Home » 2018 » April

Monthly Archives: April 2018

Join 21,646 other followers

How to Supercharge the Royal Navy

by John Brian Shannon

It can’t be emphasized enough that the United Kingdom is an island nation and that without a respectable sea power component, the country would have missed becoming one of the greatest powers in history. All that success was accumulated courtesy of the unprecedented level of trade from 1546-onward with virtually every nation on the planet. (1546 was the year the Royal Navy was created)

Not that the UK should become a militaristic country, far from it. But because it relies on free trade for its survival (and that means keeping the sea lanes open, no matter what) Britain must always stand ready to defend its territory and its legitimate economic interests abroad. If the UK ceases to do that; that will be the day it’s no longer a sovereign country. That’s what’s at stake for the United Kingdom.

Other countries may have the luxury of being located on continents with many other countries to buy from and sell to, and could, if required, source everything they need from that continent and sell all of their exports within that same continent. But for the UK, that option doesn’t exist.

Therefore, the UK must have the best-trained, best-equipped, and best-led navy in the world. There is simply no alternative.


Two More Aircraft Carriers, Please!

By 2020, both of the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers (HMS Queen Elizabeth ‘R08’ and HMS Prince of Wales ‘R09’) will have joined the fleet and the navy’s only other aircraft carrier HMS Ocean ‘L12′ will have been retired; leaving the UK, a country completely dependent upon seaborne trade, with only two aircraft carriers. (Which makes for a nice peacetime aircraft carrier fleet — but if war strikes, it would be 4-years before even one aircraft carrier could be produced!)

It should be noted that pink slips will be handed to almost everyone who worked on the two carriers by July 2018 now that construction on both R08 and R09 is nearly complete, with only sea trials left to perform before both ships enter full-time service. Thousands of engineers, electricians and labourers will no longer be required.

What really needs to happen is that two more Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers need to be built, and high on the list of reasons to build them must be to keep a continuous production line operating until more destroyers or frigates are required (and don’t kid yourself, they’re required now, just that the government isn’t yet convinced of the need) and the proposed ships could fulfill different roles than R08 and R09.

R10 could be fitted-out as a helicopter carrier / humanitarian aid / hospital ship — with 15 fighter jets for self-protection because R10 itself could be attacked and must be able to instantly defend itself.

R11 could be sold to India which would buy one very quickly(!) as its navy has the formidable task of policing an Indian Ocean that’s only slightly smaller than the Atlantic.

The selling price (to India) of such a carrier would pay for the construction of the proposed R10 for the Royal Navy (not including the aircraft) and require millions of person-hours to construct both R10 and R11. Seems a no-brainer, doesn’t it?

From a jobs and economy perspective, the UK needs to build two more aircraft carriers — only one of which it needs for itself — while the other is sold to India.

That’s how to afford a world-class navy in the 21st-century!


Keep it Going!

Next on the agenda must be new Type 45 destroyers that are fitted-out for UAV duty in addition to the other duties the Type 45’s perform.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles need to become a major part of RN destroyer operations as the future of naval warfare will be tilted toward UAV’s for surveillance, for Combat Air Patrol duty (to protect the naval task force at sea) and to drop munitions on targets that are very heavily defended — too heavily defended to risk losing a multi-million pound sterling aircraft and its pilot.

Not only can UAV’s do that, the UK’s new UAV’s in development for the Royal Navy should have a refuelling version with the ability to fly up to 500 miles to refuel fighter jetsinstead of those jets having to return to the aircraft carrier to refuel, or having to fly large fuel tankers near the combat zone — which is dangerous as they’re manned by live pilots and carry tens of thousands of gallons of fuel.

Also, by having UAV refuelling units accompany fighter-bomber jets, it can extend the range of the bombers (bombers use astronomical amounts of fuel when they’re carrying thousands of pounds of bombs) and UAV’s can be programmed to refuel any type of jet (en-route or returning) at a predetermined location allowing them to make it all the way to the target and all the way back to the aircraft carrier which may have moved hundreds of miles in the meantime to avoid enemy submarines.

