Cameron stated that Britain and France would remain sovereign nations with their own independent military capabilities. He said that in recent history there have only been two occasions when Britain has launched a fully independent military campaign, the Falklands War and Sierra Leone. Cameron then went on to point out France and Britain’s joint involvement in theatres such as the Balkans and Kosovo (of course he did not mention the French officer who passed NATO military plans to Serbia).
But deliberately missing from Cameron’s little speech was the word interoperability. Also deliberately avoided during his high speed pass over recent military history was any mention of the invasion of Iraq. yet this is where the risks of Anglo-French military ‘cooperation’ exist.
Interoperability in the context of this treaty means certain capabilities will be provided by Britain and others by France. It makes the two countries reliant upon each other and unable to operate independently.
Interoperability only works when the partners in a cooperation pact share a common aim. During the Iraq campaign where we supported the Americans, this was not the case as France refused to take part in the invasion. The UK was unhindered by interoperability constraints because we possessed the independent capability to put our troops, tanks and aircraft into theatre to invade southern Iraq. We didn’t need the French.
The Anglo-French treaty signed today by Cameron and Sarkozy makes Britain reliant on France in military matters because Britain will no longer retain the necessary capability to operate alone. They claim this reduction in capability is designed to save money. But what happens when Britain needs the French in order to be able to deploy the necessary men and materials to protect British interests overseas and the French refuse to provide the capability because they disagree with the action? It is an unacceptable and short sighted risk and Cameron’s assertion that Britain will retain a sovereign capability is a lie.
There is only one way to be certain that France and Britain will deploy together for military action – that is if the order comes from their government, the EU. There is ample evidence that this is the plan. As EU Referendum reminds us:
This is a continuation of the Maastricht Treaty agenda, as this briefing note makes clear. Agreed by the Tories under John Major, this set up the parameters for the development of a European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP). The process continued with the Franco-British meeting in Saint-Malo (France) in December 1998. That was when London and Paris agreed to jointly and actively work to make the European Union “able to carry out some security tasks on its own”.
With the two largest military powers in the EU brought together by this treaty it is much easier to subsequently add the armed forces of other EU member states to the mix, piece by piece. It is through this phased approach that the EU will achieve its ambition of being a military power and the federal superstate will boast its own army, navy and air force.
Cameron and Sarkozy have just concluded phase one.