The Silver Eel

"A gape-jawed serpentine shape of pale metal crested with soot hung high for a sign."

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Thanks to Joe for this link to an article on the Guerilla News Network. There's little that's new here for sandal-wearing, tofu-munching Grauniad readers like myself, but Markey is articulate, and because he has served in Iraq what he has to say carries weight. The most interesting comment he makes is this piece of analysis:

What is really at stake here, and what stands to suffer the most is U.S. credibility. The term may ring paradoxical to some these days, but most in Washington can say it with a straight face because they understand the functional usage of the term.

At this stage of the game “U.S. credibility” has less to do with fulfilling our pledge to bring a democratic Iraq to fruition. It has nothing to do with the long abandoned search for weapons of mass destruction. What U.S. credibility hinges on now is our refusal to accept humiliation (political or military) at the hands of a third world insurgency. Often I hear the argument that “cutting and running” in Iraq will embolden these faceless enemies of ours to install a “terror vacuum” in the failed Iraq, from which they would soon launch terrorist attacks against the U.S. and her allies. This is not the outcome that our policy makers fear. This is propaganda that means to keep the American public believing that their own personal safety somehow depends on the outcome of this war.

Our perceived enemies must never be given cause to believe that the U.S. will ever relent in the fight to destroy them. This is the school of thought to which U.S. policymakers subscribe. That is what is meant by U.S. credibility. Everything else you hear is window dressing.

The Iraq war is rapidly becoming a referendum on U.S. credibility.
This ties in absolutely with a comment Gore Vidal reports, from the time of the founding of what he calls the National Security State, in 1950: "If you want this to work [unprecedented spending on the military in peacetime] you're going to have to scare hell out of the American people." America has effectively been on a war footing ever since.

As to the trigger-happy nature of US troops, that has been the case since at least WW2. My mother served in the RAF in the 1950s, and told me that she knew of Aussie troops who refused to fight with the Americans because they considered them too dangerous, not to the enemy, but to themselves and their allies. Norman Lewis reports the same in Naples '44.


I have a couple of friends in the army. Friend #1 held a bash in January which my wife and I attended. The military bods there were (ironically) the liveliest. I actually got asked a couple of times which newspapers I read - I said, well, The Guardian. In one case this actually resulted in the chap I was talking to backing further and further away, with an expression simultaneously friendly and fixed. When I reported this to Friend #2 a few months later he just shook his head slowly and said, nope, the answer to that one is, The Daily Telegraph and The Sun, without exception.


At 14 September 2006 at 20:37 , Blogger Joe said...

Even Milligan notes this in his war memoirs. In one scene in North Africa they spot a USAF plane flying over their battery "Fuck's sake, don't move!" hisses one of his mates, "or he'll have us."

That is funny about the newspapers though. Mind you, when I was in the officer's mess at RAF Biggin Hill I picked up a copy of the Gruniad there. Maybe different in the RAF?

At 16 September 2006 at 19:37 , Blogger The Silver Eel said...

Could be, could be...

I would have been surprised to be asked the question once in the evening, and my first reaction was, people still do this?, but two or three times..?

At 26 September 2006 at 11:22 , Blogger Yvonne said...

I read an article once about "friendly fire", written by a graduate of a well-known miltary academy in the US, that cited instances of it going back to the US Civil War.

I went off the Guardian when it started being snotty about Pagans. I wouldn't mind if it was snotty about all religions, but it reserves a special tone of condescension for Pagans. Though at least Pagans are now appearing from time to time in its Face to Faith column.

On the subject of US credibility, those comments certainly ring true - but wasn't that exactly what happened in Vietnam?


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home