British Sky Tours

                  

 

 

 

***  WORLD NEWS  ***

&

OUR GUIDE'S BOOKS 

SCROLL DOWN FOR WORLD NEWS HEADLINES

Adrian's writing is found on the book shelves of discerning people on both sides of the Atlantic.

 Both Dick Nesbitt-Dufort and Adrian Hill are published authors. Dick's father wrote a book about his experiences as a special operations pilot flying agents into Occupied France. Dick wrote the historical background for the rare memoirs of an ordinary soldier during the Napoleonic Wars.

Adrian has written novels about espionage set in South Korea and Switzerland and remains the only British diplomat to have written part of the history of the US Department of State. When not organising sky tours he's working on a novel set during the height of the Vietnam War.

For those interested in the Vietnam War copies of  'Escape with Honor' written together by Ambassador Francis ' Terry ' McNamara and Adrian may be found via this link to the publisher - Potomac Books - http://www.potomacbooksinc.com/Books/BookDetail.aspx?productID=50160

 

Vietnam book under way at this time. Although a novel the story draws on events and unfolds through much direct reportage. Feel welcome to step into the story about the secret war. Just click the time date link.

                                                                                                                                   

 

 1625 hours on 14 February 1971

North Vietnamese Base Area 615 B located in the Laos high country 87 kilometres west of the frontier with South Vietnam – at the heart of the Communist supply system known as the Ho Chi Minh Trails.

 

***

When Adrian Hill served as a diplomat one of his most rewarding jobs was Director of British Information Services across Canada. At one stage he gave Britain's messages across the United States as well. Apart from network and local television and radio broadcasts a key part of his job was to brief and often write editorials for the hundreds of newspapers across North America, concentrating on foreign news. Most newspapers in North America view the World from a continent which could get along comfortably without anyone else - and the US/Canadian border is a surprising obstacle. Henry Ginsberg of the New York Times once challenged Adrian to find any Canadian news in his own paper. At that time Henry was their correspondent in Ottawa - he returned to New York City as the Foreign Editor and the Canadians featured more often!

Adrian's editorial contributions with a British slant proved highly popular right across North America so alongside these touring and history pages we opened this editorial page. Here we try to bring some historical perspective to the latest political and military events around the World. Military experience as a paratrooper came in handy as a diplomat. Adrian knows Afghanistan, Pakistan and India from his very first overseas posting as a diplomat serving at the British Deputy High Commission in Lahore and subsequent return visits. His career took in Cyprus and the Near East, Vietnam, Northern Ireland, Switzerland, Canada, South Korea and Jamaica and most places along the flight path.

Apart from witnessing huge armoured and airmobile battles from the Near East to the Far East, Adrian studied campaigns and battlefields on four continents, has written three books and articles for the Royal United Services Institute Journal.

Since spring 2017 he has been writing papers and articles on foreign policy and defence for Veterans for Britain. These have been featured in the British national media.

Although this website is about our tours we also try to promote the heritage of the Atlantic Charter and the Special Relationship. The United Nations and NATO owe their existence to the Atlantic Charter, unique among treaties in that there were no signatures, just messages to their respective cabinets from Churchill and Roosevelt on board a battleship and a cruiser anchored off Newfoundland - plus mutual trust at a time of great danger for the democracies.

Updates will occur when the news makes one worthwhile. Articles on British defence matters are very much works in progress and frequently edited, improved, modified to reflect new conversations and fresh information. You can also find Adrian's writing on the Veterans for Britain website - and lots of wise comment from other supporters, many of whom are respected experts on defence and diplomacy. All views expressed by Adrian are personal reflections based on talking to people involved in events and over thirty years military and diplomatic service in the world's hot spots including three wars.

 

 

Adrian Hill

************

 

Last year Adrian joined a new combined think-tank and fledgling lobby group for all veterans of HM Armed Forces and the Police. All ranks welcome. This is a very well run outfit called Veterans for Britain. There's no money involved. It's all done by email and through the website although they launched with a rally in Portsmouth. You'll find some very respected names on the Board of Advisers - the Chairman is Julian Thompson, retired Major-General and Royal Marine Commando of Falklands fame - with some very switched on young people running the machine and producing papers that ask the right questions so the country proceeds at best speed - steered by a compass showing true bearings.

 If you are a veteran, if you believe we need to take better care of our freedom, starting with much stronger armed forces, sign up, your country needs you!

www.veteransforbritain.org.uk

If you're concerned about all the arguments for and around the whole concept of Brexit then you'll enjoy reading the articles and papers on the Red Cell.

http://www.theredcell.co.uk/

 

WORLD NEWS BREXIT

 

*

    

        Which Donald presides over the White House? All three? Lots more?

The Manchurian candidate?

 

 

Over the last three decades British diplomats including two recent ambassadors to Washington have preached that the special relationship is a myth. They wouldn't have clue - you need to have worn a uniform to judge.

 *

IRISH JIG IN BRUSSELS

Always bear in mind that Mrs May negotiates on behalf of those who voted to stay in the EC rather than the majority who voted to get out. The deal early on a Friday morning in Brussels was a small step towards EC membership in all but name.

Further down are some thoughts on the future of Europe and its effect on ourselves and NATO.

As M. Barnier likes to remind, nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.

*

PS Would the Conservative Party kindly get off their backsides, sack May and her remain coterie, and make this country ready for a clean Brexit in just over a year. If the City and CBI want to pay the EC huge bribes, they are welcome to do so, but out of their own pockets.

*

When asked by the House of Commons Select Committee on Public Administration, the first UK National Security Adviser couldn't explain what is meant by strategy, offering instead that of course he understood strategy - there was a box on his annual report that had to be ticked!

 

THE NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER IS A VERY BAD IDEA

 

Until the outbreak of the Second World War an ad hoc organisation, the Committee of Imperial Defence, planned strategy and was also responsible for research projects. The committee had been founded in 1902 by Arthur Balfour, then Prime Minister, to replace the Cabinet’s defence committee which only met in times of crisis. The new committee’s main task was to decide strategy for the Royal Navy and the Army following the ‘ peace dividend ’ after the Boer War.

No arrangements were made for the committee to formally pass on its conclusions to those with the authority and the means to turn them into action. This gap soon became obvious and a secretariat was added, led by Sir George Clarke. Far from simply acting as a message service, Clarke expected actually to make policy and make it happen. Balfour’s Government fell in 1906. With the two armed services determined to control their own futures, Clarke's plans ran aground, and with no support from the incoming Prime Minister, he resigned in 1907.

The secretariat carried on, largely as a forum on lesser matters between those service members who wanted to speak to each other, and with the civil servants. Strategy was left to the individual services. For example, after Britain decided not to join the Triple Alliance, the Foreign Office and the Army handled the early talks about Anglo-French military co-operation.

Then in 1908 a young captain in the Royal Marines Artillery with experience of intelligence work was appointed Naval Assistant Secretary to the Committee; his name was Maurice Hankey. He became Secretary to the Committee in 1912 and he would hold that position for the next twenty-six years. Hankey became Secretary of the War Council during the Great War and Cabinet Secretary from 1916. He held all three jobs together. This gave him enormous influence – Hankey was the person who made sure that Winston Churchill when First Lord of the Admiralty, heard about the work of a lowly Royal Engineers major, Ernest Swinton, who was building a tracked vehicle to break through the German trenches on the Western Front. The Army were not interested. Churchill was, immediately. A land ship committee was formed. After all, the navy were paying.

