Gwythian Prins is quite right to express his concerns about the impact of Net Zero on the U.K.’s national security in a piece published the other day on this site, ‘Net Zero Threatens National Security‘.
I’ve been racking my brains to think of a time in human history when a kingdom or state consciously chose to retro-equip its army with inferior technology or compromise its capability by seeking to introduce unreliable equipment. And I can’t think of one – what can I think of is all those who lost because they didn’t keep up.
Back in the middle of the 16th century BC, northern ancient Egypt was controlled by a group called the ‘shepherd kings’ or Hyksos. They’d invaded from what is now Syria and pushed back native rulers, establishing their own regime. They’d achieved this with one very simple tactic: they had chariots.
Now, the Hyksos chariots were a bit cumbersome and seem to have had four warriors in them. But when the Egyptians didn’t have chariots, the Hyksos behemoths were cutting edge.
When an Egyptian leader called Ahmose materialised on a cometh-the-moment, cometh-the-man basis, he didn’t try to push the Hyksos out with slower and more cumbersome chariots. Indeed, the Egyptians didn’t have any chariots.
So they started making chariots. And what’s more, they made their chariots smaller, lighter and faster so that they could fight a Bronze Age Blitzkrieg war. Ahmose led these vehicles into battle and, just like Heinz Guderian’s Blitzkrieg war of 1940, he pulverised the Hyksos whose chariots had become obsolete in an instant.
The blistering Ahmose established the 18th Dynasty, reunified Egypt and ushered in its greatest line of kings who presided over an unprecedented era of wealth, power, and – most important of all – national security.
One of the last of the kings of that dynasty was Tutankhamun in the late 14th century BC, whose tomb was famously found almost intact in 1922. On his body was an iron dagger, made of iron from a meteorite. At this time this spectacularly hard metal, which cut through bronze like a wire through cheese, was beyond the wit of man to smelt. Only a king could own one.
Within a few centuries the secret of the high temperatures needed had been discovered and humanity, for good or ill, entered the Iron Age. No-one went to war with a Bronze Age sword after that unless he wanted to lose or be conquered. The Roman Empire was an Iron Age state.