Aircraft carriers can’t always remain in one place waiting for their jets to return and other factors can come into play in a conflict situation such as ‘Country B’ suddenly withdrawing permission to use their territorial waters to launch and recover UK aircraft. That’s just how war goes.

Keeping warbirds of all types in the air longer and with plenty of in-flight refuelling availability close by removes the need for them to fly all the way back to the aircraft carrier for fuel, resulting in a huge increase in the efficiency of man and machinery. Unprecedented efficiencies await!


Ten More Type 45’s with the UAV upgrade, Please!

The UK needs four more Type 45’s and all existing destroyers must be upgraded to the UAV standard — and other Commonwealth nations need Type 45’s too.

Australia, Canada, and India could put those extremely capable destroyers to good use and retire their obsolete and expensive-to-maintain destroyers.

By building more destroyers than it needs, six Type 45 destroyers could be sold to Commonwealth nations which would allow the Royal Navy to afford four more destroyers at no cost to the RN, while providing millions of person-hours of work for Britain’s workers.

When the UK shipbuilding and submarine building industry measurably adds to UK GDP, you know you’re doing it right!


Summary

There is a difference between ‘just getting by’ and ‘succeeding’.

‘Just getting by’ means continuing to do things the way it’s been done in the postwar era, while ‘succeeding’ means building a modern Royal Navy and substantially adding to the capabilities of Commonwealth of Nations member countries by using a sustainable economic model that keeps thousands of workers in the UK shipbuilding industry permanently employed.

What could be more important for new-ish UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson than protecting the UK (#1 priority) strengthening the Royal Navy (#2 priority) and recreating a thriving shipbuilding industry model (#3 priority) that measurably adds to Britain’s GDP and helps Commonwealth partners to succeed?

The Synergy of the Commonwealth

by John Brian Shannon

Few things are as useful to countries as membership in a progressive organization with business links around the world.

For the 53 Commonwealth of Nations members meeting in London this week it’s a chance to discuss ideas, policies, united positions on global or regional affairs, to learn from the experiences of other member nations, and to pursue trade opportunities.


Trade

As Britain leaves the European Union by April 2019, Commonwealth of Nations members will discover evermore trade opportunities throughout the United Kingdom. And that trade must work both ways. Countries that allow the UK to export to their country should be encouraged to sell their goods and services to the United Kingdom; making Brexit a ‘Win-Win’ for all Commonwealth member nations.

After Brexit, two-way trade between the UK and EU is expected to drop by a few percentage points (this is normal and not to be feared) however, Commonwealth nations should expect to receive all of that two-way trade availability — and every expectation is that UK and Commonwealth leaders will surpass that low-ish standard.

Further, with restraints removed, the UK will be positioned to negotiate bilateral trade deals with every member of the bloc which should result in a surge of economic activity for every member nation.


Social Issues

Long before it was fashionable for world governments to support equality between people and groups in a society, Commonwealth leaders created the Commonwealth Charter with its sixteen shared principles which include democracy, human rights, freedom of expression, sustainable development, and racial and gender equality, together forming the foundation of the Commonwealth’s constitution.

Prior to 2012, the London Declaration guided the Commonwealth and proved that nations with different capacities and capabilities could work together for mutual benefit, simply by agreeing on shared goals and principles.

Going forward, member nations continue to improve standards and adherence to their principles thereby setting a unique example in national social dynamics to the world.


Immigration

Like many developed nations, UK companies require plenty of low-cost labourers to harvest crops, to work on production lines, and as general labourers on construction projects.

After Brexit, the UK will be able to source a much larger percentage of labourers from Commonwealth nations as the customs agreement with the EU expires.

This could provide tens of thousands of opportunities annually for citizens of the Commonwealth who want to travel and work in the UK — even if it’s only during specific times of year that farmers require additional labourers — who would then return to their home country with their earnings at the end of the season.

