Hmm, not sure about this

His sons, meanwhile, are princes of Tatler: profligate and ignorant, they inhabit a remote Chelsea pond. Harry is known primarily for inheriting the jocular racism of his grandfather. He once called a fellow soldier \”our little Paki friend\”; and what great-grandson of George VI would be so stupid as to wear a Nazi uniform as fancy dress? William just seems desperately unhappy, an anxious sacrifice too befuddled by his destiny to grasp its needs or meaning. We read of £4,000-a-night hotel suites; of £250,000 dresses; of publicly owned helicopters taking detours to amuse the princes and their friends. Last Saturday the princes attended a wedding; an RAF Sea King appeared and circled the castle. (The Ministry of Defence said there was no detour.) This is not forgivable expenditure. This is the wages of unthinking entitlement and mindless greed.

They\’re actually doing what people rather expect young princes to do aren\’t they? One has gone to war, as his Uncle did, the other flies search and rescue. All rather feudal, that there are princes, that they do this military stuff. But all rather according to the script as well, isn\’t it?

34 thoughts on “Hmm, not sure about this”

  1. “We read of £4,000-a-night hotel suites; of £250,000 dresses…”

    We read all that about football players & pop stars too. And there’s more of them!

    The ‘Guardian’: where everything comes down to the politics of envy.

  2. it’s not just royal nuptials that attract fly-overs too – some years ago we were walking past a village church near RAF Lyneham when an RAF wedding party emerged – as we stood and watched we were surprised* when a C-130 Hercules (aka a “Fat Albert”) suddenly came over the house behind us at no more than a couple of hundred feet to salute the couple.

    *bicycle-clip time

  3. So Much For Subtlety

    Well his taste in women is not quite my liking, but I have to say I can think of quite a few of his fellow Brits who would not view a life of luxury hotels and expensive dresses for his bint as a sign of unhappiness.

    Pathetic little excuse for a human being. The writer that is, not the prince.

  4. Well, two problems here. The first is that constitutional monarchs are by definition useless, and required to be. They are literally just figureheads. I mean, you nail them to the front of boats. Right? THey don’t do anything at all. If they tried to do anything (e.g. refuse to sign a law, or give some orders to the army, or something) there would be a constitutional crisis. They are to the constitution what Chas Smash is to Madness. Has to be there, just to do nothing. Besides a nutty dance.

    So, they will always look like a waste of money. Because they are. We could equally appoint an arbitrary citizen by lottery, or Britain’s Favourite Pet, or something. Just so on paper somebody other than the PM is head of State, even though the PM actually is in all practical sense. All because of that disastrous puritan revolution. It didn’t have to be this way, but the agreement after the disastrous direct puritan rule was taht from now on, the monarch would be the puppet of the gentry. And here we are, with a succession (literally, again) of people who all look like George III.

    The second problem is; get the average person to name Britains’ greatest monarchs, and what answers will you get?

    Victoria, Elizabeth, Elizabeth, Queen Anne, the Queen Mum, Princess Di. The only male ones anyone remembers are the mad and psycopathic ones (George III. Henry VIII. Norman The Conqueror. And Harold who burnt the cakes, or was that Arthur?).

    So? Well, we are a matrist society. Males are trained from birth to consider women higher moral creatures, and will willingly serve them, die for them, buy them shoes, etc. So, we’ve had sixty years of a woman, so everyone’s put up with her costing a fortune and being fucking useless. Just wait till we get a King Charles III, without the whole “ooh, let me throw my coat in a muddy puddle for you” aura around him. The whole country will have turned into republicans by the next tuesday unless the Parliament votes to make Kate the queen.

    Seriously, we don’t mind fabulously wealthy women sponging off the poor, because angels on pedestals and all that. I can’t wait to see the culture shock when it’s Charles the Loon at the top of the welfare pyramid.

  5. So Much For Subtlety

    Ian B

    The first is that constitutional monarchs are by definition useless, and required to be. They are literally just figureheads.

