The Times – 27 August 2020
In the mid-1980s we invested 5 per cent (and, even in the mid-1990s, 3 per cent) of GDP in keeping our country safe. For the government to cut defence spending in absolute terms because of our Covid-reduced GDP would be playing with fire.
Defence planners are routinely accused of “preparing for the last war”, as if we should not learn lessons from recent past conflicts. Their accusers take it for granted that the next war will conform to present scenarios. Not so: most conflicts are unexpected in timing and unpredicted in substance. There are conceivable circumstances in which costly hard-power assets, including aircraft carriers and tanks, may be vulnerable or even irrelevant. Yet there are others in which they would be indispensable. We do face new threats, in space and cyberspace, for which we must prepare. But these are additions to, not substitutes for, more conventional dangers that confront us.
Dr JULIAN LEWIS MP
Chairman, Defence Committee 2015–19
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA