Liberal elites love overseas aid, but it’s guns and hard power that guarantee Britain’s global role

Article published in The Daily Telegraph, 20 November 2020. © Richard Kemp

This week’s increase to the defence budget of £16.5 billion over four years will give the British armed forces a much-needed shot in the arm after decades of deep cuts by successive governments. This cash must come from somewhere as we confront the economic devastation wrought by coronavirus. One source is the overseas aid budget where the Government has signalled a likely reduction.

That is like a red rag to a bull, including to those who argue that military capability will be bought at the expense of strategic influence overseas assistance provides. We should of course do what we can to support under-developed countries. But the soft power-hard power argument doesn’t stand up and as we don’t have unlimited resources for both, military power must win out. The concept of soft power is vague, unquantified and necessarily unfocused. The aid that supposedly buys it is too often squandered in a morass of corruption. While it has political benefit, as a tool of either strategy or policy, soft power lacks significant utility unless national interests converge.

Soft power is far more attractive to liberal policy establishments than the hard power of coercive force. But it doesn’t cut any ice with those who would do us harm. How effective was soft power in preventing Russian aggression in Eastern Europe or poisoners in Salisbury? How much influence does it buy with China and its imperialist expansion in the South China Sea or industrial-scale theft of intellectual property? Did French aid to Turkey, which has been one of its top ten beneficiaries, give pause to President Erdogan when he insulted President Macron and appeared to incite attacks against France? A direct example is the Taliban campaign in Afghanistan. Instead of being persuaded by soft power to support our efforts against jihadists, the government of Pakistan pocketed our aid payments while spending profusely on funding, supporting and harbouring terrorists who were trying to kill our soldiers.

Intelligence, coercive diplomacy and military power, on the other hand, have direct utility in the defence of our national interests, in deterring conflict, and in global influence from which flows economic benefit. This also remains true for our relations in Europe, especially post Brexit. And Britain retains its special relationship with the world’s greatest superpower. Those that deny it often do so to denigrate our global standing. Marching shoulder to shoulder with the US in every conflict since Vietnam has not only given us influence in Washington DC, but in countries around the world who recognise Britain’s value as a conduit to America. Continue reading

DON’T LET COVID KILL REMEMBRANCE DAY

A version of this article was published in The Daily Express on 2 November 2020. © Richard Kemp

The first Remembrance event was in 1919, as the worst pandemic suffered by Britain in modern times, killing 228,000 Britons, subsided. Nothing would deter our forbears, who had also just endured the most devastating conflict this country has ever known, with nearly a million dead, from commemorating those who gave their all.

How did Hitler’s war, with its vicious aerial bombing in London and across much of the country, affect those who wished to commemorate the fallen? They didn’t think of cancelling Remembrance, even as thousands were killed and wounded and whole streets of houses were laid waste by Nazi bombs. Instead they held their heads high and conceded only to move it to Sunday to minimise impact on war production.

Their message to us is clear: don’t let Covid kill Remembrance Sunday.

We owe our freedom and our very way of life to those who gave everything they ever had or would ever have, whether in Helmand, Basra, Belfast, at Imjin, Kohima, Normandy, Alamein, Dunkirk, in the Atlantic and the Pacific, on the Somme, at Ypres or any of the hundreds of battlefields across the world where British forces fought and died for us.

This week in 1917, the horrific Battle of Passchendaele was raging. My great uncle, 2nd Lieutenant Philip Duncan, was killed there, having twisted the rules to get into the fight for his country’s life. On Remembrance Sunday I shall remember him and the thousands of other British troops that died in the mud alongside him.

This Remembrance Sunday we must hold parades and ceremonies at our war memorials across the country as we have done for over a Continue reading

We can’t let Erdogan get away with his incendiary behaviour

Article published in The Daily Telegraph, 30 October 2020. © Richard Kemp

Yesterday, three days after Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan savagely condemned President Emmanuel Macron’s brave stand against radical Islamism in the wake of the jihadist beheading of schoolteacher Samuel Paty in Paris, there were violent attacks in France and at the French consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. In Nice, a woman was beheaded and two others killed. In Jeddah a knifeman stabbed a guard outside the French consulate.

