GENERAL Sir Richard Dannatt, in his last speech before retiring as Chief of Staff, did his best to open up a second front at home when he suggested that the only way to win the war was through militarising the UK.
He demanded that defence spending be ‘underpinned by a clearly defined view of Britain’s global interests and our future global role’, and that the view that Britain is being asked to punch above its weight be dumped.
Representing a ruling class that is on the way out he said the ‘inescapable demographic legacy of our empire. . . are hardwired into our political and national DNA’, and that ‘With this comes the responsibility of international activism on the global stage. We should not shy away from this.’
He urged that the ‘global perspective must also be informed by a clear understanding of what capabilities our principal ally – the United States of America – needs and expects from us.’
This meant that ‘we must examine what capabilities would secure our continued influence and strong relationship with the United States. . .’
He said: ‘We should be under no illusion: we are at war and if we want to succeed, which we must, we must get onto a war-like footing . . . Success in Afghanistan is not discretionary – it will set the agenda for the future – and we must do whatever is necessary to succeed.
‘This must be demonstrated by a strengthened and enduring national, political, industrial, cross-Whitehall and departmental commitment to delivering success in Afghanistan – we need to get onto a war-like footing. It is very much in our national interest to do this. If this means an uplift in Afghan-specific capabilities, so be it.’
For Dannatt and the generals it will clearly be treasonable for any party to suggest that the military budget must be slashed with all of the other government departmental budgets, because of the current banking and capitalist collapse.
Doing everything that is necessary to satisfy US imperialism will mean slashing the NHS budget and slashing the Welfare State, so that the military budget can be doubled or trebled.
‘A strengthened and enduring national, political, industrial, cross-Whitehall and departmental commitment to delivering success in Afghanistan’, will mean a ‘war cabinet’ speeding up the cutting of wages, jobs and the privatisation programme to beef up the military, while banning strikes, and even mass demonstrations, on the grounds that they harm the war effort to win the war in Afghanistan. At the same time there will be attempts to reintroduce forms of conscription.
Dannatt’s perspective is one that leads inescapably to the ending of bourgeois democracy in the UK and the installation of a military police regime.
We should recall Karl Marx’s warning that: ‘The nation that oppresses another nation forges its own chains.’ He also added to the British workers, ‘The English working class. . . will never be able to do anything decisive here in England before they separate their attitude towards Ireland definitively from that of the ruling classes, and not only make common cause with the Irish, but even take the initiative in dissolving the Union established in 1801. And this must be done not out of sympathy with the Irish, but as a demand in the interests of the English proletariat. If not the English proletariat will forever remain bound to the leading strings of the ruling classes, because they will be forced to make a common front with them against Ireland.’
This was written when Britain was a great power, the first capitalist country developing into an imperialist power. Today it is in desperate crisis, writhing in its death agony and seeking desperately to bind the nation to its war chariot abroad and at home.
The British working class must decisively separate itself from the British ruling class, and its military, and make common cause with the Afghan people, as part of its policy to secure its rights at home. This requires the organisation of a socialist revolution to smash the British capitalist state and go forward to socialism.