Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Another Expensive Alliance

Artist's impression

On 16 December, when most of Britain was caught in a big freeze, the NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen joined the Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme and the Belgian Defense Minister Pieter de Crem in Brussels on the site of the new NATO HQ to attend a ground-breaking ceremony.

Britain's contribution to this £841m state-of-the-art building is a mere £105m.  The building is scheduled to be finished in 2015.

John Glen, the Tory MP for Salisbury was frustrated at the spending of hundreds of millions of pounds on a building while British armed forces face severe reductions.

”I find it very difficult to square news of this expenditure alongside the painful cuts that the MOD has had to bear,” he said. “I would urge Liam Fox, the Secretary of State, to work with other defence ministers across Nato to reduce the burden on the exchequer. We cannot afford it.”

A British government spokesman said:

"The UK will contribute 12.5 per cent of this budget and we're scrutinising it closely for value for money. It is important that Nato has a good HQ,"

Like John Glen others will say it's shameful for the MoD to be spending this money while many military allowances will be cut from April this year, but it's all part of the great plan.  The UK government has no intention of protecting our armed forces and is blatantly carving them up as instructed by the EU Common Security and Defence Policy and laid down in Article 42 of the Lisbon Treaty.  (It should be noted Denmark has an opt-out from the CSDP).

The UK and France account for 50% of EU defence spending and about 65% of research and development spending, according to the BBC.  Both countries spent 2.32% of GDP on defence in 2009.

The new NATO HQ ought to be a pleasure to work in with its restaurant, leisure and sport facilities, shops and banks.  Sounds like it may be quite a pleasant visitor attraction for a wet day.

We shouldn't complain at a more £105m though because we didn't complain when the MoD spent £2.3bn on Whitehall offices back in 2007. Of course these refurbishments were funded by 30-year PFI contracts.

While MoD staff rest their bums on 'the most comfortable office chairs in the world - the kind used by David Dimbleby on the BBC's Question Time - military families live in damp homes without acceptable heating or insulation.

It's a pity NATO didn't put the welfare of their members' military to the fore but that would mean prioritising.  Military personnel are only the means to an end for these overpaid bureaucrats.



Brian said...

NATO has a funny set of priorities. Last Friday Liam Fox said that the £51 million Multinational Helicoper Initiative to deliver 10 additional helicopters for service in Afghanistan had only generated £24 million and provided three helicopters. The UK has given £7.3m and France was the second largest contributor at £4.2m. Germany and Italy failed to deliver but even non-NATO member Japan made a contribution. There are about 1500 transport helicopters operated by NATO European members of which only about 50 are in Afghanistan.

subrosa said...

Brian, that's for writing the detail of that. It's all about priorities and anything to do with the military is behind their own personal altruism.

English Pensioner said...

This is typical of all International Organisations which were set up initially to liaise between similar interests in different countries. After a while, they all start to try to take over and run things themselves. I had dealings over the years with Eurocontrol, the European Air Traffic Control organisation which was set up long before the EU, to liaise between countries in Europe and ensure similar procedures, and commonality in the technical resources, etc. By the time I retired, it had huge offices in Brussels, and was actually trying to take over all the national control services. This has hopefully been stopped by the privatisation of the UK organisation, but unfortunately NATO seems to be going the same way with no-one saying "enough is enough".

subrosa said...

And they seem to think they have an endless stream of money to spend too EP.

That's one of my objections with such organisations. They do not act responsibly where funding is concerned. Had a wee google before I replied to see if I could find detailed accounts of NATO. Guess what?

Dark Lochnagar said...

Rosie, the quicker that the common soldier realises that they are only there as pawns of the politicians the better. Being in the forces and serving in Afghanistan has NOTHING to do with the defence of Britain and everything to do with oil and gas and the people who are making money from it. They should be pulled back to Britain and used to enforce our borders from immigrants.

Brian said...

Subrosa, here's the link that gave me the facts.

Clarinda said...

I received a registered charity request on behalf of 'TroopAid' asking for unwanted goods to fund the issue of personal Grab Bags. I have checked as far as possible to assure myself that the charity is bona fide. Aparently, returning wounded to UK hospitals have no personal belongings and these bags provide decent items for personal care and hygeine, some underwear, slippers and a t-shirt. Each bag costs £25 and it appears, from the responses of the wounded, to be responsible for them retaining a little bit of dignity in supplying a few basic essentials.

I imagine the droves of NATO administrators and various hangers-on will be effortlessly supplied with complimentary perks as they rest at the side of their "leisure and sports facilities".

subrosa said...

DL, what is a common soldier?

We don't have conscription in this country so people choose to join the military. They know the risks yet many stay there.

Could you imagine a military in this country without these people?

subrosa said...

Many thanks Brian.

subrosa said...

Haven't heard of them Clarinda, but I admit I haven't googled them but I can understand where they're coming from.

Medivacs etc don't include personal belongings and if a soldier doesn't have close family back here then they have next to nothing in the way of ensuring they have basic items.

Oh Clarinda, don't get me going about the design of this building. When I read about the leisure and shopping facilities I could hardly type for anger.

Dark Lochnagar said...

Rosie, a common soldier is one who joins up because there's nothing else and no other work for him to do. The same as they have for 300 years when we were building an Empire. Well, the Empire building days are over or at least should be over if it's not already apparent to politicians. I reiterate, we are in Iraq and Afghanistan for no other reason than oil and gas and not for any reason to do with national security. It is not our job either to make sure that Afghan female weans get into school. That is for the Afghan society to evolve to such an extent that this happens. If their society id 200 years behind ours, is it our duty to bring that evolution nearer to what we have in the west? That is only our ideals, it may not work in their country. BTW, Google gas pipeline and Afghanistan and you'll find out why we're there.

subrosa said...

Aye DL, I know why we're there. You omitted minerals. :)

You're correct. We shouldn't be there to instill our values upon these people and it's quite impossible to do so because their beliefs are different.

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