The common world of ‘defence’ chiefs, ‘defence’ journalists and ‘defence’ politicians

General Sir Nick Carter, the British Army’s Chief of General Staff, has been on the propaganda circuit, talking-up the ‘Russian threat’, promoting the UK’s latest imperialist ambitions, and, of course, lobbying for more public money.

Delivered from the lofty Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), Carter’s speech is the latest top-brass military display of rhetorical weaponry and stealth evasion of the UK’s own vast war crimes.

General Sir Nick Carter, Chief of the General Staff

The General’s script is so riddled with scare memes, hyperbolic claims and cold war sophistry, it seems barely credible that any serious observer could fail to see through it.

That, alas, isn’t how it works for our servile media and deferential political class.

Primed and briefed, the BBC duly reported Carter’s speech below their Pravda-pitched headline:

Army chief warns British forces would struggle against Russia

Without the slightest journalistic shame, the BBC’s Jonathan Beale openly approved Carter’s message:

Coherent, detailed and impressive speech by tonight making the case for investment in . CDS in waiting ?

As noted by Media Lens:

This is how the impartial defence correspondent responded to the UK army chief’s propaganda speech on : ‘Coherent, detailed and impressive’.

In a subsequent Twitter thread, Beale crudely dismissed objections that he had amplified Carter’s message without any critical challenge.

Not to be outdone, the establishment-serving Guardian also gave Carter top-billing:

UK warned that Russian threat requires increased defence spending

Chief of general staff, Sir Nick Carter, will say Britain needs to keep up with adversaries to avoid being exposed to unorthodox, hybrid warfare

Russia is biggest threat to UK since cold war, says head of British army

Gen Sir Nick Carter gives stark warning of ‘complex and capable security challenge’ for Nato

The default ‘defence’ line here is often, ‘we are only reporting the news’. Yet, as noted by Ian Sinclair, consider how the above Guardian headline contrasts with that of the Morning Star:

Britain’s army chief accused of alarmist hyperbole over Russian threats

Why couldn’t the Guardian say it likewise? It might also, quite reasonably, have added:

Gen Sir Nick Carter makes deeply questionable claims about ‘complex and capable security challenge’ for Nato

Deborah Haynes, senior defence correspondent at the Times, also trotted-out approving repetitions of Carter’s speech:

. says his motivation for speaking out is to help generate debate, to get people talking about the security of the nation


UK looks to keep military footprint in Germany, @ArmyCGS reveals as he spells out “clear and present danger” posed by Russia. This is not just a plea for £. It’s an explanation of modern war and threats

An avid militarist and forces-supporting voice, Haynes is also a relentless purveyor of the great fake ‘fake news‘ hysteria:

Better late than never and details still sketchy, but UK reveals plans to combat & deter fake news & other forms of information warfare deployed by states such as Russia to influence/disrupt/manipulate

There was also much party political indulgence of General Carter’s fear-laden talk. Lamentably, this included the SNP’s defence spokesperson, Stewart McDonald, who tweeted this message urging consideration of Carter’s claims and warnings:

Worth listening to this speech by General Sir Nick Carter, Chief of the General Staff. It doesn’t pull any punches and should make uncomfortable viewing for the government.

McDonald affects an anti-government motivation here. But his primary nod is to Carter’s ‘serious defence concerns’.

Ex-SNP MP, and McDonald colleague, John Nicolson also worries that:

The UK is badly underdefended – Scotland especially so. Labour and the Tories sacrifice vital defence needs for Trident shibboleth.

Is the UK really “badly underdefended – Scotland especially so”? Here, again, we see a posturing form of ‘opposition’, in this case disingenuously using Trident to argue for more militarist spending to counter ‘all those other external threats’.

In speaking for Scotland’s main independence party, one might expect from McDonald some critical reaction to General Carter and his ‘security’ agenda for the British state. Seemingly not. McDonald now appears deeply smitten by such ‘prestigious’ figures and organisations, not least Nato, the West’s leading warmongering machine, which McDonald wants to see hosted in Scotland.

McDonald’s other apparent mission is to ‘sort out’ an “MoD in chaos”. He laments ‘big-ticket’ spending on vanity projects like HMS Queen Elizabeth, at the ‘expense’ of ‘conventional forces’, and calls out MoD ministers for the ‘shambles’ over a stalled ‘defence review’, but offers no meaningful challenge to the military establishment at large. There’s no renunciation of the political-military-corporate network behind it all. There’s no argument for much wider UK disarmament. There’s nothing here on the actual murderous menace of British militarism, as currently seen in Yemen. There’s not a hostile word against Nato.

It’s also worth noting, in these same regards, that one of McDonald’s most favoured and oft-cited‘defence’ correspondents is the above-mentioned Deborah Haynes.

Many of those trying to steer Labour away from their party’s Blairite nightmare have been expressing deep disquiet over the imperialist-toned and pro-Israel utterances of foreign affairs spokesperson, Emily Thornberry. Serious leftists and progressives within the SNP and wider indy movement should be paying similar close attention to McDonald’s own disturbing militarist and Israel-friendly positions.

The dutiful headlining, repeated claims and approving reaction to Carter’s ‘pulls-no-punches’ speech illustrates the insidious relationships between ‘defence’ correspondents, ‘defence’ politicians and ‘defence’ chiefs.

It’s sobering to think of the respect accorded to figures like Carter who, from Iraq to Afghanistan, has led this country’s forces in illegal invasions, ruinous occupations and the mass elimination of life. Dripping in establishment honours (KCB CBE DSO ADC), it seems the more death and destruction such people deliver, the greater elevation and higher platform they receive, particularly from our liberal politicians and media.

It’s also remarkable that Carter’s host, RUSI, a military-minded ‘think tank’ founded by the Duke of Wellington and figure-headed by the Queen, can be so liberal-approved and cited by the BBC as somehow ‘neutral’. Again, we see how elite militarism flourishes through liberal deference.

The excellent historian and journalist Mark Curtis has just launched Declassified. Alongside Curtis’s regular output charting the UK’s current political-military criminality around the world, it’s a most valuable resource, chronicling Britain’s dark historic warmongering, proxy coups, human rights atrocities and other past crimes.

Rather than indulging drum-beating hawks like Carter, politicians, journalists and anyone else really concerned with understanding and challenging British militarism might find in such places much more useful information and critical direction.

Originally published: John Hilley (Zenpolitics)

One Comment

  1. Britain’s inability to afford a military capability such as it has had in the past is substantially due to the massive financial and wealth destroying dead weight of many millions of unemployed and underproductive aliens from the Middle east, Eastern Europe, the Caribbean, Africa and the Subcontinent, particularly Pakistan, and to the cost of policing the criminal activity and terrorist activity that stems from some of those communities. It is also due to great moral decline from top to bottom, and the great drain on the exchequer from subsidising the European Community, particularly the Brussels fat cats, with their huge salaries, huge pensions and unaccountability to anyone plus unsackability. This should be so obvious, but it seems that the British establishment is almost incapable of competent management logic and administration. They are too busy secretly buggaring defenceless little children and looking for lurks and perks to be of sufficient real value to Britain.
    The current Monarch, respected though she is, is symbolic of the decline of Britain which is now ruled by two old ladies, both tweedy -weedies, and who seem to be rather under the thrall of the evil cabal, the Satanic NWO, etc,
    Britain needs a thorough purge and spring clean from top to bottom, starting with the heir apparent Prince Charles, and Treason May and her wettie cronies.

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