One of the few constants of civilization has been the presence of armed conflict in
Europe. The continent
has seen almost continual fighting since it was inhabited, either in the form
of wars of nation against nation or civil wars within a nation. The last century saw the horror of war
reach a level only dreamed (nightmared) about in fiction.
World War II taught
Europe a lesson it appears to have finally
learned. Wars are destructive not
constructive, and one facet of post WWII policy in Europe
has been to adopt programs that reduce rather than encourage armed conflict as
a way to settle difference. In fact, the
current issue in Europe is one of how much,
not how little national sovereignty to cede in the goal of a unified and
But even if continental politics were not driving European cuts in national defense spending economics would be. It turns out that with soft economic growth, an aging population that will need more rather than less government support and the demands of non-defense government resources, there is simply not enough money left over for
to build the armies and weapons to go to war.
|Source: Financial Times July 5, 2012|
Notice the Comparison of the U. S. to the Other Major Spenders on Defense!
So the announcement that Britain would cut its troop levels to an amount not scene in about 200 years is not a surprise.
Philip Hammond, defence secretary, announced on Thursday that over the next eight years, the army is to lose 17 of its 136 major units, prompting outcry at the loss of historic battalions.
Mr Hammond told the Commons that the reduction in troop numbers was part of a strategy aimed at reforming the army as its decade-long campaign in Afghanistan ends.
He said the aim of the reforms, called Army 2020, was to transform
into a “forward-looking, modern fighting machine.” However, he acknowledged
that “morale is fragile” inside the army, which is bracing itself for
compulsory redundancies. UK
The opposition Labour party, like any other political party seized on the news to try to make political points.
Jim Murphy, the shadow defence secretary, attacked the proposals, accusing ministers of putting “savings before strategy”. He said jobs and military capability had been lost “and tradition and history have been sacrificed.”
Mr Murphy added: “This isn’t just a smaller Army, it’s also a less powerful Army in a less influential nation. Our armed forces and their families deserve better.’’
It’s nice to know that opportunistic pandering is not the exclusive actions of any political party. Were Labour in power, of course, they would be doing the same thing and would be subjected to criticism from the Conservative party.
As far as the
United States is concerned, the movement of Britain towards a much smaller armed forces
means that the Brits will no longer be Washington’s
unquestioning ally in misadventures such as Iraq. This is probably a good thing.