By 1914 the Committee was beginning to act as the defence planners for the whole British Empire, consequently providing advice to the Dominions – Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and India – the latter had its own office in London. Hankey carried on with this role into the 1920s. Effectively, his committee was the peacetime defence planning system, one which only provided advice; formal authority remained with Ministers and service chiefs, which helped ensure the Committee's acceptability to Whitehall and the Dominions, the India Office and the Colonial Office. Chaired by the Prime Minister, its members were Cabinet ministers, the heads of the military services, and civil servants; the Prime Ministers of the Dominions were de facto members of the Committee in peacetime as well. Hankey added Clerk of the Privy Council to his portfolio in 1923!

A sub-committee was added in 1936 called the Joint Intelligence Committee and its chairman was Ralph Stevenson, a diplomat who had served on the Western Front as an officer with the Rifle Brigade. During the Second World War the JIC was to become the main body dealing with intelligence and today is housed in the Cabinet Office. The Imperial Defence Committee was wound up following the outbreak of the Second World War largely because Winston Churchill wanted to keep plenty of elbow room when fighting a global war that had begun with disaster after disaster.

My point in describing all this ( courtesy of Wikipedia in some places ) is that Maurice Hankey only landed the job because he was a serving Royal Marine officer. He turned out to be a brilliant civil servant with a remarkable mind and incredible stamina. Nowadays some say that he never understood the strength of the tide that would bring the Labour Party to power in 1924 because he was rooted in the Victorian era. Who wouldn’t have been in those days? Just as many of my own generation have our roots in the Churchill era. One has to have lived through great events to understand their gravitational pull on the human soul.

Let us take this argument a step further. My generation saw the end of National Service which been prolonged because of the Korean War. As a young officer in the Royal Engineers I trained some of the last conscripts. Most of my seniors were veterans of the Second World War, Malaya, Korea and the Near East including Suez. In the Airborne we still had many veterans of the big parachute and glider landings. Our brigadier was Johnny Frost who captured the Arnhem Bridge, it bears his name today. The same was true of the old Commonwealth Relations Office and the Foreign Office. My first head of department was George Price, a sapper general who as a colonel had served on General Ismay’s staff throughout most of the war. George was the most intelligent person I ever worked for and had worked direct to Churchill for five years. My line manager, John Champion, had been one of the original desert rats. My next boss, the High Commissioner in Pakistan, Morris James, had commanded a Royal Marine Commando and my line boss an artillery battery in Normandy. The Trade Commissioner had flown a Hurricane. Next came Cyprus where our high commissioner was David Hunt who had served on Field Marshal Alexander’s staff – he wrote Harold MacMillan’s Wind of Change speech about Africa and in 1977 won BBC Mastermind at the age of 64 and won again as Mastermind of Mastermind ten years later. Vietnam followed where Murray Maclehose was our ambassador, later a very popular Governor of Hong Kong. Murray had trained Chinese guerrillas to fight the Japanese. His successor in Saigon, John Moreton, as a gunner, had won an MC at the Battle of Kohima. Our defence attaché was John Waddy, whom most airborne officers will know from the Arnhem pilgrimage. After Vietnam I helped create a new department for the Irish troubles and liaised with the MOD for three years. Our head of department was a former paratrooper who soon put me to work on committees to thwart bombers and various other desperadoes. In Switzerland our ambassador, John Wraight, had fought in the Desert. I arrived single and left with a wife and son. When we arrived in Canada the High Commissioner was John Ford, who had won an MC as a battery commander in Normandy. His successor was John Wilson, Lord Moran, son of Winston Churchill’s doctor. As an ordinary seaman he had been in the aircraft lookout of HMS Belfast on the night of Boxing Day 1943 when the battleship HMS Duke of York sank the German battlecruiser Scharnhorst in what became know as the Battle of the North Cape. When this generation retired the Foreign and Commonwealth Office became a lesser place to work and I took the advice given quite independently by John Ford and Lord Moran: I left.

I am ever grateful to them both for sparing me from the sheer professional frustration of the last three decades of diplomacy for anyone who has worn a uniform let alone been in large scale combat. This destruction of our armed forces started with Denis Healy, halted with Jim Callaghan, started again with John Nott, reversed after the Falklands, started again with Tony Blair and blithely went into top speed with David Cameron and Mrs May. Right now young people who volunteered to serve their country are treated – as one general recently described – as tethered goats. Our battalion has no means of air defence against drones let alone strike fighters. This is not simply a government that shirks its responsibility to keep our defences strong but one that fails miserably a moral test. They should all hang their heads in shame. Personally, I would tether 800 peers and MPs along the Russian frontier with Estonia.

Our diplomats are very good at providing the secretariat for the JIC and have run the organisation since it started. The JIC collates and assesses intelligence then distributes it to the customers. It does not give orders. The National Security Committee has an executive role. As a result the major problem with putting across difficult truths in London is that the advice given to our political leaders comes from diplomats serving as national security advisors. Today’s diplomats are wholly unqualified to make such judgements – they have no military experience let alone any of major combat. Moreover, as officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office they are rivals for the money pot, thus not above the scrum fighting for a share. In fairness, one must point out that while nearly everyone serving in the British Armed Forces has experience of small unit combat, not a soul has experienced high command in hot war. The last people to carry the nation’s future on their shoulders were Rear-Admiral Sandy Woodward and Major-General Jeremy Moore during the South Atlantic War. When the liberation force took Port Stanley, Julian Thompson commanded more commandos and paras’ in his brigade than the average strength of the British force in Afghanistan. Only senior American officers have experienced allied high command – both William Westmoreland and Creighton Abrams commanded some half-million Americans in Vietnam and Creighton Abrams effectively also commanded about a million South Vietnamese, Norman Schwarzkopf about seven-hundred thousand Americans out of a million in the first Gulf War, Tommy Franks some two-hundred-thousand Americans out of three-hundred thousand in the Iraq War and David Petraeus about the same number counting the Afghans in their stubborn war. The British contribution to both Gulf Wars was a division plus with naval and air support but the top American carried the burden and both Prime Ministers failed to influence the planning. Neither had any military knowledge let alone experience.

President Harry Truman created the original post with the National Security Act of 1947. This was the measure that separated the US Air Force from the US Army, brought into being the Department of Defence, and the Central Intelligence Agency. From the start the American committee worked at the highest level with the President in the chair, with members of his cabinet, the service and intelligence chiefs around the table. This should not be confused with the National Security Agency founded in 1952 for signals intelligence.

I have long come to the conclusion that in this country the post of national security adviser does more harm than good. Really the job is for a Minister – Gordon Brown came closest to right approach when he appointed Lord Alan West as Security Minister. As the former First Sea Lord, Alan West was exactly the right kind of person for one of the most responsible jobs in the government. There are potential candidates among the current younger Ministers but none have any experience of higher command. Maybe each former Chief of the Defence Staff could take over this task on retirement until replaced by his own successor. Otherwise another senior officer, for example, is the Director of Defence Intelligence. The post even could be filled by former heads of SIS, MI5 or GCHQ but possibly that blurs the important constitutional separation of the intelligence gatherers from the executive - dodgy dossiers and so forth.

The present situation is dangerously inadequate. Heaven help us if the Prime Minister had to decide whether or not to use nuclear weapons. As mentioned above, the FCO used to be able to provide well qualified candidates but it’s become obvious that it can’t any longer. The senior diplomats who had combat experience from global war are all long gone. My generation of ex-service people left with them. I think we are asking our modern diplomats to perform a task beyond their ability and experience. We’re expecting something they can’t deliver. One only has to watch the performance of today’s FCO provided national security advisers before the House of Commons Select Committee on Defence to realise that the appointees at best have simply not understood what ultimately is the government’s job – namely our survival as a free country.

