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The sword arm of Europe

Forget Iraq or Afghanistan. British foreign policy must fix its own backyard first

By Anatol Lieven   June 2009

Keeping our own house in order: British troops in Kosovo 1999

On a recent, endlessly delayed rail journey to Oxford I passed a military train loaded with jeeps and armoured vehicles—pretty inadequate ones too, to judge by the news from Helmand. It reminded me that Britain will soon have two aircraft carriers of impressive bulk and uncertain purpose, at a cost of £4bn. Their purpose is mystifying. The US doesn’t need us to have them; it has far more, and far bigger ones too. If they are to allow Britain to fight independently, then where and against whom? Rumoured scenarios…

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