As an ex-British Army officer, I can see the UK’s new mission to deliver ‘freedom’ to Eastern Europe will finish in catastrophe

By Paul Robinson, a professor on the University of Ottawa. He writes about Russian and Soviet historical past, navy historical past and navy ethics, and is creator of the Irrussianality weblog. He tweets at @Irrussianality.

As tensions rise on the Polish-Belarusian border, the UK is pointing the finger at Russia, sounding the alarm over a possible struggle and threatening to ship troops to Ukraine. It’s inconceivable to not surprise who’s destabilizing whom.

One of the extra amusing options of the previous couple of years has been the sound of British pundits accusing Russians of failing to recover from the lack of their empire. The phrases ‘pot’, ‘kettle’ and ‘black’ preserve coming to thoughts. Churchillian delusions of Britain standing alone towards the forces of evil proceed to drive the United Kingdom’s notion of itself as a fantastic energy whose navy would possibly is all that stands between the world and chaos. Add to this some post-Brexit fantasies of ‘Global Britain’, and a definite lack of means to interact in vital self-reflection, and you’ve got fairly a harmful cocktail on the world stage.

The vacuousness of British international coverage considering emerges clearly in an article penned this weekend by British Foreign Minister Liz Truss on the subject of the refugee/migrant disaster on the Belarusian-Polish border. In 4 quick columns, Truss makes use of the phrase ‘freedom’ 11 instances, and the phrases ‘democracy’ or ‘democrats’ 9 instances, whereas contrasting these with expressions like “malign autocratic regimes” and “malign actors,” who apparently need nothing greater than to “destabilize” the West’s “freedom-loving democracies” at each alternative.

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It’s a black and white view of the world. It additionally ignores inconvenient truths, equivalent to the truth that a whole lot of air pressure personnel from far-from-democratic Saudi Arabia have acquired coaching within the UK from the Royal Air Force, and that the Saudis’ British-supplied Typhoon jets have performed a number one position in that nation’s brutal, and totally unsuccessful, struggle in Yemen. Truss’s view of the world is just not merely simplistic, but additionally shows a surprising lack of self-awareness.

Beyond that, Truss shows a really poor understanding of Eastern European affairs. Belarusian chief Alexander Lukashenko is searching for to “undermine regional security,” she says, claiming that he’s utilizing “desperate migrants as pawns in his bid to create instability.” Yet, there’s no proof to recommend that Lukashenko is trying both to “undermine regional security” or to “create instability.” Insofar as there’s a logic to his alleged actions, it’s to strain the European Union to calm down the sanctions that it has imposed on Belarus, fairly than sow chaos for chaos’ sake. Europe might not like that, nevertheless it’s hardly a risk to its safety or stability.

Next, Truss takes on Russia. “Russia has a clear responsibility here,” she writes, “It must press the Belarusian authorities to end the crisis and enter into dialogue.” There are few issues severely unsuitable with this. First, as is turning into more and more clear, Moscow doesn’t management Minsk. It’s onerous, subsequently, to see what “responsibility” it has. Second, Truss is in impact saying that if Lukashenko isn’t Russian President Vladimir Putin’s puppet, he must be. In mild of all of the complaints about ‘Russian interference’ in different nations, it’s odd that the UK now appears to need Russia to intrude.

Beyond that, it’s simply not true that Belarus is refusing to enter into dialogue. Quite the other. In reality, the reason for the disaster seems to be Lukashenko’s want to get the Europeans to talk to him. It’s the Europeans who gained’t have interaction in dialogue, as a result of they’ve determined that Lukashenko is just not the authentic chief of Belarus. Truss appears to not perceive what’s occurring.

Even extra bizarrely, Truss’ article makes use of Belarus to go off a tangent about defence spending. The Belarusian disaster, she says, reveals “why we remain the largest European spender on defence in NATO,” as if a few thousand refugee/migrants on the Polish border justifies the expenditure of round $50 billion a 12 months on tanks, planes, plane carriers, and the like. It’s a ridiculous leap of logic.

Still extra ridiculously, Truss provides that the disaster reveals “why we are working with friends and allies in south-east Asia.” Belarus – south east Asia? Does anybody see the connection? Because I undoubtedly don’t. It’s all a bit weird.

Sadly, although, it’s typical of what comes out of the British institution these days – trite clichés about freedom and democracy allied to a complete lack of grasp of element, all used to justify elevated defence spending and an assertive navy coverage in areas far faraway from the United Kingdom, for causes that seem to have completely no relevance to British safety and whose solely goal appears to be to spice up the British elites’ sense of ethical superiority and world significance.

If it have been simply speak, that will be one factor, however sadly the UK appears decided to again its belligerent rhetoric with motion. This is especially evident in its relations with Russia.

Speaking final week, the outgoing British chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Carter, mentioned that the UK “must be ready for war with Russia.” The drawback with such rhetoric is that it dangers turning into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Fearing that somebody would possibly assault you, you are taking motion towards them, so scary the very assault you have been making an attempt to keep away from. This is exactly what the UK is now doing, as proven by the latest incursion of a British warship into waters off Crimea, and information this weekend that the British are contemplating sending 600 troops to Ukraine “amid fears that Russia is poised to invade its neighbour.” 

Russia, after all, is just not about to invade Ukraine. Indeed, Russian TV reported this weekend that President Putin had rejected a proposal by the Ministry of Defence to carry workouts within the Black Sea in response to latest NATO deployments there, saying that, “We don’t need an escalation.” 

The British, subsequently, are responding to a risk that doesn’t exist. But on condition that Russia has mentioned {that a} NATO presence in Ukraine represents a pink line that it’ll not tolerate, the UK is enjoying a harmful recreation, needlessly ramping up tensions in a area the place all-out struggle stays a really actual chance.

As a former British military officer, I discover the reckless and counter-productive insurance policies pursued by the UK over the previous 20-30 years decidedly disturbing. Self-righteous proclamations of Britain defending ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ towards the forces of evil distinction badly with repeated acts of aggression which have harmed the UK as a lot as anyone else. Before writing extra articles accusing others of ‘destabilizing’ the world, Liz Truss and her colleagues must take a superb, lengthy look within the mirror.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed on this column are solely these of the creator and don’t essentially symbolize these of RT.

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