Friday, 10 July 2009

Imperial hubris

I was just watching the mother of squaddie on Channel 4 News. Furious, she blamed the government for her son´s death, blown up in a lightly armoured vehicle venurable to roadside bombs. Moments later another squaddie expressed his disgust at the coming cuts to the military´s budget, and called the Prime Minister "a disgrace".

The reality is that this government or the next will cut government spending, and if you gave most people a choice, cut spending on the NHS or schools or cut spending on the military, they´d give you the same answer. That doesn´t make it easier for people who lose love ones because we´re waging a war that we can´t afford.

But that´s the point, whatever you think about the rights and wrongs of Afghanistan and its government, why is it that a archipelago just off the coast of mainland Europe should imagine that it needs to use its army and resources to support various governments in far-flung places all over the world. We don´t have the money, and at best these conflicts have a tangental relationship to our security (and most likely are actuallly detrimental to them). There´s no more reason that British troops should be occupying parts of Afghanistan than those of Sweden, Holland or Argentina.

From the soldiers and their families´point of view, they´re professionals asked to do a job, who feel they should be given the appropriate equipment to do it properly. If the British Army does it on the cheap, this is what´ll happen.

But, what if the money isn´t there? Surely the only argument, given that ´on the cheap´ is the only way that they can do it, is not to do it at all. That the British Army has no place supporting the government in Afghanistan, Iraq or any other far-off locale. Let other countries, those with money and pretensions to importance worry about all that shite.

And, if we weren´t busy invading places for a mixture of ideology, geo-politics and greed, what would we need an army for? Couldn´t we just say fuck it and spend the rest of the money on, say, windfarms and other forms of sustainable energy. We waste so much money make ourselves unpopular around the world, to "save people" who don´t want us to "save" them, wouldn´t it be better to spend it on helping people?

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