During a period of massive construction projects, the same applies; Tens of thousands of workers could relocate to the UK to work in the construction industry and receive a temporary worker permit allowing them to stay in the country and pay taxes for as long as the contractor requires them. At project conclusion those workers could return to their country with thousands of pounds sterling in their pocket.

Such foreign workers should be required to provide a letter from their local police proving they aren’t wanted on criminal charges, a letter from their bank asserting they have sufficient funds to purchase a return airfare ticket (so they don’t get stranded in the UK when their employment ends) and they should be required to pay the Home Office £100 for every year or portion of a year they stay in the UK.


Investment

London is the financial capital of the world and is the ‘go-to’ stock exchange for IPO’s, for mature industries with financing needs, and is the most prestigious exchange on which to list Commonwealth companies.

Once Brexit occurs, billions more in FDI should be flowing from the UK to Commonwealth nations, which should always be the first choice for UK foreign investment.

Special arrangements should be made for individuals and businesses in Commonwealth nations to access UK banks within their home country prior to travelling to Britain.

I will use ‘Barclays’ to make an easy example:

  • Barclays (a global bank headquartered in London) should be required to maintain at least one branch in every major city throughout the Commonwealth, in exchange for a reasonable tax advantage.
  • For workers wanting to work in the UK who must first apply for a worker’s visa, who must first pay the £100 annual fee to reside in the UK, who must first obtain a letter of credit from the bank proving they have sufficient funds for return airfare, and who must first attach a criminal records check letter to their application to the Home Office — such workers should be able to do it all at the Barclays branch and have all the information electronically transmitted to the appropriate Home Office desk and receive confirmation from the Home Office in the time it takes to sip a coffee.
  • For companies that want to import from or export to the UK; the commercial side of the Barclays branch should be set up to enthusiastically assist business owners with every aspect of importing or exporting anywhere within the Commonwealth. Such business owners need only visit a Barclays branch with the idea in hand, and should expect to leave the branch an hour later with every single step completed and be fully informed on every relevant regulation and practice so they can begin importing or exporting the very next day.
  • Companies that need financing within their own Commonwealth country — regardless of whether they intend to import from or export to the UK at that exact point in time — should feel that Barclays is always their first choice for financing, for assistance to list on the LSE, or to go public with an IPO offering. Every related thing must be easily done at Barclays in the absolute minimum timeframe — before that business walks out the door, possibly to a non-UK bank, and possibly for good.
  • If non-Commonwealth banks offer better personal or business financing, better import and export assistance, better stock exchange listing expertise, better IPO experience and support, then the UK economy and banking sector will suffer by not being in the right place at the right time with the right tools to capture that business. And that would be deeply embarrassing for the United Kingdom — a developed nation with deep and historical roots across the Commonwealth of Nations.

Mutual Aid

The UK has much to offer the rest of the Commonwealth especially when it comes to mutual aid; whether military aid during internal or external conflict, or civilian aid during natural disasters, and by working together, individual member nations can be more successful than trying to accomplish such operations alone.

Royal Navy ships for example, could automatically become available for sale to Commonwealth nations at any time past the 6-year mark — at a significant savings when compared to purchasing new ships of equal size and capability.

During national emergencies in member nations, the UK should deploy significant resources to aid those nations. India too, has a sizeable military that could work joint operations with the Royal Navy to assist Commonwealth nations in peril.

Working together on military missions and aid projects, member countries will be able to prove with clearly defined examples of mutual aid, how synergy is the most valuable aspect of membership.


Summary

The Commonwealth in the post-Brexit timeframe should become 100-times more dynamic than it has been.

For as long as the UK has been shackled to EU regulations it’s been a tough go for the bloc, but much has been accomplished. Yet, there is so much potential!

With 2.5 billion citizens living in Commonwealth nations, most of whom are young and will need to purchase many goods and services throughout their lifetimes, it’s an exciting time for the UK to be re-engaging wholeheartedly with the rest of the membership.

“Sixty percent of the Commonwealth is under the age of 30.”HRH Prince Harry’s address to Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London, April 16, 2018.

