Why Will Self desires the return of National Service

Personally, as someone who enjoys nothing more than a little camping, marching, and target practice, I\’d be first in line.

No, no you won\’t. The maximum conscription age in the UK has been 51. Both times it was 51 in fact.

Will Self will be 51 on 26th September 2012.

Amazing how people propose nonsenses just as they won\’t be affected, isn\’t it?

57 thoughts on “Why Will Self desires the return of National Service”

  1. Yes, but surely the rules could be relaxed a tad for a chap as keen as Will.
    And I’d be tempted as well. The long walks & outside living are part of my life anyway but I could use some extra target practice. Where’s he going to be standing?

  2. Not even any use for peeling potatoes. Because we’re on contracted-out Pay As You Starve.

    The military don’t want and can’t use a bunch of appalling pols. The country can’t afford it. The man is an idiot.

  3. I wonder if Mr. Self would enjoy living in a trench, advancing on foot while under effective enemy fire and being used as target practice? Even at 51, he could find the experience character-forming – while it lasted.

  4. So 51 years to actively enjoy national service, but as no one told him he had to do, he’s just missed out. He must be gutted.

  5. If anyone ever invades Britain again, it’ll be over before you’ve got them marching up and down pretending brooms are the guns you haven’t got.

    And, Germany and the USSR were both conscript armies.

  6. I do wish that someone would explain to Will Self that swallowing a dictionary doesn’t automatically make you an intelligent person.
    I am beginning to find his facile.articles rather irritating.

  7. Personally, as someone who enjoys nothing more than a little camping, marching, and target practice, I’d be first in line.

    So why didn’t he join the army cadets, TA, RMR, or full time military then?

  8. Some people did quite well out of national service – my father-in-law emerged with a useful skill as a data processing manager and he was better able to press his trousers than the wife he eventually married.

    But for most people it was a colossal waste of time – all the square-bashing, boot-polishing, floor-scrubbing, guard duties. They didn’t get a lot of chance to enjoy long walks and outdoor living – unless you include sleeping in unheated huts in winter. And people react to the need for mindless discipline in different ways. For every person whose moral fibre was increased, there was surely another whose moral fibre was reduced.

  9. But for most people it was a colossal waste of time…

    I have a Norwegian friend and a German friend who say exactly the same about their national service. A bit of a laugh at times, but an utter waste of a year.

  10. We’ve forgotten how thoroughly national service was detested. It was hated; in our less compliant society I doubt it’s even realistic.

    It had a lot to do with producing teen rebellion in the 1950s.

  11. “. . .camping, marching, and target practice. . .”

    This guy has no idea what conscription is like.

  12. I think that I’m actually quite pleased that Ian didn’t (appear to) get my allusion that war-time was the circle of hell reserved for people who don’t believe in conscription.

    It shows just how much we’ve managed to remove society from the militaristic nationalism of, well, history.

    Seriously … Honest …

  13. What about the getting up early in the morning, getting dressed in uniform and going on parade part of it? Can’t imagine Will Self liking that.

  14. So Much For Subtlety

    Surreptitious Evil – “The country can’t afford it. The man is an idiot.”

    The man is an idiot but time after time people find that abolishing conscription does not save money. Well it does not save the government money. Because paying a small number of volunteers properly costs about the same as paying a large number of conscripts next to nothing. There are good arguments against it but I don’t think cost is one of them.

    Grumpy Old Man – “I wonder if Mr. Self would enjoy living in a trench, advancing on foot while under effective enemy fire and being used as target practice? Even at 51, he could find the experience character-forming – while it lasted.”

    I wonder if he would enjoy living under German occupation. Somehow any argument that goes “War is hell and so aren’t we all better off out” is not a very convincing one. Unless everyone in the world does it.

    Ian B – “If anyone ever invades Britain again, it’ll be over before you’ve got them marching up and down pretending brooms are the guns you haven’t got.”

    Isn’t that, you know, a rather strong argument for conscription? Because if we had a mass national Army, it could be mobilised in 24 to 48 hours. Whereas if we relied, as we do, on long time volunteers, it would be over before we got the first lot of new soldiers into their shiny new boots.

    “And, Germany and the USSR were both conscript armies.”

