When is a war not a "REAL" war?

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Gas Gas Gas, Jun 17, 2003.

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  1. Having given this some thought; my evaluation is that no war fought by the British Armed Forces will be deemed a "REAL" war until the Great British public are directly affected (WW2 for example).  [I acknowledge that to the poor sod getting shot at it could not be more real.  It does not matter whether it was a Paddy, Argentine, Iraqi, Serb or Pashtun doing the shooting.]

    Without too much difficulty it was quite possible to avoid the Falklands, GW1, the Balkans, Afghanistan and GW2 on the TV or in the newspapers.  They didn't stop Corrie or the footie on the box.  Nor was there any real chance of your average young lad getting killed or called up as a direct result.  Even the Irish problems were a mere news item to the vast majority of the population.  

    In some ways I hope it remains that way, because, if not something has hit the fan big time.

    Any other thoughts???
  2. You are talking about total and limited war, methinks.

    Without going back to text books an approximate definition of both would be:

    Total War

    Where the winning of the war is deemed is so important that it means the survival of the nation state.  All national assets are mobilised to support the war effort.  All means of winning are exploited.

    Limited War

    Where the winning of the war does not effect the survival of the nation state.  Limited national resources are mobilised to support the war effort (shipping, armed forces, cash).

    Wars can of course be total and limited eg Korea (Total War for the North and South Koreans, Limited War for the US, UK and China).
  3. I am thinking more along the lines of whether or not Joe Public feels he is involved and has something to lose personally.  If we had got a thorough beating somewhere along the line, would Joe just shrug his shoulders and carry on down to the pub?  Would it be an embarrassment on the world stage for Britain but of no consequence to Joe?  I don’t think the public have felt at risk since WW2, with the possible exception of the Cuban missile crisis.
  4. Exactly.  In Limited War the real net effect on the public is very small.  The families involved have personal loss but in real terms this is little effect overall (look at the US experience in Vietnam...100000s killed, war lost, net effect on the US people as a whole little (limited war)).  

    Consequently look at Germany in the second world war, they lost, country literally torn in two  (East and West), financial ruin for a number of years and occupation by foreign soldiers (OK for their defence in recent years in the West).  Life totally changed, nation state did not really survive until Germany was reunited in 1990(?), further financial difficulties on reunification trying to rebuild the east. That is total war.

    Now imagine the consequences if we had lost the second World War......
  5. I think you're looking at the difference between war and conflict.

    War is a national issue that affects everyone, and a conflict is something that the troops sort out on behalf of the nation.

    Easy  ;D
  6. Consider this: when was the last time the United Kingdom 'declared war' on another country?
  7. msr

    msr LE

  8. gas gas gas
    As a member of the public I have to say I was scared 5hitless, lets look at the facts of this fear, we have been told of lives being at risk or even in IMMINENT danger. We were told that biological chemical weapons were and are in the hands of the terrorists and in this country, even dare I say it in a whisper nuclear in the guise of a dirty bomb, these we were told were sold by Iraq, and could have been and were expected to on many different occasions be deployed and used to kill injure thousands, we were also told that Iraq WAS A DIRECT THREAT to our country, and could deploy missiles within 45 minutes. Even yesterday we were told that a dirty bomb will be used in this country soon by a terrorist group, so believe what we have been told, even if no WMD have been found yet in Iraq were right to be scared for our lives because we were told we should be :mad: :mad: :mad: :mad: :mad:
  9. I often repeat the phrase "ask the relevant question" in determining how to react. In this case the relevant question is "who's telling me this?" If the answer is Tony B Liar, you know not to trust a word of it as his entire premiership is based on spin. Had it been MI5 or 6 directly (i.e. not through Labour Government spin/leaks/parliamentary statements), then it's time to break out your old copies of "Survive to Fight".

    I would argue that so many of the British public believe that:

    1. Wars should be over in time for commercial breaks, and that 4 weeks is a lonbg drawn out conflict

    2. War is info-tainment

    3. That 16 deaths in a force of 45,000 is unacceptably high.

    All truth is perception, and the British people have been fed so much "TV War" that they have lost all perception of what it truely involves because the bombs are dropping and the bullets flying thousands of miles away. Therefore to answer the original question, a war is a war and not another form of operation when the government/media want to spin it that way for their own ends.

    And before NIMN jumps up and down in a liberal frenzy, most of the forces saw through Tony's crock of shite, but were asked to do a job none-the-less, and do so professionally. Our voice is in the ballot box not the Socialist Workers Party demo in Hyde Park. When the call to arms comes the politics should take a back seat and the people should get behind the forces until their safe return, not undermine their morale by blaming them for the errors of politicians. The fact is that Saddam was a nasty piece of work who should have been removed from power. The Government's mistake was not just coming out and saying they were going to do it no matter what instead of trying to dress it up as a terrorist threat, or whatever they thought the people would swallow that week.
  10. GGG, Bowman and Woopert, I am trying really hard here not to accuse you of being patronising.........................excuse me?!! And on what evidence are you basing the accusation that Joe Public is thoughtless, indifferent and ignorant to what is going on around them and within their own borders?! Because you're not, I suppose!!

