Archive for the ‘Military’ Category

Boots on the ground

September 17, 2010

Gross political mismanagement by New Labour saw vast sums wasted in defence as elsewhere but the fall-out will land on our Services rather than the perpetrators. The two giant aircraft carriers, Gordon Brown’s final constituency job creation program, should be mothballed as our real need is for frigates to chase pirates and smugglers. Helicopters, airborne gun-ships, heavy-lift aircraft and UAVs (armed spotter drones) are essential and we could get by with a very modest force of high altitude interceptors. The Trident nuclear deterrent is irrelevant to the threats we face in the 21st century and this sacred cow should be binned or at least replaced with a cheaper alterative. But it would be insane to cut 16 infantry battalions, slashing the Army from 98,000 to 62,000 men, because something always turns up and we need boots on the ground.


Planeless Carriers

September 13, 2010

So Bremner, Bird and Fortune were spot on when they claimed that the controversial carriers were simply Gordon Brown’s cunning plan to provide work for his constituents. New Labour’s spivs and spinners moved against the three satirists when “Admiral” Bird hilariously lampooned the novel idea of planeless British aircraft carriers. In order to pay for the new aircraft carriers we will have to sacrifice our much more useful amphibious landing capability and rely on American assault ships. This latest example of self-serving lunacy will at least have the effect of dampening down our ability to become involved in any future mad-cap foreign military adventures.

Failure of a mission

September 12, 2010

Well, there you go: the expected grandiose tomfoolery on the Kuwaiti border as the last “combat” troops depart Iraq and shouts of “We won!” from their teenage soldiers. Of course left behind are 50,000 men and women – a third of the entire US occupation force – who will be attacked and will continue the fight against the insurgency. So ends one of the most stupid “wars” in Anglo-American history – which is saying a very great deal indeed! We have replaced Saddamite brutality and corruption with al-Qa’eda brutality and Western corruption and leave a wrecked, sectarianised country. As a final unintended consequence, the Shias will rule this new “democracy” so that we have given Iran the victory it failed to achieve against Saddam in 1980-88.

No win situation

August 19, 2010

The increasing ruthlessness of the Taliban in its dealings with civilians in Afghanistan gives more than a hint of what lies ahead when we leave. Homemade bombs target ordinary people, political assassinations abound, and even a seven-year-old boy accused of spying for the government is publicly hanged. It is thought that the old leadership decapitated by US drones has been replaced by ever more ideologically driven jihadis less troubled by the fate of apostates. The military escalation ordered by Obama last year has only spread the zone of conflict so that local people now blame NATO for provoking these increased atrocities. And attacking teachers, doctors and tribal leaders is the best way the Taliban has of telling the community as a whole that they are here to stay while the West is leaving.

Happy anniversary, Chilcot

July 31, 2010

Even before Iraq, forces families held Tony Blair in contempt for his weakness in the face of US pressure and his use of our sons to posture on the world stage.

Across the years we have disdainfully watched the post-mortem charade starting with the Hutton whitewash, then the Butler non-inquiry, and now the Chilcot farce.

In each case, the evidence was plain for all to see of a prime minister ordering his advisers, diplomats, and security chiefs to provide a Manichean narrative.

Of course, inadvertently, Chilcot managed to show the Establishment at its most loathsome having done nothing at the time but being terribly wise after the event.

The inescapable conclusion is that New Labour’s mad-cap military adventures all but destroyed the otherwise laudable goal of internationalist humanitarian intervention.

A chilling insight

July 31, 2010

Like the images of Vietnam once seen nightly on US television the Wikileaks portray Afghanistan as a bloodthirsty killing field, devoid of rational justification.

Only people of such catatonic arrogance and stupidity as New Labour and America’s military-politicos would have tried to build a western democracy in this medieval land.

Anyone with the slightest knowledge of history knew that a western war of occupation would fail because the Taliban is a concept and not a military force.

By recording our folly and failure in such detail, the logs mock the moral basis of the ‘just war’ thesis and Tony Blair’s pretentious ‘moral’ foreign policy.

Not since the Somme have Western generals blundered so blindly in the dark nor have our politicians been so willing to sacrifice our troops to save face.

Departure in sight

July 8, 2010

The changes of government on both sides of the Atlantic were always going to result in an effort to leave Afghanistan in a way that did not smack of outright defeat.

With failure looming, Obama is now redefining “success” to provide an exit strategy but Liam Fox has already decided that saving soldiers’ lives trumps saving face.

Yesterday, Dr Fox said that it was no longer a question of military victory over the Taliban but of ensuring that Afghanistan that was “stable enough”.

In the coming months we will find out just how elastic the word “enough” is required to be but for our forces families the nightmare is almost over.

George Bush and his “bestest” chum Tony Blair were an affable pair of chancers but their military adventures in Arabia were total lunacy.

One minute to midnight

June 24, 2010

The sacking of General Stanley McChrystal, NATO chief in Afghanistan, for MacArthur style comments about current US political leadership was inevitable.

It was also the beginning of the end because McChrystal commanded immense respect and was the West’s last, best shot at stabilising the country and the region.

Obama’s dithering and his appointment of that hopelessly incompetent pair, Ambassador Eikenberry and Special Envoy Holbrooke, finally caused the general to explode.

In a last desperate throw of the dice, Obama has replaced him with the hero of Iraq – General Petraeus – but he is ill with stress as we saw in his recent collapse in Washington.

Military victory is now wholly unattainable and it is vital David Cameron helps Obama plan a political exit before Pakistan implodes and the whole region goes up in flames.

Rider on a pale horse

June 22, 2010

A famous Victorian painting by Elizabeth Butler shows a desperately injured officer approaching the lonely frontier fort of Jalalabad on his dying horse.

 He was the sole survivor of an entire British Army massacred by the Pashtuns in one of our forlorn 19th century attempts to subjugate Afghanistan.

 Our repeated disasters led to the warning being etched into the training manual of our Imperial Forces: “It is easier to march into the Hindu Kush than to march our again.”

 Montgomery was on much the same theme when he claimed during the Second World War that the only basic rule of modern warfare was, “Do not invade Russia.”

 In a fit of absence of mind, Tony Blair helped to invade a distant land and we face an enemy who can win by not losing, so the sooner the boys are brought home the better.

Realism required in Afghanistan

June 12, 2010

During my school years, the pink colour of the British Empire covering one third of the mandatory wall map of the world was already starting to fade.

At that time a cliché much in vogue was that Britain punched beyond its military weight and as a child I found this unlikely idea strangely comforting.

All too soon the Suez debacle proved conclusively that no nation punches above its weight for long whatever its history, political personalities and rhetoric.

My heart sank in 1999 when I heard Tony Blair’s delusional Chicago speech flagging up his interventionist foreign policy and the disastrous military adventures to come.

William Hague retains the gritty common sense of his Yorkshire roots and hopefully this will be reflected in a more realistic view of our place in the scheme of things.