

For example,one might hear:

"We don't need (insert capability) because we will always be fighting alongside the Americans and they have lots of them."


There are two fundamental problems with this argument.

The first is that the "We will always be fighting alongside the Americans bit" is neither borne out by logic nor history.


First,the history.

The United Kingdom has fought alongside the United States in only a minority of the conflicts which it has been involved in.

There were no American forces in the Falklands War for example,nor were there any in Northern Ireland,Aden,Kenya,Malaya,Sierra Leone,Tanganyika nor many others.

The Great War started in 1914 but there were no American forces involved until 1917.

The Second World War started in 1939 but the United States did not join it until December 1941.

During the Suez Crisis in 1956,American naval forces in the Meditterranean were deliberately impeding British combat operations while the American government resorted to blackmailing the British government into ceasing combat operations.

History then does not support the assertion that British Forces "will always be fighting alongside the Americans"


Then the logic.

The British people pay for the British armed forces in order that they may act in their best interests.

Principally this involves ensuring the political independence and economic well being of the British people.

As Britain and America are economic competitors,the economic best interests of the British people are not the same as those of the American people and thus cannot be maintained by armed forces dependent on assistance from a  foreign nation acting in it's own,different,economic interests.

Nor can the political independence of the British people be maintained by by armed forces dependent on assistance from a  foreign nation acting in it's own,different,political interests.

Such forces would in fact undermine the political independence of the British people thus rendering their own existence counter productive.


The second problem with the "We don't need (insert capability) because we will always be fighting alongside the Americans and they have lots of them." argument is the capability part.

This again bears little relationship either reality or logic.


First the reality of American military capability.

The Americans may have large forces but they also have large commitments and a large budget deficit.

Their forces are shrinking in many areas while those of many other nations are growing more powerful.

Their current budget deficit will force them to shrink their armed forces even more in future.

Even at present they struggle to match their force requirements and have many areas of weakness.

For example,they are often short of aircraft carriers and are weak in naval mine warfare and anti submarine warfare as well as having relatively few replenishment vessels.

They are very strong in terms of aircraft and ground forces but in many other areas they are likely to be in need of help from their allies.


Secondly the Logic.

"We don't need airborne early warning aircraft because we will always be fighting alongside the Americans and they have lots of them."

"We don't need tanks because we will always be fighting alongside the Americans and they have lots of them."

"We don't need helicopters because we will always be fighting alongside the Americans and they have lots of them."

"We don't need aerial refueling aircraft because we will always be fighting alongside the Americans and they have lots of them."

"We don't need infantrymen because we will always be fighting alongside the Americans and they have lots of them."

"We don't need fighter aircraft because we will always be fighting alongside the Americans and they have lots of them."

"We don't need artillery guns because we will always be fighting alongside the Americans and they have lots of them."

"We don't need submarines because we will always be fighting alongside the Americans and they have lots of them."

As can be seen from the above,this argument can be used to justify the United Kingdom getting rid of almost every military capability it possesses.

This is the Achilles heel of anyone who uses this argument to scrap "capability x" to spend more money on "capability y".

"After all,if it were true that : "We don't need "capability x" because we will always be fighting alongside the Americans and they have lots of them.".

Then it is also likely to be true that  "We don't need "capability y" because we will always be fighting alongside the Americans and they have lots of them.".



As the United Kingdom has it's own military requirements,getting rid of it's capabilities because "the Americans have lots of them" clearly makes no sense at all.

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