Britain has lost the stomach for a fight

#1
A rather controversial piece by Michael Portillo in the Sunday Times today:-

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article5375770.ece

Hard not to disagree with the gist of it although I certainly don't agree that the US is leaving Iraq victorious.

It's tempting to lay all woes at the feet of NuLab but...is it something deeper than that?

Dean Acheson famously remarked in a speech at West Point in 1962 that Britain had 'lost an Empire but not yet found a role' - was he right?
 
#2
The core lesson that needs to be taken is that wars cannot in the medium term be conducted by opinion polls. If the Falklands War had dragged out into a stailmate through the South Atlantic winter there can be little doubt the call to quit would have been loud as well. The temptation Thatcher would have faced to withdraw with the 1983 election looming would have been serious. Bush had the advantage of not needing to seek re-election, and whatever you make of the current and likely future situation in Iraq, it is far better than if would have been if the Baker report had been put into action.

Ultimatly, the lessons of Basra were learned without strategic failure, unlike so many learning curves we have been through. If we can apply those lessons in Afghanistan, it will have been worth it.
 
#4
Britain hasn´t lost the stomach for fight.

The Forces certainly haven´t and the vast majority of our good citizens would support their forces.

The poliicians have lost what little they did have, along with NOT providing funds for the conflict and basically losing the confidence of the people.
 
#5
I'm not sure Britain ever had the stomach for this particular fight. But I think it would be wrong to draw general conclusions from 1 conflict.

To say that Politicians should ignore opinion polls is to ignore the fundamental point of democracy. When the politicians failed to convince the majority of the public that the war in Iraq was the right ting to do, it was inevitble that the poltical will to take risks to make further gains would rapidly diminish. Governments who fail to do what the public like generally fail to stay the distance.
 
#6
So reading between the lines, is it time for Britain to give up her nukes and the boats that carry them in favour of spending that money else where, enlarging the Navies surface fleet more attack subs with Tomahawk as opposed to bombers.

Enlarging and equipping the army better?

What are the numbers associated with our Nuclear detterent, and are we ever going to use it without the Americans say so if not what is the point of having an "independant" detterent

Thought the article was pretty much spot on.
 
#7
What is this sudden rush in the last 2 weeks to blame British Forces and Commanders for withdrawing from Iraq?

This isn't co-incidence, fingers are being pointed and blame is seeking to be laid. Especially with a brand new American President coming in. If we are so keen to hold the Americans blameless, and they think we're not up to the job, then we can pull out of Afghanistan as well , and fight the 'war on terror' properly.

By interdicting Terrorist cells , finance and recruitment centres, rather than tying up Forces and manpower trying to keep the Mayor of Kabul in the top seat.

It's not an 'excellent' article, it's absolute garbage. Looking for a lecture tour in the States and dinner with President Obama, Michael?

Maybe I'm suffering from word-blindness , but I don't see the CPA or L.Paul Bremner mentioned once, and that is where the rot started. We started losing the peace right there.

As for trusting Portillo's judgement on anything concerning the Armed Forces? I have two words.

Married Quarters.

Clownshoes.
 
#8
parapauk said:
The core lesson that needs to be taken is that wars cannot in the medium term be conducted by opinion polls. If the Falklands War had dragged out into a stailmate through the South Atlantic winter there can be little doubt the call to quit would have been loud as well. The temptation Thatcher would have faced to withdraw with the 1983 election looming would have been serious. Bush had the advantage of not needing to seek re-election, and whatever you make of the current and likely future situation in Iraq, it is far better than if would have been if the Baker report had been put into action.

Ultimatly, the lessons of Basra were learned without strategic failure, unlike so many learning curves we have been through. If we can apply those lessons in Afghanistan, it will have been worth it.
Which does beg the question if he did seek re-election would troops be there long term?
 
#9
Is it simply the case that rich on technology and highly trained US, UK, and NATO in general, professional armies have no trouble fighting and defeating enemy military, but are not designed to hold their ground against the nations that don't want to be occupied?

And now fingers have to be pointed and blame apportioned...
 
#10
The UK doesnt use the same tactics as the U.S we have and always have had a lot of stop-go standby hurry up and wait attitude. wheras the yanks wade in there and sometimes it works especially in massive numbers during "the surge" plus I think a lot of similar ideas used in NI were adopted that we now know to have been not compatible to this type of policing, cos thats exactly what the job there ended up trying to be "a police force"
The yanks are basically an occupying force (invaders) deals have been struck there and whatever they may be its worked and left them smelling of roses.
The british look like we backed out cos we had the wrong exit strategy and policy for being there in the first place. we were not trying to force iraq to change we were just controling the sh1t that was contained within it, and that sh1t is still there. We have the stomach just not the correct method.
 
#11
WW2 was only 5 years long,WW1 four years 2 months, how long are we going to stay in Afghanistan in this the forth Afghan war, you would have thought we'd have learnd somthing by now
 
#12
Portillo is correct in most of what he says but he doesn't emphasise the key factor in Britain's failure in Iraq:

Public Opinion.

Someone has mentioned the Falklands. There is no comparison when it comes to Public Opinion.

Widespread Public Opinion was behind the action in the South Atlantic. What this meant was that the politicians and military could take robust action, the sort that carried with it the risk of high casualties. As the public understood the cause and in the main agreed with the action, it meant that the military could take robust action.