Nor do they seem aware that the inconceivable is what usually happens. There is a long history in the FCO of resenting the armed forces, particularly the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force, both heavily dependent on equipment and therefore not cheap. I well remember the odd mutters during the South Atlantic War when Lord Moran and I were putting our British arguments on TV and radio and the visiting Lord Jim Callaghan went on TV with us as well. If the FCO needs more money – and it does – the Foreign Secretary should say so. Cyber security is vital – but only because it supports hardware, ships, aircraft, missiles, drones. You won’t win any battles without cyber security but you won’t win any without sufficient fighting forces either.

A strategic booster rocket called Brexit is changing the way we look at the world. Our armed forces have been neglected and abused for twenty years. Another Maurice Hankey would be fighting the Treasury and Prime Minister for much greater funds – regardless of the risk of dismissal. Courage is also required to do the job properly, not just cunning and career survival until the next posting. We need to forget Europe and start thinking like an island nation and big power. Judging from the national security advice put up so far, we’re not going to get badly needed, far sighted analysis, unless something fundamentally changes.

 

 

            THE GERMAN QUESTION

 

   Whoever holds Berlin, holds Germany.

     Whoever holds Germany, holds Europe.

 Lenin

                                                                  

  A HOLD UP

 

At the moment for all practical purposes Angela Merkel calls the shots for Europe. I suspect the chain of command goes through the EC Commission via Martin Selmayr to Jean-Claude Junker as flak jacket, but also through other politicians, officials and focal points such as the European Parliament. Frau Merkel may yet retire injured, but such is the dread of another election, more likely she will struggle through for another term. Even if she doesn’t, the EC negotiating tactics will not change. Nor will those of Mrs May, at heart a remainer as nowadays is her Chancellor and most of the people around her. My impression is that she’s trying to stay just enough locked into the EC to make a humbling re-entry possible. The remain hope is that Corbin will form a government and they can blame him for grovelling back into the EC with no rebate and membership of the Euro. I found Tony Blair’s fake leaked note to Alistair Campbell courtesy of Austin Mitchell lays out a plausible New Labour approach and conveys all my suspicions about Tony’s low opinion of the voters, including most of those who voted for him. What a shame it was just a wonderful bit of satire! As for Mrs May’s approach, the Conservative Party already rehearse for their starring role in Death Wish Two. We the tax payers are being asked to hand over £ 40 to £ 50 billions for effectively staying in the EC until 2021 with all the red tape but denied anything in return such as passports for our service industries. We thought that was what all this money is for? The EC also want us to keep all their rules and regulations long into the future. Bye bye 21st century competitive economy. People living in the British Isles may be forgiven for wondering what Parliament is for – it certainly doesn’t take much notice of the voters.

Nor should one place too much weight on demands from the CBI. Some twenty years ago as a member of its Council along with 399 other representatives of industry and business, I filled out an opinion poll with lots of questions over whether or not we should join the Euro. (I voted never.) Towards the tail end of this quiz one question went something like, ‘ Do you think the UK will join the Euro at some time in the future?’ This actually meant, ‘ Do you think that one day enough people in British industry will be daft enough to give up control over our nation’s money? ’ Most reasonable people know that with enough silly people gathered in one place, anything is possible, thus instead of ‘ over my dead body ’ the rational answer becomes ‘ possible but not for the foreseeable future’ when allowing for all circumstances. That does not mean you want it to happen. Headlines inevitably declared, ‘ CBI poll reveals that most industry and business chiefs expect Britain eventually will join the Euro. ’

Not all Europe’s politicians and big business leaders are fans of the British people although they all like our money. Most can’t wait for us to leave the EC but they have two major problems: they don’t want to cancel the bribes planned for their own voters within the current EC budget nor dig deep into their own pockets. While they can’t wait for our departure, they fear our becoming a powerful rival just across the narrow seas and potentially with the economic power of another Japan.

The hold up divorce bill serves at least four purposes. The British must cover a share of the budget as though still EC members and for a further five years at the least, thereby indirectly forcing us to invest in the very EC economies that are our direct competitors. At the same time this ensures that we cannot invest that money in our own economy. Forget about our squabbling Parliament obsessed with gender warfare, we tax payers should rebel. A third purpose is that Britain’s tax payers hand over enough money to fill the 67 billion Euro black hole in the EC pension fund. Fourth is to arrange that our payments to the EC never stop with the aim of making Brexit pointless. This raises a few questions.

 

     C’est lui qui paye qui demand

      Louis Quatorze pas Monsieur Barnier

Why should we pay for access to the EEA and Single market when other countries such as America, Japan and China don’t pay and would not pay to trade with Europe? Furthermore, this demand for money before any business deal resembles a form of trade warfare. Should it be dealt with as such, regardless of the under-lying intention? We have resisted following the Poles by sending Berlin a bill for many trillions to cover our costs during and after World Wars One and Two. On the other hand the Poles might yet create a precedent! Or should we instead go for people power and launch a media campaign, urge people to buy British and Commonwealth (welcoming the Americans as honorary members) or from other friendly countries rather than from the increasingly greedy EC member states. The easiest way to ensure success would be to abolish import duties for goods and services other than those imported from the EC. Bear in mind, however, that many Germans did not vote for Angela Merkel, nor agree with her tunnel vision approach to negotiations. She would lose any follow up election so strives to avoid one. Though I don’t think much would change either way - and further down will explain why I draw that conclusion.

Any so-called divorce bill will be paid by you and me, the voters and tax payers, nobody else. We are told by Mrs May that we should fork out huge sums as bribes on behalf of the City of London and big business. Does this actually make sense? As one shrewd member of the public recently remarked, it’s like going to a restaurant and being asked to pay the bill before they’ll show you the menu. He should take over the exit talks.

I sometimes wonder if Mrs May and her Cabinet are simpletons.  According to the Chancellor we spend more money on debt servicing than on the Police and Armed Forces combined. That’s a revealing glimpse of his priorities for a start. However, when one adds the cost of the financial crisis and banks’ life rafts, some half a trillion pounds or more was added to the national debt. The bankers and financial wizards bear responsibility for about half the cost of debt servicing. I am all for removing the upper limits on City bonuses after Brexit. I would tax them to make the bankers and financial wheeler dealers pay the divorce bribe on their own behalf. Nobody else other than the EC is going to benefit directly from this monster robbery. 

Germany and France keep much of our manufacturing out of the EC and have done for years. It all goes back to when Herr Bangemann was the EC Commissioner for standards for almost a decade, he knew the worth of making your own national standards the ones for the whole Single Market. Since the negotiations began, Monsieur Barnier has not hidden his ambition to keep our goods and services out of the EC. After Brexit, whether or not it’s worthwhile to open a production line for EC standards, becomes a purely commercial decision. Would the sales volume and cash flow make the work and investment, the running costs worthwhile? Meanwhile, handing over ridiculous sums for nothing in return will mean real shortages of money for much more important things – our defence, our health, our infra-structure, education and research. Personally I would rather see £ 60 billions spent on restoring the Royal Navy to viable strength or else for laying down a modern fibre optic and truly national telephone system capable of delivering one gigabyte a second broadband – as the South Koreans have done to lay the foundations for their smart economy. Better still, do both.

