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Defending the Realm … and the Defence Industry

  • Paul D. Williams

Abstract

Traditionally, the UK’s defence establishment has doubted the virtues of abstract theorising in favour of allowing the proximate military commanders to develop pragmatic solutions to particular problems. Not surprisingly, therefore, and with the exception of Douglas Hurd’s idea that Britain should try and punch above its weight, there have been few attempts to analyse the role of ideas in shaping UK defence policy.1 This does not mean, however, that UK defence policies have been devoid of ideas, far from it. At the macro level, as in foreign policy more generally, the most important ideas have revolved around the questions of whether Britain is a global or European power and how best to engage with the US?2 Labour’s answer to the second question was discussed in detail in Chapter 2. Characteristically, its answer to the first question was to suggest the UK was both. As Geoff Hoon put it, Britain ‘is a regional power with extensive global interests’.3 These questions remained at the centre of Labour’s defence policies but especially after 9/11 greater emphasis was placed on the pragmatic issue of how best to project UK military power around the globe as part of the US-led ‘war on terrorism’.

Keywords

Foreign Policy Armed Force Nuclear Weapon Defence Industry Nuclear Deterrent 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 2.
    Lawrence Freedman, ‘The influence of ideas on British defence policy’, Contemporary British History, 10: 2 (1996), p. 129.Google Scholar
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    Geof F Hoon, ‘Britain’s armed forces for tomorrow’s defence’, RUSI Journal, 148 (Aug. 2003), p. 34.Google Scholar
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    When Labour took of Fice one group of analysts suggested the subsidies to the arms industry were in excess of £1 billion per year. See ibid., pp. 31–2. By 2003, government subsidies were said to total at least £453 m and possibly up to £936 m. The lower figure is calculated from the annual budgets of Defence Export Services Organisation (DESO) (£14 m), defence attaches (£6 m), use of the armed forces for export promotion (L6 m) and the Defence Assistance Fund (£5 m), £31 m of direct assistance, £222 m of export credits, and £200 m in MOD procurement distortion. The higher figure is obtained by adding up to £483 m for government support for the development of systems through Research and Development. This amounts to subsidies of between £7000 and £14,000 for each job supported by exports. Paul Ingram and Roy Isbister, Escaping the Subsidy Trap: Why Arms Exports are Bad for Britain (London: BASIC/Saferworld/Oxford Research Group, 2004), p. 25. See also, Malcolm Chalmers, N.V. Davies, K. Hartley and C. Wilkinson, ‘The economic costs and benefits of UK defence exports’, Fiscal Studies, 23: 3 (2003), pp. 343–67.Google Scholar
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    James Naughtie, The Accidental American (New York: Public Affairs, 2004), p. 195.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Paul D. Williams 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul D. Williams
    • 1
  1. 1.University of BirminghamUK

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