Saturday, 30 January 2010

The Continuation of Politics by Other Means

Had a trawl around Blogland last night. It never ceases to amaze me how the most banal of blogs attract scores of fawning comments, yet anything remotely intelligent, intellectual or thought provoking attracts hardly a single one. I suppose that’s why programmes like Big Brother and all these so-called reality shows have such a following. Should I dumb down and start giving agony uncle advice and talking about star signs?

Not sure if you, like me, have a problem with this Chilcot enquiry into the Iraq war. I don’t remember any public enquiry after WWII when Britain wantonly declared war against Germany for no good reason other than Germany invading Poland. Was that legal? It’s not as if we were directly threatened. I don’t recall protests on VE Day and calls to bring Chamberlain or Churchill to book for sending millions to their deaths.

I was under the impression that if you won a war it didn’t matter a jot as to whether it was legal or not – it’s called ‘might is right’. All this hand-wringing and navel gazing seems a tad self-indulgent to me and exhibits a predilection toward bowing to the most vocal minority – like those 12 people who complain constantly to the BBC and manage to get shows taken off-air.

When it comes to war, legality and morality are totally disconnected. No war can be morally justified and legal justification is a fudge at best and nothing more than an agreement on definition. War happens and is sometimes necessary, regardless of the morality or legality.

If was wasn’t surrounded by all these codes of conduct and war became total war involving the entire nation, then governments would perhaps be less willing to declare war in the first place, as the consequences would to be too hideous to contemplate. As it is the electorate is insulated from actually doing anything, which makes it very easy to send people to their possible deaths in some Godforsaken corner of the world. It only causes problems when those against whom you wage this war bring the fight to your country through the auspices of terrorism, which is sometimes the only tool left to them. That’s when all the soul searching and scapegoating starts.

It seems that the hoi polloi are allowed to change their collective mind but governments are still to be held to account for decisions made years ago – decisions the great unwashed mostly supported at the time and which the politicians were voted in to make by proxy on behalf of the electorate. The buck stops with the electorate. However, you can’t hang an entire electorate and so you have to find a scapegoat in the form of a politician.

What I find acutely disturbing is the protests by parents of soldiers who died. Soldiers fight wars and by dint of that they occasionally run a small risk of getting killed. You don’t sign up because you simply want to see the world and have an easy time sunning yourself in Nicaragua or skiing in Norway – if you want that you join the Merchant Navy, like I did. Their protests smack more of a desire for revenge following the death of a child – a quite natural feeling on the part of a parent but one which was not given vent to in the aftermath of other wars we declared in the past. It wasn’t considered British and you bore your loss with stoicism.

Never mind about the Iraqis and Afghans, it’s about time Britain had another war with the traditional enemy it is genetically predisposed to fight – the FRENCH.

My good friend Richard over at Falling Through An Endless Summer Sky made an amusing comment on my post of yesterday and I’m going to plagiarise it (I did tell him I would). You know you’re getting old when popes start to look younger.

Hay was on a course during the week to do with adverse drug reactions. She and her fellow delegates were presented with a case study of a 23 year old woman who kept fainting for no obvious reason. The task was to diagnose the problem and find the root cause. I laughed my socks off when Hay told me that it turned out to be liquorice abuse.


  1. You are of course correct - I just thought that I was unfortunate in that when I went looking through other blogs there was an explosion of chintz, gingham, cute moppets and references to the blessed Jesus! So now you know what your blog should have - at least every day to generate lots of traffic.

    Richard x x x

  2. I thought that in WWII we had a pre-existing treaty with Poland that if they were invaded we would come to the rescue. It seems more and more to me that Bush invaded Iraq to show his Dad that he was a big - and important boy - and Blair sucked us in 'cos he wanted to show Republican America how cute and loyal he was.

    I think that I also would be bitter if my child was killed in a war that was the product of a vanity exercise.

    Mrs Collinson x x x x

  3. And should Britain be invaded then presumably Poland would come to our rescue on their cavalry horses? Not much of a quid pro quo if you ask me. What exactly was the purpose then?

  4. By the way, can there ever be a war in which both sides enter combat legally?

  5. Goodness me! I think you need one of these.

  6. Scarlet: You may no believe this, but as of this morning we are kitty-sitting for my younger daughter.

  7. I moved into a house next door to an Aussie in Singapore in the '70s. I was prepared to dislike him on sight when I discovered he was 1RAR. He turned out to be one of the nicest guys I've ever met.

    He never discussed his Vietnam experiences, unlike the others I'd met, mostly desk-jockeys and pencil-pushers, who would give you a blow-by-blow description of how things were without so much as an invitation to do so. I found out much later that Ken actually survived a 'firefight', and that was enough for him to keep his own counsel!

    You won't find (m)any servicemen/women, ex or serving, who are advocates of war. The reality is too horrifying. However, I disagree that it is the electorate who should shoulder the blame. The decision has always been political - and then they choose to save a few pennies by not supplying the forces with the right equipment!

    BTW, the reference to the Polish coming to the rescue of Britain on their chargers had we been invaded first is a bit disingenuous. The Germans were on their way; just had to take Poland first!

    And enough Poles came across and fought ALONGSIDE the Brits ...

  8. Fletch: I'm aware of the pact with Poland - but why? The idea is ludicrous. Many Dutchmen fought alongside Brits, but the idea of them cycling to Britain's aid is support of an alliance is daft.

  9. PS: a declaration of war may be a political act, but it is voted for by Parliament, which is the representative of the people. A PM cannot unilaterally declare war without Parliament's assent.

  10. I read somewhere that by controlling Iraq we (the "West") increased it's oil reserves by 5X at a stroke; only the Iraqi people can judge Tony Blair on the issue of the war, the rest of us are complicit in it and benefit from it every time we fill up.

  11. Steve: There is that aspect too. Our own is running out and we have to have oil to keep going. Realpolitik and pragmatism.

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  13. Bill ,I can't believe that you haven't noticed that most of us are in fact banal and not at all intellectual!
    I come here to be dragged up a level!

  14. The Irascible Fairy is right: all that chintz and gingham makes me wanna blow blogs up. Chairman, for God's sake, PLEASE start doing star signs and talking about how cute your three year old is. A dose of reality parenting wouldn't go astray....

    btw, I made you some cookies. No, I did!

    Well ok I didn't. But I have a Kitchen Guru on my site and she're not gonna hate on me for that, are you? Who the hell else has their own cook on their site???