    I get really p*ssed off with any group that claims that the world around them cannot POSSIBLY understand the deprivations and sufferings they endure because they don't have the privilege of belonging to that group...............what complete bullsh*t...............I'm afraid gentlemen, you don't have the monopoly on morality because you're military and everyone else is just Joe Public.  Get your preening sticks out of your collective arrses and realise that you don't exist in some kind of holy vacuum because you're soldiers, dispensing wisdom from from your turrets to the great unwashed down below.

    Of course Joe Public thinks of conflicts as real wars - why do you think so many of them were against this one? You think it doesn't affect them?! You go and tell that to the thousands of people who were made redundant when the airlines stopped flying due to lack in demand and other service industries nose dived, to the families where they have one, maybe two, parents out of work and who still have bills to pay - go and tell that to people just trying to get to work who wondered evry morning whether or not they were going to be gassed on their way to work............

    You know what? You are patronising, and your ignorance of how ordinary people think is appalling, you should be damn well ashamed of yourselves.
  11. Prodigal

    I think you will find that my definitions of total and limited war are almost spot on.  I didn't suggest that Joe Public didn't have any "feelings" merely that the overall effect on them (their lives, jobs, when they go to work, whether they go to work dressed in camouflage instead of a suit, whether their factory is turned into a munitions factory working towards the war effort, instead of making washing  machines, rationing etc etc etc) is negligible...

    So before you start tarring us all with the same brush perhaps you might do some background research into the subject or at least read what has been written in the whole thread before launching your personal attack on everyone on this particular thread.  

    If you ask nicely I will send you a pamphlet produced by those nice people at Sandhurst on Total and Limited war...you know the one, thats right the the one I had to study for my proffesional examinations in order to gain promotion...... (perhaps you didn't do those exams alongside I would suggest the vast majority of Joe Public).   :mad:

    If you don't want to read the pamphlet you could consider any number of books available on the subject
    " The Ordeal of Total War" by Gordon Wright
    "Total War: The Course and Causes of the Second World War" by Peter Calvocoressi, et al
    "Total War and Social Change" by Arthur Marwick may be more appropriate for you.

    or on Limited War

    "The Conduct of Just and Limited War" - by OBrien
    "Limited War in the Nuclear Age" - by Morton H. Halperin (perhaps why wars tend to be limited now as by definition a total war would include the use of nuclear weapons).
    "Korea - The Limited War" - David Rees
    "An International History of the Vietnam War, Volume III: The Making of a Limited War, 1965-66" - by R.B. Smith

    Perhaps then you could make some reasoned comment on when a war is a war and not a "Real" war which of course it what this thread is about.  :mad:

    As for the nose dive in the aircraft industry I think you will find that has been around since 9/11.  You cannot blame a slight increase in unemployment on a limited war in Iraq.  The simple fact is that many companies have been trying to make themselves more profitable after a year or two of shocking stock market results, the war in Iraq was a convenient excuse.  Hoodwinked ...who you?? :eek:.  I have to say I feel really sorry for people who are unemployed who want to work, I have been there...the simple fact is though that unemployment is no where near the same levels as it was in the late 70s early 80s so lets not go about blaming war shall we.

     And as for this ...yes you all must have been sh1ting it and probably still are, just like you used to check your cars for Under Vehicle Booby Traps every day when PIRA were at their height and of course how you used to avoid going to London after Canary Wharf and all the other major attrocities that actually have happend....get a grip on reality......

    Hands up all of those that are in so much fear of a gas attack on the tube that they actually bought a respirator and carry it to work....anyone seen anyone carrying a respirator in the street? No didn't think so.  The fact is that 99.9% of people think that if it happens it won't happen to them. Otherwise Bliar would be currently under pressure to issue gas mask to all.  
  12. Bowman, spare me the heroic sh*t about the difficult courses you've had to attend - I'm a civvy, remember?

    I am not taking issue with your definitions of 'Limited' and 'Total' war - that's not a discussion I could make any useful contribution to, interesting though it is.

    I'm taking issue with how you define
    . And I think that that is a very pertinent point of view, particularly in the light of concepts of asymmetric warfare, dirty bombs and global terrorism..................I do not accept that because GB doesn't look like Germany post WW2 that most of the population was not affected by GW2. People were frightened - they may not have gone to work in respirators, but they were still frightened. They had opinions (still have opinions) - how many marched against the war that day in London?

    It's called coping.

    But as long as anyone in uniform believes that Joe Public does not a) care about what they are doing b) does not give a sh*t about what's done in their name and c) remains completely unaffected by conflicts that happen hundreds of miles away, particularly those involving British political decisions and British troops, then I will keep going head to head with you on this one, because I flatly refuse to accept those premises.
  13. The simple fact is that 59% of the British public voted in the 2001 general election.  If the general public were so interested in British political decisions then the other 41% of the British public would have made the effort to make their political decision felt.  Sadly 41% (thats 2/5s of the population) actually couldn't be bothered.  To answer one of your questions with another question, how many of the 65 Million population of Great Britain did actually march in London against the war? I suspect a very, very small percentage.

