The man is a fool. There is no kinder word to describe him.
Williamson proudly declared that “We are a leader in NATO, this year hosting the Leaders Meeting here in London. Alongside this we have sent a Battle Group to Estonia to support NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence. We lead multi-national maritime task groups in the Mediterranean and defend the skies over the Black Sea and the Baltics.”
As noted by the UK’s satirical magazine, Private Eye, the thought of Britain enhancing NATO’s forward presence is unlikely to disturb or agitate Russia or anyone else, but of course it’s the thought that counts.
Private Eye 2017
And it was Williamson’s thought that also counted when he included China in his diatribe and even threatened the Eastern Dragon. As the Financial Times (FT) noted, he had “signalled a more aggressive stance . . . confirming that aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth would be sent on its maiden operational mission to the Pacific. Britain was prepared to act against those who “flout international law”, said Mr Williamson, in what was seen as a reference to China’s expansion in the South China Sea.”
On February 16 the FT reported that Philip Hammond, Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer — the finance minister — “has cancelled a planned trip to China”, although he “had been expected to visit Beijing in order to meet senior figures including vice-premier Hu Chunhua.”
Unfortunately, “preparations were disrupted when the defence secretary Gavin Williamson suggested that Britain would send a new aircraft carrier to China’s backyard. Mr Hammond’s meeting with Mr Hu was cancelled, leading the UK to abandon the trip altogether.”
If Britain wants favourable trade terms with China after exiting the European Union, it would be advisable to seek them through dialogue rather than by announcing its intention to send an aircraft carrier to “stand tall” in the South China Sea.
Militarily, however, China need have no fears about Williamson’s sabre-rattling. Because the most lethal things he’s got in his arsenal are paintballs.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, SIPRI, recorded in its 2018 Report that “At $66.3 billion, Russia’s military spending in 2017 was 20 per cent lower than in 2016” while “total military spending by all 29 NATO members was $900 billion in 2017, accounting for 52 per cent of world spending.” The UK spent $47.2 billion — and Williamson wants more, which he won’t get.