Wednesday, April 25, 2012

As Europe falters Asia's defence spending grows and grows

North Korea, the US estimates the country's defence spending to be nearly a quarter of the size of its economy - compared with less than 3% for South Korea, or just 1% for Japan. Overall military spending in Asia has been growing while the West has been cutting back.

Especially in Europe, and here in the UK we have seen mass Army redundancies and the scaling back of our RAF and Royal Navy. Asia's top spender, China, has more than trebled its official defence expenditure over the past ten years.

Why is this happening? Don't we live in a world governed by the UN and diplomacy? Militarism has been dead for 70 years, it doesn't work. So why the arms race? Who is China threatened by? India and Pakistan have Nuclear Weapons, Iran wants one now too; China is feeling the pressure...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A turning point for the British Armed Forces in Afghanistan

Cpl Jake Hartley, 20, Pte Anthony Frampton, 20, Pte Christopher Kershaw, 19, Pte Daniel Wade, 20, and Pte Daniel Wilford, 21, of 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment died with Sgt Nigel Coupe, 33, of 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, when their Warrior was blown up in Afghanistan.

Names assuredly that will live on for a long time, remembered with regret. Rightly so. Time will tell if their deaths were a watershed moment, a turning point for the British Armed Forces in Afghanistan.

Probably not. Everyone knows we are committed to the campaign until 2014 and despite the loss and grief many in the York's community feel about this campaign, we should see it out until the end.

What many do not realise is that the media are only briefed by the MoD on the terms of the government. We only find out about what occurs in Afghanistan via press leaks or from the ingenuity of the press itself. As a rule, the MoD never comment on operations, and certainly never breaks the cardinal rule of not reporting on Special ops; Much the same way the Admiralty never disclose the whereabouts of the Royal Navy's submarines.

Therefore, the only news that often comes out of Afghanistan is negative. This tactic is often manipulated in favour of the enemy as propaganda to demonstrate the weakness of the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force), which we will feel in Britain.

In addition in the UK, a feeling of being under siege can be exacerbated by supporters of Islamist terrorism whom use seemingly negative news about the conflict in favour of their warped views on Islam to call into question Britain’s role in Afghanistan.

However, because Britain, as a substantial rule on reporting of conflicts, says little about its Armed Forces, it cannot be accused of propaganda by its enemies. The same rule applies to the abduction of British nationals – the UK government does not negotiate with pirates, kidnappers, nor terrorists.

It takes real nerve and strength to have this policy; often stuck between a rock and a hard place of international and domestic criticism, traditionally British governments have been doing this for a century, by nature becoming very adept.

The aphorism goes: don’t take a Brit, it won’t get you anything.

Because of the death of the 6 soldiers recently, and public opinion running so high, some little positive news did come out of Afghanistan via the MoD only days after their deaths. Although it was little reported by the mass media, naturally, it can give a modicum of succour to the bereaved.

Friday, March 16, 2012

It's the ECHR that needs reforming from the inside

Britain leaving the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and creating its own Bill of Rights (The Conservatives have a commitment on this policy) may not be the right move forward for future generations.

ECHR is out of date. That's for sure. When the victim's rights are ignored in favour of the criminal something is wrong. One only has to remember illegal immigrant Mohammed Ibrahim who killed Amy Houston, whom should have been deported but wasn't; not to mention the farce over Abu Qadata. The list is endless.

However, now that hundreds of ex-servicemen exposed to radiation in British nuclear weapons tests have lost a Supreme Court bid to launch damages claims against the MoD, it means they can take their case to the ECHR.

If we pulled out of it, the sailors would have no chance.

The ECHR has done some good though - not to forget the old couple whom had never been apart were placed in different care homes by their local council but took their case to the ECHR and won; or the cancer patients refused drug treatment by the NHS also won their ECHR case.

It's the ECHR that needs reforming from the inside. It was created from declarations written in 1949; it's out of date.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Heritage Organisations Form Action Group to Save Our War Memorials

Seventeen heritage organisations, including the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Imperial War Museum, and English Heritage, have been invited to join an "action group".

Since the start of the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan 10 years ago the rise in incidents of vandalism and desecretion of war graves and monuments in the UK has risen. According to the Imperial War Museum the number described as being in a "poor" condition has risen by 79 per cent in the last two years alone. The attacks have been for various reasons and not just the one everyone thinks. Many civic monuments have had metal stolen from them, a lucrative business to scarp metal yards; until recently of course now that the law has changed. But still many vandals are avoiding justice so more needs to be invested into protecting not only our hisotical monuments but our cemertaries too.

