A vital window in which to pray and prepare?

Mar 15, 2024 | Events to pray for, Flashpoints, PRAY

“Not praying is tragic. But praying and not preparing is catastrophic.”

These are the words of Lazarus Yeghnazar, whom I have known for years. He was actually speaking about the need to translate the Bible into the many ethnic languages that are spoken in Iran, where very few have as yet come to Christ for lack of the Scriptures. His words speak on many levels, however, and I hope he won’t mind me ‘adopting and adapting’ them to warn of something seemingly more mundane, but ultimately perhaps still very important. I am speaking of Britain’s lack of military preparations, which at least some of you may feel called to pray about.

In typical Daily Mail big headline language the tabloid shrieked, ‘Don’t leave our country defenceless!’ It must be admitted that there is considerable substance behind the bellow, for British defence chiefs have repeatedly been warning a) that we have let things slip far too far since the end of the Cold War, and that b) we should realise that we are living in a ‘pre-war’ time. In the recent Budget allocations, however, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt merely promised to increase defence spending only ‘when economic conditions permit it.’ Is that not another way of saying ‘never?’

This is not the first time that a Chancellor has chosen to concentrate spending on home affairs rather than defence. Back in the 1930s, the Liberal government chose to invest in salaries and pensions in the aftermath of the crippling years of depression, and it is easy to understand why. But had the Lord not raised up such a persistent bulldog in Winston Churchill, Britain would have been easily overwhelmed by the German military machine. The question is, are we in danger of repeating the mistakes of the 1930s?

With military expenditure ramping up in both Russia and China, and aggressive posturing to match, Britian could very easily find itself dangerously exposed and isolated, ‘Economic conditions’ may never feel right for rearmament, but on at least two fronts we can no longer count on relying on our traditional allies. I am speaking here not only of the obvious danger that Donald Trump has threatened to pull out of NATO, but also of something much closer to home.

Some of you may have lived enough moons to remember how, during the Falklands War, Belgium signally failed to supply Britain with the ammunition we were counting on in order to respond to the Argentinian forces who had invaded and foisted themselves on a population that overwhelmingly wanted to remain united with Britian. Fortunately, we had far more capacity in our Royal Ordnance factories in those days than we do now, and were able to ramp up emergency production. They went into overdrive, even as alternative sources for ammunition were being sourced and scoured for from around the world. As it turned out, the war was over long before this surge capacity kicked in, with the result that most of the overseas procurements were sent back again.

France offered a good deal of practical support, but French technicians also went out to Argentina in order to service the Exocet missiles that were used so such devastating effect against our ships. Had they not done so, Britain would not have lost the ships and lives that we did, as this disquieting report from the BBC explains. But Israel under Begin hated the British, and went out of its way to aid Argentina with military equipment, while America refused us access to the vital base at Ascension Island – a base which was basically ours anyway!

Similarly, military aid for Britian from Europe failed to materialise during the Gulf War, despite our being a full member of the European Union at that time, and part of a massive international coalition against Saddam Hussein. Reflecting on this six years ago, I wrote:

As we will be seeing in this overview of current events, we must recognise the changes that are called for. I remember, not long ago, hearing an MOD spokesman defending the lack of capital investment in the armed forces and the huge paring down of the Royal Navy on the grounds that we did not need to invest because we do not have any credible enemies. Really? Even in the face of the ruthlessness of Isis, and the rise of Russia, China, North Korea and Iran, +all of whom+ are entirely aware of exactly who their rivals and adversaries are?

Deterrence is vital. Look at the Old Testament nations that were deterred from attacking Israel by stories of her awesome God! “When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.” (Josh. 2:11 cf 2 Chron. 20:29)

Where rival nations spot excessive weakness, however, trouble is rarely far behind. A past master at exploiting western weakness, Putin has benefited greatly by the sheer amount of time and energy the Brexit issue is consuming in the West.

Senior military leaders have been queueing up for the last three years to warn that we are in no position to defend ourselves against an attack from Russia. From across the Channel, we even heard of a key German battalion assigned to NATO’s rapid response force being obliged to use broomstick handles instead of guns on a joint exercise due to chronic shortages of equipment – a report more fitting for a Dad’s Army script than a credible military power. [Mercifully, Germany has belatedly woken up in that respect.]

The lack of international cooperation amongst close coalition allies is a warning to pray for effective unity in the face of today’s supercharged conflict zones – especially since there is worrying talk now of Britain being excluded from the EU defence and cyber information loop. No wonder, then, that so many believe Jeremy Hunt has missed an important window of opportunity by failing to increase the allocation of funds for the Ministry of Defence in his recent budget.

Now there is Russia to be concerned about. Although it almost certainly does not have the wherewithal to invade any major European countries at the present time, Russia has put its country on a war footing to promote its armed forces and, with Putin not needing to worry about ‘votes’ to keep him in office, anything could happen. Currently, it would struggle even to take Moldova, since that would mean passing through Ukraine, but it is a nation that has some very serious inventors, who are displaying considerable innovation at every level, including in space, underwater, missile and nuclear technology. In addition, Soviet-era style bombs have been upgraded with inexpensive guidance systems, so that they can be aimed with precision. There are also unconfirmed reports that Russia has been using chemical weapons against the Ukrainian front line. The Russian military machine remains a dangerous outfit, even though it has been hit so hard by NATO-backed Ukrainian forces.

To fail to prepare now for what might come in the future is to run a considerable risk. Britain must work as closely as it possibly can with its European allies, especially if Trump is re-elected in America. He would, however, need a supermajority in the Senate or the backing of Congress to be able to withdraw America from NATO, but with influence increasing, that would quite possibly be forthcoming. [https://edition.cnn.com/2024/02/13/politics/congress-trump-nato-what-matters/index.html]#
Defeat at the polls for Trump would help enormously in this respect, but it is by no means the only factor involved. A failure to prepare on Britain’s part would be most unwise – potentially ‘catastrophic’ even, to quote Lazarus’s words. These are most certainly matters to pray into.

Photo by Jacob Bentzinger on Unsplash

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