This is my response to Single Acts of Tyranny.
Nick and RAB
I wasn’t really talking about historical battles like Lepanto, Famagusta, the always forgotten battle of Tours, forgotten by people moaning about the crusades I mean, (predating the first crusade by some 350 years). By the standards of today you could argue Henry V at Agincourt was a war criminal, (I don’t, but you get the point). Nor am I saying some of the Muslims and Ottomans behaved properly, clearly they did not on many ocassions.
The Battle of Tours is not forgotten round here. Charles Martel played a blinder there. It is generally regarded as macrohistorical. I think it was Gibbon who said something like the Divinity School at Oxford would be be demonstrating the truth of the revelations of Muhammad to a circumcised people or some such if Martel had lost. It is also pretty much the first occasion when infantry stood against heavy cavalry. By any stretch Henry V was by modern standards a war criminal. But he was English so that’s OK. And the French did dreadful things. They still do. And considering the number of times we’ve since dug them out of a hole – fuck ‘em. There are some cause not worth the bones of a single Pomeranian Grenadier and the French are certainly one.
One of the reasons I find military history so fascinating is the essential tension between “great forces” and individuals. For example read up on the Battle of Midway. Of course the USA was going to Godzilla Japan but that specific battle hinged on individuals. And the thing is I saw an interview with a US dive-bomber pilot. Eighteen planes in his squadron took off. He hit a Japanese carrier and sunk it (the Japanese like the US didn’t have armoured decks) and every other plane in his squadron was shot down. Things hinge. Then there is the tactical genius of Chester Nimitz. But don’t take my word for it. They named an entire class of the mightiest warships ever built after him.
I also wasn’t talking about Israeli air combat with Syria (1982?). I was talking in fact about Western, notably American policy to kill people because you, want to via drone strikes.
This gets technical. Ultimately by and large most of the people killed by drones are utter scum. Now, don’t get me wrong here. I am by nature a Republican but of the Clint Eastwood or Gary Johnson school (to the extent that matters me being English and all). I actually personally find the US Elephants grotesque in their rejection of the libertarian wing of the Republican Party in favour of loons like Rick Perry or non-entities like Mitt Romney (but doesn’t he have nice hair!). Yes, Israel had a war in ’82 with Syria and utterly cained them in the air (100-0?). But I also meant earlier and later conflicts where Israel also cained them. But as to the Arab/Israeli schtick the stormer was the Six Day War where Israel bet every fighter jet they had on decking Egypt and Syria and won. I have nothing but praise for that. That was something else.
Many, even in the intelligence community are concerned about this policy, particularly the so-called top 20 because when you off say the number one target, number 21 joins the top 20 and becomes a ‘priority’ target. It’s never ending, though this maybe the crypto-agenda of course.
It might be just that. We here talk of “exit strategies” but never “winning strategies”. This is a cockamamie war. Now call me cynical but I suspect the fundamental issue here is the Khazi not being hung by his bollocks from a lamp-post within the space of an electoral cycle.
Like Ron Paul, I think such a policy has significant blowback and a major rethink is required because the neo-con foreign policy has landed us in two major wars and a number of regional scraps, delivered security theatre at home, cost enormous amounts of money and death of our troops, radicalised some rather dumb sections of our community, reintroduced and legitimised torture (which we never used against even Nazis, surely a far, far greater threat) but delivered little enough for us to question the very parameters we set.
OK. What is the neo-con policy? I worry it is war everlasting. If there is “blowback”. it ain’t drones (unless people are being deliberately obtuse) but torture and Gitmo and detention without trial… The objection to drone strikes is silly. Drones are used they are cheap (relatively) to buy and deploy and they have a long time on station. Objections are basically variants of Pilgerism based on the fact they don’t put pilots in jeopardy. Oddly enough the lack of a “sit in pilot” is entirely by the by. Drones are used because of their endurance and cheapness. Not out of “cowardice” which is the real reason people object to drones isn’t it? To quote General George Patton, “You don’t win a war by dying for your country, you win a war by making the other poor bastard die for his”. Essentially people object to drone attacks because at some level they feel them “unsporting”. War isn’t sport. Sport is sport. I hate, I utterly despise, pseudo-military metaphor applied to sport. Last year I visited the battlefields of Gallipoli. That wasn’t won or lost on the playing fields of Eton. That was bloody awful and a game of Rugby just isn’t. Essentially if you can fight a war and keep your folk out of harm’s way because you have General Atomics (cool name – sounds like something from the “Jettsons”!) building Reaper drones and the baddies think flip-flops and an AK-47 are the height of style then so be it and let them be blown to smithereens by a “pilot” working out of CentCom in Florida. It’s like this. Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle during the First World War campaigned for body armour for British troops. He was dismissed by the War Department for advocating cowardice. Bravery has it’s place on the battlefield. Pointless sacrifice doesn’t. It is the deranged romanticism of the Highland charge. Now that came unstuck against the Duke of Cumberland’s trained bayonets didn’t it? In war winning is everything. All else is losing.