    I disagree. They are very useful. They serve. In the military mainly. Which gives the Army no end of snob appeal. Until recently the Army and the Royal Navy could recruit really good candidates because it was seen as the done thing – the Royals did it after all. Who knows, you might get to meet one. Unlike, say, the American Army which has been stuck with the post-Vietnam dregs at the top of their command chain for a while.

    Of course in an ideal world they also die. No society can survive if the upper class is not willing to serve and die in the military. One thing Britain has been very good at. Again, unlike America post-1945. Best thing that little red haired bastard spawn could have done is die in Afghanistan. Pity.

    So, we’ve had sixty years of a woman, so everyone’s put up with her costing a fortune and being fucking useless.

    Does she cost a fortune? I bet she is cheaper than the French President. And given her appeal to American tourists, probably well worth the money. And she has not been useless. She has served and served very well. She has offered advice. She has signed laws. And she has done nothing too stupid. She must be doing something right because a disproportionate number of decent and stable societies in the world have her as their head of state. I wouldn’t think that was a coincidence. Especially as a large number of the rest have one of her relatives or some other monarch at the head of their state. I mean, where would you rather live, Sweden or Somali?

    The whole country will have turned into republicans by the next tuesday unless the Parliament votes to make Kate the queen.

    Maybe. But of course we should not listen to them. The King’s job is to carry on even if everyone hates him.

    I can’t wait to see the culture shock when it’s Charles the Loon at the top of the welfare pyramid.

    The dislike of Charles is one of these odd things. I mean he believes everything that the Metropolitan elite does. I bet he even reads the Guardian. He is into organic food, respecting Islam, the environment, the whole nine yards. Often before it was fashionable. He even had the good taste to dump the plastic doll his parents made him marry for some old boot that he actually loved.

    On top of that he has done no end of good things. Most people like his views on architecture, He has done endless things for young people. Poundbury is a huge success.

    If he wasn’t a Royal and reverse snobbery didn’t apply, I bet he would be well liked by everyone, especially the ar$eholes who read the Guardian.

  6. SMFS-

    Charles cheated on the nation’s darling princess. For that, he will never be forgiven.

    Like I said, matrist culture- specifically, literally a “princess culture”. Men who treat women badly are damned forever (hence the current hysteria about Saatchi and Princess Nigella). It’s probably the most profound weakness in the national character.

  7. So Much For Subtlety

    Ian B

    Charles cheated on the nation’s darling princess. For that, he will never be forgiven.

    That is true, but they hated him even before that. And he probably is a twat to be honest. But why would anyone care? I don’t have to live with the guy. I don’t even need to speak to him. All I need him to do is produce an heir, not rock the boat and sign whatever laws are put in front of him.

    Which he may or may not do.

    Actually I would think that Charles is one of the few people in politics and British public life whose influence has been entirely for the good. More so than any elected sh!t. One of the few areas of social work that actually works in Britain is the Prince’s Trust – at least from what people I know who know something about it tell me. He is virtually the only person who has something sensible to say about modern architecture. The only person I know who has produced a decent housing estate. I am even wiling to listen to his views of GMOs to a certain extent.

    Mind you, I still don’t like him or his family much, but it is hard to deny we have got a very good bargain out of them.

  8. The main reason for keeping a hereditary head of state is the likelihood of civil strife.
    Constitutional monarchies are the least likely society to have a civil war i.e. your offspring are most likely to escape civil strife if they live in a society like the UK, the “dominions” or one of those nice bicycling monarchies.
    A case of evidence based policy really, for whenever one of the more vitriolic republicans starts ranting about how wrong/expensive/illogical/whatever, a monarchy is

  9. The Guardian is quite happy employing KGB men: why then should pay any heed to its views on anything else?

  10. The Royal Family doesn’t exercise political power and the cost of maintaining them amounts to little more than a rounding error in the budget. Abolishing the monarchy wouldn’t really change anything so the whole debate is a pointless fight over symbolism. That might change if Charles becomes king and tries to use his position to influence government policy, which could provoke a constitutional crisis. But unless that happens the most sensible attitude to take towards the monarchy is complete indifference.

