His side of the pond

Lovegrove and I had different reactions to the post that a fella wrote about not supporting the military. I thought his response was interesting to read in that you’re taught a little history about what was going on in the minds over on his side of the pond, and perhaps, why they feel as they do. (Contrary to popular belief, I actually do read and enjoy it. Oh, and I dig history. And I also dig…. never mind ….I’ll stop there so as not to offend…..). So I asked if I could post his article and he obliged. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did……….. Here we go:

Support the Troops is an old cry

Inspired by a post, I ramble on below historically, which is my wont but which is different from my wont to digress which is also a wont but not this wont. I guess I have two wonts at least, but I digress, which is my wont.
The military has always been an arm of government and if necessary, one that can be turned on a rebellious people. I refer to historical examples, as is often my wont.

Take the unrest in colonial New England for instance. The misjudgements there by the authorities included the misconception that the unruly colonials did not have a self-identity that differentiated them to some extent from the ranks of the British people from whom they were almost exclusively drawn.

The colonists were seen as rebellious even traitorous Englishmen, while the Colonists saw themselves as protecting hard-gained English freedoms from tyranny. The king’s party forgot that Englishmen had already taken the ultimate step in regard to a perceived tyrannical monarch only a century plus beforehand.

The “Americans” were only continuing the constant struggle against oppressive authority since the Anglo-Saxon nation, which having been relatively recently formed out of the seven basic tribal lands, had been ruthlessly crushed and subjugated by Norman usurpers. That’s how it was expressed by the “progressive” radical element at the time at least. That the motley bands of invasive Germanic colonials who eventually came to be known as Anglos, had only relatively recently before, themselves ruthlessly crushed and subjugated the indigenous peoples of this new land was conveniently forgotten. Sound familiar? Celts or Indians, Anglos or Americans: “the thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.” But I digress as is my wont.

The authorities tended to consider the colonials as “Englishmen abroad” who were therefore subject to the king and his ministers as were “Englishmen at home”. As long as things went well this simplified perception held but as history reveals, when the pressure was on, it fell apart.

The military was all things to all men. It protected the people from external hostility, internal criminality and kept the king’s peace from riotous and unruly behaviour. Royal regiments from both the Mother Country and local recruits, supported by the colonial militia were everywhere. They were on the frontiers confronting the indigenous locals and the rival French. They were the army, the National Guard and the police rolled into one.

The term “the military” covers a lot of ground. The mentioned three branches of overt coercive authority, now supported by covert coercive authority, are in effect all part of the military. They can be and are constantly utilised in support of each other to maintain order and keep control.

The constant refrain to support or not the military in whatever it does, reflects to some degree the Patriot v. Loyalist division of late colonial North America. Those who would call the critics unpatriotic aka traitors, are in effect the loyalists whilst the “traitors” are the Patriots. But what’s in a name? That which we call a legion by any other name would smell of Caesar.
The present call to “support the troops” is an understandably emotive call to remember the human element, the flesh and blood in the ranks. However, the call is deliberately high-jacked to also mean to support the military in the adventures or misadventures it get involved with. A cry to consider people is in effect, a cry to support the authorities. A possible comparison was the call in the United Kingdom regarding the rebel colonies to support the troops in the Royal regiments. They were the sons, brothers, friends and neighbours of British people, they were in a traumatic situation, dying in droves and returning home wounded and broken.

However, to support the troops was in effect to support the king’s Party. Englishmen everywhere, throughout the mother country and the colonies, were divided on the American question.

The radicals, the progressives” were in support of the Americans in their endeavour to take the liberties of Englishmen a step further, which they saw would be of benefit eventually to all.

The traditionalists, the “conservatives” supported their king in his endeavours as they saw it, to maintain law and order amongst unruly ruffians who took treason lightly and who thought distance gave them a right to refuse their dues to Caesar. Why should the one element pay taxes and the other not? Sound familiar? Why should some pay for the “benefits” of others who refused to pay their dues? The security and development of the colonies and the maintenance of order there had been and continued to be paid in the blood of Englishmen and by the taxes imposed on some. That the external threats had been curtailed in the case of the French; and significantly weakened in the case of the natives, did not answer the question of the finance involved. Who should pay for that enterprise?

