Tory defence secretary Gavin Williamson puffed himself up this week by laying out a fantasy vision of Britain as a global power.
Williamson promised to “confront” Russia and China by “delivering on Winston Churchill’s vision” of a Royal Navy that could deliver a “reign of terror down enemy coasts”.
And he urged the need to “enhance our lethality” and “hard power to support our interests”.
Williamson hopes that Britain can play a role in the South China Sea.
“The passage of Royal Naval vessels through the South China Sea has been incredibly important,” he said.
“To talk but fail to act risks our nation being seen as little more than a paper tiger.”
Williamson’s flight of fancy involves setting up new Royal Navy strike groups and sending the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier to the Pacific.
And a central plank of his plan is renewing the Trident nuclear weapons.
The South China Sea is full of imperialist rivalries between the US, China and regional powers. Former US president Barack Obama began a policy of encirclement of China by setting up military bases in the region.
This continues under Donald Trump, but to a lesser degree.
Williamson has also commissioned two new warships—to be converted from passenger ferries or other civilian vessel types.
He has ordered £7 million worth of “swarm” drones.
These are hardly the power moves of a state capable of threatening China, which had £138 billion military expenditure in 2017.
Williamson’s boasting comes from a real desire of right wing Tories and elements of the British ruling class to still be capable of dealing out death and destruction on a world scale.
They mourn the loss of empire and want Britain to be able to act as a major power.
This generally means working with the biggest imperialist power—the US.
Theresa May has publicly distanced herself from Williamson.
Her spokesperson said, “In relation to China, I think we have set out areas where we have concerns—such as around cyber?intrusions against the UK and our allies.
“But it is also a country with which we have a strong and constructive relationship.”
Britain can’t compete with powers such as China. To claim that it can is a dangerous fantasy.
What’s terrifying is that Williamson is prepared to seriously contemplate the possibility.
He parades himself around like a peacock while the Tories are throwing thousands of people into poverty.
The military and Trident should be scrapped.