Review of Ministry of Defeat

Discussion in 'The Intelligence Cell' started by OldRedCap, Jun 3, 2009.

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  1. I realise this may seem the wrong forum for a book review. My heart has ruled my head as I feel that the book Ministry of Defeat deserves wider attention than would come if it were hidden away in what is the more appropriate forum. I have banners reading "MODS RULE"!

    Richard North does not appear to be given any high regard here. However, he has just produced a book that deserves examination and comment from those with reasoned critical skills. I do not regard “Its all bolox” as any significant contribution.
    Ministry of Defeat is his exposition of how things went wrong in Iraq. He seems to centre his case upon the selection and deployment of Snatch vehicles but ranges through high level incompetence and decisions taken from political standpoints. For those of you who don’t do links, I’ll repeat the Publishers review – it is pretty accurate. They say “This book presents a damning analysis of Britain's military involvement in the Iraq conflict. "Ministry of Defeat" is a devastating account of military and strategic incompetence. When Tony Blair insisted that British Armed Forces form part of the invasion of Iraq, little attention was paid as to how this might work out in practice or what the consequences might be. Here we have for the first time a detailed account of just what an abject failure Britain's military intervention in Iraq has been. The British occupation of south eastern Iraq has lasted six years, a period longer than the Second World War. Despite the astonishing bravery of countless individual soldiers the only real success of the British Government has been to hide from view, thanks to catastrophic misjudgements, this has become one of the most humiliating chapters in British Military History. The British Army leaves Iraq in July 2009, ahead of schedule, and the full story of the campaign needs to be told. Richard North presents in considerable detail one of the most painful and lasting legacies of the Blair era.”
    North backs his statements and findings with exhaustive links to MSM reports from the times and that is where my dissatisfaction commenced. He refers to press manipulation both in Iraq from MOD spokespersons and from other faceless ones here in UK. And yet he uses the writings from those who, for all the reader may know, have been manipulated and massaged.
    Also, the communiqué he uses to bolster his case was written in the heat of the moment with the facts as they were then available. As an example, he devotes a very short paragraph or two to the Para actions at Majar al-Kebir and the massacre of the six Redcaps but does not refer to any media etc. later than 2003. He thus avoids any later developments regarding these events.
    So – Ministry of Defeat. A good read? Yes but I would be reluctant to base any serious criticism of what happened solely on this 256 page volume.
  2. I haven't read the book and to be honest I'm in two minds about reading it . I'm also slightly unsure as to what you're saying OldRedCap when you mention " Faceless ones here in the UK " ? Are you saying that it's full of so called quotes from sources who are anon ? Rather like the military sources from Toby Harnden's book Bandit Country ? In that case I'll give the book a miss or only read it to criticise it
  3. Richard North often turns up here, and each time departs with his tail between his legs. He knows very little on the subject beyond his own ill informed opinions, and decides to ignore any view which doesnt sit with his interpretation of the 'truth'.
  4. I'll wait to read it once the Guardian serialise it.

    But that'll be once Cyclops et al get a shoeing over the next few weeks
  5. A man in your own mould then? :wink:
  6. No - my intention was to cover those who seek to ensure that press only print the stuff that The Bosses wish to see.
    Anon quotes - no. Not al all. He gives copious cites from media reports to back up his allegations so no complaint from me there. I have commented that most of these are first reports and we do not know which of them were rejected or reversed when better info/facts were available. Whilst I would not endorse it as a historical record, it makes interesting reading. Not to the standards of Thomas E Ricks' Fiasco which covered how the Yanks screwed up but M of Defeat is a good starting point to where we got into the cluster f*ck we did.
  7. Richard North, I assume he is the one who does the Defence of the Realm website.
    I read his thoughts regular and he does seem to have picked one one subject that he will not let go of.
    I mean no disrespect to the fallen or the men who's lives have been ruined by loss of limb but is he not just chasing a single item that ultimately will not affect the conduct of the war.
    Should he not be campaigning for a massive increase in Helis to get the troops of the roads.
    Roadside bombs where part of the North West Frontier of 70 years ago and that army had worked out ways to deal with the problem.
    I have no time for UK's present government and cannot see a Tory government altering the situation.
    No one wants to pay the massive sums required for a long term war.
    30 years was common time frame up to last year and even now they are talking of 5-10.
    UK is no longer a First Class Military Power, it has Class One troops but they are let down by Masters, both in Uniform and Civvys, who have more political interests then the care of their Men.
  8. It takes him 256 pages of wibbling and he still doesn't answer the question correctly.
    We 'lost' in Iraq, not because of Snatch, Blair, Bureaucrats or berets, but because the US government didn't listen to the US military, British military or British government when they said 'don't dismantle Iraqi infrastructure'. As soon as that dismantling happened, the whole 'beacon of democracy' was a lost cause that would never be changed by any number of MRAP vehicles.
    The British military was sent to Iraq first to remove the Ba'ath party, which it did, then to train the Iraqis to sort out their own shit, which it did. Anything else was a political operation, not military and therefore bugger all to do with the MoD.
  9. We destroyed the physical infrastructure through bombing, and dismantled the rest when we invaded. That, in my opinion, may have worked had we then gone straight into reconstruction mode - but instead we built some camps and sat there waiting for things to go wrong.
  10. Infrastructure as in essential national services: police, military and everything right down to the binmen. Not infrastructure as in buildings, which are clearly going to get damaged during a war. It's a lot easier to weed the dodgy ones out of an already existing police force, than to kick everyone out of a job, then see who turns up in the queues for jobs, train them and then still have to weed out the now higher number of dodgy ones.
  11. When the Allies rebuilt Germany after the war, they recognised that if they binned every Nazi party member from their job they'd cripple the country as the vast majority of people in professional employment were party members purely because they had to be to avoid harassment. In Iraq, on the other hand, every member of the Ba'ath party was rooted out and the country crippled in the process. Ottar has it bang on.
  12. "We are never ready for war, yet we have never had a cabinet who dare tell the people the truth"

    Sir Garnet Wolsey
    says it all realy
  13. Thank you for your comments.

    In my "Acknowledgements" I note that "it is too early yet to write a fully-sourced, accurate account of the British occupation of Itaq and, if the media writes the first version of history, this is the second."

    I then go on to say that, "this is not so much a history as the 'case for the prosecution' ... at High Command and political level, there were very clearly some major errors ... this book makes a case, one I believe needs to be answered. From the debate I hope will ensue, perhaps a better book may emerge, in which case this will have achieved its purpose".