  11. The biggest argument in favour of the Monarchy is politicians. Winning a referendum on the issue would be childs play. Plaster posters of Maggie and Tony everywhere with the caption ‘Anyone fancy Presidents Thatcher or Blair?’ and the republicans wouldn’t even get double figures.

  12. constitutional monarchs are by definition useless, and required to be.

    I like to think there is still something in Decum et tutamen est, which does rather preclude Britain from ever having deified it’s head of parliament in the way that some other countries have managed to do. ALthough that might also be because we are by nature inclined to take the piss out of power. However, this

    They are to the constitution what Chas Smash is to Madness. Has to be there, just to do nothing. Besides a nutty dance.

    made me chuckle. May I suggest for the benefit of younger readers that ‘Bez’ and ‘The Happy Mondays’ works just as well?

  13. The Royals are a bargain. That they annoy the worthless twats who write for and read the Grauniad is enough for me. The tourism benefits and occasional silly hat events are a bonus and as good as free.

  14. The monarchy is not expensive, and it does bring benefits (especially in respect of army recruitment); but few people consider the opportunity costs. Boot out the queen and you could lease Buckingham Palace for a considerable sum of money, far in excess of what she nominally costs the exchequer. A decent system of land value tax would reveal these hidden costs.

  15. The second problem is; get the average person to name Britains’ greatest monarchs, and what answers will you get?

    Victoria, Elizabeth, Elizabeth, Queen Anne, the Queen Mum, Princess Di.

    Nope – Henry V, Richard I spring to mind and most people will be aware of their achievements. Also the heroic failures such as Richard III and Charles I.

    As for that “disastrous puritan revolution” – it gave us an end to the divine right of kings – eventually – and a bloody good thing, too.

  16. “No society can survive if the upper class is not willing to serve and die in the military. One thing Britain has been very good at. Again, unlike America post-1945.”
    Yes. Well. It is usually preferable to serve in a manner the opposition die in their military. A principle the British Army has not always caught on to.
    US military? It has actually won in every conflict it’s been engaged in. Nam? Despite prosecuting a war under difficult circumstances, that as well. It succeeded in halting Communist expansion in the Far East which was the war aim. The Reds had to be fought somewhere & that was the battlefield of necessity. if the costs were high, the politically self imposed rules of engagement didn’t help.
    The British Army is blundering to an ignominious defeat in Afghanistan. misled by an officer class more interested in dubious notions of ‘regimental honour’ than practical warfighting. There’s nothing heroic in sending poorly trained troops be be maimed & killed with inadequate equipment & support. Heroic would be standing up to the politicians & telling them to fuck off.

  17. SMFS,

    I disagree. They are very useful. They serve. In the military mainly. Which gives the Army no end of snob appeal. Until recently the Army and the Royal Navy could recruit really good candidates because it was seen as the done thing – the Royals did it after all. Who knows, you might get to meet one. Unlike, say, the American Army which has been stuck with the post-Vietnam dregs at the top of their command chain for a while.

    I’m not at all sure that that sticks any longer. Is anyone that bothered about meeting some averagely intelligent people with little real power?

    The monarchy is really just a group of people doing some pageantry, handing out awards, opening up some hospitals and visiting accident scenes. And they do it pretty well. But none of it affects the price of fish, which is why most of the public are now indifferent towards it.

  18. So Much For Subtlety

    bloke in spain

    Yes. Well. It is usually preferable to serve in a manner the opposition die in their military. A principle the British Army has not always caught on to.

    Yes but it does not work out that way all the time. That is fine for easy wars and weak opponents. But countries have to be able to dig deep from time to time and keep on going when they are not slaughtering Fuzzy Wuzzies with a Maxim gun but are fighting Germans who are very good at shooting back. This is the problem the American Army is in – they are very good at killing people, not so good at dying. In the long term there is no substitute for being willing to accept casualties. And that in turn means you need your upper class to go out and do the decent thing by not coming back.