    So … the two most competent and feared Armies we have faced in recent times did it, so we really mustn’t? I am not sure I am following the logic of this.

    12Peter Risdon – “We’ve forgotten how thoroughly national service was detested. It was hated; in our less compliant society I doubt it’s even realistic.”

    So because Britain is no longer a coherent nation but a rabble of self-seeking individuals, because we have become much more like the Italians, or God help us, the Arabs, we can’t have something that might make the nation more coherent and unified like conscription?

    I am pretty sure that is an excellent argument against further immigration but not so much against conscription.

    “It had a lot to do with producing teen rebellion in the 1950s.”

    You think? Why do you so think?

  15. SMFS, there’s a lot to deal with there, so let’s start with you explaining how conscription had a damn thing to do with preventing “German occupation”. Points will be awarded for a comprehensive war-gaming of a successful Sealion. Alternatively you can provide a counterfactual for some kind of super-science technology that would have allowed U-boats to ignore both ASDIC and surface RADAR.

  16. So Much For Subtlety

    Richard Allan – “let’s start with you explaining how conscription had a damn thing to do with preventing “German occupation”.”

    Which war? In both the Germans had no trouble defeating France. It had more trouble defeating Russia – which relied on conscription. This conscription was a necessary condition for Germany’s defeat. Additionally it had to fight a British effort of varying degrees of seriousness. Could that effort have been possible without conscription? I think in WW2 it may have been possible but I would not bet on it. If Germany had been undefeated on the mainland, there was no chance of a prolonged British resistance. With or without radar and ASDIC.

    After WW2 it was only the nuclear bomb that made Europe safe from Soviet invasion. If we did not have that we would have had to have a large conventional Army of sufficient size to deter the Soviet Army. Which would have meant years of national service for everyone.

  17. IanB:

    Mises supported conscription under certain circumstances. His views (which you can find in HUMAN ACTION) are mine, as well. There is, simply, no practical alternative consistent with either democracy or freedom.

    NOTE: Mises’ opinion on the subject appears in every edition of HA except The Scholar’s Edition, from which it has been cleverly excised with rewriting “fore and aft” to camouflage ther change (Lew you-know-who gave me a specific explanation, attributing it to revelation of LVM’s true opinion on the matter–flatly contradicted to me in phone conversation with his personal secretary (Mrs. Bien Grieves) at FEE.

  18. @ so much for subtlety. WWII was 70 years ago, when the majority of armies were mostly conscripted. Neither did the Germans beat the French easily in both WW. In 14-18, the French + allies fought the Germans to a standstill. and the Russian conscript army disintegrated under internal revolutionary pressures. It was only the prospect of ever-increasing numbers of US troops joining the fight that led to the Armistice.
    My remark assumed the application of contemporary mores to the idea of conscription, not transferring back to a completely different social/political system which would be rejected out of hand today. As a 20 -year veteran, I would be horrified at the thought of unsuitable, disaffected youths putting the lives of professional soldiers at risk on active operations.

  19. Because paying a small number of volunteers properly costs about the same as paying a large number of conscripts next to nothing.

    Which is, of course, utter bollocks. The sort of mendacious bullshit that my local councillor believes. You’ll notice that I didn’t say “the country can’t afford to pay them.”

    A top rate private in our volunteer army gets just over £20k. Even on Jobseekers Allowance rates, you are not going to get a brick of conscripts for that. And that’s not counting the necessary supervision.

    But it is a total red herring – the cost of a soldier’s pay is relatively inconsequential in the defence budget – roughly an eighth of the per capita cost of a bod in uniform goes on their salary. So even if you pay everybody shit, we’ll get, what, an extra 20,000 warm bodies.

    Pick a better argument.

  20. SMFS’s argument about cost might be more or less true if he had said, “paying and equipping a relatively small number of volunteers properly costs about the same as paying a much larger number of conscripts next to nothing (and equipping them with the barest minimum).”

    The rest of his(?) arguments are mostly rubbish, though.

  21. And what about those who refuse? Prison?

    Leftist logic at its clearest. Compulsory military service would make us “free,” so of course those who refuse this kind of “freedom” must be treated as criminals and deprived of their freedom. This is what leftism is.

