The Corner

England Expects…and Is Disappointed

For those who persist, against all the evidence, in ignoring the

damage that Tony Blair is doing to Britain’s defense capabilities (and

thus to the country’s ability to stand alongside the US in future),

these comments from a New Criterion article by the

distinguished British historian Andrew Roberts on the 200th anniversary

of the battle of Trafalgar might, I hope, provoke a second thought or


“On July 6, with the Fleet Review safely over, Britain’s defense

secretary, John Reid, announced that from the end of 2005 there will be

only one frigate or destroyer on patrol in the Gulf and the Indian

Ocean instead of the two that have hitherto been involved in

counter-terrorism patrols and in protecting shipping in the narrow Gulf

waterway. The very day after the government announced this cutback in

the war against terror, four suicide bombers killed fifty-six people in

London and injured over 700 more. For all the defiant statements made

after those atrocities, the government is cutting back on the Navy’s

anti-terrorism capability. With the fleet being reduced from thirty-one

frigates and destroyers to a mere twenty-five by New Labour, Britain is

at her weakest in terms of relative sea power than at any time since

the reign of Henry VIII, the monarch who built the modern Royal Navy.

There are more admirals on the Service List today than there are

warships in commission…”

As you’d expect from Roberts, the whole article is well worth

reading, not least for these remarks about the scribblings of France’s

popinjay prime minister, Dominique de Villepin:

“Elsewhere in his book, which is full of the kind of prose-poetry

verbiage that no Anglo-Saxon politician could ever get away with

without facing coruscating ridicule, de Villepin writes things like

“France is a large old oak tree, full of everlasting sap,” “The man

free of baggage walks along the horizon, eating the dust and the sky,

forever watching out with his black eyes for the call of the god within

himself,”…France might well be a large old oak tree full of

everlasting sap, but her prime minister is full of something that

rhymes with it.”

The same is true of Tony Blair.

Hat-tip Pejman Yousefzadeh

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