 

Wer die Wahl, hat die Qual

Who has the choice, has the pain. One must ask who will benefit most from our reluctant largesse as tax payers? The third largest exporter in the world, most of whose exports go to the surrounding EU countries is the real winner. Their trade surplus with us is surpassed only by China’s and by a comparative whisker. Yes, Germany, whose federal government enjoyed a budget surplus of 27 billion Euros last year while the country earned a trade surplus eleven times larger. Gravity theories do apply to land powers but have little value for sea powers.

One fully understands ordinary Germans’ dislike of paying for other peoples’ rash spending. Don’t we all. We do exactly that for the Scots, Irish and Welsh, but it’s the price for enjoying one of the oldest and most successful political and currency unions in the World. However, there’s no sensible reason why millions of British tax payers should prop up Germany’s core export markets on the Continent. Absurdly, we have been propping them up for over forty years, paid nearly a half a trillion pounds to subsidise French farmers, deserted regional airports in Spain, all sorts of schemes on the Continent. Just think what that money could have done for our people. Angela Merkel knows perfectly well that demands for larger contributions from the remaining 27 members will simply strengthen those who oppose the new Berlin-Brussels-Paris axis. She also knows her own voters don’t want to pay any more as bribes to weaken the impact of the growing Euro sceptic movements throughout the other twenty-six member states. The Alternative for Deutschland movement in her own backyard is why she struggled to form a government and dare not risk another election. They took her previous majority of seats in the national parliament. British voters should demand Mrs May tells us precisely what she has offered. Meanwhile we should bin this bill for modern Danegeld.

 

 He who defends everything, defends nothing

Frederick the Great

During November the German Army accidently let the cat jump out of the bag when someone leaked Strategic Perspective 2040 to the weekly magazine Der Spiegel. This strategy plan is a watershed. Not since the Second World War has the German Army contemplated a future without belonging to NATO.  Their lexicon is that Europe cannot rely on the Americans any longer - yet having the Americans involved with Europe’s defence keeps the peace. ( Even with Donald tweeting all day long. ) Doubtless parts of the report are the work of diplomats and officials but that’s equally illuminating in itself. Some of the Army’s forecasts were astute, indeed have already come to pass. They worry that a break up of the EC could bring about a collapse of the surrounding economies and kill off their largest export markets. The consequent unemployment could lead to civil disorder, even another Weimar crisis. One assumption is that the EC started to break up during 2008. They also suggest that NATO started breaking up during 2014. Now a neutral observer might be forgiven for concluding that messy introduction of the Euro and the present push for an EC military could have something to do with both these scares.

The Army planners are convinced that Germany must look after its own security. An obvious start is to concentrate on binding together the inner core of Euro zone countries, economically, politically and militarily. An outer ring of satellite economies, which includes us, must be kept within the political and economic orbit of the Euro zone and its political and economic sun, Germany. Hence the crushing of any form of independence for Catalonia and the gaoling of their elected government; disapproval of protest in Austria, Hungary and Poland over invasions of Arab refugees; offence when the Poles change their laws and then ask for compensation after suffering during fifty years. Samples of economic threats are dropping British component suppliers if we leave the EC and German industry demanding that Brexit is stopped. This also shines a torch on the style of EC negotiating tactics. Namely, make impossible demands such as splitting Northern Ireland from Great Britain and combine these with demands for absurd sums of money. Meddle in our affairs with demands a la treatment of the beleaguered Irish during their crash for a second referendum. While I fully respect those who wanted to remain, we voted to leave, and now a fifth column of EC quislings is hard at work in Britain, mostly within the circuit of the M 25, but regardless of the wishes of the millions of others who live in that foreign country that starts about fifty miles in any direction from Charing Cross. All talk of divorce payments, lousy trade deals or trade threats, demands for second votes, for EC defence with an EC army, should be filtered and then digested from the viewpoint of the German Army’s Strategic Perspective 2040.

As for the other large neighbours, an attempt to lure Ukraine into the German orbit as another export market turned sour through misreading Putin. To their surprise, he invaded. They were caught out a second time by America’s reaction. Deciding to deploy Baroness Ashton and her EC diplomats as their public face the Germans rashly brushed aside Britain, the USA and Russia, treaty guarantors of Ukraine’s integrity following the dismantling of the latter’s nuclear arsenal – itself one of the truly great achievements following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The price for EC miscalculations were lives lost and ruined as Putin invaded Eastern Ukraine and Crimea. Russian suspicion and bungling led them to shoot down a civil airliner. Nor is the danger over but Putin’s ground forces although thoroughly modernised, cannot sustain a hot operation for longer than a matter of weeks. Perhaps Angela Merkel, educated in East Germany and a confident Russian speaker, over-estimated her influence on Putin. After all, she has a former German Chancellor deeply involved with a key Russian company, moreover the one who ran for election with the most anti-American campaign in modern German politics. Shroeder’ way for dodging NATO sanctions on Russia was to build a gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany.

Ironically the German Army report speculates that one day the Poles and Baltic states might throw in their lot with Russia. The German Army planners also worry that the Hungarians and Balkans might do the same in protest against an EC run by Germany and France. Keep in mind that our membership of the EC made Franco-German rule more acceptable for the rest. Yet one could argue that the present situation in Poland suggests the reverse is happening. Whether it’s through buying gas or investing in Baltic pipelines and Siberian car factories, Germany seems the country with the close economic relationship with Russia. Far from diplomatic flirting with the Russian bear, Poland and the Baltic states appear glad to have NATO troops and supersonic fighters based in their countries while neutral Sweden even thinks of joining the alliance. As for the former Balkan satellites, RAF Typhoon fighters are based in Romania and this spring HMS Daring joined their navy’s exercises in the Black Sea. Even though only token deployments, they have been welcomed. Are the Eastern Europeans willing, indeed ready to be handed over to Russia by Putin’s telephone friend, Angela Merkel?

Clamours from Brussels and elsewhere for more Europe usually de-code as slogans for less America and Britain. De-code a layer further and the messages urge more Germany. Indeed, judging from conversations with German diplomats and business people my personal forecast is gradual disengagement from NATO by the Euro zone countries until eventually that leads to a Russo-German pact under an EC banner. Negotiating such a pact may take longer than Angela Merkel’s Chancellorship but Putin is almost certain to sign his name on behalf of the Rodina. The Germans may genuinely believe that under their management the EC will be able to pull off a diplomatic coup that brings peace to Eastern Europe including the Baltic and Balkan states, moreover, one that removes the threat from Russia. Putin, of course, wants to split the NATO alliance and as part of any deal will demand that the EC lifts all sanctions. That will leave Britain and Norway as the only real NATO members on this side of the Atlantic unless the neutrals become worried enough to seek an informal pact with the alliance.

Lifting sanctions is the high value card and it’s held by Angela Merkel as she pursues rapprochement with Putin. He’s not an easy neighbour and any deal with be tricky to police. Along the Russian marches some countries may pay a steep price. Ukraine has already. There’s a threat of more to come – Estonia, Georgia and Moldavia. Poles, Baltics and Balkans know they could be next – as history goes they’ve only just emerged from fifty years of tyranny and still the Russian’s meddle, even in tiny states far away from their frontier like Macedonia. I rather doubt that ordinary people throughout the former Warsaw Pact countries trust their first violent occupiers to save them from the second ones. Poles know reality. Warsaw Pact maps in Polish for the invasion and occupation of Britain are on sale in London – the Poles were going to occupy us for the Russians - and to give an idea of the current official EC lexicon, I have been lectured by the wife of a Polish ambassador that Angela Merkel saves Poland from Russia. More astonishing, young German speaking Irish are employed by the EC Commission to persuade the Swiss that it’s a fine thing to be dependent on a bigger country – so much for Sinn Fein.

