Your thoughts please

Discussion in 'Films, Music and All Things Artsy' started by nuts, Feb 28, 2010.

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  1. Not too bad

  2. Oh, no no no...

  1. Ladies and gents, perhaps some of you would be so kind as to sharpen your red pens and let me know what you think of the little article below. I wrote it having been thinking about it for a few days with a view to writing more (not necessarily on anything military, but I started on this as something I know a little about and something I care about). I'm sure there are a few grammatical errors but am interested if the style and tone is one which people enjoy reading. I've also chosen this test audience as I was sure I'd get all different opinions... Just to set the background:
    a) I'm not a journalist. I did this as I quite enjoyed it and, if the response is suitably encouraging, would look to carry on in some vein.
    b) I'm ex-mil, and I do have another log in to ARRSE which I would prefer to keep separate from this one. If this writing lark is a total disaster then I'll let it die quietly, if it's at all successful then I'd look to closing this account and going back to the 'real' one.

    I hope this forum is suitable for it: MODs please move if it would sit better elsewhere. Many thanks, nuts.

    The War on Terror: it’s all about the name.

    Say it slowly. “The War on Terror…The Axis of Evil”. Say what you like about George W. Bush, his somewhat crusader-like tendencies and his inability to string more than three words together without pausing for thought, but he (or his advisors) came up trumps with this one. With a name this brilliant, it is a surprise our own government even bothered to make up intelligence about Saddam’s nuclear capability to add legitimacy to the conflict. It summons up images of a growing shadow of wickedness creeping west, and hooded people, knives drawn, creeping up on your streets in the dead of night. It plays on primeval fears and does so brilliantly. And it somehow makes it more important to take a stance. It almost adds legitimacy. And here’s why: it has nothing to do with the people being fought, and everything to do with what it is being called.

    Names are everything. The Crusades: Richard the Lionheart leads his brave warriors halfway across the world to inflict a lesson on another part of society. Crosses held high, the forces of mighty Saladin put to the sword and the bringers of faith return home, laden with glory and unimaginable riches. You don’t really think of knights being cooked inside their own armour in the desert or resorting to cannibalism just to make it home again. The Desert Rats and the Afrika Korps: dusty, sand-swept, bronzed young men only too capable of a scrap in some of the most inhospitable parts of the world. Slim’s 14th “Forgotten” Army: the name only adds to the image of soldiers silently creeping through the jungle, shaded from above by the choking canopy, wiping the sweat away whilst pushing the Imperial Japanese Army back with artillery, rifles and bayonets.

    Hitler and his cohorts deployed the Waffen SS – blonde-haired, blue-eyed automatons. Black suited, bedecked with skulls and crossbones; a name synonymous with Teutonic murderous efficiency. And British bomber crews during the Second World War were known as “Terrorflieger” – considerably more frightening, and one wonders if the Germans cowering in their shelters would have been quite as terrified if they had known that the men flying above them were actually Bingo, Bob and Chalky, all in possession of marvellous moustaches, well-chewed pipes and who were in fact rather looking forward to a spot of tiffin once they were back home.

    And these names will (rightly) stay in our minds until the day that politicians decide that history is bad for us, and that certain historical events should be left out for reasons of multiculturalism, political inconvenience and benefit-of-hindsight ‘shame’(and let us not pretend for a moment that the syllabus is not already looking frighteningly thin and emaciated). Bannockburn. Culloden. Waterloo. Imjin. Inkerman. Austerlitz. Quatre Bras. Spion Kop. Rourke’s Drift. Messines Ridge. D Day. Bastogne. Tumbledown. All these names sum up the blood and thunder, the glory and the fear, the uncertainty and exhilaration of fighting and surviving. Being tested and not found wanting. Making the ultimate sacrifice.

    Some names, however, just don’t quite cut it. They don’t pack the same punch. The War of the Roses sounds, well, effete. The Hundred years War sounds interminably dull (although one has to admire their persistence), and the Battle of Worcester sounds like two drunken race goers having a spat over a betting slip. Hastings, a battle that fundamentally changed British society and politics, sounds more like two pensioners bickering over a parking space. Suez veterans complain – rightly- that their efforts are overlooked and underappreciated. But fighting over a canal just seems a little odd. Similarly, the Falklands Conflict (Operation CORPORATE – please! What happened to OVERLORD?) made Brits at the time think “where?” and reach for a map to check that the Scots were not fomenting revolution again. But the Argies – what a name! Made for fighting! The writers of Commando comic must have been bouncing off their desks with glee as the editors of the red-tops defiantly wrote that the Argies would NEVER have the islands, whilst quietly covering up the fact that they had only learned of their existence three days previously and were still not quite sure what there was there worth fighting over. And who sounds scarier: Tamil Tigers, or the Continuity IRA? The Taleban, or FARC (a well-bred lady swearing under her breath)?

    And by that token, senior military commanders and politicians would do well to remember this. The Red Devils, the Diehards, the Back-to-Backs, the Thin Red Line, the Fighting Fifth? Regiments who forged their reputations through blood, sweat and cold steel, and whose names alone inspired fear and deference. Highlanders charging through the mud of the First War became known as the “ladies from hell”. Somehow – and I mean no disrespect to any of those currently serving – our new, super-regiment names do not evoke the same awe. The Mercian Regiment, for one, sounds like a hockey team. We are losing our history and our memories of the men who fought and died for the sake of slashing a few pennies from the budget. No doubt whoever got an MBE for this feels that he earned it. One must fervently hope that this will not ultimately lead to these mighty fighting formations being known as ‘1st Battalion the Infantry’ and onwards – every bit as boring and coma-inducing as the accountants and civil servants who would implement these cost-cutting changes.

    Sun Tzu wrote that “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting”. And if you can, as in the Falklands, scare the crap out of your enemy with a name, why axe them?
  2. Looking good. Keep it up :)
  3. That's really, really good, Nuts. Maybe you could give the Gurkhas a mention somewhere, though. Was it not they who put the shites up the Argies on Corporate, as well as fearlessly battling the Japs?

  4. I enjoyed the theme - especially Hastings and The Hundred Years War. Keep it up if you enjoy it.
  5. Your historys a bit out, Richard was in the second Crusade, the first was lead by Godfrey of Boulon,Raymond of Toulouse, ect under the religious guidence of Bishop Ademar of Le Puy
  6. I thought it might be, but decided to leave it under the guise of 'poetic licence'. I'm not all that au fait with the Crusades but was keen to focus on the names of the period - ISTR an ARRSER called Saladin?

    Re. the Gurkhas - yes, that last paragraph could have been expanded a little, given the impact their deployment had on the Argentine Troops.

    Many thanks for the comments.

  7. To be fair, he doesn't actually specify which crusade.

    Nuts, a cracking good read. Have/are you going to approach any publications? Would make a good editorial if you could find a paper who'd be willing to print it.
  8. I an OCD wonk like me,can only pick you upon that I would say it's a pretty good piece, keep up the good work
  9. I did think about it, but I thought this would be a good site to get some initial feedback. I specifically thought that if it was no good, then site users would not be slow in letting me know!

    So yes, I'm keen to see what editors think and am going to look into which publications might be interested.
  10. Fück me, Tropper! Is that sort of unimportant nit-picking the best you can do? Nuts has written a very nicely balanced and eloquent article which puts the case over really well. Give him credit for that and at least try to find an element of constructive criticism.

  11. Well, the first draft had Saladin being slain. Until I checkedand saw that he died in his sleep, or at least not at the hands of someone else. :x So happy for people to point out these things.