The Apollo Project
Liberal Ideas for the 21st Century
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
The Importance of a Sound Defence Policy
by Steve Travis

Whilst on holiday in Australia I read the excellent "Tommy", by Richard Holmes. In it, I came across the following quote from Osbert Sitwell. Written in 1946, it discusses the impact of joining large continental alliances whilst only funding an army capable of fighting small Colonial wars:

Even today you see references to the immense achievements of the Liberal administration of 1906 - 14, but can any government whose policy entails such a lack of preparation for war as to make that seeming solution of difficulties a gamble apparently worthwhile for an enemy, and this leads to the death or disablement of two million fellow countrymen ... Can any government which introduces old age pensions, so as to 'help the old people' and then allows half the manhood of the country to be killed or disabled before it reaches thirty years of age, be considered to have been either benevolent or efficient?
posted by Apollo Project @ 8:24 pm  
  • At 14 December, 2005 22:25, Blogger Snafu said…

    Prior to 1914, the UK's defence policy prior would have been eminently sensible as the main threat to the UK's prosperity was the threat to the trade routes, hence the importance of the Royal Navy in the UK's defences.

    Like most defence strategies, policies are based upon the means of fighting the last war rather than on forecasts of how the next war will be fought.

    Very few people could possibly have predicted the stalemate of the Western front, and even fewer would have listened to thei arguments!

    The son of the Liberal Prime Minister Asquith was killed on the Somme in 1916.

  • At 15 December, 2005 10:30, Anonymous Steve Travis said…

    Snafu - perhaps what I should have added was the context of the article.

    This was that pursuing a policy of continental alliances would, in the case of war, lead to deployment of an army to the continent. The deficiencies were less in retainign a small army, but in failing to equip it with the training and organisation to expand rapidly when requuired, for example seeding the new divisions with cadres of experienced officers and NCOs.

    Often what happened with the Kitchener Divisions was that the leaders were taken from the locality where the men had been recruited, and were "community leaders" of various sorts with no previous military experience. Many of the Kitchener divisions suffered from poor tactical leadership, especially in 1916.

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"What is Liberalism?: I should say it means the acknowledgment in practical life of the truth that men are best governed who govern themselves; that the general sense of mankind, if left alone, will make for righteousness; that artificial privileges and restraints upon freedom, so far as they are not required in the interests of the community, are hurtful; and that the laws, while, of course, they cannot equalise conditions, can at least avoid aggravating inequalities, and ought to have for their object the securing to every man the best chance he can have of a good and useful life." C-B.


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