Erdogan, purportedly incensed by Macron’s intention to bring in legislation restraining the spread of radical Islamism in the wake of the schoolteacher’s murder, said the French president needed ‘mental treatment’ and called for the boycott of French consumer products. He likened France’s treatment of Muslims to the brutal repression of Jews in Germany before the Second World War.

Erdogan is a hard-line Islamist and he must have known the effect these words would have when uttered on the world stage. He may not have ordered the attacks in France but his incendiary bombast surely made them far more likely.

Erdogan’s AKP party is a reformatted version of the now banned National Salvation Party, which advanced a violent Islamist ideology. The AKP has a thin pro-Western and pro-democracy veneer, designed to camouflage an anti-democratic and de-secularising agenda.

This they have been fulfilling, locking up political opponents, undermining secular education, clamping down on public protests, seeking to harness the judiciary, controlling social media, marginalising the Western-influenced armed forces and throwing journalists into jail. In one of Erdogan’s most provocative acts, in Continue reading

The End of Appeasement in Britain?

Article published by the Gatestone Institute, 14 October 2020. © Richard Kemp

‘This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.’ Winston Churchill’s words following the British victory over Germany in the Battle of Egypt in November 1942 might also describe recent political developments in Britain’s modern-day culture wars. For many decades, British society has been subjected to an almost continuous assault on our history, our way of life and our national institutions by the hard left.

The centre and right became so demoralised by this highly successful campaign that for years their response was appeasement, the very policy Churchill warned against so frequently when the fascist mirror image of this ideology threatened us in the 1930s. Now there are the glimmering signs of a fightback against the progressive liberal consensus that resulted, engulfing many mainstream politicians, the judiciary, civil service, much of the media, big business and education.

The inspiration for this fightback came when the voice of the no-longer-silent majority, exasperated by the progressive erosion of national sovereignty and the very fabric of democracy by the European Union, finally made itself heard in the Brexit referendum of 2016. The victory was narrow, but it should be remembered that the referendum was dominated by a campaign of fear and disinformation by every mainstream political party, virtually all national and international institutions and much of the media. Even the President of the United States, Barack Obama, came to London threatening to send us to ‘the back of the queue’ on trade if we dared cast off the EU. As planned, this onslaught intimidated huge numbers into voting remain. In reality, therefore, far more than the 51.9% who had the courage to vote leave were in favour of rejecting the plot to turn our country into a mere province of the putative European superstate.

Implementation of the referendum result faltered under Prime Minister Theresa May’s government, which seemed intent on ignoring the democratic will through BRINO — ‘Brexit in name only’. But last year, the peoples’ voice again thundered in her successor Boris Johnson’s landslide general election victory. It saw the collapse of the ‘red wall’ in northern England, with numerous long-held Labour constituencies defecting to the Conservative vote.

Despite the immense damage being inflicted by the Coronavirus pandemic, these developments seem to have begun to restore confidence among the centre and right. In recent days, the government announced plans to appoint conservative figures to two roles: the chairman of the BBC and the head of the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom. Why do these seemingly trivial Continue reading

The EU: Hizballah’s Intersectional Partner

Article published by the Gatestone Institute, 18 September 2020. © Richard Kemp

Intersectionality has become a cynical craze among woke activists determined to promote division and undermine the fabric of Western society. But long before these Johnny-come-lately militants launched their campaigns of disruption, cancelling all who disagree, doing their best to get dissenters fired and tearing down historic statues, other militants were putting their brand of intersectionality into action to kill, maim and destroy the targets of their own hatred.

Sinn Féin’s campaign of violence against the British state and the people of Northern Ireland, fronted by the Provisional IRA, lasted 30 years until their comprehensive infiltration by British intelligence, especially the Royal Ulster Constabulary Special Branch, forced them to lay down their arms under the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

Sinn Féin-IRA’s intersectionality included close cooperation with a wide range of fellow terrorists, including the Basque separatist movement, ETA. For many years, Sinn Féin-IRA also colluded with terrorist gangs in the Middle East, themselves masters of intersectionality, sometimes crossing the Shia-Sunni divide as they still do today.

