People who live in glass houses …

The fourth law of thermodynamics states: “If anything can go wrong, it will”. You know the sort of thing – directly you cancel your plumbing insurance, the taps start dripping and a pipe bursts in the loft. So it was perhaps inevitable that world events would conspire against the Coalition as soon as it started to implement defence cuts.

Obviously, the additional costs incurred on overseas operations (e.g. Afghanistan and Iraq) do not impact on the defence budget. Since 2001, the Treasury Reserve has provided an additional £9.5 billion on top of the defence budget to cover our involvement in post-9/11 conflicts. Nevertheless, if our military infrastructure continues to be drastically eroded, we risk reaching the point where we can barely meet our treaty obligations, let alone respond to new situations in North Africa and the Middle East.

Obviously, when the Strategic Defence and Security Review was being deliberated, no one could have known that Libya was on the verge of civil war and that Colonel Gaddafi would threaten a massacre of thousands of his own civilians. Well, you might argue (and many have) that we should have the ability to respond swiftly and efficiently to the unexpected.

On the other hand, trimming back our military expenditure and adopting a more pragmatic, less expansive (and expensive) defence policy is exactly what the Review was all about. It questioned our obligation to act as the world’s policeman. It suggested we should become more circumspect about our role as benevolent fixer of broken states. It implied we should think twice before getting involved in spats that do not directly impinge upon our national security. Most insurance policies have an ‘Act of God’ disclaimer.

Yes, as a nation we want to fulfil an appropriate and proportionate role in world affairs, negotiating and influencing international relations. But if we want to be considered a ‘force for good’, we should guard against being perceived as trigger-happy. People who live in glass houses don’t take out insurance. They stop throwing stones.

About thespeedofdark

David Winship has written an unauthorised autobiography and several critically disdained literary tomes. His work is frequently compared with Steinbeck, Orwell and Hemingway, but unfortunately Mike Steinbeck, Daisy Orwell and Howard Hemingway were all terrible writers. He has been totally overlooked for the most prestigious literary awards worldwide, which is a shame as most of the words are spelled correctly. In fact, his books contain material that ranks with the finest literary works in history: all the right letters are there, just not necessarily in the right order.

Dave’s blog (The Speed Of Dark Blog) is part of his crusade for truth and justice and universal entitlement to free real ale. It may well be that his whole purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others.

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