As our governments never cease to remind us, the world is a dangerous and unstable place where catastrophe is always waiting just around the corner, and where the evil ones are always seeking to do us harm. Luckily, here in Britain, we are fortunate to have leaders with the vision, foresight and determination to protect us from the myriad enemies who are out there and also here as well.
Over the last week, Lord Snooty has demonstrated once again that when it comes to security, there is nothing he won’t do to protect us. First, he rushed through an emergency surveillance bill in order to ‘keep us all safe’ from ‘criminals and terrorists’, because His Lordship was ‘simply not prepared to be a prime minister who has to address the people after a terrorist incident and explain that I could have done more to prevent it.’
You see folks? He really cares about us. And only cynics amongst you might point out what might have happened if Cameron had applied the same urgency say, to flood defenses, over the last few years. Because His Lordship knows that it isn’t enough to protect us from these threats at home.
This week he announced a £1.1 billion spending package of military spending to coincide with the aerospace/armaments industry showcase, the Farnborough Air Show. This money, he boasted, was the result of savings made from government austerity cuts in the defense budget, and would now be spent on a new range of surveillance aircraft, combat UAVs, destroyers and submarines.
Why is this hardware necessary? Because, as His Lordship wisely pointed out in the Telegraph:
‘The threats we face have changed utterly in 30 years from the clarity of the Cold War to the complex and shifting challenges of today: global terrorism, organised crime, hostage taking, the risk of nuclear proliferation, cyber attack, energy security. The enemy may be seen or unseen.’
Crikey. And in these circumstances, His Lordship has no time for those who suggest that Britain should not be engaging in ‘foreign adventurism’ because
‘…the plain fact is that in the 21st century, you cannot defend the realm from the white cliffs of Dover. Terrorist plots hatched thousands of miles away threaten to cause harm on our streets. When fragile and lawless states fracture, migration flows can affect us right here.’
Note that seamless conflation of immigration with this world of chaos, threat and danger – a connection frequently replayed in western security discourse nowadays, which has gathered new momentum recently with the warnings about ISIS and ‘battle-hardened jihadists’ returning from Syria as a new threat to our security.
His Lordship’s warnings are not new. Ever since the end of the Cold War, western securocrats have been depicting ‘fragile and lawless states’ as a threat to national security and a justification for various forms of military intervention that include bombings, drones, proxy wars, and invasion and occupation.
These efforts, particularly in the last decade, have had catastrophic consequences. Since 2001, there is not a single state that has been made more stable or secure as a result of the wars and interventions of the past thirteen years.
Right now, Afghanistan is poised on the brink of civil war following disputed results in the recent elections. Iraqi is fragmenting into three statelets. Libya is being ripped apart by warring factions and militias. Following the 2006 US-backed Ethiopian invasion, Somalia was plunged into one of the bloodiest periods in its recent history – a period which also saw a dramatic increase in piracy. The Syrian civil war, which Cameron and others now include in their lists of threats, has been made worse by the regime change policy pursued by western states and their allies, which until recently came close to direct military intervention.
Again and again, western states have rushed to war under the banner of humanitarianism or rescuing ‘fragile and lawless states’, only to demonstrate had neither the understanding, the willpower, or the competence to rebuild the states they supposedly aspired to save.
The UK has been deeply associated with this dismal trajectory, where a combination of imperial nostalgia, subservience to the United States, and a pathetic desire to ‘punch above its weight’, has resulted in a string of misadventures that neither its political elite nor the general public has attempted to analyse or account for.
Cameron’s Labour predecessors also claimed to want to ‘keep us safe’ from a constantly multiplying array of convenient threats. The main beneficiaries of these threat narratives have been the politicians for whom national security has become the last refuge for too many scoundrels, the arms manufacturers whose hardware is on display at Farnborough, and the corporations that have profited from the boom in privatised military logistics and services over the last decade.
Now NATO has published a video, in which directors from Boeing, Finmeccanica, Lockheed Martin and other companies identify the threats of the next 10 years, in which they have a vested interest. These companies will no doubt be satisfied to hear that Cameron is proposing to refit the British Armed Forces and repeat the same failed security paradigm of the last two decades.
Others may be advised to question whether these efforts will really achieve a ‘more secure future for Britain or the British people’, and consider whether the greatest threat to our national and collective security lies not so much in the threats that are out there, but in the reckless, thoughtless and self-interested militarism of successive governments that has been instrumental in creating these threats or making them worse.