Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Defence: A Modest Proposal

David Cameron exhorts us to get behind our troops and support the war in Afghanistan. Just like Gordon Brown. It is a nearly universally held belief that the MoD is overstaffed and bad but the armed services are like nurses with guns: they can do no wrong and nothing is too good for them.
May I suggest that our armed forces are not perfect and spending more money on them without clearly specifying targets to achieve is wasteful of the nation's limited resources at any time and especially so now when the National Debt is £900 billion and rising.
Instead of viewing Defence as A Good Thing in its own right, the radical Tory should regard Defence as a means of protection for the United Kingdom and its international trade. The three most important areas of government business are foreign affairs, homeland security and industry and energy policy. The other departments support this Triad. The Treasury is a means of efficiently raising and distributing the money needed to operate government. Just as in an ideal world there would be no need for the Police to protect, deter, detect and prosecute to allow law abiding folk to go about their lawful business, in a similar Utopia there would be no need for armed forces. It is clear that there are states or quasi-states that threaten the physical safety and interests of the United Kingdom. I propose a system whereby every five years the Triad define the threats facing our country and, if they are unable to ameliorate them with in-house resources, ie diplomacy, foreign aid, policing of aliens, trade agreements etc, they should request the MoD to submit a tender for the military means to counter the defined threats. The MoD could also add other threats it had identified for consideration by the Triad for inclusion in the defence package. The package would then be presented by the Triad to the Treasury to assess its affordability. Each part of the bid would be benchmarked to ensure best value for money and effectiveness. If the Treasury considered that the tender was too dear, the Triad could either fund the deficit from its own resources or argue the case for more expenditure or renegotiate the defence package with the MoD. The Defence Budget would then be submitted to Parliament for its approval.

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