With Iraq (and in Afghanistan), the public mood is different. They are at best confused about the reasons for military action, at worst they are hostile to it and the casualties that it brings.

This means that there is a political imperative to avoid casualties and in turn it leads the military to adopt tactics designed to minimise them.

The old adage that you cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs applies.

Some commentators expressed the opinion that Iraq would be another Vietnam for America. Instead it has become Britain's Vietnam.
 
#13
We lost more troops in Iraq than all the US's other allies put together and stayed the course long after many others left (Spain, The Netherlands etc etc etc). Whether the task itself was right or wrong, we have nothing to be ashamed of. And, of course, we're still in Afghanistan...
 
#14
PartTimePongo said:
What is this sudden rush in the last 2 weeks to blame British Forces and Commanders for withdrawing from Iraq?

This isn't co-incidence, fingers are being pointed and blame is seeking to be laid. Especially with a brand new American President coming in. If we are so keen to hold the Americans blameless, and they think we're not up to the job, then we can pull out of Afghanistan as well , and fight the 'war on terror' properly.

By interdicting Terrorist cells , finance and recruitment centres, rather than tying up Forces and manpower trying to keep the Mayor of Kabul in the top seat.

It's not an 'excellent' article, it's absolute garbage. Looking for a lecture tour in the States and dinner with President Obama, Michael?

Maybe I'm suffering from word-blindness , but I don't see the CPA or L.Paul Bremner mentioned once, and that is where the rot started. We started losing the peace right there.

As for trusting Portillo's judgement on anything concerning the Armed Forces? I have two words.

Married Quarters.

Clownshoes.
Although I don't often agree with Michael Portillo I think he was pretty spot on here; the lack of mention of all the mistakes the US made is because the article is about the UK's action. Acknowledging our own errors isn't the same as saying the Americans are always right, they have made masses of mistakes but they do at least seem to be learning from them albeit slowly. I sense in the British attitude to the US a similar one to that of the Scots to the English; a smaller nation, insecure and with a chip on its shoulder about trying to make itself feel better by sneering and pretending it's somehow better at everything. I do agree though that it's still to early to be declaring victory in Iraq.
 
#15
Britain cant play with the big boys if we dont spend the money - simply the Labour government have never been friends with military as they see 'social welfare' as a priority. The UK is just not capable of projecting any global power - the latest on the 'Carriers' sums us up sadly.
 
#16
I don't think we have lost the stomach for the war in Afghanistan, but if it is a war then let's fight a war with proper resources required to win, not a series of skirmishes.
 
#17
PartTimePongo said:
What is this sudden rush in the last 2 weeks to blame British Forces and Commanders for withdrawing from Iraq?

This isn't co-incidence, fingers are being pointed and blame is seeking to be laid. Especially with a brand new American President coming in. If we are so keen to hold the Americans blameless, and they think we're not up to the job, then we can pull out of Afghanistan as well , and fight the 'war on terror' properly.

By interdicting Terrorist cells , finance and recruitment centres, rather than tying up Forces and manpower trying to keep the Mayor of Kabul in the top seat.

It's not an 'excellent' article, it's absolute garbage. Looking for a lecture tour in the States and dinner with President Obama, Michael?

Maybe I'm suffering from word-blindness , but I don't see the CPA or L.Paul Bremner mentioned once, and that is where the rot started. We started losing the peace right there.

As for trusting Portillo's judgement on anything concerning the Armed Forces? I have two words.

Married Quarters.

Clownshoes.
Learn to read.....Particulary the pargraph:-

"The fundamental cause of the British failure was political. Tony Blair wanted to join the United States in its toppling of Saddam Hussein because if Britain does not back America it is hard to know what our role in the world is: certainly not a seat at the top table. But, for all his persuasiveness, Blair could not hold public opinion over the medium term and so he cut troop numbers fast and sought to avoid casualties. As a result, British forces lost control of Basra and left the population at the mercy of fundamentalist thugs and warring militias, in particular Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army. "

Read that first line 2 or 3 times........It's completely and utterly true. It was well known in 04-05 that Basra was coming under Mahdi control, yet the OMS HQ was OOB. Locals reported seeing Mortor teams coming out of the HQ settinh up and firing and yet nothing was done about it. So Who's fault was that? The senior officers who issued those orders or the CoC that must have put pressure on them to issue such orders? As no GoC is going to start ordering his troops to ignore the enemy unless someone above him has told him to.
 
#18
The public seem to have lost the will for any sort of fight. The military has not. Here our civil liberties are taken away and most people are concerned with Strictly Come Dancing, so if their interest in what is happening directly to them isn't there what is happening thousands of miles away is unlikely to stir their resolve. If we could be more like tha French in some respects...
 
#19
Taffnp said:
I don't think we have lost the stomach for the war in Afghanistan, but if it is a war then let's fight a war with proper resources required to win, not a series of skirmishes.

And that is the whole point,
We do not have enough boots on the ground for a start,
how many times have we conducted ops into an area only
to withdraw,which allows the taliban to move straight back in?
Which achieves what,exactly?
We have, man for man, the finest troops in the world,but not enough of them and until that changes we will be doomed to be in afganistan for years!
 
#20
zippy483 said:
What are the numbers associated with our Nuclear detterent, and are we ever going to use it without the Americans say so if not what is the point of having an "independant" detterent
thought it was obvious. to ensure we don't ever become 100% dependent on the US of A. if you hide under someone's umbrella, he calls the shots.
 

Similar threads

Top