Thursday 12 July 2012

Saving Private Jones

The attitude of nationalists towards the armed forces has long been ambivalent at best.  There are those who see the armed forces as being something very ‘British’ and therefore to be opposed per se; but there’s a much stronger element of anti-militarism as well.
It hasn’t always been as strong as the avowed pacifism of Gwynfor, but pacifism has long been a strong thread in the national movement in Wales.  Opposition to WMD comes naturally to most of us; but it’s stronger than that.  Even amongst those who are not outright pacifists, there has long been an opposition to foreign military adventures, including most recently in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a demand for a reduction in military expenditure.
Until comparatively recently, one of the core arguments put forward by nationalists was that an independent Wales would spend much less on armaments and armed forces as a proportion of GDP, and therefore have more resources available for peaceful purposes.
More recently, however, the apparent support given by MPs from all four parties to the proposed Defence Academy at St Athan, and the support apparently offered by the Welsh Government for both that scheme and the expansion of UAV testing at Aberporth were something of a surprise and a disappointment, as was the argument put forward by some in 2010 that Wales should have its ‘fair share’ of military expenditure.
The ambivalence has come to the fore again over the past couple of weeks with the discussions over cuts to the size of the UK’s Armed Forces.  The outcome seems to have been opposition to any cuts to ‘Welsh’ units.  That seems to me to be mistaken, and a result of some confused thinking.
There is inconsistency here.  If we want to spend less on ‘defence’, then job cuts are inevitable.  Preservation of all historic regiments cannot be reconciled with a reduction in the total number of those regiments.  It’s no use calling for swords to be turned into ploughshares if we then oppose the closure of the sword factory because it will lose jobs.
The challenge is not to protect what is but to build what should be; the demand should be for the savings to be used to create new jobs and industries, not for the preservation of remnants of an imperial past.


Anonymous said...

Some good sense here. The issue of St Athan was very controversial but I have some sympathy for Plaid Cymru at the time, as being part of the government they inherited responsibility for the 'civilian' aspect of aerospace development at the site (which is still going ahead) and couldn't be seen to campaign against it.

G Horton-Jones said...

The debate should be about the needs of Wales as a nation
We need a structure that we alone can finance with confidence, that has an element of ground, sea and air capability
This could be integrated with other services ie the police, fire service and ambulance the coastguard and border controls etc
This is not to suggest that we continue with the existing framework in any sense of the word
The over-riding philosophy is as the Americans put it of homeland security

Paul Seligman said...

Just found this blog and some interesting comments. I am less separtist than you but share some other views.

I've followed you on Twitter, I am @PaulMSeligman if you wnat to look me up.

John Dixon said...


All new readers warmly welcomed, even if they use terminology (separatist, indeed) in a way that I wouldn't!

I've never got around to using Twitter, though, and not sure that I will. I'm probably a bit too verbiose for that particular medium...