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Chris Mason: The politics of defence in a dangerous world

  • By Chris Mason
  • Political Editor, BBC News

Under the cool spring sun of a Polish military base, a noisy, smoky tank makes a 90-degree turn, the metal of its tracks scraping against the concrete.

Creatures of war had become the backdrop for defense policy.

A dangerous world collides with a general election year.

In the years following the Cold War, many Western countries reaped the benefits of peace.

According to the logic, a safer world meant that money previously spent on soldiers, warplanes and aircraft carriers could be spent on health services or schools.

But how things have changed.

There is conflict in the Middle East. And the war in Europe.

Rishi Sunak traveled here to meet his Polish counterpart Donald Tusk, as well as the Secretary General of the NATO defense alliance, Jens Stoltenberg.

But the Prime Minister also came here with an announcement in his pocket.

A man aware of the threats the UK faces internationally and the domestic threats it faces politically.

And if you’re talking about spending commitments, who better to follow than Chancellor Jeremy Hunt and Defense Secretary Grant Shapps?

Mr Sunak has said he wants to increase defense spending to 2.5% of national income by 2030.

The government estimates that the total increase – taking into account assumed economic growth – represents an extra £75 billion over the next six years.

The Prime Minister is presenting this plan in grand rhetoric and, yes, if implemented it would amount to a significant increase in defense spending.

And, he claims, it is “fully funded, with no increase in borrowing or debt.”

The Conservatives say they took their numbers into account.

A significant portion of this reduction comes from reducing public sector jobs to pre-pandemic levels. Ministers estimate this equates to a reduction in staff numbers of around 70,000 people.

They argue that additional staff were needed to get through the pandemic and deliver Brexit, but this is not currently the case.

Then enter, Work. A central part of Sir Keir Starmer’s attempt to reinvent his party has been to don the Union flag (or even the St George flag for St George’s Day) and emphasize his commitment to the armed forces.

He was photographed in combat gear.

He highlighted Labour’s commitment to NATO.

Quite the contrast with Jeremy Corbyn.

But when it comes to funding, his promise is not as concrete as that of the Conservatives.

Labor has promised to increase defense spending to 2.5% of national income when “resources allow”.

How will they react now, after being overwhelmed by the conservatives?

In the hours immediately following the Prime Minister’s speech, shadow cabinet ministers appeared unsure.

But the fact that Westminster’s two largest parties are engaged in a defense arms race says a lot about what we need to know about the state of the world.

“Having Russia as a neighbor has a cost.

“We cannot run away from this cost. You must pay. We must understand that the more costly alternative is to allow Putin to win in Ukraine, because then we will live in a much more dangerous world,” NATO said . The general secretary told me so.

Yes, the leader of a defense alliance will probably always want more money for his cause.

But it’s a sobering observation.

News Source : www.bbc.com
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jack colman

With a penchant for words, jack began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class.After interning at the New York Times, jack landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim.Though writing is his passion, jack also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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