Perhaps the most significant of these unholy alliances involved Colonel Muammar Gadaffi’s regime in Libya. Gadaffi helped re-energise IRA terrorism in the mid-1980s by supplying cash and weaponry, including rifles, pistols, machine guns, rocket launchers, surface-to-air missiles, flamethrowers and high explosives. Four massive arms shipments from Libya – totalling more than 100 tons – made it through to the IRA strongholds and a fifth was intercepted by the French navy. These bombs and guns were used to murder large numbers of innocent people in Northern Ireland. Continue reading

A Great Step Forward for World Peace – and Who Seems Determined to Ignore It

Article published by the Gatestone Institute, 3 September 2020. © Richard Kemp

This week, we witnessed a symbol of perhaps the greatest step forward in world peace for decades. The first-ever direct passenger flight from Israel to the United Arab Emirates flew down the length of Saudi Arabia’s airspace. After Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994, the UAE has become the third Arab state to normalise relations with the State of Israel under the new Abraham Accord.

Next month, the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize winner will be announced in Oslo. Will it go to the architects of the Abraham Accord, a momentous achievement in itself, and also a major development in a regional geopolitical realignment that is not only good for peace and prosperity in the Middle East but in the world? We knew what the answer would be to that question even before it arose. (Those who point out the deadline for 2020 nominations has passed need not expect to see it in 2021 either.)

Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, might well have caught the eye of the Nobel selectors, but unfortunately his partners in this enterprise are US President Donald J. Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Both are despised figures for the wokerati in Oslo and the fellow travellers they are desperate to impress. Compared to the perceptions of these leaders among the hard left who dominate all discourse on ‘peace’, their achievements on the world stage are irrelevant.

Their fingerprints on the Abraham Accord ensured it also received a cool reception in much of the US and international media and in the chancelleries of Europe — more closely aligned with the hostile and backward-looking regimes of Iran, Turkey and Qatar than with those who actually strive for peace and progress and human rights in the Middle East; ‘the men in the arena’, to borrow from former US President Theodore Roosevelt.

Yet, the developing relationship between Israel and the UAE is at least as significant as the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt that deservedly led to Nobel Peace Prizes for Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat. It paves the way for further leaps forward, with potential for similar normalisation between Israel and other countries in the region such as Bahrain, Oman, Sudan, Morocco and even Saudi Arabia. The UAE would not have acted without Saudis’ blessing. Although publicly understated, the opinion in Riyadh is clear. Some months ago, in talks with leaders there as part of a delegation from former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Friends of Israel Initiative, together with their Executive Director Continue reading

Appeasement: The European Sickness

Article published by the Gatestone Institute, 24 August 2020. © Richard Kemp

Europe is in the grip of a uniquely virulent and pernicious disease that threatens the wellbeing of its peoples and of the world: not Coronavirus, but appeasement. Anglo-French foreign policy in the 1930s was also dominated by appeasement – of Nazi Germany – a policy that failed to prevent one of the greatest catastrophes that ever engulfed civilisation and that led to the deaths of millions.

Now, Britain and France seek to appease the three powers that most threaten the world today: Iran, China and Russia. As permanent members of the UN Security Council, last week both Britain and France genuflected to their arch-enemies by refusing to support their greatest ally, the United States, in its resolution to extend the UN arms embargo on Iran. The US resolution was of course opposed by China and Russia, both of which intend to sell advanced conventional weapons to Iran as soon as the embargo runs out in October.

Back in the 1930s, the aggressive intentions of Nazi Germany were clear. Although appeasement of Hitler was inexcusable, the main reason was perhaps understandable: a prevailing attitude of ‘peace at any price’ following the unexampled butchery of World War I, then still so fresh in everybody’s minds.

Today, the intentions of Khamenei’s Iran are just as clear, and have been frequently demonstrated in imperial aggression across the Middle East, especially against Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Saudi Arabia, as well as in its unwavering threats and military actions against Israel.

