02 March 2010
Casualties of War
But one aspect of the anti-war campaign strikes me as more than a little odd. This is the concentration on the level of British casualties.
Now don't get me wrong. The death of each soldier is a tragedy and, at least from a personal perspective, surviving as a badly disabled and severely disfigured person even worse. The parents and relatives of those killed are deserving of our immense sympathy - as are those of the war victims we cause.
But it has to be said that the lads and lasses who voluntarily join up know full well what they are getting into. It is not a matter of having no other employment choice. How frequently do we hear from grieving parents that their boy died doing what he loved doing? That he always wanted to be a soldier, that he couldn't wait to see 'action'?
In interviews with front line troops it is also common to hear the comment that they can't wait to get into battle, that it is the waiting around that is so boring. Whether they have got the ideas from violent video games, are following a family tradition or acting out a macho youth ideal, it would be patronising to infer that they don't know what they are doing.
Yes, they are sad to lose comrades, but they knew that would be the price, if not their own life then a mate for whom they felt great affection.
A few, I know, have joined up in recent years to give the Islamists a taste of their own medicine. These few feel duty bound to respond to 9/11 and 7/7 in just that way. But it is only a few - and in my view it is also misguided as it merely adds to the rationale used by the Islamists in recruiting new members to counter the 'invasion of Muslim lands by the infidel'.
In terms of campaigning for British withdrawal I appreciate that rising casualties is one of the best grounds on which to convince people that they should vote for a party that holds out the possibility of early withdrawal. But my feeling is that the soldiers on the ground won't actually vote that way at all. War has become their raison d'etre.
I wonder if induced boredom features in the psychology manuals on preparation of troops for action? Has Harry asked who selects the troops to be interviewed? Has he missed the way Joe Glenton has been abused, vilified - and now punished? More on this here:
George calls the description 'mercenaries' ridiculous. In another place and time such were called 'collaborators'.
I agree. That's why I did not say such a thing.
Brainwashed? Coerced by circumstances? Misled by a media operated by and in the interests of the warmongers - the 'military-industrial complex'? Do you really say that to suggest such things is 'patronising'?
All this raises the question of whether it is possible to get a fully objective view of things, free of bias from vested interests and representing the 'truth'. Marx talked of 'false consciousness' as explaining why the workers did not rise up against their oppressors, the capitalist class. Maybe it wasn't false consciousness at all, but a judgement that they were happier, on balance, with a fairly carefree life, albeit at a lower standard of living and in poor working conditions, than the capitalists who had all the stress and worry of maintaining and increasing their wealth, working all hours and having sleepless nights over their profit margin.
That said, it's still a fact that in this country we possibly have the most access to alternative opinions and the least pressure on us to conform to the views of any particular interest group or the state. That was my point abut the squaddie (just a slang term not a stereotype) having a different but possibly just as well informed opinion as your own.
The description 'collaborators' is equally ridiculous. The situation is not one of an empire-building force taking over the country, it is of an internationally sanctioned force trying to stabilise the country with the help of and for the benefit of the majority of the local people, and to eliminate the export of terorism.