Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Brexit: an inevitable failure

Pic via UK Defence Journal

Blogging is a little difficult for me this week. I have written countless explainers and in-depth posts about trade and Brexit in general. There comes a point where there really isn't much point in repeating it. Every day it goes a little further off the rails and every day the case for Brexit looks thinner. Putting in any sort of effort seems redundant.

This is not to say there aren't things of note going on. The spat over Euratom would ordinarily be blogworthy but as usual the media is going round in circles, going over issues the blogosphere nailed many months ago. Since the media does not look out of its own claustrophobic circle there is little point in rehashing such material, and since it's going round in circles, the opportunity will no doubt arise again.

In many respects the entire debate is at a standstill. Reality is not filtering through and the groupthinks are proving inconquerable. All we can do is watch and wait for when these proceedings hit the wall.

The problems are as previously stated. The Brexiteers are only part of the problem. In the mind of a Brexiteer we are only a short hop away from a future as a buccaneering free trade country strutting its stuff on the world stage. We can sweep away tariffs, open up markets and prune away the deadwood regulations - and if that causes problems for EU trade, well, they can just reach into the bag of three letter acronyms and pretend there is a mechanism they can deploy to dig them out of the hole.

We've seen this before with the Conservative Home cultists and the crooked Shanker Singham. There is plenty in the bag to chuck up a smokescreen of bullshit - and with Brexiteers swallowing it wholesale and MPs insufficiently informed to call them out on it, it sails by unchallenged. Meanwhile our media asks why there are so few women on the negotiating team. That is the ultimate problem.

In this I am not the first to note that that a trainwreck Brexit would actually be one well deserved. With a government so utterly incapable of retaining knowledge we are just asking for it. As much as this is a characteristic of Brexit, this only exemplifies the deep rot within government.

Some years ago now, mounted a herculean campaign, without much input from me, to steer the MoD away from procuring lethal mine-magnet vehicles for the army. Eventually the MoD caved in and shelved a number of substandard trucks in favour of Mastiffs and other MRAPs, but this week we learn that the UK has ordered 2,747 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles in a $1.04 billion deal.

As has had to be spelled out countless times, mine and IED protection is built into armoured vehicles from the ground up. It's much the same as any design. Your design objectives have to be factored in from the very beginning. With mine protected vehicles the key objective is blast deflection, seeking to minimise the exposure to direct blast.

The key to this is a V shaped hull. This is something that was almost grasped by the end of the Second World War. These such design concepts appeared on vehicles during the Rhodesian civil war, but over time, we have forgotten the lessons. A price in blood was paid to relearn such lessons in Iraq and Afghanistan - and scores of soldiers died without good cause.

Less than a decade later and the army is making the same basic mistakes, falling for the glossy propaganda of the manufacturers as to its protective capabilities, without ever once doing its own assessment. Though cost is obviously a factor, this is not merely a matter of saving lives. This is about winning wars. As we have pointed out before, a shooting war can be won but it's no use if you're losing the propaganda war at home - and that is what makes the preservation of life essential.

It was a wizened retiree at my last place of employment who remarked that any institution is much like a jelly mountain. You can apply pressure to change its shape but that requires some considerable energy. The moment you release such pressure, even for a nansoceond, it will wobble back into its default form. There is no place this applies more than the MoD - but it is particular to government.

We could very well divert our energies once more to exposing this calamity but there is only really so much we can do. The only force capable of continuing to apply pressure is our media. But in order to do so it must have the institutional memory, knowledge and experience to play the game. It must also have a sense of priorities. We cannot hope for a successful Brexit if our media does not function. In that assessment, here is a screen-shot of today's Daily Telegraph. Judge for yourself...

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