Saturday, September 05, 2015

The Very Pinnacle Of Common Sense



Apologies for continuing to bang on about the fallout from the Labour election campaign, but it really is throwing up some fairly embarrassing examples of the British political class's fucked assumptions.

Here, for instance, we witness an entirely humdrum example of that great British character - Homo Politicus Centralis, with military camo patterning - throwing up his hands in terror to emit variations upon the following argument:

The desire to prevent British military forces bombing, invading and occupying other countries, is a frightful and shameful ideological flaw.  

Now, this is the part where I generally point out that any person who claims to be speaking in favour of Britain "engaging with the world" is usually arguing for British warplanes to drop high explosives on large tracts of it.

But let's now take a step further and imagine an alternate dimension, in which the British Government took no part in any of our 21st century conflicts.  No involvement at all, not so much as a loaned-out pistol.

How would history have unfolded?  What, if anything, would be different?

My by-no-means-exhaustive analysis is that

1) Parts of Sierra Leone might be far less pleasant places to live than they currently are;
2) Lots more American soldiers, and far fewer British ones, would now be dead or injured;
3) Opinion columnists would've written quite a lot of think-pieces about how cowardly and treacherous we are, and
4) The French would've had to bomb Gadaffi's thugs into submission on their own.

We can debate the merits of this one way or the other, but the most obvious conclusion that I draw from this flight of fancy is this: pretty much everything, from Afghanistan to Syria, would've unfolded in almost exactly the same manner that it actually did, and most of the planet would look more or less the same as it does now.

I can see no compelling reason to imagine that a world in which e.g. the Americans occupied Iraq without our assistance would be materially worse for anyone apart from the Americans themselves, and the US military is quite big enough to look after its own interests. 

This being the case, the appropriate question for McTernan to ask is not "Why is Jeremy Corbyn such a war-disliking bastard?".

The question is, "Why are constant military hijinks seen as the very pinnacle of common sense in British politics, despite their appallingly poor success-to-failure rate?". 

We would not, after all, tolerate hospitals or transport networks that operate with the same success rate as our military adventures.  If our schools were regularly exploding and collapsing around the ears of their pupils, few political and media types would step forth to denounce anyone who dared to suggest that we should instead build flame-retardant schools.

And yet, chuck in a few missiles and rifles, and the very idea that we not use our armed forces for deranged military escapades on foreign shores is actively radical, far outwith the mainstream of modern British politics.

In fairness, I do have to acknowledge here that McTernan is something of an outsider these days himself; a dead-ender clinging to the certainties of a more innocent age, or whatever.

Nonetheless, I'd say that his invincible stupidities are far closer to the current government's way of thinking than my own are, and that this is a very, very odd state of affairs to find ourselves in.

11 comments:

septicisle said...

The reports that if Corbyn wins Cameron won't attempt to get authority for ourselves to bomb Syria, because obviously we need to bomb Syria as well as all the other people currently bombing it and if we don't it will make all the John McTernans of the world extra pissy, does seem to be pretty much the final nail in the coffin for Burnham/Cooper having a chance on second preferences.

Alex said...

I'd been so confused about the UK media's abrupt reverse ferret on wether migrants and refugees were a subhuman swarm of the lowest of the low who threaten our values and house prices or not.

And then the calls for war began. We have to bomb Syria...for the sake of the Syrians you see.

And it all made sense.

Anonymous said...

Corbyn appears to be saying that he wants the UK to respect international law and that, to my mind, is important and a good thing. It also appears to me that anyone who thinks that this is awful should tell us when the UK announced that it wasn't going to respect international law and whether it studied the consequences of such a decision.

Britain's shame is that it has a number of politicians and commentators who advocate actions that are in breach of international law.

Guano

Ken Eadie, the prince of strikers said...

In a similar vein, we have this doozy:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/labour/11843772/The-Syrian-refugee-crisis-has-exposed-how-irrelevant-Jeremy-Corbyn-really-is.html

In which the author believes that not only is not waging war a negation of Britain's global repsonsibility, but that an administration with mild social democratic leanings is the stuff of dystopian science fiction.

Anonymous said...

Someone told me that, in a TV leadership debate in the last week, Corbyn was the only one who could give an outline of the different forces fighting in Syria.

Guano

organic cheeseboard said...

Osborne's 'worst decision parliament has ever made' on the 2013 vote was, from what I can work out, depressingly unchallenged.