    US military? It has actually won in every conflict it’s been engaged in. Nam? Despite prosecuting a war under difficult circumstances, that as well. It succeeded in halting Communist expansion in the Far East which was the war aim.

    This is a remarkable rewriting of history. America has not won every war it has fought. Much less every conflict – Somalia for instance. It certainly lost Vietnam. Which is why the Vietnamese were able to take over Laos and then Cambodia (from other Communists admittedly). They stayed out of Thailand’s way and Thai death squads won that war and contained Communism, not the US.

    The Reds had to be fought somewhere & that was the battlefield of necessity. if the costs were high, the politically self imposed rules of engagement didn’t help.

    I agree with all that. They still lost.

    The British Army is blundering to an ignominious defeat in Afghanistan. misled by an officer class more interested in dubious notions of ‘regimental honour’ than practical warfighting. There’s nothing heroic in sending poorly trained troops be be maimed & killed with inadequate equipment & support. Heroic would be standing up to the politicians & telling them to fuck off.

    I am not sure I would blame the officers. As we have seen in Iraq the British Army has lost the stomach for a fight – and probably have orders not to fight. When the Iranians take British sailors prisoner and they go on TV to cry and when the Army allows the militias to run riot in Basra, there is a problem. Not with the squaddies, but with their commanders higher up. Britain has not been willing to do much more than a token contribution to either fight though so it is hard to blame anyone but Blair.

  19. Sorry SMFS but Nam was a clear win for the Yanks. The rational behind the war was the Domino Theory. If communism continued to expand it would take down each Asian nation until it controlled the region. In a sense, North Vietnam was as much a victim of the ideological struggle as the South The losses imposed on the VC at Tet broke its back. From then on the NVA gained complete control & the entire nature of the conflict changed. Communism’s expansionary drive was blunted. The US had achieved its objective in Asia. And it achieved its objective in Europe. it had demonstrated its ability & determination to fight. The Soviets never risked a conventional war.
    ” This is the problem the American Army is in – they are very good at killing people, not so good at dying.”
    That’s a problem? There’s nothing glorious about laying down one’s life for the flag. Any military casualty is a failure. Not saying they haven’t suffered a few. Try standing on the cliff at Point du Hoc which the Rangers took & held. Or Omaha Beach. Walk the woods of the Ardennes where the Airborne held despite inadequate equipment, little ammunition & no support. How abut the Pacific campaign?
    There’s a whole Brit myth about the inadequacy of the US military. In the same vein as about the French soldiers. It needs to look at its own record. Chased out of France in ’40 with its tail between its legs. Pushed back to the Egyptian border by a Germany that regarded the north Africa campaign as a sideshow. Humiliated in the Far East. This was an Army that pretended a military commitment over a sizable portion of the world & couldn’t hack it when it came to it. At the outbreak of WW2 the US had an Army suited to limited police actions & little airforce to speak of. With its nearest likely adversaries thousands of miles away it didn’t need them. In the same week of ’44 it not only launched an invasion of France but another almost as large in the Pacific Theatre.
    The problem with the British military is its reliance on the sacrifice of its soldiers to make up for its inadequacy. Reminds me of a pal having to buy his own cold weather gear for a winter exercise in North Norway because the issue kit was crap. They were still doing it for Gulf 2, let alone Gulf 1. What you get when you officer an Army with public school tosspots with traditions rather than sense.

  20. So Much For Subtlety

    bloke in spain

    Sorry SMFS but Nam was a clear win for the Yanks. The rational behind the war was the Domino Theory. If communism continued to expand it would take down each Asian nation until it controlled the region.

    I wish. But it wasn’t. North Vietnam fell. Then South Vietnam. Then Laos and Cambodia. The Thais stopped the Communists in Thailand but they did so with some Chinese verbal support (they told their Communists to go home after they fought with Vietnam) and some American aid, but basically their death squads did it on their own.

    The losses imposed on the VC at Tet broke its back.

    And then they won.

    From then on the NVA gained complete control & the entire nature of the conflict changed. Communism’s expansionary drive was blunted.

