PRESENTING the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy to Parliament last week, Prime Minister Alexander Johnson was quick out of the gate in clarifying the key threat to the United Kingdom.
The first foreign state mentioned by the PM was Russia, thereby underlining the government’s belief that it is the UK’s primary adversary. This is hardly surprising given the Cold War mindset of the Government.
China – I would argue a far more existential threat to the United Kingdom – was recognised as a growing problem. Luckily for them, they were given the get-out clause of being able to assist us in attacking what is still a greater threat.
Indeed, a quick search of the document reveals the scale of competing threats posed to the United Kingdom as seen by de Pfeffel Johnson. Russia, our government’s bête noire – is mentioned a full 14 times throughout the report; China 27 times.
It is, however, elsewhere that 21st century Britain’s nemesis lies: the great beast which China may help us slay.
Indeed, it appears as if the Integrated Review has been‘Carriefied’somewhat. ‘Climate’ is mentioned 90 times. This is more than the combined mentions of ‘RAF’ and ‘Navy’, a mere 24. ‘Army’ doesn’t pop up once.
Close behind are ‘green’ (32 mentions in the report) and ‘biodiversity’ (32). ‘Net zero’ gets 14; ‘Armed Forces’ just 12.
This makes sense – during the PM’s introduction of the report before Parliament he was praising Britain’s commitment to ‘Net Zero’ before outlining any external threats. It is enough to make one wonder what fuel our jets, tanks and ships will run on, and what carbon-neutral steel we will forge to build the next generation of Royal Navy frigates.
Maybe future missiles will be thoroughly green, dropping a payload of seeds as they hurtle towards their target.
Nato, supposedly the cornerstone of our foreign policy, gets 45 references. ‘Climate change’, in contrast, appears 57 times. I’m sure our under-equipped Armed Forces will not begrudge the government’s diverted attention.
We do, of course, live in an age of ‘cyber’. The term is mentioned 156 times in the Integrated Review (‘cyberspace’, ‘cyber-attacks’, ‘cyber-power’ et cetera). In what I can only imagine is an oversight, this is slightly more than the combined total of ‘green’, ‘diversity’ and ‘biodiversity’ (154). I hope a revised edition can correct this.
In a world in which rising powers are rapidly increasing their defence spending and planning to have fully functioning moon bases within a few decades, it is reassuring to see that the Government is not being distracted from the essentials.
This is, surely, how it all ends. Endlessly carping on about the environment, race-politics and asking whether having a meat-and-two-veg precludes you from calling yourself a woman, Western nations roam blindly in a morass of nonsense, as nations not infected with cultural complacency and a sense of misguided superiority race ahead. That this has affected the most basic function of state – the defence of the realm – is perhaps the clearest sign of how far the rot penetrates. We even now have a national Church more concerned with the colour of your skin than the saving of your soul.
But don’t worry. At the head of the ‘Free World’ we have a man who cannot navigate a set of stairs and who cannot remember the word ‘Pentagon’ or the name of his Secretary of Defence. Sometimes he even forgets who is President.
With him, de Pfeffel and Carrie at the wheel, I’m sure we’ll be fine.