Deterrence, Signaling, and the Withdrawal of the HMS Endurance

Andrew, you’re right to note the the specific decision to withdraw the HMS Endurance. Another point to note (to quote myself):

In the same year, Parliament passed the British Nationality Act, which denied the islanders British citizenship. The measure was directed at another set of islanders who would have preferred to stay British, those of Hong Kong; the unintended consequence of the Act’s passage, however, was to suggest that Britain was no more willing to go to war with Argentina than with China. It is fair to fault the Thatcher government for giving signals that hinted of irresolution to the Argentineans – although it is also fair to note, as Thatcher does, that no one in his right mind expected them to do something quite so crazy. “Of course with the benefit of hindsight, we would always like to have acted differently,” she remarked. “So would the Argentineans.”

The moral is less about defense cuts, per se, than about the importance of unambiguous signaling as a deterrent to war.

  1. Michael Labeit

    Is a subtle yet siginificant reduction in military spending possible today? Can it be undertaken without much media attention?

  2. Frozen Chosen

    I read this recently in the Telegraph, “The Navy’s fleet of warships will drop from 24 to 19 and it will lose 4,000 personnel. Harrier jump-jets will be scrapped next year but no F35 Joint Strike Fighters will be available to replace them until 2020.”

    19 Warships! Are you kidding me? The article also said Britain won’t have any carrier jet capability until 2020. Why bother, it will all be over by then.

    We knew Britain was in decline but this is pathetic…

  3. Michael Labeit

    Frozen, I’m wary of military Keynesianism. How much military spending represents true defense spending and how much is related to “creating jobs?” I worry about the military (either here or there) becoming an economic institution instead of a security one.

  4. Frozen Chosen
    Michael Labeit: Frozen, I’m wary of military Keynesianism. How much military spending represents true defense spending and how much is related to “creating jobs?” I worry about the military (either here or there) becoming an economic institution instead of a security one. · Oct 21 at 3:23pm

    I think you have a valid concern, Michael. However, defense is one area that is a legitimate responsibility of the federal government. There’s no question that the government does a poor job of making sure resources are used wisely; that’s true of anything government does.

    My concern is that our “allies” like Britain, Germany and France, won’t be able to give us ANY assistance should trouble break out with China or Russia or Iran. If you can’t project military power your enemies will notice and act accordingly…

  5. Michael Labeit

    I think a withdrawal from Europe and a commitment exclusively towards U.S. defense would force Europeans to attend to their own defense. I think Europeans have been relying upon the American military for far too long. Let them contribute to their own security.