Thursday 25 October 2012

Scottish independence would delight our enemies and dismay our friends

The British armed forces have had a long and illustrious history, but face perhaps their greatest challenge in the coming years. While the British army was able to fight off external enemies in two world wars, it is only the existence of an internal enemy, which threatens it with dismemberment. If the SNP were to succeed in breaking up Britain, they would of course succeed in breaking up the British army, the Royal Navy and the RAF. How would that prospect be viewed by Britain’s enemies and friends?

Imagine if Scottish independence had broken up the British armed forces in 1914 or in 1939. What would have been the reaction to this event in Berlin? Our enemies at that time would have been delighted. They would have known that breaking up the British armed forces would have diminished in strength one of the obstacles that they would have had to overcome. How would our allies and friends have reacted? They would have known that one of their key allies had just been considerably weakened. The result in both world wars at various points was very close. British armed forces were at times considerably pressed. The presence of Scottish forces in both world wars could well have made the difference between victory and defeat. No wonder our enemies would have been delighted with Scottish independence in 1914 or 1939. Why should they think any differently if independence were to be achieved in 2014?

How would our Nato allies react to Scottish independence breaking up the British armed forces? They would know that at present there are only really three serious armies in Nato, the French, the British and the American. The breaking up of one of those armies would naturally diminish the strength of the Nato alliance. Our allies therefore would naturally react with dismay, while our enemies would be able to see a chink in the armour of Nato, which had not existed previously. 

While the SNP talk of an independent Scotland remaining in Nato, it is obvious that they are doing so purely in order to win votes. Their support for the alliance is at best lukewarm and surrounded by conditions. To be frank, if they were sincere in their support for Nato they would not be proposing to break up the British armed forces. 

Some nationalists might ask, which enemies are you talking about? The Cold War is over. The Warsaw Pact defunct.  What purpose does the Nato alliance have? The answer is that no one knows what future enemies we may have. But that is the very reason why we must maintain strong armed forces. Anyone with a knowledge of history knows that Britain has frequently faced enemies and it is unlikely that human nature has changed so much that we will not in the future face more. Nato has kept the peace remarkably well since 1948. British deaths in all conflicts since World War 2 are less than 8000. By comparison, more than three times that number were killed on one day in 1916. Prior to Nato, deaths in wars were in the hundreds of thousands, after Nato combat deaths in any one conflict have exceeded one thousand only twice. What has made the difference? The answer obviously is the fact that we have possessed nuclear weapons. These really have deterred large scale warfare. The SNP however, not only wish to weaken Nato, by weakening the British armed forces, they also wish to undermine Nato’s ability to deter enemies. The UK’s nuclear deterrent is situated in Scotland and there is nowhere at present in the rest of the UK where it can be situated. The need for nuclear deterrence is if anything greater than it was previously, not least because more states hostile to this country are striving to acquire them. The prospect of a world being entirely free from nuclear weapons is practically speaking impossible, not least because there is no way to uninvent something which has already been invented. In such a world giving up our own nuclear weapons would naturally delight our enemies. It would also dismay our friends who depend in part on our ability to deter their enemies. To suppose otherwise is to be hopelessly naive. 

Scotland has a long history of contributing to the British armed forces and Scottish soldiers, sailors and airmen are universally respected and feared. To show how the SNP’s policies would delight Britain’s potential enemies just imagine how a potential enemy would view the prospect of an SNP victory in the independence referendum. Imagine how they would delight to see the chaos of trying to extract Scottish regiments from the unified whole which is the British Army. Imagine how they would see opportunity in the Royal Air Force losing its Scottish bases, how it would please them to know that the Royal Navy could no longer patrol the waters around Scotland. Our enemies would know that there would in the event of independence be a divided intelligence service, a divided counter terrorism strategy and through these cracks of division they might just find an opportunity, which was unavailable to them when we presented a united front. On the basis that we should never do what our enemy would like us to do, it is clear that a vote for independence should be avoided by anyone concerned about the defence of our country.