Monday, April 02, 2007

Kidnapped Soldiers - The Silly Season Begins

Currently pulling in major traffic from the big-hitting blowhards of American bloggery, 18 Doughty Street's Tim Montgomerie laments Britain's feeble response to the Iranians' continued violations of international law.

The entire piece is presented as a negative comparison to the days when Margaret Thatcher sent our boys to whip the Argentinian Junta over the Falkland Islands, as opposed to to today's timid, near-pacifist Prime Minister.

Tim makes some good, if rather obvious, points about military overstretch and the negative impact of the Iraq disaster on British leverage, but then veers off into boilerplate bashing of the UN and the BBC, not to mention odd lamentations over the weakness of our relations with America.

The most amusing part is when he alleges that Britain's weakness is the result of appeasing terrorism at home and abroad...

"Although the situation is beginning to improve from the darkest days of 'Londonistan', the British authorities have for many years tended to encourage extremism by only dealing with the more extremist 'representatives' of Britain's Muslims..."

If only we'd had Maggie watching our backs, she'd have sorted these evil extremists out before you could say "privatisation"!

Oh, to be back in those glory days, when Mrs. Thatcher stood adamantine against terrorists, barely supplying them with any weapons at all, and hardly ever inviting them to Number Ten for tea and biscuits!

"(Afghan 'freedom fighter' Abdul Haq) ...met Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan several times. I remember one night having dinner with him when he regaled us with jokes about his tour of 10 Downing Street and the antics of Thatcher's officials. He told her repeatedly to give him more weapons..."

And if you'll forgive a lengthy quote...

"Thus, after September 11th 2001, Margaret Thatcher chided British Muslim leaders for not having been sufficiently robust in their condemnation of Afghan terrorism. 'Passengers on those planes were told they were going to die and there were children on board,' she raged. 'They must say that is disgraceful...'

"In 1986 she (Thatcher) had invited the young Afghan resistance leader Abdul Haq to fly to London at the British taxpayers' expense and be entertained in Downing Street. Haq was a self-confessed terrorist who in September 1984 had planted a bomb at Kabul airport, killing twenty-eight people - most of them schoolchildren who were preparing to fly to Moscow. His purpose, he explained, was 'to warn people not to send their children to the Soviet Union;. He also defended the firing of long-range rockets at Kabul, which had killed many civilians and children.

'We use poor rockets, we cannot control them,' he shrugged. 'They sometimes miss. I don't care... if I kill 50 civilians'."

'Did Thatcher... rebuke Haq for his 'disgraceful' callousness? Far from it: she exhorted him to persevere with 'one of the most heroic resistance struggles known to history.'"

(Decent journalist Francis Wheen, How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered The World, p181-2)

It would be possible to explore Mrs. T's relationship with the Afghan resistance against Soviet occupation further, but I think this taster is quite enough. Suffice to say that Maggie's idea of what constitutes a terrorist might be slightly different to mine.

I mention this purely because I expect we're going to hear many a partisan cry "If only the Iron Lady was here to bash the Persians!" in the next few days, and it never hurts to revisit interesting moments in history.

I'm not even going to tackle comparisons between the Falklands War and potential fisticuffs with Iran - if we're going by the simplistic definition of military victory as being in control of the battlefield at the end of hostilities... well, see below.

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