    So the North Vietnamese taking over the South’s Communist guerillas and party, which they always controlled anyway, is somehow blunting their expansion? I don’t see that myself. It looks like Tet was a military disaster but a political triumph that led to three more countries becoming Communist sh!tholes.

    And the period after 1974 was a period of Communist victories everywhere, especially in Africa. It does not look like their expansion was blunted at all.

    The US had achieved its objective in Asia. And it achieved its objective in Europe. it had demonstrated its ability & determination to fight. The Soviets never risked a conventional war.

    The last thing Vietnam did was demonstrate their ability and determination to fight. If anything it showed the American public unwilling to give up even a little comfort to protect the people of Indochina and prevent the Killing Fields. The US Army after Vietnam was in a dire condition when frankly the Soviet Army probably did not even need boots to make it to the Channel.

    That’s a problem? There’s nothing glorious about laying down one’s life for the flag. Any military casualty is a failure. Not saying they haven’t suffered a few.

    That’s a problem. Since Homer people have acknowledged it is a problem. There is a lot that is glorious about dying for one’s country and even if there isn’t, societies must pretend there is. Otherwise they become useless and disappear. I do not agree any military casualty is a failure. That assumes it is possible to fight without bloodshed.

    Try standing on the cliff at Point du Hoc which the Rangers took & held. Or Omaha Beach. Walk the woods of the Ardennes where the Airborne held despite inadequate equipment, little ammunition & no support. How abut the Pacific campaign?

    Sure, in 1945 the American Upper Class was willing to fight and die for their country. Look at George Bush Senior or even, God help me, the Kennedy family. Not that they were willing to do much fighting and dying as the Americans tried to keep out as long as possible in both World Wars. But they were willing to do some.

    There’s a whole Brit myth about the inadequacy of the US military. In the same vein as about the French soldiers.

    Which is, no doubt, very good for British morale.

    This was an Army that pretended a military commitment over a sizable portion of the world & couldn’t hack it when it came to it.

    I would not disagree. But it is an Army that has or had a healthy relation with the public. The upper class loved to serve and so Britain never had the sort of mass rejection of service that France had in both Wars or America had in Vietnam. The Army has always been respected.

    What you get when you officer an Army with public school tosspots with traditions rather than sense.

    That is what you get when you won’t pay for kit. We treat the Army shamefully. Largely because those public school tosspots are no longer in charge but people like Brown. And I agree many of them are tosspots. But they used to be reliable in the sense they would go out to some forgotten corner of a foreign field and die in respectable numbers. That is what a health society needs. Of course better kit would be nice too.

  21. I would suggest that a better comparison than whether or not the yanks achieved their battle aim in ‘nam would be the British attitude in Malaya, which did work out for the best.

    What you get when you officer an Army with public school tosspots with traditions rather than sense.

    Of whom you ought to be jolly glad. Because going out and dying is one of their traditions – and one that runs completely counter to sense, when it would be a sight easier and more lucrative to drift into the judging (the alternative for the brighter ones), politics (the exhibitionists) or go and fuck up a bank or three (for the stupid ones). Pretty much the sole appeal for public school chaps of the army is that they get to mess with like minded chums and the food and drink they are accustomed to, and all that is asked in return is that they go off and get blown up by an afghan from time to time.

    Not to mentiont that believe me, if you’d seen some of the chaps I was at school with you’d be pleased they were running round deserts where they can’t do much harm, rather than getting anywhere near the reins of power.

  22. “if you’d seen some of the chaps I was at school with you’d be pleased they were running round deserts where they can’t do much harm, rather than getting anywhere near the reins of power.”
    If they’re anything like the one along the coast, achieved notoriety for porking the heir to the throne’s missus, I’d be inclined to agree. And sorry, you only earn the right to call him an asshole if you’ve suffered his company..
    But I don’t buy into this “war is rugger with guns” crap. As far as I’m concerned, the more of them run around deserts getting killed the better. Evolution in action. It’s the poor sods from council estates don’t get to wear 19thC fancy dress in the officers mess get their legs blown off in inadequate vehicles, my concerns for. Look at our tales of daring do. The yomping across the Falklands. Bravo 2-0, Tornado Down. Inadequate battlefield transport, crap radio equipment, low level passes to lob dumb airfield denial ordnance á la 1960 (That was the last sortie using the mission profile). Watching one bit of footage from the Gulf I recognised coms equipment I was involved in manufacturing in the early 70s. It was shit then.
    Politician last week mentioned the Army’s got more horses than tanks. Does make one wonder about priorities. Being able to field entire mounted cavalry regiments in costume but not casevac copters. Jolly good show, though, what?

