One of Britain’s most senior military strategists has warned that western
civilisation faces a threat on a par with the barbarian invasions that
destroyed the Roman empire.
In an apocalyptic vision of security dangers, Rear Admiral Chris Parry said
future migrations would be comparable to the Goths and Vandals while north
African “barbary” pirates could be attacking yachts and beaches in the
Mediterranean within 10 years.
Europe, including Britain, could be undermined by large immigrant groups
with little allegiance to their host countries-a “reverse colonisation” as
Parry described it. These groups would stay connected to their homelands by
the internet and cheap flights. The idea of assimilation was becoming
redundant, he said.
The warnings by Parry of what could threaten Britain over the next 30 years
were delivered to senior officers and industry experts at a conference last
week. Parry, head of the development, concepts and doctrine centre at the
Ministry of Defence, is charged with identifying the greatest challenges
that will frame national security policy in the future.
If a security breakdown occurred, he said, it was likely to be brought on by
environmental destruction and a population boom, coupled with technology and
radical Islam. The result for Britain and Europe, Parry warned, could be
“like the 5th century Roman empire facing the Goths and the Vandals”.
Parry pointed to the [disaster which mass migration] in the Third World
could unleash. “The diaspora issue is one of my biggest current concerns,”
he said. “Globalisation makes assimilation seem redundant and old-fashioned
. [the process] acts as a sort of reverse colonisation, where groups of
people are self-contained, going back and forth between their countries,
exploiting sophisticated networks and using instant communication on phones
and the internet.”
Third World instability would lick at the edges of the West as pirates
attacked holidaymakers from fast boats. “At some time in the next 10 years
it may not be safe to sail a yacht between Gibraltar and Malta,” said the
Parry, 52, an Oxford graduate who was mentioned in dispatches in the
Falklands war, is not claiming all the threats will come to fruition. He is
warning, however, of what is likely to happen if dangers are not addressed
Parry-who used the slogan “old dog, new tricks” when he commanded the
assault ship HMS Fearless-foresees wholesale moves by the armed forces to
robots, drones, nanotechnology, lasers, microwave weapons, space-based
systems and even “customised” nuclear and neutron bombs.
Lord Boyce, the former chief of the defence staff, welcomed Parry’s
analysis. “Bringing it together in this way shows we have some very serious
challenges ahead,” he said. “The real problem is getting them taken
seriously at the top of the government.”
Ancient Rome has been a subject of serious public discussion this year.
Boris Johnson, the Conservative MP and journalist, produced a book and
television series drawing parallels between the European Union and the Roman
empire. Terry Jones, the former Monty Python star, meanwhile, has spoken up
for the barbarians’ technological and social achievements in a television
series and has written:
“We actually owe far more to the so-called ‘barbarians’ than we do to the
men in togas.”
Parry, based in Shrivenham, Wiltshire, presented his vision at the Royal
United Services Institute in central London. He identified the most
dangerous flashpoints by overlaying maps showing the regions most threatened
by factors such as agricultural decline, booming youth populations, water
shortages, rising sea levels and radical Islam.
Parry predicts that as flood or starvation strikes, the most dangerous zones
will be Africa, particularly the northern half; most of the Middle East and
central Asia as far as northern China; a strip from Nepal to Indonesia; and
perhaps eastern China.
He pinpoints 2012 to 2018 as the time when the current global power
structure is likely to crumble. Rising nations such as China, India, Brazil
and Iran will challenge America’s sole superpower status.
This will come as “irregular activity” such as terrorism, organised crime
and “white companies” of mercenaries burgeon in lawless areas.
The effects will be magnified as borders become more porous and some areas
sink beyond effective government control.
Parry expects the world population to grow to about 8.4 billion in 2035,
compared with 6.4 billion today. By then some 68% of the population will be
urban, with some giant metropolises becoming ungovernable. He warns that
Mexico City could be an example.
In an effort to control population growth, some countries may be tempted to
copy China’s “one child” policy. This, with the widespread preference for
male children, could lead to a ratio of boys to girls of as much as 150 to
100 in some countries. This will produce dangerous surpluses of young men
with few economic prospects and no female company.
“When you combine the lower prospects for communal life with macho youth and
economic deprivation you tend to get trouble, typified by gangs and
organised criminal activity,” said Parry. “When one thinks of 20,000
so-called jihadists currently fly-papered in Iraq, one shudders to think
where they might go next.”
The competition for resources, Parry argues, may lead to a return to
“industrial warfare” as countries with large and growing male populations
mobilise armies, even including cavalry, while acquiring high-technology
weaponry from the West.
The subsequent mass population movements, Parry argues, could lead to the
“Rome scenario”. The western Roman empire collapsed in the 4th and 5th
centuries as groups such as Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Suevi, Huns and Vandals
surged over its borders. The process culminated in the sack of Rome in 455
by Geiseric the Lame, king of the Alans and Vandals, in an invasion from
Parry estimated at the conference there were already more than 70 diasporas
In the future, he believes, large groups that become established in Britain
and Europe after mass migration may develop “communities of interest” with
unstable or anti-western regions.
Any technological advantage developed to deal with the threats was unlikely
to last. “I don’t think we can win in cyberspace-it’s like the weather-but
we need to have a raincoat and an umbrella to deal with the effects,” said
Some of the consequences would be beyond human imagination to tackle. The
examples he gave, tongue-in-cheek, include: “No wind on land and sea; third
of population dies instantly; perpetual darkness; sores; Euphrates dries up
‘to clear way for kings from the east’; earth’s core opens.”
Rear Admiral Chris Parry is the armed forces’ chief “blue skies” thinker.
Parry, 52, was educated at the independent Portsmouth grammar school and at
Jesus College, Oxford. During the Falklands war in 1982, he was mentioned in
dispatches while serving with the Fleet Air Arm on the destroyer HMS Antrim.
Parry is one of Britain’s leading specialists on amphibious warfare. He once
commanded the assault ship HMS Fearless, was in charge of amphibious warfare
training at Portsmouth naval base and headed a joint British-Dutch taskforce
before moving to his post at the Ministry of Defence.
The admiral heads the development, concepts and doctrine centre, set up in
1998 and based at Shrivenham, Wiltshire. It has more than 50 staff and is
being expanded to include extra analysts.