So with war, arms sales and propaganda in its brief, the MoD’s name is pure newspeak. In Orwell’s classic, the slogan “war is peace” allows a simple substitution of “peace” for “war”. When the book was written, Britain had the War Office, which was renamed the Ministry of Defence in 1964.
This misnomer is at the heart of Britain’s doublethink today. A modern democratic country like Britain doesn’t start wars. We just use “hard power” when “soft power” doesn’t get us what we want.
You can have any number of debates about the merits of liberal interventionism, “just wars” and the like. But, by definition, intervention is not defence. As a positive spin is put on Iraq and memories of its deception fade, the government is making a determined effort to rehabilitate war. Just don’t insult our intelligence by calling it defence.