The reinvigorated Commonwealth is going to out-succeed every country and bloc (and not only in combined GDP growth) but in Trade, Social Issues, Immigration, Investment, and importantly, in Mutual Aid — serving to showcase the kind of synergy that’s possible between nations for the balance of the 21st-century.

Western Powers Attack Syria

by John Brian Shannon

The International Order is Broken

We know this because the world’s politicians are using military means to solve what are essentially political problems they don’t know how to solve.

As the Syrian crisis rolls into its 8th year no clear winner has emerged, other than ISIS has been degraded by Western and Russian forces operating throughout Syria.

Not that Russia and the West are working together to destroy ISIS, rather, Western countries are working to destroy the evil entity to prevent it from spreading across the Middle East and the Western world, while the Russians are tearing ISIS apart because it represents an internal threat to Syria, its longtime ally.

Which are reasonable and noble goals.

But at any time since the Syrian conflict began in 2010, Western, Russian and Syrian diplomats could’ve worked out a plan to solve the terrorist problem inside Syria and could’ve wrapped up the whole mess within 24 months with relatively few civilian casualties. But they didn’t. Or they couldn’t.

The very definition of broken-ness, right there.


“No problem can be solved by the same level of consciousness that created it.”
Albert Einstein


Why Are We Broken?

When the interests of several countries align — and they still can’t put together a unified coalition — it’s a textbook case of a broken international order.

Which is how we stumbled into WWI, WWII, the Cold War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the Iraq War, the Afghan War, and several other conflicts, such as the Rwanda genocide that killed 800,000 people in a matter of days. And we know how those wars turned out, and we know how many people were killed in total in those 20th-century conflicts.

The failure of politicians and their diplomats to find better solutions and thereby prevent those wars is appalling beyond any scale that humans can understand.


“All war represents a failure of diplomacy.”
Tony Benn


 Sometimes, very complicated problems can stem from a very simple problem.

FOR EXAMPLE: The neighbourhood’s troubled teen filling your car’s fuel tank with water overnight — although a simple act in itself — can cause serious problems after the car is driven the following morning. Such a simple act can cost a vehicle owner hundreds of dollars to repair and cause major inconvenience.

And likewise, every war fought in the 20th-century was caused by an astonishingly simple misunderstanding of human psychology by the world’s politicians and diplomats.

We are broken because those politicians believed that employing ‘Win-Lose’ thinking to solve problems was the preferred path, instead of realizing that ‘Win-Win’ thinking is a higher form of thinking that only humans can employ to solve problems.

Every war since 1900 is the direct result of employing ‘Win-Lose’ thinking to solve political problems. Another way to say it, is that every single death and injury caused by war in the 20th-century is 100% on the heads of the people who practiced politics and diplomacy in that century — because their thinking wasn’t up to the task.

Never in human history had anyone seen bungling on the scale of 20th-century world leaders.

Therefore, as the ‘default mode’ for politicians in the 20th-century was to employ ‘Win-Lose’ thinking, every serious disagreement inexorably turned into war and mega-millions died as a result.

Because the politicians of the day resorted to their animal instincts, over 250 million people were killed in war and in famines caused by war in the 20th-century. Some might call that number a conservative estimate of the total death toll.

Sobering, isn’t it?


Aren’t We Better Than That?

Apparently not. Because even today we’re still using bombs to solve the problems we’re not smart enough to solve. Problems that humans created aren’t being solved, because we’re not using the right methods to solve our problems.

So we bomb our way out of problems.


Using ‘Win-Win’ Thinking to Solve Our Problems

There are few examples of the world’s politicians using ‘Win-Win’ thinking to solve our very human psychological problems.

Ending the Cold War is the stellar achievement for diplomats in the 20th-century. And just in time, because the civilization that humans built over thousands of years came dangerously close to annihilation many times during the Cold War.

Another example of ‘Win-Win’ thinking occurred when the world’s politicians and scientists came together to sign the Montreal Protocol to eliminate chlorofluorocarbons from our supply chains; chemical compounds that were rapidly destroying the Earth’s ozone layer. The Montreal Protocol has been called ‘the most successful accord in history’.

