14/09/2023 strategic-culture.su  5 min 🇬🇧 #233798

The real story about Ben Wallace and the Chinooks

Martin Jay

NATO graft is at the heart of the recent scandal in the UK about a petulant defence minister who wasn't 'rewarded' for his efforts

Never trust a politician or journalist who doesn't have enemies. If they don't have enemies it either means they're too stupid and inept, or, alternatively that they are so corrupt that they have everyone else in their pocket - politically, financially or just metaphorically.

The story of Ben Wallace being so bitter and petulant about Joe Biden blocking him from becoming NATO boss is an interesting one. If it is true. The Sunday Times claims that the former defence secretary "threatened" to pull Britain out of a 2bn pound deal with the U.S. to supply the MOD with 14 Chinook helicopters - live saving mega choppers that our army used in Afghanistan to not only drop our special forces deep into enemy territory but also to send our sounded soldiers back to camp in record time for doctors to save their lives.

The first rule of journalism though, which is that there are two sides to every story, should be applied with a six inch brush.

The implication in the article was that Wallace was trying to scrap the Chinook deal after not getting his dream job as NATO secretary general, although some Whitehall officials have dismissed it as a good yarn.

They insist he had tried to scrap the contract two years ago, with the bill now running £500million than the original deal.

According to the Daily Mail, the ex-Cabinet minister - who stood down this week and was replaced by Grant Shapps - argued that the UK already has the biggest 'heavy lift' fleet in Europe with sixty in operation.

The source said it would be 'bonkers' to stick with the 'overpriced' deal rather than buying better value aircraft such as the Airbus A400M Atlas transporter.

According to the Sunday Times, the U.S. ambassador to the UK, Jane Hartley, wrote to No 10 on August 1 to get reassurances on the future of the agreement - which were provided.

But the real story is not whether Wallace is a petulant fool or whether Wallace was in fact correct to count the costs of such deals in difficult times - but more about the murky world of arms procurement and NATO appointments and the UK's role in the Ukraine war.

My own sources in Downing Street have told me that the Sunday Times story was untrue and that it was placed out of spite from Wallace's enemies - of which he must have a few close to Rishi Sukak. Resigning from his post and leaving the front benches is, after all, an act of no confidence in Sunak's leadership.

However, there's no smoke without fire.

Was Wallace given indications from Biden's people that if he tugged his forelock to Biden's direction on Ukraine that he would be in the running for the top job? He said two years ago that he wanted to pull out of the Chinook deal - but then retracted that - so, this, at least, raises some questions over what his motives might have been at the time.

And now that he is free from the shackles of government, are we going to see books and tv documentaries from him lifting the lid on what we don't know about Ukraine. Believe me, there's a lot we don't know about the Ukraine war.

Wallace might well be bitter about losing the top job of NATO boss, as Biden couldn't, we are lead to believe, give it to a former British soldier who had served in Northern Ireland. But is there a more darker reason behind Biden extending the current term of Jens Stoltenberg? My belief is that he wants Ursula Von Der Leyen - the hapless European Commission President - for the top job as her term in Brussels ends exactly at the same time next summer. And readers should be aware that huge, corrupt institutions [and how really runs them] often reward those who have not only been servile to them, but also need immunity from prosecution. Ursula Von Der Leyen managed to dodge an EU investigation, plus MEPs' demands for transparency into her own involvement of a Pfizer multi billion dollar vaccine deal which she micro managed and signed off, while her husband's own company is owned by the U.S. pharma giant. She is currently being sued by the New York Times over text messages which she claims she deleted and when she leaves office in July of 2024, she may well face new charges.

The EU and countries like France and Belgium, for example, have a tawdry but long track record of protecting their own elites by giving officials other top jobs to keep them from being prosecuted. When I was in Brussels as a freelance correspondent for the Sunday Times, I exposed a Belgian former minister for being linked to a massive paedophile ring - who was transferred quickly to a top job in the European Courts in Luxembourg.

When Wallace discovered that the term of Stoltenberg was going to be extended for a further year and that he was out of the running, he seemed to react quite badly at the Vilnius NATO summit earlier in the summer by speaking out against President Zelensky being 'ungrateful' and then a few days later officially announcing his resignation. It was as though something snapped. It was as though he realised that he had been tricked, either by the Biden administration or by Rishi Sunak who may have made him promises; or even both. The move to resign completely from the front benches is a smack in the face of Sunak, for sure. And so perhaps we could expect some sort of spiteful act back from those who probably had the daggers ready for Wallace anyway. But the fact that Wallace was only supporting Sunak because of his own personal ambitions is a poor reflection on the conservative party and British politics no matter which way you look at it. This is a party which will be remembered by future generations for its corruption and its cover ups. The murky affair of Wallace resonates both at home and internationally as just one more example of graft and personal fulfilment, many no doubt will argue. But we haven't heard the last from Ben Wallace I am sure.