Letter: UK support for US agenda on world defence

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The Independent Online
Sir: The letter from Humphry Crum Ewing (11 July) praising the Government's decision to close Rosyth and boost the 'Benbecula Experimental Range' seems to indicate that an important decision may have been taken in Whitehall. He says:

. . . keeping Benbecula will help us to confront the future threats to our national security from the increasing range of ballistic and cruise missiles . . . (by enabling) us to develop the capacity to counter those threats.

This implies that Britain is now prepared to accept, and in defence terms actively to go along with, the United States' new 'Counterproliferation' policy. This policy is based on a belief that the rich northern world should develop and equip itself with anti-ballistic missile (and anti-cruise missile) capabilities and also with the kind of precision-guided, penetrating weapons that can take out other countries' weapon systems of which the US administration disapproves.

Nato and the UK have been considering the policy and the possibilities. The decision in favour of Benbecula - useful in developing the hardware for this kind of 'fortified rich' future - rather than Rosyth - useful for more conventional activities such as policing the North Sea and the developing Arctic shipping routes and so on - appears to indicate that, and how, the British Government has decided.

The Ministry of Defence over the last few months has refused to answer parliamentary questions on the subject. Yet few decisions could be more fateful than our placing ourselves in a fortified enclave of the 'rich', seeking invulnerability against the rest of the world with something even more repugnant, and more aggressive, than President Reagan's Star Wars.

We would be spending vast sums of money on unprovable systems; we would be wholly dependent on US space-derived information and probably on US technology and US industry; in the Middle East, we would be effectively allied with Israel, where the United States has long been funding anti-ballistic missile projects; we would be preparing to declare the rest of the world our enemies, whose sovereignty we would evidently be fully prepared to breach.

Am I wrong? Is this what we want?

Yours sincerely,

ELIZABETH YOUNG

London, W2

12 July

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