What can best be called clear water has started showing, happily, between the Blair regime's incommensurate ambitions in respect of new weaponry and its chances of being able to realise them. The two new aircraft-carriers that our visionary Government is hankering after in pursuance of the world role it feels obliged to play, won't by all accounts be as big as it had hoped, because unless this tabled hardware is downsized there won't be the money on hand to pay for it. Thousands of tons will have to be knocked off the projected displacement of warships which, the idea was, would have been approaching the gross dimensions of those American carriers, clips from the life on board which, both indoors and out, we've grown all too used to seeing on our screens every time they put to sea to engage in some offshore bombardment of the landmass. As floating icons of high-tech belligerence they are without compare, which is no doubt why, five months ago, we were treated to the unlovely sight of a triumphalist George Bush touching down on one such, flak-jacketed it goes without saying, perhaps for fear of an episode of friendly fire during his approach.
LRB 6 November 2003 | PDF Download