Charles Moore - Todays Telegraph.

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by mushroom, Dec 9, 2006.

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  1. Can't give you an on line link but Charles Moore has written an excellent article in the Telegraph today, and incidentally not quoted ARRSE once.
  2. Clarkson has done a cracker in the Sun about hospital treatment and Blairs visit to Selly Oak.
  3. Any link?
  4. Sorry mate don't think there is, well I couldn't find one anyhow.
  5. Thanks I've got that one. I absolutely will not buy 'The Sun' but Clarkson is sometimes worth a read.
  6. Full text for those who cannot link through:

    Time to say: 'Thank you, Mr Atkins'

    By Charles Moore

    Last month, after attending the funeral in Liverpool of a comrade killed in Iraq, two Royal Marines tried to enter the Walkabout bar for a drink, wearing their uniform. They were refused entry, according to a spokesman for the bar "due to previous issues with uniformed customers".

    We have been here before. Kipling's most famous poem about the neglect of the British soldier ("It's Tommy this, an' Tommy that…") begins with these lines: "I went into a public 'ouse to get a pint of beer,/ The publican 'e up and sez, 'We serve no red-cats here.' "

    Because the 20th century was one of total war, everyone knew something of what it is to be in the Services. Hardly a family was untouched by the conflicts. In the 21st, we have reverted to the pre-1914 situation that Kipling described. Soldiers, sailors and airmen do the most astonishing things on our behalf, and we neither know nor care very much.

    It is this sense of separation from the society that they serve, more than any single issue about money or kit or conditions or Iraq, which is behind the present grumbling from the Armed Forces. This is what General Sir Richard Dannatt was trying to address a few weeks ago: he even raised the possibility that the Army might not survive. It was this "cultural" problem that lay behind General Sir Mike Jackson's Dimbleby lecture this week.

    I have been talking to various Servicemen, of different ages, to try to understand more of what worries them.

    The first thing that they all say, perhaps surprisingly, is that the service is better than when they joined it. Those old enough to remember Cold War years recall boredom. Now there is plenty for everyone to do — sometimes too much — and real skills are more in demand than ever. They also claim that comradeship and loyalty have been maintained. The ethos is still there.

    But life has also become more difficult because the civilian world has so little idea of the military one. There are fewer than a quarter of a million people in the Services, so many people do not know any servicemen personally.

    Who else, in the age of quick air travel back and forth, has to endure such long separations from family? Who else has to move house so often? Service life can be particularly difficult for a man in the Territorial Army who lacks the regimental support available to the full-timers. He comes home and resumes his normal job after six months facing danger and hostility in Iraq, and his mates barely notice what he has done. He feels a stranger in his own land. There can be a sense of disappointment with one's fellow citizens.

    One young officer who had been serving in Sierra Leone returned home. The first story he noticed in the press was of a black woman suing because she had been given a white prosthetic limb. He had just come from a place in which 100,000 people had suffered amputations: he could see that her situation must be annoying, but he could not share her sense of outrage.

    He feels that modern society is ungrateful — not just for what he and his comrades do, but for everything that makes their lives comfortable and easy. Soldiers feel a bit wistful about a celebrity culture that lauds a television star, but pays scarcely any attention to the men in 16 Air Assault Brigade in Helmand province who fought for literally every day of their six-month tour of duty.

    Sometimes it is worse than indifference. The Muslim Council of Britain will not condemn the killing or kidnapping of British soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and some Muslims here abuse servicemen in person.

    Some teachers preach to their pupils against joining up. This week, Plaid Cymru, uncritically reported by the BBC, attacked the Army for recruiting hard in schools in poor areas in Wales. It was "exploitation", they said. Why wasn't it seen as offering opportunity to young people who needed it?

    Then there is my own trade. The papers often speak of servicemen as "heroes", but in fact the media are much readier than we used to be to pass instant and critical judgment on a nasty incident. It is the age of the "strategic corporal" — the one, small, junior error having a global, often photographic presence.

    No one defends barbaric behaviour, but the issue of "scrutiny", both by media and by lawyers, is a painful one. People who do not know what it is like to be in combat happily tell people who do what they have done wrong.

    Human rights sound good, but the trouble with rights as now interpreted is that they exalt the individual over the shared, and in battle the capacity to do the opposite is a matter of life and death. Young men will risk death for their comrades: it can be too much to risk litigation as well.

    If, added to all of this, you have pretty poor housing, pretty poor pay, and an unpopular campaign in Iraq that sends some men back there three or even four times to a role in which they feel they can achieve little, you have trouble. Kipling again: "You're droppin' the pick of the Army/ Because you don't 'elp 'em remain."

    Then there is the Government and the Ministry of Defence. One officer summed it up in a good phrase. Everything, he told me, is shown in such a "depressingly positive light". It perfectly describes New Labour's presentational skills in the twilight months of the Prime Minister. Servicemen feel that there is a radical disjunction between what politicians say about their lives, and what their lives are actually like. General Jackson called it "Kafka-esque". Perhaps it is more Orwellian — the world of Nineteen Eighty-Four in which huge ministries announce unreal achievements in interminable wars. Between the two stools of optimistic Tony Blair asking the earth and grumpy Gordon Brown pinching the pennies, the Services fall with a heavy thump.

    Kipling's poems were loved by common soldiers because he saw everything from their point of view. They feel desolate to know that so few people in positions of power — cultural, educational, political — now understand what that point of view is.

    Hearing all these anxieties has made me feel how urgent it is to help. How to do so is a big, complicated question about modern life. But there is one small, simple thing that Daily Telegraph readers can do at once, in time for Christmas. That is to support the paper's Christmas Appeal for SSAFA, the servicemen's charity.

    SSAFA helps maintain that "contract" which General Jackson worries is under strain. It accepts the lifelong obligation of society to people who have served in Army, Navy and Air Force and to their families. And its 3,500 volunteers have enough of that Kipling-esque sympathy to understand the mental strain of readjustment to civilian life, or of memories of war long buried and now troubling people in old age. They help people who once, perhaps, had their share of glory, but now have more than their share of debt, invalidity, homelessness, alcoholism or bereavement.

    They understand the peculiar poignancy of once-strong people who now find themselves in a weak position. We all need to do more of that.
  7. I found an article in the Sun were soldiers are ordered to go on leave at Christmas as the MoD claim some refuse to go on leave.

    Source: The Sun
  8. 10,000 personnel from regional HQs leaving on December 19.

    So that will go well then. Hope somebody has told CrabAir
  9. I must say though that several News Papers seemed to have taken up the torch so fa.
  11. must admit I always refuse to take my "holiday" entitlement, unless its sunny Basra, Bosnia, Afghanistan or any where else that nice Mr Blair thinks we need to illegally occupy
  12. I posted a comment on this article and have been flicking back to it, (there is a delay for moderation purposes). There are some comments that have made it through the moderators and they are supportive, in the main. 8O

    A little sign that some members of the public or not as besieged by apathy, as I believe the majority are.

    Could there be hope for the future?

    Are BAFF going to capitalise on this small surge in support for the Forces?
  13. More Moore!

    An excellent piece; just hope it gets to a wider audience than the Torygraph faithful!
  14. Do we need rest? Aren't we the superhuman working for a subhuman wage - being cold shouldered by the government and also by officials at Whitehall more interested in a false budget and their christmas bash?

    Soldiering - the best trade led by the dumb and ignorant!