For may years, the West has been unconsciously relying on the continued subservience (or at least disinterest) of other nations, which have been the source of vital materials to our potential war economies.
Now it seems that as China has embargoed the export to Japan of a rare but valuable mineral used in industrial processes and the US Senate discussing the reopening and expansion of its own rare minerals industry, we should reflect upon the great error made in our strategic planning; namely, the assumption of the passive nature of the rest of the world in relation to our agendas. This is not limited to this issue but more broadly symptomatic of our collective attitude to the world outside of the West, whether in global warming or in trade or in poverty. The active-passive paradigm appears repeatedly and imprisons our will within a distorted dialectic.
In Britain, we should be investing in our own industries again to rebuild manufacturing, dig out our coal and construct and expand our defence industry. We should indeed be more self-reliant but not through the lens proffered by the media class and the Green/Lib Dem political groupings. Independence as far as advantageous and practical should be our aim. In this, I hold that BAE should be broken up as a monopoly on British defence interests. In the USA, there are still a large number of companies working in the defence field but too few in Britain. We need competition to encourage efficiency but also dynamism.
McDonald Douglas developed the F-15 in four years and the F-22 (from requirement, to prototype and in-service delivery) in 22 years. Is this a decline in efficiency? No because the F-15 brought to a head technologies already developing and incorporated lessons from Rolling Thunder, while the F-22 was a truly revolutionary development able to defeat (at least) odds of more than 100-1 against any other fighter.
The British aircraft industry has had to develop in partnership with fickle European partners, each example of success though highly capable aircraft remaining a generation behind in avionics. The Panavia Tornado and the Eurofighter Typhoon 2 were and are excellent aircraft but are not comparable as first-rate aircraft to the contemporary US equivalents.
So we need a different understanding of ourselves and a re-evalution of our needs.