  23. I recognised coms equipment I was involved in manufacturing in the early 70s. It was shit then.

    Clansman, perchance?

    You won’t find me arguing that they need better kit. And enough body armour. And you won’t find me happy that we are involved in stupid wars in stupid countries that mean damn-all to our national security.

    I’m not surprised we have more horses than tanks though. I know it sounds silly, but I suspect we don’t need that many tanks (fair enough, we don’t need that many horses, either, but you get my gist) these days. When was the last proper tank battle?

  24. I do connect the equipment failings, the engagement in ill advised adventures & the quality of officer material.
    I regard war fighting as I regard business. I’ve been responsible for guys doing hazardous things under my direction. They get the right equipment to do the task in a safe, effective way or they don’t do it. End of.
    If this country was back to the wall against a foreign invader I could see heroism as a virtue. But the forces are being used to facilitate political agendas way outside that remit. Putting them in harms way unnecessarily is criminal. Show me a hero & mostly it’s either some poor sod’s coping with someone else’s fuck up or a bloody idiot. Why i blame the officers because they’re the ones with the knowledge & the discretion. From the ones at the top who agree to the politicians requests to do operations with inadequate support. To the utter cunts further down with their “we’ll get the job done, donchewworree sah!” attitude. As for not knowing how to die gloriously… I’m quite willing to hand a firearm to anyone with that attitude. You point the little hole at your forehead & pull the trigger & do the rest of us a favour.

  25. The way the British army is used these days in support of political goals overseas where the UK’s ‘defence’ is not at issue (in contrast to its highly debatable ‘defence interests) puts a lot of pressure on the old mechanism of the military compact. Inherently, the feedback mechanisms of the armed forces hierarchy (career soldiers) and the MoD (career civil servants) isn’t going to be responsive enough to deal with developing exigencies on the ground, such as for example issues with equipment deficiencies or intelligence.

    The obvious solution to this problem is to use private contractors to secure objectives in relation to oil fields. That would work, as proved by the American example. It may even be more cost effective.

  26. The obvious solution to this problem is to use private contractors to secure objectives in relation to oil fields. That would work, as proved by the American example. It may even be more cost effective

    there is nothing new under the sun; this would simply be a return to the old ‘presidency army’ system that existed under the East India Company in India. Which certainly worked for a while.

    Using mercenaries to secure your national interests is often seen as a bit of a PR own goal these days though.

  27. So Much For Subtlety

    sam

    I would suggest that a better comparison than whether or not the yanks achieved their battle aim in ‘nam would be the British attitude in Malaya, which did work out for the best.

    Malaya was a British loss. It was given independence. The Emergency just made sure it would go to conservative Malays rather than Chinese Communists. Good for them, I admit. Not much either way for us.

    bloke in spain

    It’s the poor sods from council estates don’t get to wear 19thC fancy dress in the officers mess get their legs blown off in inadequate vehicles, my concerns for.

    Officers are disproportionately like to die. And to be honest those young lads off council estates are often the working class equivalent of the Upper class Rugger Bugger. They often share a great deal in common when it comes to the joys of military life.

    Politician last week mentioned the Army’s got more horses than tanks. Does make one wonder about priorities. Being able to field entire mounted cavalry regiments in costume but not casevac copters. Jolly good show, though, what?

    The funding for the Army is shameful. As is the equipment. But none of that matters if the Army won’t fight. To a limited extent an Army that can fight can make up for a lot of that. Until recently the British army did fight and, say, the Italians did not. In fact most Armies do not. The British Army was a gem and we have squandered it like everything else the Victorians left us.