Confronting the king was a noble “treason” in the minds of the radicals on either continent. It was the natural and historical consequence of a long history of class struggle in England. As the radicals perceived and expressed it, it was a struggle of free Englishmen to shake off the Norman yoke. The American struggle was seen as another burst of activity in this never-ending saga of fighting oppression. Indeed, if it had been lost, Anglo-Saxon democratic development would have been greatly hindered everywhere and consequently, tyranny strengthened.

The colonists protested as to why they should continue to pay for a once necessary but now defunct service. The loyalist protested that the cost of the once necessary service had not yet been offset by a significant colonial contribution. As Marx pointed out: “all is economics”. As more often than not if not always, principles and ideals were and are utilised by those who own the major wealth to maintain their influence and lucrative positions.
Hell has no fury like a vested interest masquerading as a moral principle!

So the stage was set and the cast in place in the wings, stage left and stage right, each awaiting their turn to play their part.
The point? When you are asked to support some emotive call, don’t rush in but fear to tread. Search who is asking and why.

29 thoughts on “His side of the pond

  1. Thanks for the different perspective on this issue.
    I have long felt that the cry to ‘support the troops’ was really a shout to suppress dissent. To support the war effort becomes synonymous with ‘supporting the troops ‘, and questioning the fracas when it goes south is seen as a sign that the critic, who wants peace, somehow doesn’t love their service while those who would put them in harm’s way seize the moral high ground.

    It’s funny that, in the last war fought with an army full of draftees, guys who had little choice but to serve, the servicemen were treated poorly upon their return, of course, that military action did not go so well…

    Ultimately, I cannot distinguish one serviceman’s reasons for serving from another’s, so I assume the best, and support those who fight, and risk their lives in whatever fight in which they are involved,, so I don’t have to.

    • Do the Gringos still have call-up? The Limeys stopped it in the late fifties, even whilst in the midst of a back-pedal from the empire. No need for large land armies now.

    • I just thought it was interesting that over there, at that time, it seemed the Progressive was actually more of a Classic Liberal and the Conservative more of a Progressive…..

    • “Without the Blake-Wadsworth Act, aka the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940, (or as lovegrove called it, a “Gringo” “call-up”), the Limey’s would have been in deep feces in WWII.”

      Coloni a vanitate libera nos, Domine

      (Apologies to our peace-loving Nordic cousins for reminding them of ancestral nautical naughiness)

      Actually, His Majesty’s subjects were already up to their somewhat bloodied but sturdy knees in amercing faeces, or is that American theses? I always get those two mixed up, probably due to the perception that the education of the average Septic is shyte.

      Hi Mel, one wonders why some of your countrymen leap at the chance to dribble their adolescent drivel of succeeding in the struggle against overt fascism all by their lonesome. It must be embarrassing for Americans like yourself who actually know where Europeland is, especially that bit erstwhile derided as Old Europe.

      I realize it is just the cracker element who tend to reveal their renowned level of modesty to one and all, but it can be a mite numbing after a lifetime of it and the constant diarrhoeic stream of Hollowood propaganda pieces about how great the American military is and how everyone abroad – yes, there is an “abroad’ lads – looks to American leadership to save them: first seen in movies the day after Adolph went to explain himself to Jesus, and relatively recently seen in that childish nationalistic tripe called Independence Day. So within living memory according to the Cracker element, America has delivered Christendom from the fury of the Northmen, whose longboat crews included hungry hordes of horrid Huns of various shades and eye slant and origin of planet.

      The next adventure may be Iran, which Uncle Samuel, with his usual racist notions about the prowess of small brown men, will find in his excuse of searching for nuclear weaponry that he will have to use the bomb, again, to avoid getting his bum slashed in the backlash. But I digress as is my wont.

      Pity Mister Modest got the name wrong of what he was boasting about but yet unsurprising. He could not be bothered to check even that basic fact let alone his general history, so sure was he.