 

                                                                

  WHAT ABOUT RUSSIA?

 

Although by size the largest country on the planet, because of corruption and poor management, Russia’s economy ranks twelfth. ( Ours chases Germany’s) Putin and his cronies are asset strippers rather than businessmen. Huge amounts of wealth have been looted from the country and stashed abroad – a lot in London. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union the Russian economy has relied on gas, oil and other raw materials as major sources of income and economic growth. While oil and gas prices soared the standard of living rose each year for a decade. Putin also made everyone pay taxes, he became popular. Over the last few years, however, since oil and gas prices tumbled, so have living standards; last year by almost 4% while the rouble’s value more than halved. Negotiations over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership wait for some enthusiasm inside the White House but the possibility must worry Russia, particularly if the Americans offer Europe new sources of energy. Exploitation of shale gas in North America is unlikely to slow down and has not even started on this side of the Atlantic. Huge shale gas deposits exist in both the British Isles and Poland. The latter’s security may become a new problem for NATO given the considerable Russian investment in the gas pipeline to Germany. Not long ago Schroeder switched to become manager of Nordstream 2.

Russian manufacturing relies considerably on the 21% increase in the annual budget for defence, much of it spent on warships, warplanes, missiles and weapons. On the brighter side, Russian grain exports rose, thus compensating Siberia in particular for lower exports of raw materials. Russia may have learned to live with sanctions after grabbing Crimea, but they have an impact and will continue to hamper growth. All the more reason for Russia to encourage a German driven EC to distance itself from the American led NATO. On top of all these troubles Russia has a stagnant population and third world statistics for health and well-being. Some 20 million of its 143 million people live below the poverty line. These problems are potentially the most serious and most urgent but remain underestimated and un-tackled.

Where does that leave Russo-German relations? According to media people Merkel believes that her ability to speak Russian allows her greater understanding of Vladimir Putin. One should add to this childhood and education in East Germany. There is an increasingly visible difference between the old Western Germany of the Cold War and the new united Germany today. During spring 1945 East Germans simply exchanged one tyranny for another. Ten years later Angela Merkel’s father emigrated from the west to Stalinist East Germany when she was three months old; he was appointed pastor of a country church in Brandenburg. She had to join Communist organisations to gain access to better schools, youth activities and eventually university. She was not alone. All girls and boys had to swear some form of allegiance to Marxist ideology and the state if they were to advance in life. But this means the reunited Germany of today has absorbed mind-sets infected with traces of the old Prussian over-confidence and inflexibility, the tunnel vision that led them into two seismic defeats, followed by partition in the first half of the last century.

After the surrender in 1945 the victorious allies sent many potential opinion formers on re-education courses at places like Wilton Park in Sussex run by the Foreign Office. No such programme was created for former East Germans in 1989 when – as a very close German friend put it, ‘ The Russian mother could no longer feed her child, so she left the baby on our door step, but twenty years earlier than we expected.’ One sees the impact in the recent election throughout the east of the country where votes surged for Alternative for Deutschland. They look upon themselves as well meaning but are more dangerous than they realise. Angela Merkel became involved with the democratic movement only shortly before the first reunification election. We have a friend who was a student with Angela Merkel. She says that on the night the Berlin Wall came down, rather than join the celebrations, Angela spent the evening at a coffee house with fellow students discussing a physics problem set by their tutor.

 

 THE SPANISH ULCER

Anyone who wants to know what’s wrong with the EC needs look no further than Spain. Most people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland reckon the Scottish Nationalists caused a great deal of needless strife then proved incompetent when elected as a government. Nor do we think much of leaders who hide behind the tactics of faceless cyber bullies. I for one thought David Cameron was pretty stupid to let the nationalists phrase the question so their preferred result needed the voters to pick ‘ yes’ rather than ‘ no’ but after a highly emotive though democratic debate, Scotland’s voters said ‘ no ’ to the nationalists. Scotland was an example for the planet of a peaceful debate followed by a democratic vote. Contrast this with police intervention, shutting polling stations, arrest and dismissal of an elected regional government in Catalonia, takeover of the local officials and police, all on the orders of the national government in Madrid. Add shameful support for Madrid from all other EC governments including ours and Dublin. Compare support for the Spanish Prime Minister with the EC Commission’s blatant meddling in our national debate over Brexit. The EC Commission condemns the Catalonians yet has a brigade of fifth columnists at work in London employing the methods that worked for them on the Irish. I’ve lost count of how many times the EC has changed governments in Greece and Italy. On this score there’s not much clear water between the EC Commission and Putin.

Poking your nose into other peoples’ business is not without risk. Britons are less easily cowed than most people. One would have thought that Brussels, Paris and Berlin might have learned a lesson from the failure of project fear. Obviously not – instead they’ve become so used to pushing around the smaller countries of the EC that none sees the danger of a backlash coming their way from one of the largest countries. Despite all the claims to the contrary, opinion polls show that the British public just want the government to get on with Brexit. We are bombarded from televisions, radios, newspapers, telephones that our government’s offers are not ‘ satisfactory ’ which we all know translates as ‘ we want more of your money to fill the holes we’ve dug.’ If you’re an importer of German and French cars, start another business, we are going to have a second referendum but next time the public are going to vote with their wallets.

 

   BRITANNIA

Where do we stand with Russia at the moment? I’m old enough to have known veterans of the epic battles of the Russian convoys. Most of the tanks that saved Moscow from the Germans were made in Britain, delivered by our Merchant Navy, and they didn’t hear much in the way of thanks. After the war no medal was awarded for the Arctic convoy battles. Back in the 1970s my job at the embassy in Bern often took me to Zurich. Phil, our chief security guard in the Consulate-General in Zurich ( yes, we had one in those days and another in Basel ) used to recall the horrors. Phil had been in HMS Mayflower, a corvette, and had been sunk. Phil had been pulled out of the freezing water just in time – a man lasted only minutes in the Arctic Ocean. Ashore in Murmansk he learnt some Russian from the locals. This came in useful years later. One afternoon Phil asked me if I minded walking to the Zurich main station. Not at all, I said. It was a gorgeous winter afternoon. Phil explained that on this day every week he took the mail to Solze where he and Peter, the driver, always had tea there. Phil did the interpreting as Solze didn’t speak much English. One of my greatest regrets is that I didn’t go with them - I was one of his greatest fans – for very Wednesday afternoon Phil and Peter did what the world’s journalists would have given their right arms for. Solze, of course, was Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

The last time the Russian security state was dealt with firmly was by Ted Heath’s government. Today Russia’s secret agencies are allowed open season on the British Isles. There have been murders where suspicion fell on their intelligence services. They run a TV news channel as well as a more modern twin of Tass. Successive governments have done nothing. We have been through all this hassle when Harold Wilson was Prime Minister. Then he lost an election. Alec Douglas Hume became Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary. In 1971 a Russian defector told us in detail all about the sabotage reconnaissance work of the Russian Embassy and Consular staff in Britain. They were touring all over the country picking targets. We expelled 90 diplomats and refused readmission to 15 more – 105 in total. Life became much easier for MI5 and Special Branch. And in those days we did not have Muslim terrorists as well as Irish. I would suggest to Mrs May that rather than more vague words far better a cull of all Russian diplomatic and media activity. I don’t think 20% is enough this time. I would suggest that all Russians with intelligence traces are expelled. That may remove 40% or 50% of the Russian officials and media people resident in the country. If we leave any, they’ll know why. So let’s get rid of the lot and make them start all over again. Give MI5 and the Police a breather. Such a cull will cripple their fake news campaigns because they won’t have people on the ground monitoring our politics and finding ways to meddle with our public opinion. To anyone who thinks this harsh, I say that in 1971 the Russians did retaliate, by expelling 6 British diplomats. I accept that Russia’s propaganda warfare has little impact on British votes at elections and referendums. Personally, I didn’t need any help from Vladimir Putin. I never had a vote in the Harold Wilson referendum because I was overseas as a diplomat. I waited forty-one years to vote leave.