Yet another example of ‘Win-Win’ thinking occurred when the Allied Powers joined forces after World War II to rebuild Europe using the Marshall Plan to fund food aid, reconstruction of damaged infrastructure, and to help establish a fairer world order based on peaceful relations. In postwar Japan, the Allied Powers facilitated the country’s rebuilding by purchasing billions of dollars of Japanese goods which benefited the Allied Powers as much as it benefited the former Axis Power.

Without the assistance of these, the most brilliant minds that ever lived, humanity may have become extinct long before the year 2000.

The ‘Win-Win’ thinkers who ended the Cold War, the ‘Win-Win’ thinkers who ended the use of chlorofluorocarbons, and the ‘Win-Win’ thinkers who invested in the former Axis Power economies during the postwar era, changed our world for the better (at the very least) and may be responsible for saving all life on the planet (at best).

Those examples prove ‘Win-Win’ thinking can work to solve our problems and that we don’t need to retain ‘Win-Lose’ thinking as our default problem-solving method.


Regardless of the Method we Choose, we Must Stand Up for Our Principles

President Donald Trump today authorized 3 military strikes inside Syria to hit suspected chemical weapon sites and chemical research and development facilities ostensibly used by the Syrian military.

The president cited Article 2 of the U.S. Constitution in his justification for the attack saying that Syria represented an area of strategic importance to the United States. However, there almost isn’t a place on Earth that is of less strategic importance to the U.S. and its allies, as Syria.

It may be the president misread his teleprompter — because Syria isn’t a strategic place from the U.S. viewpoint — and if he sticks to that view he will spend days or weeks defending this military action to members of the Congress and Senate.

What is of strategic importance to the United States (and what would work for members of Congress charged with upholding the U.S. Constitution) is that preventing the proliferation and use of chemical weapons is of strategic importance to the United States, and therefore, President Trump’s authorization of use of force is justified and necessary, and in the best interest of the United States.

In that way the president’s use of force is legal and justified under the U.S. Constitution, and may also serve as a deterrent to a Syrian regime that seems bent on destroying significant numbers of its population and has refused any chance to allow them escape to another country.


Choosing Humanity vs. Hubris: Why We Fight

Exterminating your own citizens because they have a different political view isn’t acceptable and no doubt President Trump is privy to images and videos from Syria that are marked classified because they’re too horrific for U.S. television viewers to see.

And let’s be honest, seeing those images hastened his decision to veer hard towards military action rather than continuing to employ so-called ‘Soft Power’ to bring about a diplomatic solution to the Syrian debacle.

It may be that punishing Syria each time it uses chemical weapons against civilians or terrorist entities will serve as an effective deterrent. However, Syrian forces may become more adept at hiding such attacks from Western eyes and ears.


“We cannot allow the use of chemical weapons to become normalized.”
Theresa May


Syria’s plan seems to be to kill every terrorist, every non-combatant family member of terrorists, or anyone stuck in areas known to contain terrorist entities.

While this may seem normal to dictators, it is highly offensive to civilized people. Even Syria’s ally Russia, abhors attacks on civilians and non-combatants — and Russian citizens seem extremely offended when chemical attacks are used to solve what are, in the final analysis, human problems for which the diplomats haven’t yet found solutions.


Short-term Deterrence or Long-term Mutual Success?

Whether Tomahawk missile attacks act as a deterrent to Syrian chemical weapons attacks inside Syria, or not — at least President Trump can say that America and its allies didn’t stand idly by and let it happen without challenging it.

Yet, the long-term way to solve this crisis is to show these heinous acts on every television in the world, to explain what is actually occurring there, to make chemical weapons use anywhere unacceptable to everyone, and to use ‘Win-Win’ thinking to save our broken, but still human, civilization.

When we finally adopt ‘Win-Win’ thinking as our default option to deal with human-caused problems, that will be the day that human beings finally surpass the animal kingdom in every way on this planet. And if we don’t, our short break from the threat of Cold War-style Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) will soon be over.