      Constant cracker boasts every chance they get on having saved democratic civilisation from fascist hordes are due probably to some extent as a result of the combination of shame at waiting until they were caught with their trousers down and rogered into the ruckus in a Nipponese 12/7; and believing what passes in Hollowood for history.

      In passing, the Septics didn’t declare fracas on Adolph. He declared fracas on them.

      The Burke-Wadsworth Act increased the official military entering the fray not a whit. Not least of all for it not being increased is that there weren’t any in the first place. Thanks for the Lend-Lease cargo ships though by the way. Large numbers of very welcome anti-fascist Americans, democrats and socialists of course, were crossing into Canuckland to figure in the fray. They didn’t boast like the loud-mouths do now, they just got stuck into a necessary knuckling, unlike their government and most of their compatriots. A different generation I suppose.

      The Limeys were already in deed shit by the time the Burke-Wadsworth Act came into effect in September 1940, but the Act didn’t help ‘em out none. Here’s a brief look at events at the time.

      In reality, the tide had turned even in that very month. In September 1940, the Germans had become frustrated with the British refusal to run out of dogged spunk and made the fatal tactical mistake of switching their raids to the cities, thus giving the RAF time to recover. That can be argued as one of the turns of the war. Like all fascists, then and now, they thought that bombing civilians would break a determined national resistance against foreign tyranny. They never learn.

      The news of large numbers of unwilling American teenagers marching up and down the square, in no way affected the struggle against Jerry. It should have been a warning to the fascists of course but it slipped ‘em by.

      In passing, by the time the Nips had shown the Yanks how not to park up your fleet when there were hostiles a lick and a spit away – you’d have thought they would have learnt something after Little Big Horn – the Soviets had stopped the fascist advance outside Moscow and the whole world knew it was the beginning of the end for the upstart Austrian nutjob.

      So, long before the boys braved the briny to save us all, Fritz was already fidgety over his tourist trips to distant places being misunderstood regarding their intent. Still, never mind Adolph, the best laid plans etc etc.

      Even after getting their rectums rimmed in December 41 rather more roughly than they were used to, over a year after what the cracker boasts of, it still took almost another year before John Wayne and his lads go into a scrape in the European theatre. Operation Torch I believe, in November 42. So, by the time the Gringos joined in the fray against Fritz, there was only twenty months left before D Day. In passing, pondering Geordie Patton, what is it with his pearl handles? Even the Septic officer class seem to see themselves as latter-day cowboys, but I digress as is my wont.

      Anyway, back to the Knights of Bushido .The marines did wonders on the islands but that wasn’t helping to get the Limeys out of the shit, not directly anyway; although it was giving the Melanesians and Micronesians an insight into the dubious benefits of being the focus of “civilised” nations.

      So, by the time the Burke-Wadsworth offered an ignored warning to the fascist to step lightly, the Limeys were still in a desperate situation but a stiff upper lip and even stiffer breeding apparatus had shown Jerry he was due for a caning. The Americans were a long time coming -, although the girls in London didn’t think they were long in coming at all – but welcome nevertheless. But that they got everyone out of the thesis, I mean faeces? Hardly that.

      • Sheesh! I need a dictionary for your terminology. Lemme see…. Cracker, Yanks and Gringos are Americans? Jerrys and Fritz are Germans? Limeys are British? Nips are Russian? Canuckland is…?

        Hey, I do know who John Wayne is, though. 🙂

        • Did you know he was born born Marion Robert Morrison but changed it to Marion Mitchell Morrison. You’d have thought he’d have done something about Marion sometime before his chosen career made him ponder further.

          • I didn’t know John was Marion. Oh, and thanks for helping a damsel in distress. Of course, I do know some British terms, but we won’t get into them here.

      • About what I figured. You Limeys already had the Jerry’s whipped and didn’t need any help did you?. Don’t know why in the hell the $341 billion dollars of Lend-Lease was ever offered to the Brits, or at least why it was accepted by you stiff upper lip types. I know the Jerrys were worried about that caning, maybe with the stiffer breeding apparatus. Could have beaten them on your own. Righto old chap.

