February 16, 2014 | The Future of Drones

What will be unpleasantly interesting is when the private military companies begin offering ‘drone’ activities for ready money.

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February 9, 2014 | Letter to the Editor of the Times


Charles Clover (Sunday Times 21-4-13) recounts Mrs Thatcher’s acceptance of environmental problems, but she was not the first Prime Minister to take steps to address them.

The Royal Commission on Environments Pollution, which she retained while abolishing the Royal Commissions, had been set up under Harold Wilson’s government (It was abolished by this government).

And it was Harold Wilson who pulled several Departments together to establish the Department of the Environment (with Tony Crosland as intended Secretary of State).

The Department of Climatic Research at the University of East Anglia was also set up at this time, with strong official approval.

My late husband, Wayland Kennet, a junior minster in the House of Lords, was actively engaged in all these developments – as he was later in the establishment of POST – the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology.

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March 22, 2013 | Pre-emptive Mourning

Here’s a video of me speaking
that my daughter Zoe shot using an IPad
Pre-emptive Mourning

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December 17, 2012 | 'count on America to ride to the rescue'

Thomas L Freedman (‘My President is busy…’ International Herald Tribune Monday 12th November) advises Israelis not to ‘count on America to ride to the rescue.’

Well, America may need to.

The British Sunday Times (Sunday 11th November) reported Netanyahu saying he was prepared to strike Iran without the support of America. The Israeli opposition had a poster showing a red mushroom cloud with the slogan ‘Bibi will endanger Israel’, and a former chief of staff said ‘the only way to finish off Iran’s nuclear Programme is by using the nuclear option. I hope Bibi is not mad enough to think about it.’
But he may be.
So, America, here is something for your busy President to think about. Might you not have to rescue Israel from its own leadership?

Elizabeth Young

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November 1, 2012 | Letter re-Israel/Iran to International Herald Tribune - 2/3/12

Letter to International Herald Tribune – 2nd March 2012 – not published

Amos Yadlin’s article “Israel’s Deadline For Striking Iran” is deeply alarming. Can this combination of bellicosity and wishful thinking really represent the thinking of the Netanyahu government?

Iran’s nuclear programme is the consequence of Israel’s nuclear weapon programme, just as the UK and the US’s programme resulted from fear of a German programme, the Soviet Union’s was a reaction to the United States’, China’s to the Soviet Union’s, India’s to China’s, Pakistan’s to India’s. Israel’s has been freestanding and undeclared but only implausibly. Failing Iran’s programme it will be Saudi Arabia’s or Egypt’s. (Note that Iraq could be attacked because it did not have nuclear weapons and Libya because it had de-nuclearised).

Nuclear deterrence is useful – as Israel has found. Threats against nuclear deterrence are dangerous and provocative. Neither Israel’s attacks on Osirak nor the Syrian plant provide any reliable experience.

Israel should surely be thinking of persuading Iran to accept a nuclear-free Middle East rather than promoting itself (unacceptably) as the Middle East’s sole nuclear weapon state; let alone trying to pull its great financial and political benefactor, the United States, into yet another un-winnable war.


Elizabeth Young

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June 17, 2012 | Ehud Barak on Cyber

The news of ‘Flame’ and ‘Olympic Games’ was already out when the Missile Defence Conference was happening at RUSI, where one US official admitted to being ‘worried’ about the vulnerability of missile defences to cyber attack. At the June 6-7th Tel Aviv cyber conference, Ehud Barak was quite firm that cyber is a fifth war fighting domain (along with land, sea, air and space). Here, he was saying, are capabilities to destroy even the most sophisticated weapons systems.
So why is anybody still buying ridiculously expensive systems that will be easily destroyed ‘from a small room’?

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June 5, 2012 | Missile Defence and Cyber

On the first day of the recent RUSI Missile Defence Conference, there was no answer to questions about Missile Defence Systems’ vulnerability to Cyberattack. (The Conference is sponsorded by both the US Missile Defense Agency and by the Industry.) One of the official US Speakers did admit that they worried about Cyber…

Now, after what we have learnt about both FLAME and OLYMPIC GAMES, my guess is that no Missile Defence Systems could certainly ever be declared “CyberInvulnerable”, either today or in any long run. Both of them are probably US-Israeli, and fairly long-standing; other governments – the Russian, the Chinese, even the UK’s – are known not to be sitting on their hands.

In which case the expenditure, as currently proposed, of more than a billion dollars by European NATO, mainly on US equipment, would be quite irresponsible.

The fact that Congress has made US spending on MD equipment in Europe dependent on us Europeans paying up front seems to give us a perhaps convenient veto over the whole thing.

A lot of the affirmations about MD we heard at the Conference, I would not for a moment accept: for instance, one American official claimed that with “5 minutes” notice of an ICBM having been launched, there is ample time for appropriate NATO “command and control” over the launching of the anti-missile…[Make a mistake and World War III begins...]

