(Website: UK Defence Journal)
“Here at the UK Defence Journal we are dedicated to providing impartial and complete coverage of defence matters in the United Kingdom and around the world.”
UK Defence Journal is part of the marketing and PR industry that supports arms manufacturers. The online Journal is an orgy of celebration of the capabilities of advances in military hardware and technology. Most of its output is a deluge of (usually brief) articles that read like the “news” sections of in-house sales magazines.
For example, Canada buys planes is a typical UK Defence Journal article: It lists some planes and equipment that the Canadian government is buying and lists the vendors. That is the entirety of the article.
(N.B. Canada doesn’t need any of these planes or equipment; the “purchase” is just a means of transferring taxes into the grubby hands of the arms industry.)
There is a consistent political position throughout the UK Defence Journal. The following examples reveal this position.
Example 1: Investigatory Powers Act 2016
The title of an article – Is the Investigatory Powers Act really a ‘snooper’s charter’? – by UK Defence Journal editor George Allison revealed his opinion on the Tory government’s ongoing attacks on basic liberty, privacy and freedom of speech; that is, by posing the above question in the title Allison stated that he has chosen not to accept the ‘snooper’s charter’ definition. In the article, his weak defence of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 was not based on any (spurious) necessity for its existence nor on its usefulness, and he did not attempt to discuss the validity or lack thereof of the ‘snooper’s charter’ description. All he offered was the repeated observation that the Act updates previous similar Acts of parliament by adding powers that render lawful what security forces are already doing:
“It should be noted however that a great deal of the act didn’t introduce new powers but legally establish previous surveillance and hacking activities utilised in previous legislation.”
“This Act like its predecessors is largely legalising practices already taking place.”
Allison posed a pejorative question as the article’s title, ignored this question throughout his article and said that there is nothing to worry about because the Act merely endorses all the existing illegal activities of security forces.
Example 2: Armed drone accuracy
George Allison popped up again with another leading-question-as-title article with Are unmanned aircraft as dangerous as claimed? Like example 1, Allison didn’t attempt to answer the question he put in the title. Quotes from anonymous British military salespersons form the bulk of the article, interspersed by absurd summary by Allison of their sales pitches. He concludes with “The fact is, these aircraft are often less dangerous to civilians than their manned counterparts.” Nowhere prior to that assertion did Allison attempt to prove his stated “fact.” He claimed it is true because military PR have said it is true. The article is anti-analysis masquerading as analysis and it sums up both the UK Defence Journal’s political position and its contempt for discourse and debate.
Example 3: War in Yemen
Saudi Arabia’s continuing assault on the civilians of Yemen is mass murder. Civilian homes, schools, hospitals and vital infrastructure have been targetted deliberately by the Saudi air force. Aid heading to Yemen to help the victims is stopped by Saudi military action both in the air and at sea. Preventable, but deadly, diseases are spreading rapidly in Yemen due to the destruction of infrastructure and hospitals by the Saudi air force, and the medical response to these diseases is being denied, deliberately, by the blockade of aid.
Saudi Arabia is receiving tactical and technical assistance from both UK and US militaries, and much of the hardware – planes, bombs and missiles – is of UK or US origin, purchased in recent arms deals sanctioned by the UK and US governments respectively.
However, the UK Defence Journal has chosen to be blind to the mass murder. In Yemen: A Regional Cold War between Saudi Arabia and Iran Oliver Steward sees only a struggle for regional power between Saudi Arabia and, er, Iran. He described the systemic slaughter of civilians in Yemen by the Saudi military as “the crisis in Yemen.” His use of “crisis” was to avoid attaching blame and to depict the thousands of civilians deaths as not caused by anyone else.
Steward thinks that “the major concern is that Saudi led intervention against Iranian backed Houthis rebels has the potential of causing further instability in the region, and dragging other major powers into the struggle.” The dead civilians, and those suffering with deadly diseases for which that the Saudi military blockade prevents medical help, are not “Iranian backed Houthis rebels.” What “other major powers” does Steward mean?
Steward’s analysis – beyond his selective blindness of the victims of Saudi slaughter – is he wants “the sole superpower,” the United States, to get directly involved: “The United States needs to take it upon themselves to offer leadership and a peaceful response to the Yemen crisis.” Of course, the US is very involved with the Saudi military actions. Beyond “logistical support” that Steward mentioned, the US has supplied military experts and has assisted with the sea blockade to restrict food and medical aid, and the Yemeni civilians, whose homes and family have been destroyed, can find casings that show exactly which factory in the US made the bomb.
Steward’s article is cold and disgusting. His conclusion – greater US involvement – is deliberate obfuscation and deliberate dishonesty. Steward is fully aware that US “involvement” is a major contributing factor in the Saudi mass murder of Yemeni civilians. He has willfully ignored the current reality in Yemen and chosen to attain a conclusion that demands more imperialism.
Example 4: Trident
Ahead of an article from a non-UK Defence Journal writer – (Trident: Why Have It?) – there is a editorial disclaimer: “This article is the opinion of the author, the UK Defence Journal has no stance on Trident.” For a group that claims to have no “stance” on Trident, there are a lot of celebratory pro-Trident articles.
For example, Money for Lockheed celebrates the financial benefit of Trident to its manufacturer, What is Trident? glorifies the missile’s operational capabilities and Trident launch has video footage of a launch.
Conversely, the UK Defence Journal’s reaction to reading my brief, but concise, dismissal of trident’s usefulness was pretence of a mock.
(Link to blog: Trident – A full in-depth considered analysis)