This new action group has been set up by the Heritage Lottery Fund in response to a campaign that calls for more Lottery money to be spent on memorials and a relaxation of funding rules.

The groups will look at the problems of protecting and restoring memorials. In two years it will be the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. There are hundreds of memorials built in commneration of the end of that war that require protection and restoration. So action it seems is required now to understand the situation and to raise the necessary funds to protect our heritage. The government seems to be inept at doing this.

Interestingly, the organisation will review what information is available on the location and condition of monuments, to make this more available and to raise public awareness of all the issues affecting the monuments.

What the government and the law courts seem to be ignoring (as usual!) is that public opnion over this issue is extremely strong and many have been calling for action for several years now. There have been many calls for stronger protection for memorials in the local planning system; the prosecution of anyone caught damaging a war memorial, and stronger sentences for those convicted.

That is not the case at the moment.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Six soldiers from Yorkshire & Lancashire Regiments killed in Afghanistan

It has been reported that 6 soldiers have been killed in a Warrior when it was involved in an explosion in Lashkar Gah, Afghanistan. It is 5 soldiers from the Yorkshire Regiment and one from 1st Duke of Lancasters.

It is the biggest single loss of British military pesonnel at one time in Afghanistan since a Nimrod crash killed 14 in 2006.

Please leave your messages of condolence and remembrance for the troops whom have served and been killed in service.

Heart, you were never hot
Nor large, nor full like hearts made great with shot;
And though your hand be pale,
Paler are all which trail
Your cross through flame and hail:
Weep, you may weep, for you may touch them not.

Wilfred Owen

Monday, March 5, 2012

George Galloway - "Give Argentina the Falklands"

Galloway in red leotard on Celeb BB
On a BBC politcal show, This Week broadcast Thursday 1st March, Andrew Neil interviewed George Galloway about Argentina's false claim over the Falkland Islands. Galloway said that we should give the Islands up or share them with Argentina.

Galloway is not averse to making outrageous public announcements, his entire career has been one long attention seeking exercise to obtain as much exposure as possible. He has apologised to the House of Commons for saying the wrong thing and been investigated by select committees, had spats with the speaker. The list is long. He is the failed politician (he's lost elections in both London and Glasgow) remembered for trying to lift a sinking career by appearing on celebrity Big Brother in a red leotard. Take note people, he is the only politician to have appeared on it, that tells you something.  He is jumping on the Sean Penn bandwagon by ingratiating himself with the President of Argentina whom he constantly refers to as 'beautiful'. Unbeknowest to George many call her the 'Queen of Botox' in Argentina. His taste in women is as bad as his judgement.

His remarks on This Week are ridiculous and childish - he makes them, forgetting that the Falkland Islanders have the right to self-determination. If there are millions of barrels of oil beneath the Islands then by god we should not share it since the UK has been the only invester in those Islands for the past 150 years.

There's no debate. Argentina just can't claim what they never had any right to. Why George makes this claim is for the reason pointed out above - to gain friends in Argentina as he has none here.

Friday, March 2, 2012

How long can we tolerate the rise in inflation while our Armed Forces salaries are capped and allowances slashed?

More Nimrod were scrapped
How long can we tolerate the rise in inflation while our Armed Forces salaries are capped and allowances slashed? It just seem terribly unfair that unemployment benefit and disability living allowance have increase by 5.2 per cent.

Many Military campaigners blasted Osborne for ruining morale among troops at a time when the Army, Royal Navy and RAF are already facing crippling cuts. Most of this occurred last year and here we are in 2012 totally powerless and impotent to do anything about it.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond is trying to save £5 billion from the Ministry of Defence budget by axing battleships, fighter jets, spy planes, tanks and jobs. There is no way now we can commit to any military action in Syria.

The tax free bonus paid to personnel in Afghanistan seems a small tonic when inflation is quickly outpacing the current standard of living. The government tried to deflect attention away from the pay freeze by pointing out this tax break - but a very poor break it is.

However, it can't all be blamed on Tory policy as the Armed Forces engaged in no less than four military conflicts under New Labour - and remember Labour did not bother to have any defence reviews.
Politics aside, the question now is, what is the future? How are we going to cope with international security, how can we afford to? How do we protect the salaries and pay of our Armed Forces? It looks like the electorate will answer with their feet in 2 years time...