There seems little likelihood of the Russians throwing off the burden of their president and all the costs that come with such regimes. Putin is running for election again in 2018 despite hitting retirement age – but as an oligarch’s fixer once protested to a friend of mine, ‘ Retire! Make business in Russia, nobody retire other than in wooden box.

 

          WE NEED TO ASK OURSELVES SOME QUESTIONS

Whatever deal we strike with the EC will not change the tectonic shift of continental politics. Germany already rules the roost economically and politically. While I accept the possibility that some of the smaller countries might be tempted to follow Britain out of the EU, that won’t happen, they’re doomed to an unhappy polygamous marriage because they joined the Euro. A glance at the list of countries that signed up for Junker’s defence pact tells all you need know. Even if Angela Merkel cannot form a government the shifting plate won’t slow. German industry is doing very well, running up an annual trade surplus of two-hundred billion Euros mostly from the satellite EC economies. My gnome friends reckon the Euro is about 30% under-valued against the pound and dollar and even more against the Swiss franc. Failure to form a government in Germany pushed the Euro lower thereby increasing their commercial advantage. Even if no agreement is reached with London over money the German economy will have no difficulty filling the British hole although their taxpayers won’t enjoy the task. Many people are more worried about close on a million cars they sell us every year. Not politicians but the people who make them.

With us gone, Germany’s politicians have the driving seat entirely to themselves, a deal between the EC and Russia grows easier and likely. For many Germans it’s an alluring option although not without risk. Putin will stretch the envelope whenever a reasonable chance comes along. A vote to stay in the EC might have delayed the shift by five years but probably much less. After all, Strategic Perspective 2040 has been leaked already and sold in thousands of copies of Der Spiegel. The obvious deal would swap respect for existing borders for ending EC sanctions on Russia although withdrawal of NATO forces from the Russian frontier plus American and British forces from the Continent are obvious ambitions for the Kremlin. Ukraine would become isolated and vulnerable. One can almost smell the new paint wafting from those French helicopter carriers. As for the coming fourth term, better keep on tapping Frau Merkel’s phone.

We, on the other hand, should give serious thought to forming a new global alliance. A year from now we will no longer sit in on the counsels of the EC. As for what will happen once we are not in the room, Monsieur Barnier’s remarks to a security conference in Berlin were a signal of things to come. The members of PESCO rapidly are becoming satellites of a new European empire, one inside which we could never have felt comfortable. This has massive implications for our trade strategy. We must reverse direction and look for growth beyond Europe. The style of negotiating by the EC does not bode well for our future relations. They could block our trade any time they wish. That makes them slippery partners for everyone else. Furthermore, the Euro will be kept low and that means continuing high youth unemployment among the satellites, therefore risks of instability. In a nutshell, the EC is going back to the nineteen thirties.

 NATO’s core nations are the Americans, Canadians and ourselves. An obvious place to start is with the Five Eyes intelligence sharing partnership. That would add Australia and New Zealand as building blocks for an economic, trade and security alliance. How about calling ourselves the WCO – World Commonwealth Organisation? The Scandinavians may not wish to rely on Brussels and Berlin for their protection from Russia. Some form of liaison by the WCO with all four is possible but I would suggest something more ambitious. Following a deal between Putin and Merkel the former will concentrate all his frustrations and hostility against the British Isles and we must be ready for him – which means a proper sized navy and air force. Putin is swiftly deterred but one needs the hardware to scare him off. We should offer the Scandinavian neutrals a super OSCE whereby WCO will regard an attack on any one of them as an Article 5 event.

India ought to have been invited to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council years ago. The Indians remain non-aligned but might be open to persuasion, given their largest neighbour’s pushy foreign policy. There all sorts of potential flash points with China starting with the sources of the great rivers of the sub-continent and Indo-China. The Indians have good relations with the US military and we should revive our close friendship. Millions of Indians, Pakistanis and Bengalis volunteered to fight in both world wars. We used to send students to the Indian staff colleges and they to ours. Another potential member is Japan, the Americans already have an alliance with South Korea. So did we, until the FCO quietly binned it. Singapore and Malaysia are natural candidates, so are Thailand and Vietnam. Others are the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia, Israel and Jordan. We have long ties with all these countries.

Turkey was a valued NATO member for years but was not helpful during the second Gulf War and has been downright awkward over Syria. At this point in time I’m not at all sure whether it’s a good idea for the RN and RAF to have the engines of their F 35s serviced by the Turks who have just bought an air-defence radar from Russia. Maybe they’re more clever than I realise? When NATO was founded in 1949 other alliances followed, CENTO and SEATO. There is a blue print. Despite the collapse of CENTO when the Shah fell from power, NATO members have fought major wars together in the Middle East, South-West Asia and Africa. The Americans fought alongside several allies in Vietnam including SEATO members. Britain fought wars in the Far East and South Atlantic. We are still fighting in Syria and Iraq and may yet have to resume fighting in Afghanistan.  THE THIN GREY, BLUE AND KHAKI LINES

Our armed forces will have the greatest strategic impact when our contribution is largely naval although sometimes with strong air power and specialist land forces. At present we have the core but not much more. The navy urgently needs double or triple its numbers of surface ships and submarines; I do not mean cheapo’ corvettes rather powerful warships that can defend a carrier group against ballistic missiles. Ships and submarines armed with all kinds of robot weapons for defence and attack. Corvettes designed for export are better suited for protecting our waters and fishing grounds around the British Isles and Overseas Territories.

Joining the F 35 project was a smart move that places our aerospace industry among the global leaders and we should build on this collaboration with the Americans. Obstacles with security and commercial secrecy are not impossible to overcome. Several industries have escaped terminal decline because of the F 35 programme but we need to design and build a home grown new generation multi-purpose fighter. Whether it is manned or flown by AI depends on research but without such a project we will lose the ability to make our own fighters. We urgently need a national space programme. All the more important as the European Space Agency countries turn their backs on us, so will Europe’s aircraft industry slowly although I suspect the next aircraft the Germans build will have been designed in France. I strongly urge that our F 35s have the full data-transfer suite that allows them to pass tactical information to fourth generation aircraft such as Typhoons. Although ships, aircraft and UAVs are astronomically expensive, if we want to stay a global player, there’s only one way forward. Invest in the latest technology, stay ahead of the pack. Start to think like a global power.

The Army is going through a tough period. Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron sent small and weakly armed forces into impossible situations in distant places. The results were near defeats and certainly no real success. Theresa May continues this kamikaze tradition by sending an armoured infantry battalion to Estonia without any air defence to provide what one distinguished general could only describe as a tethered goat. There is no way of extracting them other than threatening tactical nukes. Our political leaders need to stop listening to diplomats and others with no combat experience. You don’t gamble with loyal young peoples’ lives. Why don’t we tether eight-hundred politicians along the Estonian border with Russia? And they wonder why the three services are short of recruits. I think we need to have another referendum, on defence and international aid. The Prime Minister and her Cabinet are collectively shirking their duty to keep us all safe with strong armed forces.

