Image by BlatantNews.com via FlickrThe rumbling sound you may be hearing is not an earthquake about to engulf the lowlands of Scotland, but my father revolving in his grave.
The two Dear Leaders of France and the U.K., Sarkozy and Cameron, have signed a military co operation pact, creating a joint task force which is supposed to make economies of scale and improvements in efficiency while at the same time preserving the sovereign interests of each nation.
President Sarkozy, as always, went straight to the point.
"If you, my British friends, have to face a major crisis, could you imagine France simply sitting there, its arms crossed, saying that it's none of our business?"
Damn right I can.
To be fair to Sarkozy, I think he personally would be willing to push France into action...he is, as his party belatedly found out, not your typical French politician.
But can you imagine the reactions of a more typically 'French' French President?
And, to think the unthinkable....Le Pen?
Since the latter hasn't forgiven the English for burning Joan of Arc, he probably hasn't forgiven the U.K. for Mers el Kebir either, so he wouldn't be authorising the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle to sail for the Falklands any time soon. Not that he could anyway...the thing spends more time undergoing repairs in dry dock than it does in the water.
Father...who went through the entire Second World War.... had an unchanging view of the French military....
'Buggers let us down in 1914...buggers let us down in 1940...'
A view not ameliorated by learning that the rockets doing so much damage to the Falklands expeditionary forces had been sold to Argentina by the French.
Now, all this may be conflicts long ago and far away and brave men on the ground are usually betrayed by the politicians far from the firing line, but I think father has something about which to rumble.
Both countries' military hardwear is obsolete, broken or not fit for purpose....as are the supply systems which support them.
One look at the U.K. Ministry of Defence's purchasing system would give a respectable Victorian counting house clerk a case of the screaming habdabs...and it ought to give us one too.
Their French equivalents keep their methods quiet...and have every reason to do so given the incestuous link between political party funding and big business in France.
So, given the chronic shortage of money...since banks and even butter come before guns....and the refusal to shake up both Defence Ministries...the two bright sparks have conjured up this wizard scheme to pretend to their countries that they are capable of defending national interests by joining forces.
So two broken reeds are suddenly going to form one strong tree?
I don't think so.
Another case of smoke and mirrors to deceive the electorate.
It would better behove Cameron and Sarkozy to declare the exact nature of the national interests to protect which they send their young people into danger.
France still sends troops to shore up the dictatorships of their ex African colonies.....whose value to France is not immediately obvious, but whose value to French politicians is......valuable.
The U.K. sends its troops wherever the U.S. directs....the value to the U.K. of such action is negligible, even counter productive but the value of such policies to U.K. politicians seems to be fat contracts with Carlisle on retirement and access to the speaking tour circuit.
Were they to consult their people...the ones who have democratic rights for a few minutes in a polling booth every so often....they might find a distinctively different idea of national interests.
A first class education system....
A health service which works.....
Cutting the fat from public systems....all the tiers of management, the consultants, the Quangos....
A police service which serves people not politicians.....
Action, not 'initiatives' on the curse of drug use....
Proper care with dignity for elderly people.....
Supporting African dictators and U.S. politicians would not rank highly, I feel.
November 11th will soon be upon us again, when we remember what are called the 'sacrifices' made by the armed forces in all the declared and undeclared conflicts since 1918.
Perhaps we should be remembering rather that these men and women were 'sacrificed' by the politicians of the time and we should honour their memory, not only by wearing poppies, contributing to charities and attending services but by demanding honesty of current politicians.
After all, we're still waiting for the fulfillment of Lloyd George's wish that the U.K. should be a country fit for heroes to live in.....only ninety two years on.