How the left can build an effective defence strategy

The left need to create an opportunity to build an effective defence strategy at a time when it is so needed.

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We need to include both radical and ethical upgrades to our defences if we are to deal with the threats ahead.
We need to include both radical and ethical upgrades to our defences if we are to deal with the threats ahead.

For those who participate in politics or who pay attention to the typical developments in recent events, it is clear to see that defence and military tactics are not subjects that the political left normally advocate.

The scepticism over whether NATO should exist, opposition to nuclear weapons, protests against bombing foreign territories and support for free movement of people cast doubts in the minds of others over whether we would actually be secure with a left-wing leadership at the helm. Particularly in a proud, nationalistic country such as our own.

However, there are ways in which all of these policies can be implemented and backed up with more ethical and radical amendments to not only preserve, but improve, our approach to national and international security.

As a species, mankind has always been attentive to ripping itself apart with war. I am not saying that any one person or policy can create peace in this world. The war in Iraq and the Syrian conflict have displayed the West’s true colours. There is no easy solution to this complex issue. But there are measures that we can take to improve the situation in Syria in a sophisticated way.

As a union of nations with similar aims, we should cooperate with the Syria’s neighbours. The complications arise when you see that our distinctive aims begin to differ. It could be wise to establish committees to preserve the overall stability of the area and resolve these differences that are fairly evident.

Just by looking at the above countries and their history with one another, this will be tricky. But it can be argued that in politics we should be working towards the right goals, even if they are not the easy thing to do. Russia and the USA have negotiated a ceasefire.

Further involvement and future discussions must be a short-term priority and people must realise that this can only be part of the solution. This is assuming these agreements resolve anything.

Within Syria itself, the perception of the ground war seems to describe more of a meat grinder, with endless blockades of towns, villages and roads being cut off and numerous forms of tribal warfare. The area is divided between factions and cannot be concluded with a simple division of the nation. This is what occurred in Yugoslavia.

It is often said that this should all be resolved through “negotiable means”. This could be a possibility with the Syrian government as everything can be done through President Assad.  If we could get this far, negotiations with Daesh would also be contentious and they would almost certainly unable to reach to any terms, other than their own.

The best measure is to sanction the area and halt any weapons trading. The major problems we faced out in Iraq and Afghanistan were that NATO troops were facing weapons that were sold to opposition forces decades before these particular conflicts started. This was when the term “My enemy’s enemy is my friend” was not put into question enough when selling arms to Saddam Hussein to fight Iran. The same could be said when Western nations sold weapons to Afghan resistance fighters when the Russians invaded Afghanistan.

We ultimately have to be prepared for the worst, especially if all other ambitions fail. Trident’s removal could potentially relieve a lot of the international threats which have slowly become less prevalent since the Second World War. To be conclusive, there is not the taste for any immediate conflict between nations. We must be cautious, however. This may change within an instant, in particular with the likes of North Korea who are undergoing controversial missile tests.

For these reasons, we need localised defence services that are nation specific. This is where NATO can be restrictive. The aim of spending 2% of our GDP pushes us to assume that when the economy expands, then so should the military.  It is therefore necessary to have a specific defence budget and not rule out the possibility of an emergency budget should the need arise.

There is also the look into the effects that private contracts have had on our military, specifically the recruitment and training processes. In 2012, Capita PLC signed an agreement to take on the responsibility of recruitment for the army with a particular focus on bringing in more reservists. Many local battalions took it upon themselves to organise their own recruitment drive, which was successful.

The problem, however, continues over the fact that recruit training centres across the various defence services are under pressure to maintain numbers. This can cause shortages in individual training and even result in a number of defence personnel being returned to their units who are not up to the correct standard.

Allowing local units to set up their own standard operating procedures regarding recruitment development can help initiate an appropriate strategy. They can then work to their specific trades within the armed services and focus more on the quality of building individuals without having to worry about pushing through the numbers.

In terms of terrorism, we need a more coherent plan that differentiates for everyone’s needs. Simply removing free movement and transforming the whole country (or even Europe) into one big security camp where movement and activities are constantly monitored would not be a credible option. This would lean towards what terrorism is trying to accomplish; the disruption of society and everyday life.

Therefore, we must unite as a whole community and remind ourselves that those associated with terrorism are not all Muslims. Terrorism comes in its varieties. But if we have a tolerant and equal society, then the causes can be overcome before the effects take their hold.

Overall, the political left should want an ethical and practical approach to dealing with daily threats.  In today’s world, security, peace and defence policies are more outlined by national governments and, sadly, there is a lack of responsibility taken when errors are made.

If we are to progress with a left-wing defence strategy, we need leadership and we need personnel to be deployed in a firm, but fair, manner. We should deliver aid and act as a relief movement, rather than being portrayed as an invasion force.

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