  22. I believe that in Switzerland, you do your national service and then are expected to maintain a weapon in firing order untiul such time as the country needs you to go on duty. If the same condition were to apply in the UK, how would we, as a society, come to terms with the fact that every adult male was in legal possession of a good-quality firearm? We do not even seem to like the thought of our police force being armed.

  23. how would we, as a society, come to terms with the fact that every adult male was in legal possession of a good-quality firearm?

    Issue them with an SA-80 instead of a “good-quality firearm”?

  24. SMFS-

    Which war? In both the Germans had no trouble defeating France. It had more trouble defeating Russia – which relied on conscription.

    In the Great War, Germany never defeated France. The German offensive was blocked by the French and relatively small BEF. Hence, the trenches.

    The Second War was a close run thing. It’s now generally recognised that there was no formal German policy of “Blitzkreig” and the German victory was down to a number of factors-

    The stroke of genius was attacking through the Ardennes, where French defence was weak since nobody thought it possible. Even so, the attack primarily succeeded because Rommel disobeyed orders (as usual) and ran ahead of his supply lines and infantry (as usual) and had the French/British response been better organised, it would have resulted in a German catastrophe. The German armoured spearhed was woefully vulnerable on the left flank, but the disarrayed French, under the command of an elderly general ensconsced in a chateau without even telephones(!) never responded adequately. Additionally, for several days there were huge German traffic snarl ups that were vulnerable to destruction by air strikes that were never ordered.

    The German crossing of the Meuse was also enormously aided by the spread of panic among the French conscript army, who at Bulson fled their positions without a shot being fired due to a rumour that German tanks were behind them, which they weren’t.

    So you’ve got two conscript armies; one of them won by some strategic cunning and a lot of luck, the other one collapsed into chaos. Take your pick.

    And, if France and Britain had actually attacked the Germans at the start instead of settling for the Phoney War, it’s generally believed (and was belived by the German generals afterwards) that they’d have made mincemeat of the inadequate German forces in the West.

  25. SE – I was hoping for a Kalashnikov – a low-tech, highly reliable weapon – rather than something that needs constant care and attention.

  26. I was hoping for a Kalashnikov – a low-tech, highly reliable weapon

    You’ve not fired one, have you? It reliably makes the loud bang noise, I’ll grant you. Rather less good at hitting things at a distance. Something even the SA-80 gets right. The Stg.9 would do both nicely. Or, frankly, the Lewis M&T L129A1.

    But I love this comment:

    I fear the only result would be a generation of rather fitter hoodies with an appreciation of small-group tactics …

  27. So Much For Subtlety

    Surreptitious Evil – “Which is, of course, utter bollocks. The sort of mendacious bullshit that my local councillor believes.”

    And actually exactly what happened when Britain got rid of national service. Any number of countries have recently got rid of their mass conscript Armies. Know of any that have made large savings?

    “But it is a total red herring – the cost of a soldier’s pay is relatively inconsequential in the defence budget – roughly an eighth of the per capita cost of a bod in uniform goes on their salary. So even if you pay everybody shit, we’ll get, what, an extra 20,000 warm bodies.

    Pick a better argument.”

    Yes but the question is whether those costs are fixed or not. The Defence budget is an utter mystery because so little of it seems to go on anything useful. But take research. Whether we have 100,000 soldiers or 10, that will be more or less the same. The costs won’t go up with more conscripts. What about the other costs? I wish I knew where the money was going. But as someone else said, this is a question of kitting them out properly – or as properly as British governments think suitable these days.

    24JOn – “And what about those who refuse? Prison? Leftist logic at its clearest. Compulsory military service would make us “free,” so of course those who refuse this kind of “freedom” must be treated as criminals and deprived of their freedom. This is what leftism is.”

    I am not sure you can say that is Leftism. I work two days a week for the British government. I have no choice. If I decline to pay my taxes then I go to prison. It has been a long time since any Government in Britain, of the Left or of the Right, has said this is a bad thing. Conscription is just another tax which affects mainly men, mainly when they are young. What is the moral difference?

    26PaulB – “the cry to “bring back National Service” usually comes from the left??”

