A Roman Catholic NGO has described the government's Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) as a “lost opportunity” that failed to re-orient security priorities.
Pax Christi described the review, published last week, as a huge disappointment to those who had hoped for a radical change in government understanding of defence and security.
The organisation insisted that, “aircraft carriers, Tornadoes and Trident nuclear weapons have not and will not bring the real security that Britain and the wider world community seek”.
Pax Christi said that ministers had missed the chance to re-evaluate security policies and redirect financial, research and personnel resources to the “real security needs of the day”.
They insisted that the real security issues for both Britain and the world include economic injustice and disparity, the impact of climate change and environmental destruction on both planet and people, and the failure to really understand the fears and perceptions of others - so creating enemies rather than friends.
The day before the Ministry of Defence published the SDSR, the government published a cross-department National Security Strategy that highlighted issues outside of traditional understandings of military threats. These included hostile attacks on cyberspace, large-scale natural disasters or hazards and international terrorism.
“Look at the billions that we are seeing wasted as projects such as the Nimrod are dumped,” said Pax Christi's Pat Gaffney, “Look at how we are compromising our aid programmes by taking resources away from real conflict and poverty prevention to pick up the pieces of the havoc we have created in Afghanistan”.
Turning to economic issues, she said, “Look at how some parts of the country, which have been allowed to become defence-dependent in terms of employment, will now suffer when the plug is pulled on projects such as the military academy in the Vale of Glamorgan”.
Gaffney added, “In legal terms these actions might be labelled culpable negligence. They show a marked lack of vision and real responsibility towards the common good of humanity.”
A discussion and advocacy document was published by Pax Christi, along with sister agency the Fellowship of Reconciliation, ahead of the SDSR. Entitled Security for the Common Good, it aimed to provide a Christian challenge to military security strategies.