The Great Debate UK

from UK News:

Libya crisis could scupper British aircraft carriers once and for all

So the world has unfurled a no-fly zone over Libya, apparently undeterred by the lack of Royal Navy aircraft carriers. Judging by the uniforms gracing the steps of 10 Downing Street on Friday and the attacks launched over the weekend, Britain’s military top brass haven’t been put off either.

Britain's Defence Secretary Liam Fox and the Chief of the Defence Staff General David Richards arrive in Downing Street

Liam Fox and General David Richards in Downing Street

The Libya crisis has, until now, provided a platform for the “Save our Aircraft Carriers Campaign” to champion its cause but in the process they’ve thrown down some whopping red herrings.

First we were told Britain could have done a better job extracting citizens from Libya if it had an aircraft carrier. In the event nature’s own aircraft carrier, Malta (immune to rough seas and mechanical failure) proved a perfectly good operations centre from which to manage rescue efforts. If Britain’s response was slow, that had more to do with the speed of decision making than the available military hardware.

Even if HMS Ark Royal had been in service, victualled, crewed and ready to put to sea from Portsmouth, she would have taken a good four days to reach Benghazi sailing at full steam the whole way, through still waters. Had she been in the Gulf of Oman supporting operations in Afghanistan, it would have taken closer to five days at best. Once in theatre she would have required defence from air attack and even the threat of submarines should any of Gaddafi’s Soviet-era vessels still be operational.

Getting to grips with the post-Cold War security threat

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johnreid -John Reid, formerly the UK Defence Secretary and Home Secretary, is MP for Airdrie and Shotts, and Chairman of the Institute for Security and Resilience Studies at University College, London. The opinions expressed are his own. -

The fall of the Berlin Wall, on November 9, 1989, was one of history’s truly epochal moments. During what became a revolutionary wave sweeping across the former Eastern Bloc countries, the announcement by the then-East German Government that its citizens could visit West Germany set in train a series of events that led, ultimately, to the demise of the Soviet Union itself.

Twenty years on, what is most striking to me are the massive, enduring ramifications of the events of November 1989. Only several decades ago, the Cold War meant that the borders of the Eastern Bloc were largely inviolate; extremist religious groups and ethnic tensions were suppressed, there was no internet (at least as we know it today) and travel between East and West was difficult. The two great Glaciers of the Cold War produced a frozen hinterland characterised by immobility.

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