    It depends what country you are in and what political tradition their Left has. In France? Certainly. Even in America there is a little bit of a tradition of a mass Army as opposed to a small professional one. Hence the Second Amendment. Because in the old days the professional noble-led Army was seen as a bulwark of reaction.

  28. So Much For Subtlety

    Ian B – “In the Great War, Germany never defeated France. The German offensive was blocked by the French and relatively small BEF. Hence, the trenches.”

    The French Army disintegrated into mass mutiny with, allegedly, the French Army turning its artillery on its own soldiers. They were beaten to all intents and purposes.

    “The Second War was a close run thing.”

    Well it should have been. But in 1940 it wasn’t.

    “The stroke of genius was attacking through the Ardennes, where French defence was weak since nobody thought it possible.”

    No doubt. But that is the point about attacking first – all your soldiers are in the right place at the right time where they can over-run the by definition weak local defence. The other side’s soldiers are not. Attacking first makes all the difference because once you have broken through, you can cruise among their soft skinned transport units to your heart’s content. While the other sides tanks and artillery are in the wrong place facing the wrong way. It was not a close run thing. As Israel has repeatedly shown – the advantage to the attacker is over whelming and there is not much other people can do about it.

    “had the French/British response been better organised, it would have resulted in a German catastrophe.”

    It is almost impossible to say in retrospect and I am very dubious of this sort of thing. But I can only think of one case where an Armoured group has made a penetration and not gone on to run riot until its supplies run out and that is the German offensive in 1944. Although that may be due to their supplies running out. No matter how good the Germans were in Russia, the Germans always ended up retreating. No matter how poorly equipped the North Koreans were, once they crossed the 38th parallel they did not stop until Pusan. Even the Chinese, with no Armour at all, threw the Americans into total disarray. Israel has driven over larger Armies until they got bored and stopped on numerous occasions. Although it may be that B-52s stopped at least one North Vietnamese offensive.

    “So you’ve got two conscript armies; one of them won by some strategic cunning and a lot of luck, the other one collapsed into chaos. Take your pick.”

    And you have a small professional British Army in their as well. Which also retreated. Not because they were poor quality soldiers, or because they were thrown into disarray, but just because on a battlefield of that size with fighting of that scale, they did not make enough of a difference. As Bismarck said, if the British Army had landed in Germany, he would have ordered the police to arrest them.

    The parallel I would draw with conscription is those Africans who had to get involved with the slave trade because they needed guns. If your neighbours are buying guns by selling your own people into slavery, you need to sell some other people into slavery so you can buy guns to protect yourself too. It is a vicious circle. If you refuse, you disappear. You can complain about the utter immorality of it all, but only from someone else’s slave depot.

    On the mainland of Eurasia, there is no choice but to have a large conscript Army. Britain was an island so could avoid that in the old days but only at a price. These days it is less possible because technology makes the Channel less of an obstacle. America can still do so to a large extent. The only thing that has changed that is the atomic bomb.

  29. So Much For Subtlety

    Surreptitious Evil – “You’ve not fired one, have you? It reliably makes the loud bang noise, I’ll grant you. Rather less good at hitting things at a distance.”

    It depends if you think hitting things at a distance is important or not. The Soviets looked at modern combat and decided it wasn’t worth it. They were probably right as mostly the West has mocked their decisions and then quietly followed them. Western firearms are, I think, slowly converging to the Soviet model except that everyone seems to be going bullpup these days. Another lead Britain could have had but which the government threw away.

    But if accuracy is a problem, there are any number of Western copies of the AK-47. Finland, naturally, has long produced their own versions with the Rk 62 and the Rk 95. Israel copied them with the Galil. South Africa copied it as well with the R 4. I know people who have used the R 4 – while being forced to serve in the South African Army. They liked it. The Italians have made a copy. At least one American manufacturer made their own version which the US Army rejected. I am sure if I checked I could find other people who have as well. The AK-47 is almost certainly the most influential weapon design of the past 100 years. The Brown Bess of the 20th century.

    I would be delighted to see a Galil in every British home. And any number of hoodies knowing how to use it. Because the point about service in the Army is that the people coming out are not the same sort of people as they were going in.