The Army’s equipment has been neglected so long that its own Brexit moment has arrived. My advice is sit down with a blank sheet of paper, draw up new ways of reaching the battlefield and fighting hot wars, then work out a strategy that the other two services can fully support. I have few suggestions but they might help. An army is manpower intensive and a professional one pay expensive. Design an army with a professional core that has much larger volunteer reserves. The British Army is fifty years out of date. Take over all troop carrying helicopters from the RAF. The two airmobile divisions in Vietnam had four-hundred-and fifty helicopters each. Make 16 Air Assault Brigade the template for small airmobile divisions. Helicopters are expensive. Design an aircraft similar to a crop sprayer bred from a Pilatus Porter for close support off short runways. When you run out of fresh ideas, read some of my old articles for the RUSI about airborne, airmobile and armoured warfare then have a look at Ivan Barr’s design for a 17 tons tank that was fully air-portable and very fast once on the ground. Apply technology such as drones and AI to all forms of support fire including AAA and SAMs. Don’t buy another over heavy tank or APC, invent a new way for infantry to move around the battlefield. Take cyber warfare seriously but don’t let some *remf in the Cabinet Office tell you it’s more important than your fighting skills. Let the Germans, Poles and Ukrainians look after their frontiers with Russia, the dangerous threats to us will come from the air and sea.

This is the sort of outside the box thinking the National Security Adviser should be doing, supporting the Armed Services and intelligence agencies, supporting HM Diplomatic Service, not fighting them on behalf of the Treasury.

 

 

A LITTLE HISTORY GIVES SHARPER PERSPECTIVE

In late August 1963 the Beetles were topping the record charts. I joined the Commonwealth Relations Office, on a Monday. On Wednesday I was rewarded with a pay rise for my birthday. ( We did that sort of thing in those days.) By Friday I had become part of the new Her Majesty's Diplomatic Service also known as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Our PUS became the Permanent Under Secretary of the new Service but everyone concluded we were victims of a hostile take over by the Foreign Office.

Eight months earlier General de Gaulle had pronounced his ' Non ' regarding Britain's joining the original EC. This was another major blow for a strategic plan designed by the Foreign Office. Their record was pretty awful. Almost until the last moment, the FO had pursued a policy of appeasement with Hitler and the other dictators, a policy which led to the occupation of most of Europe and the loss of allies, markets, money, not to mention huge diplomatic and intelligence networks built up over five-hundred years. Churchill himself took over strategic foreign policy and nurtured the special relationship until Pearl Harbour enabled Roosevelt to cast aside isolation and lead the allied war effort. Next came the Suez Crisis where Eisenhower demanded that Britain and France cease their military action against Egypt. Caught like startled rabbits against a background of industrial strife and aging industrial plant the FO concluded that only membership of the new Common Market of European countries would force Britain's industry and unions to join the modern world. Never mind the belief in our country and the brains of its youth that led Winston Churchill to found a new college bearing his name at Cambridge and devoted to the sciences. The FO preached a strategy of tail between the legs retreat from our history as a world power. They believed their duty was to manage inevitable decline.

The CRO as it was known for short, steered our diplomatic relations with the Commonwealth, not only the great dominions of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and finally India and Pakistan, many other newly independent nations but also all those countries which had not yet become independent. Our job was to keep our relationships close with the all the countries which had recently belonged to the British Empire. Since the war Britain's foreign policy had been dominated by three main themes - economic recovery from the cost of the war, massive rearmament including nuclear weapons since the Korean War, bringing our former colonies to independence with parliamentary democracies and independent judiciaries backed by a targeted aid budget. The Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, set the tone with his famous ' wind of change ' speech to the Parliament in Cape Town about Africa as nation after nation peacefully became self-governing. Our task was far from easy but the potentially spectacular rewards were worth the struggle. Our opponents were defeatist British politicians and diplomats, Soviet Russia and Communist China, the worst of British banking and industry, corrupt politicians and officials in the newly independent countries - and in that order. On the other hand, we were led by people who knew well the people and leaders of the countries where they served and our own leaders were uniquely experienced men and women. Straight from the Army and placed in the defence and intelligence department, my own boss was George Price, a retired Royal Engineers general who as a colonel had been the assistant to General Pug Ismay, Winston Churchill's Military Assistant throughout World War Two. George and Louis Mountbatten, Chief of the Defence Staff, had been friends for nearly twenty-five years. We young people had a sense of mission, that what we did counted, there was no doubt that we were changing the world for the better for the peoples of our former colonies and by doing so, helping nearly fifty new UN members to belong among the democracies.

The FO take over was justified by accusing the CRO of running a separate foreign policy. The lexicon soon became that the Commonwealth had turned its back on Britain and were importing manufactured goods from our rivals in America, Japan and Europe - no mention was made that perhaps the unreliability of British industry at that time had something to do with seeking alternative suppliers. During the 1950s we ran a surplus on manufactured goods worth 10% of GNP. That advantage was lost to the recovering industries of Europe and Japan through poor management coupled with poor labour relations and poor road infrastructure. The railways were extensive and reliable for freight - until Dr Beeching closed down all the small branch lines that allowed parcels to arrive within hours by train. Britain's first motorway was only completed in 1968.

A year later de Gaulle said ' non ' again. Five years later Prime Minister Ted Heath managed to join the Common Market but Harold Wilson took much of the credit. Heath had lost an election after sheer industrial chaos. None of them expected that within five years a woman would lead the Conservative Party, win the election, go on to win two more and drag the British economy into the modern age. They were all too wet as Margaret Thatcher would occasionally let slip.

*

 

LIFE AFTER LIBERATION - LEARN FROM THE SWISS

Forget arrangements on the lines of the one the Swiss negotiated. The original agreement drawn up by Paul Jolles in 1972 was very good but Paul was one of the outstanding diplomats of the 1970s from any country. Paul also negotiated our exit from EFTA. Switzerland went on to negotiate a series of bilateral agreements with the EC member states of that time. Some 64% of Swiss trade is with the modern EC. About one third of Swiss trade is with Germany alone thus some kind of arrangement is important. Today the Swiss are constantly nagged by the EC Commission and threatened with dire consequences if they don't fall into line with EC rules on trade, taxes, refugees, you name it, in force within the Single Market by implementing rulings from the European Court of Justice. Most of the Swiss regard this idea as creeping colonisation by the EC. Today the EC Commission has a fan club among Switzerland's left of centre politicians and some of the senior diplomats and officials while most Swiss want to keep their direct democracy which allows even EC regulations to be questioned.

Swiss friends tell us that they were so worried about direction in which the EC was heading, becoming more rigid by the day, indeed almost totalitarian, that when they heard the news that we had voted for Brexit, they threw parties to celebrate.

Brexit will electrify the British people. Sudden release from the dead weight of the EC albatross around our necks will unleash all sorts of imaginative and inventive forces. We might even rediscover our old sense of community. Once again we can make our own rules. I would like to see a space industry strategy and a rejuvenation of shipping and shipbuilding through lower taxes and ultra modern designs and technology.

There is no point voting to leave the EU only to let Brussels sneak in through the back door. We should make a clean break. Let's stick to WTO rules and treat the EC as a single market from day one. Just as we do the United States. Should the EC seek tariff free trade with us, that's fine so long as there is no question of payments to the EC budget nor accepting EU regulations in our economy. Obviously any tariffs would apply throughout the Single Market and become reciprocal. Most WTO tariffs are low single figures but some products, luxury cars for example, face around 10% duty. Imports of cars alone would earn the Treasury several billions a year. 

