Brexit and Military Losses of the Past Show Up British Exceptionalism | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED


Brexit and Military Losses of the Past Show Up British Exceptionalism

The anniversary of the sinking of two great capital ships off Singapore, one of the great British defeats of the Second World War, falls unnoticed between the proposed May-Corbyn debate on 9 December and the House of Commons vote on the Brexit agreement with the EU on 11 December. This is a pity because the miscalculations that go into producing first rate disasters, both political and military, have a lot in common.

Seventy-seven years ago, on 10 December 1941, Japanese planes found and sank the battleship Prince of Wales and the battlecruiser Repulsewhen they unwisely sailed north of Singapore without air cover in a bid to attack the Japanese forces invading Malaya. Describing his reaction to the sinking, in which 840 sailors died, Churchill said: “In all the war, I never received a more direct shock.”

The ingredients that led to this naval calamity were similar in general terms to those producing most disasters: inadequate resources for the task in hand, over-optimistic assessment of the risks, and self-destructive ignorance of the obstacles to be faced. The two ships went to their doom because the British had no more forces to send and underestimated the threat of Japanese air attack.

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