  30. So Much For Subtlety

    Incidentally TW says “both times” conscription was introduced. Someone correct me if I am wrong, but hasn’t it been introduced three times? Once each in both World Wars. But then it wasn’t abolished in 1945 only to be re-introduced in 1947-or-so?

  31. SMFS-

    The French Army disintegrated into mass mutiny with, allegedly, the French Army turning its artillery on its own soldiers. They were beaten to all intents and purposes.

    Any army is prone to mutiny, and the French mutinies happened in 1917, three years into a futile stalemate. Nonetheless they were suppressed, and the stalemate continued until the threat of fresh meat from the USA tipped the scales sufficiently to lead to a German surrender.

  32. It depends if you think hitting things at a distance is important or not. The Soviets looked at modern combat and decided it wasn’t worth it. They were probably right as mostly the West has mocked their decisions and then quietly followed them.

    I forgot the depth of your military experience. I know it might surprise you but even chinless wonders are expected to be accurate out to a minimum of 300 and normally 400m with the SA-80. And we’ve re-introduced 7.62 rifles – not because of stopping power, but because of reliable long range. And both the .338 and .5 sniper rifles. Which shoot a long way.

    The AK-47 is almost certainly the most influential weapon design of the past 100 years. The Brown Bess of the 20th century.

    And Tennants is more popular than the rather nice “Blue Moon” stuff I had last week. However, that has everything to do with ease of manufacture and use …

  33. So Much For Subtlety

    Ian B – “Any army is prone to mutiny”

    Some Armies are more prone than others. Some Armies come from cohesive societies where the Ruling Class is willing to die in large numbers to continue that society. Some do not. Britain used to be one. Italy used to be another. France used to be somewhere in between. I still find it fairly depressing that Britain is no longer what it used to be.

    Another problem with volunteer Armies you can see in Lebanon. Their soldiers are disproportionately poor – that is, Shia. So they will not fight for the Lebanese State against Hezbollah. Britain did once have this problem – the British Army was disproportionately Ulster Protestants and so they came close to mutiny just before WW1. Mass conscription at least means the Army looks more like the nation.

  34. So Much For Subtlety

    Surreptitious Evil – “I forgot the depth of your military experience. I know it might surprise you but even chinless wonders are expected to be accurate out to a minimum of 300 and normally 400m with the SA-80. ”

    Why would it surprise me? Perhaps if you stuck to what I said instead of trying to get in a smear your reply might be a little more relevant. So the British Army still thinks range is important? How is that going to surprise me?

    Notice the American Army is going the other way. They had to be dragged unwillingly into adopting the M-16 but now they are moving to the shorter M 4.

    But of course I can see rational conversation on this topic is not going to be possible is it?

    “And both the .338 and .5 sniper rifles. Which shoot a long way. ”

    Yes. Well. They would wouldn’t they?

  35. Why would it surprise me? Perhaps if you stuck to what I said instead of trying to get in a smear your reply might be a little more relevant

    You know nothing about which you speak. If you think that Soviet era cold war tactics, based on staying in your BMP / BTR as long as possible because of the chemical and nuclear war going on outside are relevant to any modern conflict then I suggest you need to move back to the 1970s.

    Your malicious ignorance on military matters, as well as a pendantic insistance that actual experience must be wholly irrelevant is really quite disturbing. As is your insistance that the British Army, particularly its officers, is quite so useless.

    Just as a note – the design effective range of the M4 carbine is, despite it being shorter than the M16, almost the same for aimed rather than supressive fire. Why? Because it is a limitation of the bullet, not, between the M4 and 16, of the barrel length.

    CQB capability is necessary – hence shorter weapons and full auto (as opposed to having to carry a separate SMG, with all of the logistics that entails). It’s not ideal – a jacketed round can penetrate or ricochet more, hence CP details tend to use the HK with 9mm, like the police – but you have a CQ sight on top of your optical.

  36. You’ve not fired one, have you? It reliably makes the loud bang noise, I’ll grant you. Rather less good at hitting things at a distance. Something even the SA-80 gets right.

    A marine officer who fought in the invasion of Iraq told me that: his lads were shooting Iraqis who still had another 100m to go before they could shoot back. Same guy thinks the SA-80 is a pretty decent weapon these days.

