Wednesday, February 08, 2006

John Reid - erm, we should do what now?

Where has this latest rubbish sprung from? Who, exactly, is condemning our troops? (Well, other than the Ministry of Defence that Reid heads, which still isn't supplying them with all the equipment they need and is about to send another vast chunk of our already stretched armed forces to Afghanistan).

Meanwhile, let us not forget that the enemy our brave boys face are EEEEEEVIL, without "any legitimacy, any morality, any international convention". It's classic wartime tactics - up there with the cartoons of German soldiers eating babies from WWI (echoes of which can be traced back to the middle ages and various pieces of simplistic propaganda from all the various sides of the interminable continental conflicts). EVIL EVIL EVIL. Not one ounce of a legitimate grievance. EVIL.

(Shush now about the foreign troops occupying what they see as their soil - shush. The enemy are EEEVIL. Even if we don't know precisely who the enemy are, and even if the enemy isn't a homogenous group with shared objectives. Shush. They're all EEEVIL.)

But taking his quote in full, the implications of what Reid is saying run rather deeper and into rather more dodgy territory than the ongoing (rather unnecessary) efforts to make a bunch of psychopaths who strap bombs to themselves seem even worse:

"We can't continually have an uneven battlefield for our troops, where we are facing an enemy, unconstrained by any legitimacy, any morality, any international convention and at the same time, subject our troops to a level of scrutiny, accountability, media intrusion, questioning and every conceivable opportunity to criticise them...

"I say in that kind of world, where we are facing that kind of enemy, let us be very slow to condemn our troops, our forces, and very quick to support and understand them."
(my emphasis)
You see, you follow the logic of that, what Reid's argument seems to be is the following:
"We're fighting an enemy with no principles, so we should have no principles"
Reid seems to be suggesting that breaches of the established rules of warfare are excusable in a situation in which the warfare is abnormal. That breaches of the Geneva Convention should be ignored, because the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan is "special" in some way. In other words, that when fighing an enemy that uses terror tactics, terror tactics should be used in return. Fight fire with fire, and all that.

In a small-scale strategic sense, he may have a point. Nothing like a bit of midnight kidnapping, months of solitary detention and a wee touch of vicious beating and torture to keep the peasants in line.

But really - what the fuck, John? We're British, for Christ's sake - we don't hold with that sort of thing. We may well get other people to do it for us, but one British soldier gets directly involved, that's a direct slur on the good name of the country - and of Her Majesty, whose armed forces they still remain.

Of course, the other question is, why is Reid saying this now? No one has condemned the troops - public support for the troops themselves remains high, bolstered by positive, supportive media, who (almost universally) see the soldiers as unwitting yet brave victims of politics and maniacs. What is condemned is the political decisions that lead to our troops getting killed.

So, what's going on? Has Reid got wind of another Abu Ghraib-style war crime? Is he trying to cut something off at the pass?

Or is he just an idiot who should think a bit more carefully before opening his mouth and prompting this sort of speculation?

Oh well, only another three and a bit years until the next chance to boot these morons out of office. And who knows - we might even have a viable opposition by then. (I doubt it, but stranger things have happened...)

4 Comments:

Blogger Devil's Kitchen said...

I think perhaps his emphasis is more on "we shouldn't haul our troops up in court for killing someone." There have been a number of cases recently, with no convictions that I am aware of, of troops stationed in Iraq. At least one soldier has been tried for murder.

And supportive media? In what world? Stories about Iraq are consistently negative; this is one of the things - and almost all of the MilBlogs that I have read agree on this - that drives morale down.

The willingness of the public and media to believe the pictures published by Piers Moron should give some indication of the level of support that we give our troops.

Whether rightly or wrongly, many of the soldiers out there conflate the negative media coverage of the war in general with criticism of the troops themselves.

I am not saying that the media shouldn't be critical, but the fact is that - with the possible exception of The Scum - they are hardly cheerleaders for the Iraq expedition.

DK

2/08/2006 02:15:00 pm  
Blogger Laban said...

You have to match your tactics to the enemy.

And that was the way the Army operated for most of its history.

Reid makes a valid point, especially re the home media. I bet the Indie had their '100 death' page laid out for months, just waiting to go.

2/11/2006 12:55:00 pm  
Blogger The Pedant-General in Ordinary said...

NM,

"[enemy acting without] any legitimacy, any morality, any international convention". blah blah blah. Not one ounce of a legitimate grievance."

Errm... John Reid, for all that he is a complete arse, did not suggest that they do not have a legimitate grievance. He said that they have no legitimacy. That is a very different thing. He is saying that they are irregulars.

In a state of declared war, Geneva conventions do not extend to irregulars, precisely to discourage the use of irregular troops. A Recognised uniform does two things: 1) It marks you out as a combatant and a legitimate target
2) It marks everyone else out as non-combatants and not legitimate targets.

For the media to regard our treatment of irregular combatants against the standards of either the Geneva Convention or the dictates of civil procedure is wrong and extremely damaging.

John Reid is right on this: if a sniper dressed in civilian clothes shoots from inside a mosque - as they routinely do - he can expect no mercy whatsoever. We would do well to scrutinise the behaviour of the jihadis if we really want to know why we are fighting in Iraq.

2/11/2006 07:43:00 pm  
Blogger CuriousHamster said...

Is he trying to cut something off at the pass?
Indeed. Well spotted. "Let us be very slow to condemn our troops for kicking the crap out of some random Iraqi teenagers" was what Reid was apparently trying to say. Tosser.

2/12/2006 01:04:00 am  

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