Tuesday, November 20, 2007

An Arse Full Of Armies

Yup, Aaro is once more back on the full-mental-jacket Scoopie tendency of Decency - the pulling of armies out of one's arse. Many objections to this:

1. 84 British soldiers have died in Afghanistan, compared to 55 casualties of 7/7. More American soldiers have died in Iraq than the total casualties of 9/11. Even if the "Aaronovitch Doctrine" (constant intervention everywhere, because otherwise there will be terrorist attacks here) could protect us perfectly from terrorist attacks, it would still be a bad trade for anyone who doesn't regard military casualties as free.

2. Iraq, always, as an afterthought to a general record of success, rather than a trillion dollar disaster. Effect of Iraq on terrorist motivation constantly downplayed (neither the 7/7 nor 21/7 bombers were Iraqis, but the Glasgow Airport attackers were. Also, whatever Mohammed Siddique Khan's contacts with Punjabi radicals, he in fact made a video recording about his motives, in which Iraq was rather prominent).

3. The actual rectal extraction of the military units in question appears here:

Suppose General Petraeus had been there in Baghdad in surge numbers in 2003. Or suppose that, from the start, all our Nato partners had provided the promised support — without conditions — in Afghanistan. Suppose, too, that we had spent the years since 1989 building up our military and civil interventionist capacities rather than running them down.

What Aaro is saying here is "Suppose that conscription was reintroduced", and it is rather worrying that he doesn't seem to understand that this is what he's saying.

4. In any case, let's grant all these suppositions. Give Aaro as much manpower as he wants. Commit us for the long term. Give us a local government that, while corrupt and inefficient, enjoys reasonable amounts of popular support, particularly among the majority political and religious community around the capital. At what point am I allowed to bring up the Vietnam analogies? From Decentpedia:



1. South-East Asian nation with a chequered military history that is of no relevance whatever to any modern conflict.

If something can't be done, it can't be done, Aaro.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aaro "Mr Cameron has done well. And insofar as we may discern a Cameroonian ideology, it could be said to be Blairism sans Blair. This is sensible, because the former Prime Minister, while outstaying the patience of the political classes, was always located by voters as the politician whose instincts were closest to their own."

Is this the appearance of a new line among the Blair courtiers? :-The people really wanted Blair to stay and it was the political classes (blinded by their hatred for his brilliance, perhaps) who wanted him to go?

11/20/2007 08:59:00 AM  
Blogger The Rioja Kid said...

For values of "the political classes" equal to "Gordon Brown", yes. Kettle has a piece up on the Guardian blog at the moment on how he can intuit from Dear Tone's body language that "Gordon behaved monstrously" (the small matter of stabbing him in the back ten years ago and spreading rumours that he was mentally ill having been forgotten, apparently).

The fact that this isn't remotely consistent with the polling data doesn't seem to matter.

11/20/2007 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

It's very sad that the number of dead Iraqis have zero rhetorical weight.

11/20/2007 10:13:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...


11/20/2007 10:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aaro is pretending that Britain can get the USA to mobilise a certain number of troops and can even control how these troops are used.

"Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?"

11/20/2007 10:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Caught in a landslide
With no escape from ree-al-it-ee..."

(Take it, Chardonnay!)

11/20/2007 12:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon's first comment isn't all that new: there's always the likelihood that without Blair (and full of hatred for Brown for not being Blair), the Blair groupies would gravitate towards Cameron, especially if he looks like a winner, which is all that counts in their book. (BB: It's on record that Kettle wanted Merkel to win in Germany, so I won't be too surprised if he starts making doe eyes at Cameron)

11/20/2007 12:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The popularity of Blair with the voters is a consistent re-writing of the history of the last election. Like Blair, as soon as the election was over, they conveniently forgot that the polls were looking bad, and he had to be umbilically connected to Brown for the second half of the campaign, with the implicit message, "vote Blair, get Brown".

11/20/2007 12:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree RedPesto. The new line among Blair courtiers may not be so new. However we do seem to be getting this week a load of Blairite propaganda along these lines. Do I detect a touch of regret from Aaro that Cameron hasn't bought into the neo-con fantasy after buying into the Academies fantasy?

11/20/2007 01:12:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Or suppose that, from the start, all our Nato partners had provided the promised support — without conditions — in Afghanistan

Oh how I love this bit. "Had everybody else done precisely what we wanted them to no matter what the cost in lives." As indeed they should have, of course, because the main reason things fucked up so badly under Tony is that everybody else let him down, didn't they?

I'd like to point out that if everybody did what I wanted them to, the world would be absolutely perfect.

11/20/2007 02:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See also the strange collection of "if onlys" at this Fabian conference back in January 2007, especially the ones from James Purnell.


11/20/2007 02:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I'd like to point out that if everybody did what I wanted them to, the world would be absolutely perfect."

Spot on ejh. It's sad to see that our foreign policy now resorts to this kind of childish behaviour. The political advantage is, of course, that there is always a get-out clause, that we were let down by the others. This plays well to the saloon bar, but never gets us anywhere, hence the contempt we received from Chirac who, while being contemptible at many levels, was at least a serious politician.

11/20/2007 03:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or suppose that, from the start, all our Nato partners had provided the promised support — without conditions — in Afghanistan

Earth to DA: It's a coalition of the willing, stupid. If that means Bush, Blair and a horde of flying laptops playing mp3's of 'Ride of the Valkyries', then deal with it.

I fear it's time to dust off that old Bertolt Brecht joke about the politicians dissolving the people and electing another.

11/20/2007 04:32:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Also how much would Britain have to spend more on defence to make a noticeable difference given the level of spending the US does? A doubling, probably, and that would only add 10% or something to the US figure.

11/20/2007 04:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dust it off? Brecht's joke has been dusted off so much recently, it's gleaming like a mirror already. And it's had that many outings in the last few years that it'll never be happy at home again.

Chris Williams

11/20/2007 05:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And since aircraft carriers are of limited use in Afghanistan, it's not really like we can double our budget, get on the phone to Boeing or BAe and double our useful intervention capacity. Beyond restoring some cut corners on equipment, what Aaro is talking about is increasing the size of the Army (and not just by a little bit). I am not at all sure that's possible; the US Army is rather better paid than ours and has problems recruiting.

11/20/2007 07:09:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

The army's having real problems recruiting for a while (predates Iraq). I suspect that this is partly due to a strongish economy - when I worked for the MoD I met quite a few squaddies who signed up for lack of any real alternatives. It appeals to a particular mindset, and for anyone else its a pretty miserable existence. So maybe to fulfil Aaronovitch's "progressive" fantasies, we need to fuck the economy up.

I vaguely remember reading that things had got worse since Iraq, though I've no source for that.

11/20/2007 08:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Aaro's article:

"Meanwhile a large swath of opinion here seems to consider any vigorous attempt to forestall an Iranian nuclear weapon as being counterproductive."

Note the use of the word "vigorous". Along with "robust" or "muscular", it's a common Decent synonym for "violent".

11/20/2007 09:08:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Meanwhile a large swath of opinion here seems to consider any vigorous attempt to forestall an Iranian nuclear weapon as being counterproductive.

Well how competely fucking unreasonable of them.

11/21/2007 07:12:00 AM  
Blogger Alex said...

"In surge numbers"? The surge numbers are actually just back to what the numbers were in 2005!

He doesn't know what the fuck he's talking about.

11/21/2007 03:38:00 PM  

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