  37. Same guy thinks the SA-80 is a pretty decent weapon these days.

    It always was a good on-the-range weapon – especially with the SUSAT. It has always been hampered by the NATO round – which is shares with the M16 and M4 – the lack of stopping power and goes turbulent well before (any of) the weapon would otherwise stop being accurate (although the latter is sometimes claimed as a design feature for the round.) Mind you, the short 7.62 the Sovs used isn’t much better. Hence they use the longer (54mm rather than 39mm) cartridge for many weapons.

    It is also right-hand fire only.

    It is still too complicated, although the A2 mods to the working parts have made it much more reliable and the recent replacement of the foregrip section has made it both more robust and better in a concealed fire position.

    The new ACOG sight is nice too.

  38. The AK-47 is a copy of a late WWII German weapon.

    It looks very like the StG.44 (designed by Schmeisser) and, indeed, borrowed the gas system from it. Internally, on the other hand, it owes much more to the M1 Garand.

  39. It is also right-hand fire only.

    Yeah, that’s a pretty major design flaw on any weapon. You even have to cock the damned thing over the top with the left hand to avoid skinning your knuckles.

  40. I know nothing about the AK47 and not a great deal about whether the French were hopeless in 1914 ( as far as I understand it they weren’t ) but I do know that the state has no business Shanghaiing people into its private militia. Conscription is a make or break issue for liberty as far as I’m concerned and if you grant the state the right of compulsory enlistment you enable its war fighting ability to an even greater extent than exists already, how that’s supposed to be a good thing I’ve no idea.

  41. “It is also right-hand fire only.”

    That’s something I’ve never understood. Shooting’s a learned skill. Like driving a car. LHD/RHD? What’s the difference?

  42. Shooting’s a learned skill. Like driving a car. LHD/RHD? What’s the difference?

    For about 1 in 20, strong eye / weak eye. Remember when you used to see kids with NHS specs and plaster over one of the lenses. Doesn’t happen now.

    You even have to cock the damned thing over the top with the left hand to avoid skinning your knuckles.

    Stops you taking your main hand off the pointing the gun and pulling the trigger bits.

    For the other, the cocking handle is apparently a pig for some of the damned.

  43. “For about 1 in 20, strong eye / weak eye.”
    Yes, I can get that but presumably all the weak eyes aren’t on one side.
    It was actually a serious question. I started shooting right handed but then learnt to shoot left as well. Pistol & long arm. Seemed a skill worth acquiring. Like being able to cope with cars in either flavour & about as difficult.
    “You even have to cock the damned thing over the top with the left hand to avoid skinning your knuckles.”
    So why bother?
    That said, using a bow the other way round is proving a lot harder. But then it’s not just re-patterning the body memory but the opposite set of muscles to train. Almost like starting again.

  44. For about 1 in 20, strong eye / weak eye.

    Yes, I can get that but presumably all the weak eyes aren’t on one side.
    It was actually a serious question.

    It was intended as a serious answer – although I could have phrased it more explicitly as “for about 1 in 20 people, their left eye is sufficiently stronger than their right that they have issues shooting from the right shoulder”. I actually have no idea how many people’s right eyes are stronger – I’m a marksmanship coach (with just the SA-80 and various 9mm pistols) not an optician.

    And you can’t transfer the SA-80 to the left shoulder – particularly with the A2. Not only do the spent cartridges cross your face really rather close but you also get a mouthful of cocking handle. Many weapons can be purchased or armourer-modified to left-hand cock and eject. Not this one.

    I’ve certainly got one colleague who shoots shotgun (for fun) from the left and SA-80 (for work) from the right.

    As for the left hand on the cocking handle – you keep better control of the gun that way. And remember, in the military context, you have probably been waving that hand around anyway, loading or changing the magazine. Whereas you are trying to point the weapon at the enemy / down range. And your primary control for that is your right hand on the pistol grip. So moving your hand across, while awkward, is faster and less disruptive than changing hands and cocking with the right. It’s a bit of a kerfuffle to cope with an “interesting” set of design decisions.

  45. SE
    Thanks. Having looked at the SA80 schematics makes sense. If one falls of the back of a truck I’ll be halfway there.
    Sorry if I sounded obtuse but I’m 110% self taught apart from the Lee Enfields we struggled to lift at school. Probably got every bad habit in the book.

