Sunday, October 15, 2006

We don't do surrender

'I'm not doing this...'

Right now we're being treated to a nice example of people falling over themselves agreeing with and embracing someone just because he is (apparently) saying the kind of things they'd like to hear; throwing all their critical faculties into the toilet in the process.

I am of course talking about Head of the British Army, General Richard Dannatt and his criticisms of the occupation of Iraq
. People are just wetting themselves with admiration for the general...

What General Dannatt said - I call insight, integrity and courage.

At last someone with guts to tell it like it is .

Simply Outstanding.

At last, some commom sense.

Sir Richard sounds like he wants to mount a military coup - or is that just wishful thinking on my part?

Oh dear, oh dear oh dear ...

One thing the new-found supporters of General Dannatt don't appear to be hearing is the fact that General Danatt is most definitely up for a Crusade against Muslims in some corner of the world; only that he currently prefers Afghanistan as a match venue because we have more of a chance of 'getting it right' there than in Iraq.

General Dannatt is an arsehole. A dangerous one

Now you can either recognize that Dannatt is a dangerous arsehole because, as a serving general, he has no place getting involved in politics - since Cromwell's day our establishment has been meticulous in only putting unimaginative, apolitical anal retentives at the very top of its armed forces. Sure, that means British soldiers sometimes get slaughtered like pigs on the battlefield but it does mean no general is going to 'do a Napoleon', march on Westminister and take over.

Alternatively, you can recognize that Dannatt is a dangerous arsehole because the thought of Holy War appears to give him a boner

Or, you can recognize that Dannatt is a dangerous arsehole because he seems to be labouring under the impression that we can 'win' in Afghanistan.

Yes, of course, there is plenty of precedent to support that conclusion. The pages of history are just littered with tales of armies successfully occupying Afghanistan without any trouble at all

... for fuck's sake


Being a history geek, one thing Dannatt said in particular really did grate with me

'We don't do surrender '

Which isn't exactly an accurate statement.

The British Army actually does do surrender; sometimes in the very same places it is fighting in today. Not often admittedly but when it does it does it really well; often losing control of entire continents and hemispheres in the process

Stef's All Time Top Five British Army Surrenders ...

1. Singapore 1942
2. Yorktown 1781
3. Kabul 1841
4. Kut (Iraq) 1916
5. Isandlwana 1879

The fall of Singapore just has to be Number One, as the surrender of 80,000 British troops and half an empire to a smaller, less equipped and less provisioned Japanese force was a feat of arms that leaves the Italian in me swooning in admiration. If you look closely at pictures from the time you can just make out General Yamashita biting his top lip trying not to burst out laughing and give the game away before the British handed over all their weapons and supplies.

And, OK, Isandlwana wasn't a surrender. It was a slaughter. The Zulus didn't take prisoners. But it deserves honourable mention as it serves as a pointer as to why 'We don't (usually) do surrender'

We don't (usually) do surrender because we 'do' fuck ups better.

We do fuck ups better because pretty much every non European conflict the British Army has got involved in since the year dot has adhered to the following tried and tested gameplan which offers plenty of scope for a really good fuck up long before surrender ever becomes an issue...

  1. Occupy a country on the pretext that, altruistically, you want to help civilise it
  2. Attempt to defeat local opposition with a small number of troops through application of better training, technology and a stiff upper lip
  3. If that doesn't work play one ethnic group against the other and get them to slaughter each other for you
  4. If that doesn't work scramble back onto some ships and come back another time
  5. If you can't make it to the ships, get massacred by all the locals you've pissed off
  6. Alternatively, if the general in charge is even more stupid than usual, surrender ... and then get massacred

Which currently puts us at round about Stage 3 or 4 of The Game in Iraq and Afghanistan. And it doesn't require uncanny psychic powers to predict the probable outcomes of both.

I thought that's why we taught our officer class to read and sent them to Sandhurst.

I repeat, General Dannatt is a dangerous arsehole.


Apprentice said...

Cyprus: your number 3.

Be interested in your opinion about that 'conflict' sometime. Have some photos of the dangerous arsehole of the day knocking around the archives somewhere.

Great post.

de said...

When Blair says he agrees with everything you say, that is the equivalent of the mafia kiss. I expect the General to be sent to Iraq with British armour and Amercian back up and never seen again.