    The real scandal is we have more generals (counting brigadiers that is) than tanks. And more admirals than ships. We are not so different from Argentina these days.

    sam

    When was the last proper tank battle?

    The Gulf War? Britain would be using tanks a lot more if there were any tanks to use. Think how useful they would have been in the Falklands?

    bloke in spain

    They get the right equipment to do the task in a safe, effective way or they don’t do it. End of.

    But that is a legacy of colonial fighting where the British had a lot of choices. At some point, it ain’t going to happen like that and the question arises whether the Army will fight anyway. The British Army usually has.

    But the forces are being used to facilitate political agendas way outside that remit. Putting them in harms way unnecessarily is criminal.

    Sorry but that is the point of the Army. War is politics by other means and all that. The problem is the asinine nature of the political agenda – short term, shallow, focused on getting good press instead of the country’s real interests.

    Show me a hero & mostly it’s either some poor sod’s coping with someone else’s fuck up or a bloody idiot.

    H Jones?

  28. @SMFS
    “Until recently the British army did fight and, say, the Italians did not. In fact most Armies do not. ”
    Sorry SMFS but I’m just not buying that. The forces that drove the British Army back to the Egyptian border were largely Italian. It’s not whether the soldiers will fight, it’s whether they get the chance to fight & fight effectively. And that’s really down to the generalship & the objectives the politicians give them.
    Seeing you’ve already dissed the Wops & Yanks, let’s give the French their turn as they usually come in for general disdain. Except, where they got a chance to fight during the Fall of France they fought tenaciously & effectively. It was the French soldier holding the Flanders perimeter than enabled the Dunkerque evacuation. But their generalship & the political direction behind it was appalling.
    In any case as the German Army showed, up until the disastrous Russian adventure, armies win battles by not fighting. Good generalship ensures they don’t much need to.

    “H Jones?”
    Oh definitely bloody idiot. Charging machine gun nests isn’t in the colonelcy job description. It’s a management role. What he was there for. Makes as much sense as me running a building project by loading the cement mixer when I should be answering the phone. That he did it shows something had gone seriously wrong with the officering. Compromising the triple C should have been the military objective of the Argentinians, not self administered.

    For an historical point of view, there’s a lot to be learned from the way Eisenhower organised the invasion. The unsung heroes were the people he used to manage the logistics, many of whom were really bods from industry & commerce dressed up in uniform, with no military experience whatsoever. But they understood how to get what was needed where it was needed when it was needed. However, you can see the military mind at work in ‘Market Garden’.

  29. SMFS

    Malaya was going to go independent anyway, as was every other bit of the empire we could no longer afford to hold onto. As, indeed, did every other &c. The long term benefit was key, namely “did we get a nation state that was happy to trade with us and thinks well of us?” The way we conducted ourselves in Malaya ensured that we did; the country going to chinese communists would have been a disaster. Our trading relationships with Singapore and Malaysia are excellent and beneficial.

    The Gulf War?
    The last tank battle I remember was the first Gulf War, too. The point being that that was the last time we were engaging the national army of a nation state (eg, someone who had MBTs). Every conflict we have been involved in since then has not had that need, because they are mostly fighting insurgent forces. Now, you could well say, and I would agree, “what happens the next time we have to do that?” but the other question is “igiven that we have limited resources, are we better off devoting them to the warfare that we are engaged with now rather than the warfare we might be in the future?”

    However, I would heartily commend the continued army employment of good old fashioed public school chaps, lest we are denied the pleasure of people like Major Alison Digby Tatham-Wharter, who led his men into battle at Arnhem armed only with an umbrella.* His battalion held the bridge for 80 hours and he was awarded the DSO. And lived until 1993, by the by.

    *just before the battle, one of his junior officers said “But what are you going to if the enemy starts to fire on us?” He is said to have replied “And what are you going to do if it rains?”

