In a recent column published by The Telegraph, British Army veteran Robert Clark issued a stern warning for the United Kingdom and Europe.
Clark, a military veteran with 15 years of service, suggests that Great Britain should reconsider its reliance on the United States for assistance in defending against Russia on the European mainland.
In the article titled “Britain must prepare for war. America won’t save us this time,” the author emphasizes the end of the era of “peace dividends.” He highlights that this term was popularized by former U.S. President George H.W. Bush and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. They believed that with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, reducing defense spending would free up public funds for other purposes.
Retired General Wesley Clark emphasized the importance of enhanced military recruitment and defense spending as key factors for the United Kingdom to achieve greater independence amidst the current era of uncertainty. In an email response to Newsweek, Clark reiterated his stance on this crucial issue.
According to Clark, a Fellow at the Yorktown Institute in Washington, it has been widely acknowledged that the younger generations in both the U.S. and the U.K. are not as interested in national service or seeking out travel and adventure. As a result, in order to effectively recruit these individuals, the incentives and appeals must be more in line with their expectations of financial stability, career growth, and the ability to explore different roles within an organization. Offering higher salaries compared to other public sector jobs is essential in this regard.
Clark, who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, highlighted the significance of retaining military personnel, in addition to recruitment, in his response to Newsweek.
According to him, political leaders must go beyond simply improving the offer for volunteers, which is crucial. They should also start focusing on retaining volunteers, as this is equally important.
In his column, Clark suggests that Russia may potentially launch attacks on Moldova or Georgia following its presumed “victory” in Ukraine. Subsequently, Russia could proceed to target the Baltic states. He points out that with current and future U.S. military interests primarily concentrated in the Middle East and Pacific regions, Europe would be left to fend for itself in terms of defense.
According to a writer, as the focus of Washington decision-making shifts towards countering China in the Indo-Pacific region, there is an increasing sentiment that Europe should take charge of its own security affairs with minimal reliance on the US. The writer argues that considering the significant discrepancy in scale between Russia and China, as well as the fact that the combined economies of European NATO countries are over four times larger than Russia’s, this position seems reasonable.
In addition, he highlighted recent statements made by Rob Bauer, the chair of the NATO Military Committee. Bauer warned that civilians in NATO countries should be ready for the possibility of a full-scale war with Russia within the next two decades. This comes as NATO announced the commencement of its largest military exercise in over 35 years. Approximately 90,000 military personnel will take part in what an alliance official described as “a simulated emerging conflict scenario.”
“NATO, being a security alliance where all members have shared threat perceptions, operates in a much more unified manner. It not only bridges any gaps where nations may not align, but also serves as a platform for these nations to come together in alignment and harmony,” stated Clark in an interview with Newsweek.
According to Clark, who is also the Director of the Defense and Security Unit at Civitas, a civil affairs think-tank based in London, Russia has demonstrated its capacity to rearm and reindustrialize. He highlights that Russia has made a commitment to allocate a significant portion, between 30-40 percent, of its economic output this year towards its military capabilities.
In an interview with Newsweek, he emphasized the need for Western countries to improve their readiness and begin strategizing to mobilize their economies and societies in anticipation of future conflicts.
According to the expert, if the US and UK fail to prevent conflict through conventional military deterrence, they must also prepare for the mobilization of their societies through conscription. He points to the example of Ukraine, where the population has been under enormous strain to provide manpower. While conscription is not an ideal solution, it is important to establish systems that can be activated if necessary.
Currently, there are no adequate models of border security in nations outside of Europe that border Russia. However, in European nations that do border Russia, there are some effective models that can be studied and learned from.
According to a recent report by Reuters, British Defense Minister Grant Shapps stated in a speech that was delivered on January 15th that 2024 will be a crucial turning point. He expressed his belief that the world will become increasingly perilous, necessitating the involvement of Britain and its allies in dealing with unpredictable and irrational forces.
According to Shapps, the government is making efforts to raise defense spending to 2.5 percent of gross domestic product. Additionally, he called on other democratic nations to increase their military expenditures as well.
Retired U.S. General Wesley Clark suggests that the United States can enhance its military stance in Europe through the implementation of a strategy that combines “denial and punishment” as a means of military deterrence. He further proposes that the U.S. should allocate an additional 1-2 percent of its defense budget by reallocating funds from social welfare programs to address the border situation with Mexico. By taking such actions, Clark believes that the U.S. can break the Congressional deadlock and send a strong message to Moscow about its commitment to national defense.
In a conversation with Newsweek, he emphasized that the entire world is closely watching the upcoming U.S. presidential election.
According to Clark, Biden has consistently shown a strong commitment to US NATO obligations, while Trump has previously suggested the possibility of withdrawing from the alliance. This potential withdrawal could have severe consequences for European security, especially considering that several member states fail to meet the minimum defense spending requirements. Clark expressed these concerns in an interview with Newsweek.
European leaders are filled with fear when it comes to the prospect of a Trump administration. On the other hand, despite his occasional chaos and indecisiveness, Biden has consistently shown his support for NATO and, crucially, Ukraine.
Update: As of 1/21/24, 2:15 p.m. ET, more information about Robert Clark has been added to this article.