Nor would I agree that all NATO nations are irrevocably committed to the US-led Missile Defence System. The context has completely changed: now the US system is going Global and is no longer even reputed to be protecting us just against Iran; now we know about the scale of US-Israeli Cyber-colaboration; now we know about the new US Drone strategy, minimally announced in January by the President, and elaborated in early June by the NYT and the IHT.

To this latter strategy, we in NATO surely cannot be automatically considered committed – I trust. It is something quite novel, specifically involving the use, by the CIA, of drones for “targeted attacks” – i.e. for the assassination of individuals more or less identified as enemies of the United States. [Note the expanding, Congressionally unexamined, role of the CIA in the new Strategy. Note too that Israel has long engaged in "targetted attacks" and that Israeli Establishment figures have been forecasting a role for Israel as Cyber-Superpower: perhaps it already is?]

Where, in all this, does the UK figure? In the 1980s, Yasuhiro Nakasone, then Prime Minister of Japan described Britain and Japan as the United States’ “unsinkable Aircraft Carriers, one in the Atlantic, the other in the Pacific”. [Recalled by Bill Emmott, in Survival, June-July 2012, p.235.] Japan, conclusively defeated by the US in 1945, and today welcoming the US’ various anti-China positions (including Missile Defences), may accept this role. But it is not one the United Kingdom should today be accepting.

Note too the President’s rather new cosyings-up to David Cameron, first after Cameron had “snubbed Europe” (Presidential Aircraft + a football match and burgers in the Middle West), then manly exercises together in the Gym at (?) Camp David just the other day. “Europe with the UK inside” would certainly be quite a global competitor to the US (Cf. US GDP to Europe+UK GDP) so it has to be more convenient for the US to have us outside, and subservient. (It even looks as if our Security Services, on behalf of their American buddies, are wanting today’s Justice and Security Bill to allow them greater jurisdiction over the withholding of information from the Courts.)


Now that the massive US-Israeli Cyberwarfare against Iran has been outed, together with the expansion of “drone” warfare, anything “warfare” may collapse.

The Old World of Warfare with Heavy Weapons and lots of Soldiers is gone for keeps.

What the good old “Military Industrial Complex” will make of this New World remains to be seen…

Missile Defences had been looking really promising, and with Defence expenditures the only Government spending the US Republicans accept as legitimate, what, in Keynesian stimulus terms, remains open to the Administration? And what will the rest of the world do with American weapons suspected of being cyber-infected, either by the US or by Israel? Who will want to buy them?

Missile Defence systems promised to be a great boondoggle – one seriously dependent on making Russia and China appear positively inimical and dangerous. This has been being done partly by insulting their leaderships, partly by winding them up – Missile Defence non-negotiations in the Start context – and partly by winding up their neighbours – in the South China Sea, for instance.

And of course Iran has been very convenient…

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April 20, 2012 | Published letter to DefenseNews 7-3-12

Letter to DefenseNews 7th March 2012 – Published

I’m sorry my letter – “Counterview of MD” [February 6th] offended Stanley Orman [“No Pre-emption” February 20th]. He does seems to agree with much of it – particularly the implausibility of even the US being able to avoid retaliation from a nuclear superpower by way of mounting even a massive missile defence system.
We agree too on the impossibility of at all much being affordable.
We even can refer back – he to 29 years ago; me 33 years, specifically to the excellently comprehensive 1969 “Signet Broadside”, “ABM – An Evaluation of the Decision to Deploy an Antiballistic Missile System” introduced by Edward M Kennedy. This addressed most of the issues still before us.

Mr Orman ignores two facts:
1) that the US is not the only actor in the field (though probably that best placed)
2) that“pre-emption” was legitimated as part of US military doctrine – though hardly defined – by President G.W.Bush.

The contribution a missile defence system can make to an offensive strategy is when you are a quite substantial nuclear weapon power, and your opponent has no more than a very minimum “minimum deterrent” capability – if that. “Pre-emptively” (not necessarily with nuclear weapons) you can attack this force, thus destroying, or at least limiting, his “retaliation”. This seems to be the situation in which senior Israeli defence officials see the multi-layer Israeli MD system now being procured (largely at US expense) as giving “support” to Israel’s “strategic” forces.

The Russians certainly see United States missile defences through a distorting lens – the “worst case analysis” we all require our defence officials to conduct. Presumably they have been watching the Republican would-be Presidential candidates whose enthusiasm for Missile Defences appears unlimited. (Defence expenditure is the only government expenditure not deemed “socialistic”.)

And after all, US Missile Defence Commands are beginning to display a certain global character with three already “activated” – the European, the Northern, and the Pacific. Add to them, the US Navy’s ever increasing MD responsibilities, and the whole system fits neatly with Mr Panetta’s new SMART strategy.

