Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

Division, War and the West

drum-3376170_1280 The Drumbeat of War

"We don't want to fight, but by jingo if we do…" was the music hall song from which the word jingoism originated.

John Hobson, in his Psychology of Jingoism of (1901), referred to music halls of stirring up the crowds in favour of war, but that those who shouted loudest had no intention of fighting themselves.

Social media is the modern equivalent of the music hall, but without the entertainment apart from a few jokes and pictures of cats. There is open encouragement of other nations to go to war without compromise and with our support.

"We don't want to fight but by jingo if we do, we've got the ships, we've got the men, and got the money too!" Only we don't. For all the bluff and bluster of government spokespersons, commentators and social media keyboard warriors, the MOD had been cut beneath the bone by successive governments by economic policy and by stealth.

There were around four times as many protesters at the latest Palestinian demonstration (300,000) than Britain has regular soldiers (about 76,000). There are also about 26,000 reservists on paper, which doesn't mean they are all paper soldiers, but it would be wishful thinking to imagine that most would be fit and ready for active service in an emergency or could actually be deployed.

The terms of the Versailles Treaty after WWI and the resulting destabilising of the German economy and society as a result of reparations probably made WWII inevitable. Similarly, it is likely the so-called peace dividend at the end of the Cold War, which meant deep cuts in defence budgets and a triumphalist attitude by the West, has led directly to war now.

Chamberlain is often caricatured as a short-sighted appeaser, but in 1938, after years of disarmament, he had been told by the War Office that Britain could hardly defend itself let alone put an expeditionary force in the field and that the country would not be in a position to fight a war until 1941. The British ambassador to Berlin had been taken aside by Goering and informed of the relative strengths of weak British and strong German airpower and that if Britain chose war there would be little left of London afterwards.

Had Britain and France been in a position to wage war outward Hitler may have thought twice about occupying the Sudetenland or the embryonic German resistance might have succeeded in a putsch. Hindsight, however, is the politics of hopelessness. The twin strategy of adequate military defences and positive and sensitive global diplomatic policy, on the other hand, might have been preferable given where we were then and where we are now.

Where we are now is, alas, about taking sides rather than resolving conflicts. Choosing a side is often political, so pro-Palestinian = Left leaning and pro-Israeli = Right leaning for example, which is a long way from a balanced foreign policy in the national interest. The despicable attack by Hamas on Israel understandably led to a robust response in its self defence, but the lives and value of Palestinian innocents and of Israeli innocents are equal under God. There have been many thousands of innocent victims of this conflict both in Israel and Gaza.

Who benefits from the Middle Eastern conflict? In the short-term Hamas benefited from stopping in its tracks the normalisation of relations with Israel by Arab states that had begun with Camp David. Russia has certainly benefited from the movement of world attention and Western resources away from Ukraine, which suggests a proxy war like in Sudan and the unrest in Kosovo. Maybe Israel will eradicate Hamas and render Gaza uninhabitable, thus moving the problem of Palestinian dissent out of Palestinian territory into neighbouring countries and beyond. Meanwhile, distrust, division and resentment are perpetuated and the cycle begins again.

Meanwhile in social media land the 'experts' lecture us on the relative merits of their chosen side, its 'evil' adversary and the complicity of the people it claims to represent. Just as with saintly Zelensky and evil Putin, binary generally means Joan of Arc versus (1984's) Emmanuel Goldstien, precluding any alternative to war to the knife. World peace and harmonious interaction between peoples is not achieved by the destruction of enemies but in the cultivation of friends and the building of trust.

"We don't want to fight..." So, we will keep our sabres sharp rather than rattling them, win wars before they need to be fought and become neither militarily weak nor diplomatically closed.

"Always remember, however sure you are that you could easily win, that there would not be a war if the other man did not think he also had a chance." Winston Churchill. 

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Director : Robert Oulds
Tel: 020 7287 4414
Chairman: Barry Legg
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Founder President :
The Rt Hon. the Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven LG, OM, FRS 
Vice-President : The Rt Hon. the Lord Lamont of Lerwick,
Chairman: Barry Legg
Director : Robert Oulds MA, FRSA
Washington D.C. Representative : John O'Sullivan CBE
Founder Chairman : Lord Harris of High Cross
Head of Media: Jack Soames