From Rule Britannia To Decrepit Old Bulldog

Britain’s flagship aircraft carrier breaks down before it has even fired a shot. If ever there was a fitting image for its modern true state, this is it.

British rulers think they can start a war against Russia. They can’t even contain Yemeni fighters in the Red Sea. And its top-notch aircraft carrier just got towed away before it even saw action.

Delusions about “Great Britain” and its military power are laughable. Britain is nothing but a rogue state whose arrogance and delusions are – like its American overseer – a danger to global security and peace.

Britain’s Royal Navy flagship, the recently built aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth, has embarrassingly been forced to pull out of a major NATO war drill due to a mechanical breakdown.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is supposed to be the showpiece of Britain’s military firepower. Built for $5 billion, the warship is spanking new. It is billed as a “super-carrier”. The vessel is not just a flagship for the Royal Navy. It is a flagship for Britain. A Southern View of the... Ashe, Samuel A'Court Best Price: $10.11 Buy New $8.99 (as of 12:17 UTC - Details)

At the last minute, the ship had to cancel participation in the huge NATO war exercises currently underway across Europe. One of its propellers was discovered to be faulty. Instead of leading Britain’s contingency in the biggest NATO mobilization since the Cold War, the aircraft carrier is now laid up in the repair yard.

The weeks-long NATO war maneuvers known as Steadfast Defender are intended as a demonstration of robust military power to Russia. Coming at a time of heightened tensions over the war in Ukraine, the NATO exercises across Northern Europe and Scandinavia are viewed by Moscow as a veiled threat. The rehearsal for a war involves 90,000 troops from over 30 nations, an armada of warships, and nuclear-capable fighter jets flown from the U.S.

The failure of HMS Queen Elizabeth to muster at the crucial moment only adds to Britain’s embarrassment. It underscores criticism voiced even by British military experts that the country is not fit to wage a modern war contrary to the bellicose posturing of British politicians and military commanders. Certainly not against Russia whose advanced firepower has been proven against NATO-backed Ukraine.

Moreover, several independent military analysts contend that the entire U.S.-led NATO alliance is no match for Russia, nor China for that matter. After all, the U.S. and NATO allies were forced to retreat from Afghanistan in 2021 unable to defeat Taliban insurgents despite 2o years of occupying that country.

During the past two years of conflict in Ukraine, Russian forces have been able to destroy a vast array of weapons supplied by NATO. Admittedly, the Ukrainian regime has occasionally been able to inflict grievous damage on Russia. The killing of 28 people at the weekend in the city of Lysychansk with U.S.-supplied HIMARS rockets is a case in point. The shooting down of a Russian transport plane with U.S. Patriot missiles on January 24 with the loss of 74 onboard is another example.

Nevertheless, the NATO arsenal at the disposal of Ukraine has not succeeded in enabling any strategic gain against Russia. As former Pentagon advisor Doug Macgregor and others have noted, Russia has all but won the proxy war. The implication is that the U.S. and its NATO allies are outgunned by superior Russian military technology.

Therefore, the deployment of NATO’s forces in the current war maneuvers in Europe is something of a toothless tiger. That said, however, the provocation to Moscow is still a dangerous escalation in hostilities considering the potential for miscalculation between nuclear powers.

The saga of Britain’s super aircraft carrier is an apt metaphor. Britain and its NATO allies are more and more a projection of image without substance. It’s more psychological operation to intimidate rather than actual effective offensive capability.

Soon after completing sea trials only a couple of years ago, HMS Queen Elizabeth’s first assignment was a world tour to show off “Global Britain”. For post-Brexit Britain with the bumptious Boris Johnson in Downing Street, the spectacle was meant to advertise “Rule Britannia” in the modern age. The nostalgia for former imperial glory is cringe-making but it is essential to the British myth of “greatness”.

Fast forward to the present, Britain’s navy is deployed in the Red Sea helping the Americans bomb Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab region. The Anglo-American duo are supposedly defending international shipping from Yemeni forces who have interdicted the vital sea route in an act of solidarity with Palestinians being slaughtered in Gaza by U.S.-armed Israel.

After the last salvo of missiles on Yemen at the weekend, British Foreign Minister David Cameron warned the Yemeni armed forces “to stop” targeting merchant ships trying to transit the Red Sea. Who does “Lord Cameron” think he is? The Yemenis have told the Eton-educated ponce to shove his edicts. They say their blockade on shipping will continue until Israel’s genocidal offensive in Gaza is ended. The United States and Britain could stop the Gaza horror immediately if they ceased supporting Israel with weapons and political cover.

The Yemeni Ansar Allah government is allied with other “resistance” groups in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon as well as Iran. They all say it is the United States and Britain who are destabilizing the region with their “reckless aggression” and support for the Israeli genocide in Gaza.

The Biden administration is currently bombing three countries: Iraq, Syria and Yemen, and threatening to attack Iran – all in support of Israel’s criminal annihilation of Palestinians.

Britain has deployed a guided-missile destroyer HMS Diamond to hit Yemen along with American warships. Turns out though that the British destroyer does not have the missiles capable of striking Yemeni land from the sea. The Royal Air Force is having to fly Tornado fighter jets to Cyprus in the East Mediterranean from where they take off to drop bombs on Yemen. That’s roughly a 10,000-kilometer round trip. This “show of might” is farcical if not pathetic.

For such a supposedly “vital” defense of international shipping, one would think that Britain should have dispatched its flagship aircraft carrier to partner with the American counterpart USS Dwight Eisenhower in the Red Sea.

Just as well London did not. With a broken propeller, the HMS Queen Elizabeth would have been a sitting duck for the Yemenis. Rather than the Union Jack, the Brits would have quite possibly been running up the white flag.

Several respected military analysts say the American and British forces in the Red Sea have badly underestimated the Yemeni operation. Former CIA analyst Larry Johnson and former U.S. Marine intelligence officer Scott Ritter have both said that the Yemenis possess drones and ballistic missiles capable of sinking the U.S. and British ships. With mounting attacks by the Yemenis, it’s only a matter of time before one of the American or British warships is sunk. Base Nation: How U.S. ... David Vine Best Price: $2.92 Buy New $16.95 (as of 07:10 UTC - Details)

The multiple barrages that the U.S. and Britain have carried out on Yemen since January 12 – at least 16 rounds of air strikes on dozens of locations – have not deterred the Yemenis in the slightest. Scott Ritter says that is because the Yemeni weapons are buried deep underground or are highly mobile systems that can evade strikes.

To say the least, Britain has a serious image and reality problem. It proclaims to be defending freedom of navigation and international law. The reality is Britain is once again acting as America’s attack dog – as it always does. This time, the Brits are more like an old bulldog whose legs are gone.

Arrogant, delusional British politicians haven’t realized yet that “Great Britain” is nothing but a broken-down has-been empire whose heyday was over a century ago. Its economy and society are decrepit and falling apart from a failed capitalist system that generates rampant inequality and poverty.

There was a distant time when Britain was a formidable naval power.

Now its flagship aircraft carrier breaks down before it has even fired a shot. If ever there was a fitting image for modern Britain’s true state, this is it.

The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.