General Sir Patrick Sanders, Chief Of The General Staff

Promotion to top ranks in British armed forces is dependent on being aware that the job’s main objective is enhancement of arms industry’s profits.

Last month (June 2022) General Sir Patrick Sanders was promoted to Chief Of The General Staff of the British army.  His first act in his new job was a speech to the Royal United Services Institution (RUSI) on 28th June.  RUSI, created by Arthur Wellesley in 1831, is a tool to promote military conflict and to support control of the world by ‘Western’ capitalists.  It is intrinsically anti-democratic and xenophobic.  Most of its funding is from arms industry and associated industries.

His speech was a simple three-step routine.

  • STEP 1: Describe Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a threat to the whole of NATO
  • STEP 2: Explain why there exists a desperate need for immediate and huge mobilisation of British armed forces
  • STEP 3: State that such a mobilisation requires significant extra spending on expensive military hardware.  (His audience at RUSI included representatives of arms industry.)

It was easy to progress to STEPS 2 and 3 once he established STEP 1.

STEP1: His knowledge of war was selective.  He said “I stand here as the first Chief of the General Staff since 1941 to take up this position in the shadow of a major state on state land war in Europe.”  He must have been on holiday with no access to news during the violent break-up of former Yugoslavia, and he was able to maintain ignorance throughout his life of USSR’s invasion of Hungary.

In all my years in uniform, I haven’t known such a clear threat to the principles of sovereignty and democracy, and the freedom to live without fear of violence, as the brutal aggression of president Putin and his expansionist ambitions.”

Sanders’ military career began in 1984.  In thirty-eight years since there were many “clear threats to the principles of sovereignty and democracy.”  Sanders’ military action included service in Kosovo, Bosnia And Herzegovina, Iraq and Afghanistan.  There is a huge discrepancy between his assertion above and his own experiences in military conflict.

Armed with his invented speciality of the war in Ukraine he jumped to declaring that NATO countries must prepare for direct attack.  He made this leap by invoking expansionism by Germany in 1930s.

I believe we are living through a period in history as profound as the one that our forebears did over 80 years ago.  Now, as then, our choices will have a disproportionate effect on our future.  This is our 1937 moment.  We are not at war – but we must act rapidly so that we aren’t drawn into one through a failure to contain territorial expansion.”

1937 moment” referred to Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s attempts to appease German government despite the latter’s huge expansion of military capability and its threats to other countries; Chamberlain was wrong to have trusted Hitler.

Sanders’ comparison between 1930s Germany and 2020s Russia makes no sense and is offensive to the memory of people murdered in the Holocaust.

His lazy and disreputable equation of Russia today with Germany in 1937 echoed crass, uninformed and intellectually-challenged comments made by performing contrarians throughout the industry of screaming heads and professional trolls in media, at think-tanks and in online communities.

With STEP 1’s fallacious logic presented as a problem to solve Sanders moved to STEP 2 wherein he claimed there is an urgent necessity for mobilisation and military action.

STEP 2: He emphasised that

the British Army is not mobilising to provoke war – it is mobilising to prevent war.  From now the Army will have a singular focus – to mobilise to meet today’s threat and thereby prevent war in Europe.  We are not at war – but we must act rapidly so that we aren’t drawn into one through a failure to contain territorial expansion.  I will do everything in my power to ensure that the British Army plays its part in averting war.”

The best way to prevent war is to engage in conversation, negotiation and compromise but Sanders’ depiction of Russia’s intent as akin to Germany’s in 1930s meant he could not consider such options.  He did not suggest that British troops should be fighting in Ukraine; his mobilisation was for British troops in NATO countries in Europe because that fitted his set-up in STEP 1 that Russian expansionism would extend to NATO territories.  “We must act rapidly so that we aren’t drawn into [a war] through a failure to contain territorial expansion.”

Despite his assertions of avoiding war he proclaimed his intent to “win” a war.  “We are mobilising the Army to help prevent war in Europe by being ready to fight and win alongside our NATO allies and partners.”  Preventing war would be a “win” but it wasn’t clear that is what he meant.

He knows land, sea and air battles between NATO and Russia are extremely unlikely, other than isolated incidents that end as quickly as they begin and then only at sea or in the air.  Neither Russia nor USSR invaded NATO territory.  Although not old enough to remember the Cuban missile crisis, he knows the deterrent of nuclear exchanges lives up to its name: Deterrent.  That is, he is aware with certainty that military battles involving NATO and Russian troops will not happen.

A general’s public statements should never specify a particular political stance and should not claim to speak on behalf of government.  But, Sanders was keen to speak as if he is a politician.

