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A Call to Arms

If you live in Europe, you need to change your life now, because your country, and Europe, needs you. This was the message from Polish prime minister Donald Tusk, the largest European military power with a border with the countries formerly in the Soviet Union. Yesterday he gave a speech to the effect that we are in a pre-war era, much as in the 1930’s, with all the ominous and gloomy feel of that era. There is an existential Europe-wide threat on the doorstep of Europe. In the 1930’s it was perceived to be Nazi Germany; now, in the 2020’s, it is Russia. Russian imperial ambitions have always posed an existential threat of some degree to Europe; the last time they were so dangerous was in 1944, as the Red Army, having amassed great size and strength and in the midst of routing the German army from Soviet territory, kept going and occupied half of continental Europe. Now we have a parallel set of circumstances: not one in which the Germans are to blame, but in which all the blame lies at the foot of Russia.

Nevertheless questions of blame are irrelevant. The fact is that Russia is the largest country in the world and, more fundamentally, has a greater capacity to call upon its population for conscription into the army, and a great power to transform its manufacturing and technological capacity for military goals, than any other country in the world with the exception of the United States but in an election year the United States cannot move sufficiently quickly to change her economy and mobilise her armed forces in the gargantuan way necessary. Therefore Europe must take the lead until the New World comes to the aid of the Old.

Mr Tusk has rightly observed that the next two years will be critical in the war in Ukraine. If Russia substantially prevails, then whole tracts of Europe will be at risk as a rising Russian army pushes beyond the borders of Ukraine and starts to occupy central Europe again as it did after the end of the Second World War. The disclaimers of Russian President Vladimir Putin to the effect that he has no interest in European or NATO member state territorial acquisitions are not to be taken at their word. Russia does not think of military or political strategy in the same way as does the west. Instead Russia just keeps on pushing to see what she can get. And the fact is that if she can overcome Ukraine’s colossal army then she will have done that by amassing a land army sufficient to keep going and she will keep going.

At the current time the war in Ukraine is in a stalemate and Russian advances are very slow. Nevertheless Russia has tripled her military budget for 2024 and Russia understands that success on the battlefield is a product of the gradual build up of logistics and supply networks as well creating the legal and training schemes for the constant recruitment and replacement of troops and matériel along the front line. If you can build up the procedures for waging constant war and you can do this more effectively than can your opponents then eventually you will win the war, and the Ukrainian lines of defence will crumble. Europe has not always spent its defence budgets wisely, focusing upon increasingly high-tech equipment to satisfy its defence industries whereas what we need to have been doing was to focus on volume which is what the Russians are now doing. Although Russia has led the world in pioneering advances in ballistic missile technology over the last couple of decades - an area in which they always excelled due to the superlative skills of their scientists - this is not what they are now focusing upon. They are now relying on mass production of relatively dated weaponry using simplistic means, and methods of conscription of their vast population in huge numbers to replenish the dead.

Europe needs to start thinking in the same way, so that we can support the Ukrainians and defend the frontiers of Europe, because even through the Russians are sustaining far heavier losses than the Europeans in current fighting, on the model they are using they will eventually overcome Europe unless we intervene. We are reminded of appeasement in the 1930’s, and in failing to intervene adequately in the war in Ukraine we are appealing the Russians whereas we should be rearming and remobilising - as were the Germans throughout the 1930’s and the rest of Europe was not. We must not make the same mistake.

This makes conscription and national service inevitable. Every able-bodied adult male of fighting age in Europe now needs to undertake elementary military training or renew military training they have incurred in the past. Our consumer goods production facilities need to be transformed into military production assets, in precisely the same way as the Russians are doing. If Mr Tusk is right, and these are the early years before a full European ground war with Russia takes place, then we must prepare. This means that if you are reading this, it affects you, because the whole structure of society must change. National service must become a reality for everyone, and the whole of Europe must come to understand what it means to mobilise for a war. We must not be caught again like we were in the 1930’s, in a policy of appeasement, giving to Russia what she wants for the sake of an imagined peace and watching Russia re-arm in the name of a sinister neo-despotism while ourselves failing to do so.

Every adult male should undertake four to six weeks of basic military training. Governments must develop contingency policies for the transformation of their economies into military machines and then they must implement them in stages, because it takes several years fully to re-militarise and in tripling their military budget for 2024 Russia has indicated that she intends to do this. Ultimately we must get prepared to serve and, if necessary, to die for our countries and for European values, because Europe now faces a threat of a kind it has not seen for ninety years and the principles of liberty, democracy and rule of law must sadly be fought for all over again. History repeats itself, and we must be ready.


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