What “worst case analysis” NATO has carried out showing Iranian ambitions to nuke Western Europe remains unpublished. It would seem most likely that Iran would want no more than an invulnerable minimum deterrent force, to prevent the destructive attacks visited on non-nuclear Iraq and de-nuclearised Libya. How will NATO proceed this summer remains to be seen.

Where Mr Orman certainly disagrees with me is this: I am one of those who believes intelligent détente with Russia – and China – and Iran – is better way to “ensur[e] Western security” than embarking on new arms races, putting our trust in expensive new weapon systems that will in any case be unforeseeably vulnerable to cyber attack.

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April 20, 2012 | Published letter to RUSI Journal – Feb/March 2012

Letter to RUSI Journal – Feb/March 2012 – Published

MADAM, in his recent RUSI Journal article (‘The Strategy of Missile Defence’, June/July 2011) Jeremy Stocker failed to consider some aspects of missile defence:

First, initial costs are high, and will mount up as those against whom the defensive systems are being erected increase and diversify their weapons.

Two: missile defences contribute to arms races. US MD projects in East Asia have already prompted an increase in Chinese mobile ICBMs and warships – China can perhaps afford new arms races, the United States perhaps not.

Three: Russian objections continue unabated: in November Foreign Minister Lavrov stated that

If our partners … continue to ignore our position, we will have to ensure our own security interests by other methods. Concrete and, I will stress, forced retaliatory military-technical measures may be needed.

And in February, the Deputy Defence Minister pointed out that, as they saw it,

The European segment of the US missile defence means wanting to change the strategic balance of forces in Europe.

Russian responses already announced include placing more tactical nuclear weapons along NATO’s eastern borders and the continued development of their Bulova missile, now successfully tested: New START is at risk

Fourth, the role of missile defence is to nullify minimum deterrence: ‘pre-emptively’ you attack your opponents’ retaliatory forces, to reduce them to something your missile defences can cope with.

The Chinese have long been pointing this out. Today the most conspicuous MD deployments are in Israel, where systems including ‘Iron Dome’ and ‘David’s Sling’ (all largely US-financed) are reputedly operational. Because the Israelis consider Iranian nuclear activities unacceptable, today they appear tempted ‘pre-emptively’ to use ‘block busters’ – even a small nuclear weapon perhaps? – on Iranian nuclear facilities, before actual ‘weaponisation’, relying on their defence systems for protection against Iranian non-nuclear retaliation.

Fifth, cyber-vulnerability: cyber-warfare is already confusing traditional assumptions. How could a system necessarily computerised, substantially automated, be guaranteed clean, say, of Trojans?

Sixth, there is no possibility of ‘command and control’ of European Missile Defences being NATO-communal: response has to be instant, therefore automatic.

Seventh: the political implications of Euro-MD being part of a US global system remain unexamined. These systems are US devised, funded and controlled: three US MD Command Centres are currently activated – the European in Germany, the Northern in South Carolina, the Pacific in Hawaii: all to be commanded with American interests to the fore. Republican Congress and Presidential candidates see no reason to respect European views or to limit Missile Defences.

Has NATO actually agreed to participate in America’s global missile defence system? If so, insufficient account has been taken of the costs incurred when we have over-obligingly followed US military activities in recent times – Iraq, Afghanistan…

Last – and quite new: we need to see how missile defences – and indeed nuclear deterrence – may fit with Mr Panetta’s new strategy, with its emphasis on CIA-type capabilities and performance. This was not the context of NATO’s Missile Defence decision at Lisbon.

Contributing funds to missile defence would be spending money we do not have, on something neither we nor the wider world need, which could not guarantee 100 per cent security where only 100 per cent is acceptable (even if the purpose itself were considered acceptable – which it is not.

Any suggestion, any implied belief, that nuclear war may safely be engaged upon, because our missile defences will protect us, is hugely irresponsible.

Elizabeth Young
Lady Kennet

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March 9, 2012 | Letter to Sunday Times – 22/12/11

Letter to Sunday Times – 22nd December 2011 – not published

Letters – 18-12-11 – “Eurozone a condemned building waiting to fall”

1. Look at the MAP: Britain is where it has been for some hundreds of thousands of years. Shared seas, shared winds…Not on any “road out”

2. Look at the HISTORY: part of the Roman Empire, part of Christendom, part of Europe-based kingdoms, participants in innumerable European wars.

3. Look at the Kings and Queens – yes English, whatever that is, but French, Welsh, Scottish, Dutch, German…

4. Look at the TRADE.

5. Look at the PEOPLE: Celts, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, Normans, French Huguenots, European Jews…

6. Even the LANGUAGE: everyone’s first or second language is English.

There is no road OUT of where we, immutably, are, whatever happens to the Eurozone.


Elizabeth Kennet

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