    I am pleased that you recognise the threat of large scale terrorist attack.  9/11 did the world a whole heap of good for focussing the mind on that little baby.  The simple facts are that since the collapse of the cold war, international terrorism, alongside the uncontrolled proliferation of Weapons of Mass destruction probably pose the largest threat to world security.  However don't be simple minded enough to suggest that GW 2 has made this threat any worse!!  Sarin was used to lesser or greater effect on the Tokyo underground in 1995!!  

    The non cynical view on GW 2 would suggest that the war was not based on oil, but on the elimination of WMDs in the hands of psychopaths that are very willing to use them or hand them over to people who are willing to use them.  The public either want to be free of the threat of global terrorism and WMD or they don't .... but if they do they have to accept that the threat has to be eliminated by good intelligence work, sound political decisions made on their behalf by the elected government and swift and decisive military action.

    GW2 did not bring about the threat of global terrorism and use of WMD, terrorists with their own agenda, whatever that agenda may be did that.

     So you have no issue with my definitions on total and limited war..yet you decide to miss quote me to make it look like you have a point to make.  The simple fact is that GW2 has so far had very little "REAL" effect on the British population.


    Bollox ...its called complacency.
  14. I don't accept the link you have made between the General Election turn out and your accusation that Joe Public does not 'feel' the 'net effect of war', therefore does not care about war. It is a link too tenuous to withstand scrutiny - the GE happened two years before GW2 and there is  strong public pressure for the Govt to explain the dearth of WMD.

    Enough to make the Govt uncomfortable (and more than marched for the Countryside Alliance, for the Range Rover driving, fox hunting, welly wearers of you out there............... ;))

    Gee, thanks..........

    Er........I didn't................but it's another step along the way, surely...........

    Er, yes....................no one is going to disagree on something so obviously sensible, but that's not what I took issue with, was it?

    My issue is that I believe GW2, and in fact, all conflicts that British troops get involved in, DO affect Joe Public, civilian though he/she is. Perahsp it's because you are not Joe Public is the reason that you can't see this. It affcets him/her in ways that are not always immediately apparent, visible or even tangible - but those effects are there.

    Give me evidence.
  15. I just re-read my initial post to be sure of a few things:

    Prodigal said:

    I wasn't making the point that the public are indifferent, thoughtless, or ignorant. In fact the evidence is to the contrary if you take the demonstrations and treatment of the Government's briefings by the press (reaction) into account. It is my personal belief that those who demonstrated got it wrong in that they should have been demonstrating to force the government to tell the truth, not to prop up an evil regime, but that is a different topic for a different time.

    The points I made in my last post were:

    1. The government were not being honest and upfront about the reasons they supported military action in Iraq and why they committed British troops to the operation, that the British people realised this, and that the best thing the government could have done was to be honest about the reasons it wanted to commit (and extrapolating it a bit further than I said above) so that the British people, and more importantly from a constitutional angle at the time, Parliament could have made an informed decision.

    2. That people have been de-sensitidsed to the reality of war because it has been presented in such a way that people's perception is that it is a quick and efficient process where things do not typically go wrong. To go a bit further in defence of this view, research in the US undertaken by Mori showed that most Americans believed before the war started that it should be over in less than 4 weeks, and a similar number said that they would only support it if it ended in 4 weeks. It was concluded that political support would diminish with increasing time.  I went on to argue that this is a direct effect of media and television on people's perceptions of what war is all about, and in the absence of direct experience they have nothing else to base that on except what they see, read, and are told by the media, hence the comment about the relationship between perception and distance.

    As a shareholder in an airline, I can tell you that the decline in airline performance had been steady for about a year before 9/11. Fuel prices had risen in a competative market eating into profit, and many airlines were doing away with travel agent commissions in favour of flat fees per sector which led to a reduction in the market share of the Star Alliance firms as they were the first to introduce this scheme. The European routes were the worst hit as business travel (which is where most profit is made) moved to the low cost carriers, hence Swissair/Crossair and Pan AM folding, Virgin Direct going under (added to their staff issues and strikes on pay), and BMI and Virgin dumping loss-making routes. Had 9/11 not happened the job losses would have totalled about the same, but the sudden fall in the market prompted this a lot quicker, something city analysts had predicted happening around 2002 anyway if a major ailine in the US had gone under, and it was anyone's bet if this was going to be American or United. The service sector has been in decline for about 3 years, again in line with the usual 7 year economic cycle. While 9/11 sped up the process, the outcome was more or less inevitable in the long term.

    I believe that people were concerned, but not frightened and don't accept that there was a general feeling of fear in the country as there was only a comparitivly small (although I accept real) threat of retaliation.

    I would add to Bow_man's reading list another couple of Staff College favourites, "Science, Warfare, and Peace" (though I can't remember who it is by) and "Just and Unjust Wars" by Michael Waltzer.