Admiral Woodward, who 29 years ago today led the command of the naval task to liberate the Falkland Islands from Argentine invasion has today said that due to military defence cuts the United Kingdom could not defend the Falkland Island's if Argentina launched another military invasion. With military cuts at around 8 per cent, Admiral Woodward has claimed that Britain couldn't defend much past the English Channel.
Can the government be seen as credible if it continues to cut peoples most basic services but still expect the taxpayer to invest heavily in aid? It is not credible to expect people to understand why Britain has now decided to take the lead on vaccinations during a time of national austerity? The government constantly informs the public of the need to tackle the 'largest budget deficit in Western Europe' and blames the Labour Party for the financial mess that the country is in.
The coalition has placed the United Kingdom on a road to austerity. The vaccination debate is sensitive. Primarily the government's first priority should be to keep their people safe and healthy. With defence and health care cuts can they really justify spending extra on international aid? The government may be heading down a thoroughly noble path but is the timing all wrong?
The remarks from Admiral Woodward will concern diplomats in both Washington and Buenos Aires as the British government is under intense pressure from Washington to begin talks with Argentina over a negotiation settlement for the Islands. America has recently put its weight behind Buenos Aries call for negotiations to resolve the on-going dispute over the Falkland Islands.
What will confuse many British diplomats is the stance that America has taken on the issue. President Obama has fully endorsed the Argentine calls and the State Department has even begun referring to the chain of islands as the Malvinas - the Argentine name for the islands.
As defence cuts start to bite, there is much concern from military leaders that the cuts could leave Britain helpless when it comes to defending its sovereign lands overseas. With the military overstretched in both Afghanistan and Libya, if another conflict was to break out in the Falkland's would take priority in the British governments eyes? Would they have any choice but to continue their mission in both Afghanistan and Libya, leaving the Falkland's powerless to stop an invasion.
President Obama's recent state visit to the United Kingdom had left many British diplomats believing that the special relationship was as strong as ever. General Woodward has grave concerns that the American trip lacked any substance and Britain is becoming increasingly isolated from its closest ally. Woodward commented: "The simple truth is without aircraft carriers and without the Americans, we would not have any hope of doing the same again today."
These comments are designed to strike some fear into the public's mind but they do raise the important issue of how severe the defence cuts need to be. With Britain investing heavily in vaccinations for the poorest people in Africa but cutting in other areas have the government got the balancing act right? A Ministry of Defence spokesman has rejected the claims out of hand but Admiral Woodward has brought defence cuts to the top of the agenda.