This is the moment to defend the democratic values that define us.  Ceding more territory to Putin could prove a fatal blow to the principle of national sovereignty that has underpinned the international order since 1945.”

His deceptive soundbites above could have been spoken by any conservative politician.  “Democratic values that define us” does not describe UK.  “The principle of national sovereignty that has underpinned the international order since 1945″ is the opposite of historical fact, applied generally and also specifically to the UK in Kenya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Chagos Islands, etc.  Sanders “served” in Iraq and in Afghanistan; did he not notice that “national sovereignty” was being crushed by the army he was in?

His political polemic went further than response to Russia.

Defence cannot ignore the exponential rise and chronic challenge of China, not just within the South China Sea but through its sub-threshold activities across the globe.  Beijing will be watching our response to Moscow’s actions carefully.”

Creation of a Chinese threat is a key facet of libertarian and of liberal propaganda.  Sanders’ fear of China is fear of the exported success of China’s economy management and fear of China’s control of other countries around the world.  As soon as NATO and its puppet government fled from Afghanistan, China sought trade deals with Afghanistan and sent aid, food and other assistance rather than well-armed military; Barbados’ transition to a republic, rejecting British monarch as head of state, was followed immediately with new trade deals with China; China’s economic partnerships with countries throughout Africa and South America are growing in number and in size at an increasing rate.  Sanders meant his fear of China pushing aside exploitative ‘Western’ capitalist power.

When he said “Beijing will be watching” he did not mean that the Chinese government is ready to launch invasions of NATO countries if the latter is less than aggressive.  He meant a message of aggression should be sent to the Chinese government that if it continues to help the economies of countries around the world to eschew exploitation by international businesses, banks, International Monetary Fund and World Bank, then NATO might use military force to protect that exploitation.

Sanders understands the role of NATO’s armed forces: Protection of hegemony of capitalist exploitation.

He gave a further reason for UK having a large military presence in Europe.  “Taking up the burden in Europe means we can free more US resources to ensure that our values and interests are protected in the Indo-Pacific.”  By “our interests” he meant those of the occidental world and he meant the capacity for profit for businesses from that world, profit at the expense of people who live elsewhere in the world.

He supported good old-fashioned imperialism.  We must be wary of Russia’s malign activities further afield.  Our global hubs, including Kenya and Oman, will still play a vital role as we seek to mobilise to meet aggression in Europe allowing us to help our partners there secure strategic advantage elsewhere in the world.”  Another phrase meaning financial control of: “strategic advantage elsewhere in the world.”

Satisfied that his late nineteenth century imperialist rhetoric had laid foundations for indulging in readiness for war, Sanders moved to STEP 3 which was the reason for his speech. 

STEP 3: Barely pausing for breath, he listed various combat and mobilisation operations, and sectors of the army, followed by a list of extremely expensive military equipment that he was excited to know was purchased by, or being considered for purchase by, the British public rather than money being spent on healthcare, education, welfare, pensions, public transport, policing, welfare and mental health support for military veterans, unprivatisation of utilities, tackling climate crisis, fighting Covid-19, and all other necessities for ensuring well-being of the public and its financial security.

Tory government created Land Industrial Strategy (LIS) to intensify effectiveness of war as a tool to increase arms industry profits.  Sanders knew LIS was his priority as Chief Of The General Staff.

I will use the next few months to engage personally with you, our industry partners and encourage you to use the framework offered by the new Land Industrial Strategy to make the Army more lethal and more effective, with better equipment in the hands of our soldiers at best speed.”

It is easy to see for whom Sanders works.

He recognised the government’s objective behind recent arms transfers to Ukraine free of charge.  “[We have] diminished stockpiles as a result of Gifting in Kind to the brave soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.  We will re-build our stockpiles and review the deployability of our vehicle fleet.”  The process of feeding the arms industry is not dependent on UK being at war.  Free weapons for Ukraine means a “re-build” of UK’s “stockpiles.”

In full agreement with a government that is erasing accountability, Sanders said “we must be practical and cut through unnecessary bureaucracy.”  By “bureaucracy” he meant rules, regulations, checks and balances, international human rights obligations, laws.

General Patrick Sanders speaking at RUSI

Sanders used a simple three step process, speaking like a politician with the intent of justifying the use of public money as gifts to the never satiated greed of the arms industry.

At £39,600 per annum Worth School he learnt that his professional life should focus on making wealth ever more concentrated.  Via the elite conveyor belt from independent schools to military command his education and military training combined to reduce him to a promoter of the arms industry.  He is, willingly, a cog in a machine.

Full transcript of Sanders speech: Sanders at RUSI

General Sir Patrick Sanders, Chief Of The General Staff

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