 

 For a UK global diplomatic and export plan........an island lives and prospers on sea power.........just click the ships

With lower taxes on shipping the Merchant Navy grows - as owners recognise the increasing risks at sea and return to the red duster.

Photo Royal Navy

 

*

 

A GREAT DAY FOR THE ROYAL NAVY

 

The Queen with the Duke of Edinburgh, Lord High Admiral, and Admiral Sir George Zambellas, admiring the Royal Navy's latest aircraft carrier - HMS Queen Elizabeth - up in Rosyth on the 4 July.

The previous Queen Elizabeth was also a trail blazer, built as a fast oil-fired battleship armed with eight fifteen inch guns, she set a new benchmark for big gun ships and was to serve in two world wars. During the first with the Grand Fleet as Admiral Beatty's flag ship and during the second in the Mediterranean and Far East.

 

 

The new HMS Queen Elizabeth weighs in at 72,100 short tons - 65,000 imperial tons - and will carry an air strike group with stealth fighters able to reach targets hundreds of miles away. Her sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales, will take her place in the huge assembly dock now the Queen Elizabeth has taken to the water for her sea trials.

 

' How big did you say? '

 

      . 

' The one bearing your name is the larger one, Maam.'

 

The Queen concentrates as the bottle of Islay single malt hits grey steel.

 

 

Alongside the new carrier is HMS Illustrious, last of the ' through deck cruisers ' known by the navy as ' see through carriers ' which kept alive carrier jet fighter operations with the Sea Harrier jump jets. Otherwise, John Nott's suicidal naval cuts would have reduced the Royal Navy to a third rate naval power. Harrier carriers made possible liberation of the Falkland Islands.

The jet fighter on the ski ramp of HMS Elizabeth is a mock up but gives a very clear idea of the size of the flight deck. The Royal Navy will fight to ensure that both new aircraft carriers join the fleet. I feel confident the RN and its many staunch fans will win that fight. Everyone who thinks we should have a much stronger navy needs to make their voice heard. This is a job for a single massive public voice. The coming political battle will involve public pressure to double the number of destroyers, frigates and submarines. Ideally the Royal Navy could find plenty of work for a third new carrier and a four-fold increase in surface ships and submarines but let's take things a step at a time. First the British public have to be educated that they live on an island that's becoming as over-crowded as Japan.

Then compare the size of their navy with ours.

All the same, truly, a great day for the Royal Navy ( not to mention Gordon Brown ) and all the ship yard workers, the thousands of skilled people who delivered her on time for the Queen.   

 

 

COMMONWEALTH'S  GRANDMAMA INVITES EUROPE'S MUTTI TO TEA

 

 

DAVE AND ANGE

Oh dear, Mutti has bitten another partner but this time the victim survived. Dave had an easy decision but he made heavy weather of it - as usual. There was a landslide election victory staring him in the face. The Tories and UKIP had 35% and 10-15% of the vote together. The only negotiation with the EC that made sense was British exit. That would given the ' conservative vote ' a boost up to 55% of the voters, possibly 60% with the prospect of freedom from the EC shackles around our commercial ankles.

Dave bungled his negotiations with Mutti, called a referendum so we could decide, then threatened us voters with project fear, roping in everyone from Tony Blair to the American President.

He lost and now Theresa May is trying to keep us in the EC by pretending she's making a mess of leaving.

Far from facing ruin, freed from Europe's sheet anchor, Britain's economy will grow much faster. We should become a another Japan anchored off the Continent.

The price is worth paying - much larger armed forces, particularly the Royal Navy, and restoration of the FCO to its former strength.

Forget our useless politicians.

Let's get started.

Start buying British.

*

 

**************************

 

 

*

America's armed forces enjoy a fine tradition of openness towards new ideas from any quarter - including civilians - often from places beyond the United States. This continued throughout the Vietnam War. A few years after the Vietnam War the Commanding General of the 82 Airborne Division, Sandy Molloy, asked me to spend some time with the division and look at their methods of doing business from strategy to tactics. Several changes resulted. Some of the ideas eventually were published in the RUSI Journal. Tell me any other armed forces in the World that are so open to new ideas? General David Petraeus and many others continue this tradition.

 

*

 

A picture is worth a thousand words - Her Majesty with the ship's company of HMS Ark Royal on the 5 November 2010

*

 

HMS Richmond, Type 23 Destroyer, firing a Harpoon missile.

 

Former Prime Minister, Lord Callaghan, sipping coffee in an Ottawa hotel back in April 1982, told me that during the late 1970s when Argentina previously threatened the Falklands he was offered two naval options - send surface ships rather publicly or send nuclear submarines discreetly. With a canny smile, he added,' I sent both.' 

Jim Callaghan then added, ' When you're on the phone to Downing Street this morning, Adrian, remind the lady who ordered all those ships she's sending south.'

I conveyed his message, diplomatically....

*

 

In fairness, neither could William Hague answer sensibly.

*

 

' Double the effort and square the error.'

Sir Robert Thompson describing the worst form of strategy - debating with Adrian over a Chinese meal in wartime Saigon.

 

THE PRESIDENT'S DILEMMA

None - under his watch the United States found Bin Laden. Who's next?

*

Personally, I think President Obama's staff should have stopped him returning Winston Churchill's bust to the British Embassy. This was seen as a churlish act by the British people, who expected bigger things from America's first black president. Their bench mark is Nelson Mandela. Perhaps, the President should have asked for a temporary exchange, a bust of Clement Atlee whose National Health Service remains an example to the world. Clem' would have been a daily inspiration for him, that - yes, we can.

 

*

The Special Relationship

USS Winston Churchill making an emergency break away from the USS Harry S Truman. She is the only ship in the US Navy permanently assigned a Royal Navy officer - she flies the Stars and Stripes and the White Ensign. Escorting astern of the carrier and her support ship is HMS Manchester. Clicking this photo leads straight to how the Special Relationship began.

*

HMS Daring - photo Royal Navy and BAE

    Ideas on future diplomacy and strategy found by clicking on the Canberra bomber and HMS Daring or links further below.

***************

JUST CLICK THE FIGHTER FOR WORLD NEWS ONE - INTELLIGENCE AND DIPLOMACY

WORLD NEWS TWO - BRITAIN'S FORCES NEED MORE IMAGINATION, CASH, PEOPLE, SHIPS, AIRCRAFT AND MOBILITY

WORLD NEWS THREE - NAVAL AIR POWER

WORLD NEWS FOUR - DESTROYERS AND FRIGATES

WORLD NEWS FIVE - REFORM OF THE BRITISH ARMY

WORLD NEWS SIX - CHINA AND KOREA

WORLD NEWS SEVEN - THE GREAT DEBATE

*******

OUR NORMANDY D DAY AIR & LAND TOURS

Anyone taking our Normandy sky tour finds it helpful to have an idea of the scale of Operation Overlord and our briefing pages are worth a glance to understand some of the events before America's entry into the Second World War. Many visitors to our website probably know much of what is explained on these pages. Please grant us your forbearance. We try to ensure that those less familiar with the background to D Day, particularly the young, start their tour with a sound conception of what was at stake thereby making their time with us all the more worthwhile and enjoyable.

Just click the Spitfire...

 

OUR VIRTUAL D DAY TOUR HAS LOTS OF PHOTOS OF THE LEGENDARY SITES TODAY

SEE ALSO

 

                     OUR SKY GUIDES          STOP PRESS          OUR TOURS PAGE