Breakfast With Sir Jock

When a good friend and confidant of mine in The City told me that MTO alumnus and highly respected military personage, Sir Jock Stirrup, was due to speak at a breakfast engagement at the Merchant Taylors' Guildhall on Threadneedle St, naturally I jumped at the chance both to take a peek around the inside the hallowed bastion of one of the oldest of the original livery companies in the Square Mile, and also to hear what the "chocks away" brigade might have to say to friendly company over a cup of coffee and a danish.

After the usual introductions, Sir Jock began his talk by noting that of the vast range of topics he could choose to talk about on this occasion, it was clear that in talking of military plans and objectives, there was a need for clarity about what is the underlying political vision upon which those objectives were based before any clearly measurable goals and metrics could be established.

And so began his pitch for the 21st Century British "Grand Strategy".

At the core of his talk was the essential premise that Britain, as a historical "Great Power", has both the right and the responsibility to intervene in world affairs in defense of the established order, both in respect of our own perceived "national interests", and internationally where deemed necessary. In particular, he pointedly mentioned how Great Britain built its Empire and prosperity on trade and commerce, and as such has a permanent "prime directive" to assure that her relative economic advantages were maintained at all costs.

It should be clear enough in this instance that "national interests", all perpendicular angular momentum considered, have no direct relevance to the actual general welfare of the British public themselves, but rather the narrow and entrenched interests of the self perpetuating breed of aristocratic families who own the political-economic system and deploy it for their private ends, or, as Bernard Mandeville might say "private vices, national interests".

He spoke pointedly about the rise of China, India and to a lesser degree Russia, as new economic powers that have upset the "balance of power" in the world. Hardly a surprising perspective for a long range military-strategic planner, but indicative of the kind of thinking that permeates the upper levels of the British Establishment, tutored in the geopolitics of Mackinder and Venetian policy as fundamental sacrosanct theologies, anchored in the bestial hatred of humanity that permeates theHobbesean world view.

With direct reference to the recently published national security strategy white paper published by the government, he painted a picture of a world of failed states, social, economic and climate chaos on a global scale, where non-state actors would be taking up arms in asymmetric war against NATO, thus confirming that the establishment are not only aware that the entire global system is coming down, but that they are already planning for it, and even embracing it - after all, the mortal enemies of the Empire for which Sir Jock and our armed forces are fighting, are strong nations capable of self defense. Clearly, the fait accompli for these plum chewing grand utopians and their vision of a New World Order, is one in which every nation state is a failed one, including the former Great Britain.

On conclusion of his animated delivery of the apocryphal geopoliticians' wet dream, the floor was opened to questions, the first of which being from the Head of Investment Banking at Goldman Sachs: 'What can we expect from the Obama administration in respect of foreign policy breaks the Bush administration and what is the likely impact of these on the "special relationship"?'

Here Jock wasted no time by stating that in his estimation, the "special relationship" is unlikely to be affected in any way by the change in Administration, and key policy initiatives that are now demonstrably almost 180 degree reversal of those of the Bush administration, were already in progress and contemplated as much as two years before the Obama administration took office. He specifically mentioned the decision to keep defense secretary Robert Gates in his position at the Pentagon as a strong indication of the degree of continuity between the two administrations.

These points aside, he was astute enough to note that any "special relationship" between our two nations was founded on shared strategic objectives, and therefore agreed that the term "special partnership" were more appropriate. In the case of the United States, such "shared strategic objectives" would appear to emanate exclusively from the Anglo-American dominated Wall St faction and their economic interests, as opposed to any genuine fundamental national interest of the American people or their historic mission, as laid out in the Declaration of Independence. In this at least, he unwittingly confirmed the appropriately cynical outlook of US Patriot, General Smedley Butler, famous for his book "War is a Racket". Clearly, not that much has changed in the 100 years over which these tin soldiers have been plying their trade around the world under cover of their own particular brand of misguided patriotism.

Given the events at the G20 meeting recently, and ongoing reports of certain influences within the Whitehouse economics team, we are not naive enough to say that the "special relationship" is dead, but it is certainly under great strain in manyareas of strategic policy.

Other questions focused on:

Russia, where Sir Jock shared a private anecdote of a discussion with Robert Gates who reportedly said that "Some people say when they look into Putin's eyes they see a man they can do business with, whereas when I look into his eyes, I see a killer". Well, I suppose it takes one to know one.

Pakistan, where the questioner asked if the West should be backing groups seeking to overthrow the regime. Here Jock deftly avoided commenting directly on such radical proposals, but pointedly mentioned the ongoing "Extremely strong and active" links from the days of the commonwealth to the present time.

Afghanistan, where apparently the focus on "can we beat the Taliban?", rather that "can we win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people?" is the problem with military and strategic policy, but naturally no mention of the "hearts and minds" of the victims of the opium war being waged on the world.

And finally, after almost an hour of starchy brass-band-pomp-and-circumstance, I got to ask my two part question:

'You have said that the EU is essentially "doing nothing" in international/NATO military affairs, but this is quite clearly not true. I do not know if you have had the opportunity to watch a recent Bruges Group presentation by the Rt Hon Peter Lilley MP, on the subject of the "Death of Parliamentary Democracy", but I would thoroughly recommend that you do so.

Secondly, there are a lot of rumours that the UK military armed forces are being prepared for "civil contingencies". Is there any truth to these rumours?'

In answer to which Sir Jock first rambled on about civil contingencies in the context of terrorist atrocities or natural disasters, and then humbly admitted he had not heard of the talk by Peter Lilley but would follow up on my recommendation to watch it. Having deftly reversed the order of my questions to dampen any opportunity for comeback on the more sensitive of the two, I was not given the opportunity to challenge his "definition" of "civil contigencies" before he moved on to pretending to know nothing about the destruction of the very nation he claimed to be "defending" and it's absorbtion into the EU Dictatorship. Call me a cynic, but I call that admission of guilt by evasion.

And so, in conclusion, Sir Jock, while seemingly a fine, upstanding and honourable gentleman in the best traditions of "stiff upper lip" military pedigree, is perhaps more of a politician than a soldier, more of a strategist than a politician and more of a witting-or-unwitting pawn in a 21st Century great game, than a strategist.

My advice to him is to stop mucking about with politics and start thinking about how to win a major land war in the European theater, the prospect of which, the way things are going, we may soon be confronted with again before the decade is out. That and the small matter of dropping any crazy idea he may have of going along with Gordon Brown's fascist plan of implementing the Lisbon Treaty by force out of the barrel of the gun of our own bloody military!