Tim Stanley

Would I die for Britain? No thanks

September 1939: A man studying newspaper notices about conscription at the outbreak of World War II. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

The West’s military posture has moved from ‘thick’ to ‘suicidal’. The recent speech of General Sir Patrick Sanders, the head of the British Army, in which he suggested that Britain needs a ‘citizens army’ to see off Russia, has forced the Government to deny that it wishes to introduce conscription – in advance of a great power conflict that Grant Shapps says is perhaps five years away.

The media is casually debating ‘would Britons refuse to serve?’, on the basis that Gen Z is too neurotic to fight. The better question is ‘should we serve?’, on the grounds that our generation of leadership is so staggeringly dumb. What did Phil Ochs sing? ‘It’s always the old to lead us to the wars/ Always the young to fall…’

This crisis is on the little Brezhnevs who run the West, who failed to invest in the regular defence forces and baited Putin into invading Ukraine. Yes, primary responsibility for the war lies with that fascist thug in the Kremlin. But we also flirted with Kiev for years, dangling over it the baubles of EU and Nato membership, inviting a reaction from Russia. When it came, with the annexation of Crimea in 2014, we did nothing – almost encouraging Putin to finish the job in 2022.

(The one man who did hold the line was that notorious isolationist, Donald Trump. Putin attacked under Obama, went silent under Trump, then had another go under Joe Biden. But, of course, voting Republican is a reckless act, yada yada.)

Having decided that Ukraine’s war is our war, the West has urged the fledgling nation to spill vast amounts of blood in its self-defence without providing it with the necessary arms to win, because we are unwilling to run a war economy. One vignette: the expansion of an arms factory in Troisdorf, Germany was blocked last year by the local authority because it wanted to build homes and offices instead (Nimbies Rule, Ok?) By contrast, Russian arms factories work triple shifts, six days a week, and the Asiatic empire was always likely to beat Ukraine because it is many, many times bigger.

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