But surely, as others have said on here, it renders the Tory party responsible, rather than parliament? If they're now insisting on the opposition agreeing with a decision to go to war, that renders debate pretty much moot. As we've rehearsed on here ad nauseam, if Gideon and his mates had been able to make a proper, convincing case for the 'limited anti-Assad air strikes to punish him for using chemical weapons' proposed in 2013, then they could have got it through parliament. The fact that they couldn't convince 30 Tories, along with 8 Lib Dems, let alone the people who are meant to actually oppose, says it all surely.

Equally, war fans are now claiming that the conflict won't be solved 'without boots on the ground' - I'd have liked to see these clowns trying to get that one through parliament.

organic cheeseboard said...

Just on Corbyn more generally - going back to the Cohen 'Chuka baby' piece but the myriad others, and a speculative thing - but what is it, exactly, that 'Labour Moderates' are so afraid of which will make him 'unelectable'?

Aside from foreign policy stuff obviously, but it is again obvious that war is a pretty poor-quality thing to pin electoral hopes on.

What is it, otherwise? If it's generally lefty policies, ok that's fine, but we've seen a fair few anti-Corbyn types arguing for them in years gone by, most notably Cohen. Equally, there's no reason why they can't work if sold well - one of Miliband's big mistakes was not being radical enough. If it's image and electability, then again I refer to the Osborne vs Corbyn likeability test, with the added bonus that Osborne is the Gordon Brown to Cameron's Blair in the 'disliked' stakes, even with his easy ride in the media. If it's ignoring generally conservative voters in marginal constituencies, well ok fine, but it's not like losing them alone cost Labour the 2015 election. If it's 'likelihood of purging people from the party', this is just pure bullshit scaremongering based on Twitter nobodies.

On a totally separate topic, but I do wish people would stfu with the 'Blair never did what Ferguson did and planned for the next great side' line. Ferguson installed David Moyes ffs, but on top of that his advice to Blair - that he should sack Gordon Brown - would have destroyed the party for good, pretty much. Fergie was a good football manager, but he was good at neither recruitment of football managerial talent nor political advice.

Anonymous said...

If the vote about bombing Syria was the worst decision that parliament ever made, why did Cameron throw in the towel straight after the vote? Why didn't he meet the Tory rebels and try to deal with their concerns? Why didn't he leave it open to coming back for another vote after a few weeks? I do wonder whether the point was to try to embarrass the Opposition, rather than be a genuine reaction to events in Syria.


Guano

organic cheeseboard said...

Well they're clearly trying to engineer a vote on throwing bombs at Syria in the hope of demonstrating 'disunited Labour' and focusing on Corbyn on foreign policy, so it would be entirely in character for this shower of cunts, i.e. do everything in a short-term bid to make Labour look bad.

Yet they surely abandoned the previous vote because it's a vote-loser; and a big one too, should things go tits up as they almost certainly will. They're probably hoping for 'another Libya', ie something they can walk away from while whistling, but the news focus is unlikely to go away in quite the same fashion as it did in that instance.

flyingrodent said...

...if Gideon and his mates had been able to make a proper, convincing case for the 'limited anti-Assad air strikes to punish him for using chemical weapons' proposed in 2013, then they could have got it through parliament. The fact that they couldn't convince 30 Tories, along with 8 Lib Dems, let alone the people who are meant to actually oppose, says it all surely.

You'd think that it would, that and the fact that they didn't even bother to try. I suspect the whole thing was Cameron and Gove giving it a bash so that they could say they'd tried, but that surely doesn't explain the sheer ineptitude of the pitch.

Well they're clearly trying to engineer a vote on throwing bombs at Syria in the hope of demonstrating 'disunited Labour' and focusing on Corbyn on foreign policy, so it would be entirely in character for this shower of cunts, i.e. do everything in a short-term bid to make Labour look bad.

I'd say you're right, given that Cameron just stood up in parliament, chucked the smoking remains of a British jihadi onto the floor of the chamber, then defied anyone to say that there may be drawbacks to assassinating UK citizens who run off join ISIS's fucknut caliphate.

I do wonder how Cameron intends to follow this little bit of theatre up. Perhaps he could have a few of them shot in Parliament Square, or something.

Igor Belanov said...

I think the real reason for reigniting the 'debate' about bombing Syria is that the political establishment want a bit of fun and macho posturing in return for being forced into accepting more refugees.