Rees-Mogg: 'No planes, no ships means no no-fly zone'

The veteran conservative journalist William Rees-Mogg argues on MailOnline that:

The worst mistake a government can make in defence policy is to take on commitments while failing to back them with equipment, troops and money.

This was a notorious failure of Tony Blair's years when he took military action in Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and Iraq - but failed to provide the resources to fight them properly.

These included the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq where the morale of soldiers was undermined by the shortage of equipment. Worse, soldiers' lives were lost because they were sent out on patrol in obsolete, lightly armoured Land Rovers.

David Cameron simultaneously threatened military action in Libya and outlined a further dismantling of our Armed Forces

Last week David Cameron simultaneously threatened military action in Libya and outlined a further dismantling of our Armed Forces

The Government willed the ends of victory, but the Treasury under Gordon Brown would not will the means. At the time, people thought this might be a particular failing of a Labour Government that had no understanding of the needs of soldiers, and no great sympathy either.

Successive Defence Ministers had no grip on the department. Perhaps, one hoped, there would soon be a Conservative government that accepted that it had to match resources to these commitments.

During the post-war period the Conservative Party had been the party with the greater military experience. The Tories had recent memories of a government led by Winston Churchill, the greatest of British war leaders.

Most post-war Tory Prime Ministers had either fought in the First World War, as did Anthony Eden and Harold Macmillan, or in the Second World War, as did Ted Heath.

Last week David Cameron simultaneously threatened military action in Libya and outlined a further dismantling of our Armed Forces, even though the war in Afghanistan continues.

Cameron threatened to impose a no-fly zone over Libya. Yet at the same time, the Ministry of Defence was pushing forward with the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), with the proposed axing of 2,700 RAF jobs, 5,000 Army posts and 3,300 Royal Navy positions...

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