Even if European countries were so blinkered as to overlook these distant aggressions, how could they ignore the multitude of terrorist and assassination plots mounted by Iranian proxies on their own soil in recent years? As well as the murder and attempted Continue reading

Britain’s New Spy Laws

Article published in The Daily Express, 24 July 2020. © Richard Kemp

Britain’s guard against Russia, maintained from the end of the Second World War, has increasingly dropped since the fall of the Soviet Union. A naive belief overtook our political leaders — in the the same way as with Communist China — that ever-greater inclusion in the international order would turn this authoritarian regime from opponents to friends of the West. The conditions for this optimistic attitude in the West were systematically created by decades of Soviet influence across all elements of society, from universities to government institutions to industry.

Another factor in permitting the Russian danger to increase was the growing threat from international terrorism in the years since 9/11. Not only did this serve to distract from apparently less immediate foreign challenges, but our police and intelligence services necessarily focused huge amounts of their finite resources on it.

One of Russia’s primary objectives is to divide and weaken NATO as part of their effort to gain power and influence relative to the US. Divisions in the alliance in recent years, resulting from antagonism between Europe and the US, largely as a result of European states’ failure to pay their way, play directly into Russia’s hands. Continue reading

70 Years Since the Korean War Began

Article published by Breitbart, 25 June 2020. © Richard Kemp

Seventy years ago today, on 25 June 1950, the Korean People’s Army crossed the 38th Parallel and advanced into South Korea with infantry, tanks and artillery, and the support of China and Soviet Russia.

Within five days they had hurled the ill-equipped South Korean army back, decimating a 95,000 strong force to 20,000. The UN Security Council called on its members to send forces to the aid of South Korea. The US acted immediately, initially deploying a division from Japan by early July. Throughout the three-year conflict, the US accounted for 90 per cent of the UN force.

British Commonwealth forces were among those that followed them into Korea, with Australian troops from Japan leading the way. The Australian, British, Canadian, New Zealand, and Indian troops made up what became the 1st Commonwealth Division. In all, 90,000 British troops had fought in Korea by the time the war ended in 1953.

With both sides fought to a standstill, the result was stalemate, and remains to this day a frozen war. Often thought of as ‘The Forgotten War’, few, either in Britain or the US know much about it beyond the TV comedy series M*A*S*H.

Yet Korea saw some of the bloodiest fighting in any conflict before or since, with a death toll of 300,000 UN and South Korean troops, up to 735,000 North Korean and Chinese troops, and an estimated 2—3 million civilians from both sides.

By September 1950 UN forces had been thrown back into an enclave of south-east Korea around Pusan, covering just 10 per cent of the country, with the South Korean capital, Seoul, in enemy hands. On 15 September US General Douglas MacArthur, the UN commander, launched an amphibious attack at Inchon. It was one of Continue reading

A British mandate to recognise Israeli sovereignty

Article published by Jewish News Syndicate, 10 June 2020. 

by Richard Kemp and Hugh Kitson

The British government should be supporting the Trump peace process, rather than punishing Israel for exercising a right that was granted to it under international law 100 years ago.

The legal right of the Jewish people to reconstitute their historic homeland was recognised at the San Remo Conference of 1920 and by virtue of the Mandate for Palestine that resulted from it. This was unanimously endorsed by all 51 nations that were in the League of Nations, which then constituted the entire international community.

International lawyer Cynthia D. Wallace writes: ‘The Mandate system had been set up under Article 22 of the Covenant of the newly formed League of Nations that had arisen out of the Paris peace process to deal with such post-war emerging territories. At San Remo, the Mandate for Palestine was entrusted to Great Britain as a “sacred trust of civilization,” and the language of the Balfour Declaration was enshrined in both the San Remo Resolution and the League Mandate, which stand on their own as valid international legal instruments with the full force of treaty law.’

Wallace is by no means the only international lawyer who recognises that the right of the Jewish people to reconstitute their national home in their historic homeland was enshrined in international law at San Remo. At the heart of the historic Jewish homeland was the Old City of Jerusalem and the territory today known as ‘the West Bank’.

Territorially the legal right of the Arabs to self-determination was accorded to them by the Mandates for Syria and Lebanon (under Continue reading

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