  46. Being able to fire from the left shoulder is quite handy if all you have is right-handed cover.

    It’s always a bit embarrassing when people (like me) with no military experience play pretend ninja with those who have.

    For my part, I think conscription is a bright line issue. If you support it, you are not entitled to call yourself a libertarian.

  47. Being able to fire from the left shoulder is quite handy if all you have is right-handed cover.

    You probably could, actually, given sufficiently long arms. Angle your body so the cartridge bounces off the cover, butt way out on your shoulder so the damn cocking handle wangs past the left edge of your mandible rather than crushing your jaw. I’d want to practice though. With a low power cartridge (or in the gas-powered trainer.) And it wouldn’t be aimed fire. And your left shoulder would have stick out of the cover so far it would probably be easier and safer to go low and fire from the right …

    But nobody was saying the SA-80 was a good design … The most complementary was Tim’s mate who thinks it’s okay nowadays. But, since it has been around since about 1986 quite possibly didn’t have much experience of any of its predecessors. And it is certainly better now than it was in A1 form. Unless you get hit in the jaw with the cocking handle.

    For my part, I think conscription is a bright line issue. If you support it, you are not entitled to call yourself a libertarian

    Agreed almost the full way. I’d have a red line at “conspicuous military danger to the nation”, myself. Not that I expect that either to happen or, if it does, for conscripts to be any use. And I’d allow for election into non-combatant arms (c.f. WW1.) But I allow the fundamental point.

    Of course, the US have a different concept – army as the nation of citizens rather than as a tool of the (obviously untrustworthy) federal government. They are still quite keen, if you read the formal literature, constitutionally and practically, on the draft. It is probably more difficult to get a crowd of draftees to fire on a mob than of professionals. But it won’t happen – the Vietnam experience scared too many of what are now the senior pols.

  48. So Much For Subtlety

    Surreptitious Evil – “You know nothing about which you speak. If you think that Soviet era cold war tactics, based on staying in your BMP / BTR as long as possible because of the chemical and nuclear war going on outside are relevant to any modern conflict then I suggest you need to move back to the 1970s.”

    It is utterly pathetic that your argument is so weak you need to keep making shit up. Stop it. Where have I even remotely hinted that Soviet tactics for the nuclear battlefield are remotely relevant to the modern British Army? I didn’t. You made it up. Unbelievable.

    “Your malicious ignorance on military matters, as well as a pendantic insistance that actual experience must be wholly irrelevant is really quite disturbing. As is your insistance that the British Army, particularly its officers, is quite so useless.”

    I would take that accusation more seriously if you had a clue what I was saying. And again, I did not say the British Army was useless. You made that up. I said it was trending to the norm – professional, but more and more like everyone else’s Army and less and less special. How the fuck you can get anything else from that is beyond me. Or would be if not for extensive personal experience of your previous “claims”.

    “CQB capability is necessary – hence shorter weapons and full auto (as opposed to having to carry a separate SMG, with all of the logistics that entails).”

    It has always been necessary. The point is that it is the dominant necessity. As the Soviets did conclude some time ago. Which would seem to support exactly what I said. As opposed to what you seem to think I said.

  49. So Much For Subtlety

    Thornavis. – “but I do know that the state has no business Shanghaiing people into its private militia.”

    How does it differ from any other tax?

    “Conscription is a make or break issue for liberty as far as I’m concerned and if you grant the state the right of compulsory enlistment you enable its war fighting ability to an even greater extent than exists already, how that’s supposed to be a good thing I’ve no idea.”

    I admire people who take principles to their logical ends. I don’t mean that ironically. I really do. The problem is that in the modern world, you need to conscript. When it comes down to it, the West always has. Those Western countries that have real security problems still do. Israel for instance.

    Because nations that are not coherent and able to mobilise the entire population soon disappear. Ask the Palestinians.

    Besides, Britain forced people to serve in the Napoleonic wars and it was still fairly liberal. A lot less administered anyway. We can’t have a perfect society, but we can have as much of it as possible. Is Israel that conscripts less liberal than Saudi Arabia that does not?

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