Vir Cantium

I'm right, you know …


Imagine Britain is fighting a military campaign on a foreign continent, part of a wider conflict. We are operating alongside the US and other allies. We are fighting a brutal regime – brutality that is in little doubt except among, perhaps, a minority in this country, who would rather we had kept out of the whole thing.

In this campaign we and our allies have suffered losses approaching 250,000.

“Surely this can’t go on”, you might think. “We should get out of there. What’s it got to do with us anyway?” Liberal commentators might opine: “We know the other lot are nasty pieces of work, but maybe if we left them alone they wouldn’t keep picking on us.”

Well, such a reaction might be understandable, given the partial picture I have painted. What I omitted to say was that, in return for our losses of nearly 250,000, the other side lost 650,000. Granted, it would have been preferable had those 900,000 not had to die, but unfortunately Herr Hitler had other ideas, and was not going to stop picking on us, even if we hadn’t fought (and won) the North African campaign in World War 2. Had a snapshot been taken before El Alamein, when things were looking particularly grim, I’m sure it would have looked far worse.

So today we have a poll which shows that a majority of those questioned think we should get out of Afghanistan. Surprised? We have a constant diet of headlines that readily focus on the growing death toll among our own forces. Of course, we should know about these casualties and pay tribute, but without the context (e.g. the successes that the troops have had against the Taliban) it is unsurprising that the general populace feel that we be better off cutting our losses and running. There are occasional special reports from embedded journalists from the big news outlets, but inevitably it’s the regular headlines that set the scene.

This would therefore seem an appropriate moment to plug again the excellent work of Michael Yon, an independent journalist, from a military background, who has embedded himself with both his compatriot US forces and our own. Michael, as an independent, does not come from an institutionally biased media organisation, nor does his output have to pass through any agenda-driven editorial process. He tells as as he – and his camera – sees it. This is a good piece for starters (though make sure you have some time to spare – it is worth it).


2 responses to “Context

  1. Peter Arronsen August 17, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    Totally agree the sentiment and its good to see you supporting the government!

    Just as a point of history, Hitler had no desire to pick on the UK. Indeed, he never picked on the UK. The UK declared war. A difficult and dreadful but necessary decision.

    Some of us are old enough to remember Lybia before the F1.11’s took off. That’s the historical comparison, which migh sway public opinion.

    • Vir Cantium August 17, 2009 at 11:12 pm


      Well, supporting the troops, at least!

      You’re right: Hitler at one point wanted us to join him. I knew there were plenty of holes one could pick in my analogy (the Axis were invaders in N. Africa themselves, for example), but I think it made the point.

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