        • Sorry there lovegrove. I must apologize, I missed a decimal. That was $34.1 billion given (not lent or leased) to the Brits by us poor misguided colonists. Pip pip and cherrio, there sport.

      • “Pity Mister Modest got the name wrong of what he was boasting about but yet unsurprising. He could not be bothered to check even that basic fact let alone his general history, so sure was he.”

        You got me on that one, old bean. Bugger that senior moment.

  2. Without the Blake-Wadsworth Act, aka the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940, (or as lovegrove called it, a “Gringo” “call-up”), the Limey’s would have been in deep feces in WWII.

  3. It was very interesting indeed, right up to this point;

    “However, the call is deliberately high-jacked to also mean to support the military in the adventures or misadventures it get involved with. A cry to consider people is in effect, a cry to support the authorities.”

    Perhaps this is true on his side of the pond, but supporting the troops is not a cry to support the military or the administration that orders the military into the adventures or misadventures it gets involved in. Many citizens of the U.S. do not (and never did) support the actions in Kuwait, Iraq, Afganistan, or many of the Central America “actions”. I believe the U.S. populace did learn a valuable lesson from Vietnam by the way the troops were not supported. American soldiers shouldered the blame for Vietnam when the blame should have fallen squarley on Johnson/Nixon and military leaders for failed policy. It was a different time then. The love and peace movement (much like the OWS movement) was looking to blame anyone and everyone. It should never happen again.

    • So basically, you’re saying that by supporting our troops, we are not supporting this administration’s decision to fight the war in Afghanistan, and he is saying that we are?

      I’m so confused….

  4. Do you support Obama’s escalation of troops in Afghanistan? Do you support our presence there? What is our goal; oil, stop the spread of communism, stop the Taliban? Did you support “W’s” buildup of the war in Iraq? Do you believe our efforts there accomplished anything? I don’t. Muslims are still killing Muslims with car bombs there everyday.

    I don’t know what lovegrove’s personal feelings are but from his writing it appears that he believes any support of the military, whether it be the foot soldier or secretary of war is a support for the adminstrations (governments) policy.

    Still confused?

  5. Not enough time to answer completely, A. Check back way later. Basically, I agree with your statement.

  6. kells – Thanks for the link. There is a lot of truth in that article.

    augger – My promised response to your question. I gotta tell you that I had a long, drawn-out response all typed up, but after reading it several times if finally came to this.

    We are all individuals governed by our own sense of duty, morals, and belief systems. A solider doesn’t have to pull the trigger anymore than a local policeman does, if the situation doesn’t warrant it. All of the orders and procedures in the world cannot take the place of human judgement, whether it be right or wrong.

    Is a soldier a seperate from the government he serves? Yes he or she is. Soldiers and law enforcement personnel are placed in live or die, right or wrong situations every day. Yes, I was legally (or procedurally) correct in taking the life (or tazing, or beating the daylights out) of someone. Was there an alternative reponse that might have save the life? Individuals make these choices, not officers or superiors.

    The same applies to the Constitution. If a solder or LEO is given an unlawful order to violate the Constitutional rights of a citizen, he or she is under no legal obligation to fulfill that order. That soldier (or LEO) has to make the decision to follow the order or to refuse.

    We are all a part of our government in that we (most of us) attempt to comply with the lawful orders of our society. Most of us make the right decision but many of us don’t. Regardless, it is our choice to make the decision, and our duty to understand the consequences.

    I believe gregcobb summed it well on his first post; “Ultimately, I cannot distinguish one serviceman’s reasons for serving from another’s, so I assume the best, and support those who fight, and risk their lives in whatever fight in which they are involved,, so I don’t have to.”

    We should support our soldiers, our troops, as long as they are performing their jobs within the Constitutional boundries. When one group steps over that line, the consequences should be swift and sure.

    Still turned out too long and not really as clear as I would have liked, but there it is.

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