  30. So Much For Subtlety

    bloke in spain

    The forces that drove the British Army back to the Egyptian border were largely Italian. It’s not whether the soldiers will fight, it’s whether they get the chance to fight & fight effectively. And that’s really down to the generalship & the objectives the politicians give them.

    Sorry but what is the difference between a chance to fight effectively and actually fighting? The Germans drove the British back to the border after O’Conner nearly drove them out of Libya. Most of the soldiers may have been Italian but it was the German core that did it.

    Except, where they got a chance to fight during the Fall of France they fought tenaciously & effectively.

    Some of them. Not many of them. The French have not done particularly well since their Upper Class declined to fight and die.

    In any case as the German Army showed, up until the disastrous Russian adventure, armies win battles by not fighting. Good generalship ensures they don’t much need to.

    The war up to the invasion of Russia was exceptional. Even then the Germans did fight and they fought hard. You can see in their casualty figures which were not neglible. But the French just weren’t in the war. However if the Germans had not been willing to fight, they would never have been able to manoever. The driving through the countryside part was dependent on the fighting hard to break through part.

    Oh definitely bloody idiot. Charging machine gun nests isn’t in the colonelcy job description. It’s a management role. What he was there for.

    Maybe not. But it is an officer’s job. Presumably his soldiers went to ground and he needed to get them to get up and move forward. So he led by example. And they did move forward. Perhaps some captain ought to have done it, but an officer needed to.

    But they understood how to get what was needed where it was needed when it was needed. However, you can see the military mind at work in ‘Market Garden’.

    Actually that logistics experience is what the British Army was traditionally very good at. Going back to campaigns in Africa at least. And I am not much impressed with the logistics effort in invading the mainland. Pluto was useless, they lost one of the Mulberries, the Armies usually ran short of essentials while the rear lines had plenty of chewing gum.

    But that is neither here nor there. I think that the British Army has problems producing visionaries, but that is probably due to the fact that liberal societies do not readily tolerate the sort of people who are that sort of person. The concept for Market Garden was as modern and up-to-date as you could wish. Still didn’t work out.

    sam

    Malaya was going to go independent anyway, as was every other bit of the empire we could no longer afford to hold onto.

    Defeatism! And retrospectively you are right. But it did not look that way at the time – Malaya was also profitable so it was not a huge drain.

    the country going to chinese communists would have been a disaster. Our trading relationships with Singapore and Malaysia are excellent and beneficial.

    Disaster for them. Less so for us. We do a lot of trade with the region, but those conservative Malays have been feeling their way toward Jihadis for some time. Not sure about the long run. Perhaps a puppet government would have suited us even more.

    The last tank battle I remember was the first Gulf War, too.

    So essentially yesterday in terms of military kit. I also think tanks would have been useful in fighting those insurgents from time to time as well.

    Tim Newman

    For a colonel, he had no business getting killed in that manner. It was pure stupidity on his part.

    I disagree. As a colonel it was precisely his job to do that. He was employed to lead his men and lead them he did.

    It would be nice if all wars were won on the cheap and no one died. But unless we are fighting Fuzzy Wuzzies it does not work out that way. As some dead Frenchman said, in the modern world it is a choice between Auschwitz and Verdun. If we want to avoid Auschwitz we have to be prepared to fight at Verdun. Now nuclear weapons have made Verdun a little less likely, but they have made Auschwitz a lot more likely so it evens out. The British Army has been that rare thing – an Army willing to fight, and fight foreigners, not their own. Most countries cannot say the same thing. We ought to treasure it for what it is. And spend more on kit.

    We have benefited enormously because of our Upper Class being willing to do like H and die in some foreign field. That is their job.

  31. Look SMFS
    I’ve no objection to as many upper class heroes as you can round up dying for their country in any manner they like. But the do seem to think they should have the authority to order other more sensible people about. So let’s do a deal. We’ll have a couple of regiments of Hooray Henry’s holding every post from Colonel down to latrine orderly, We can call them the Eton & Winchester Rugger Buggers Foot & Mouth & they can have the privilege to go in first, without any air-cover, slinging themselves on any hand-grenades they see. Just leave the rest of us out of it.

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