Dying for ‘the patriot game.’

Medals belonging to a member of our family on my father’s side, surfaced when he died.

The young soldier from the heart of South Armagh who fought for Britain spent the rest of his life in hospital. It was always said he had not recovered because he suffered from ‘shell shock.’

Had I been brought up by different parents I too might have ended up fighting for ‘the cause’ in one or other army. An anti violence ethos obtained in our South Armagh home and my life took a different course and I didn’t join any physical force army.

I have written here before that the photograph of young Portadown man Neal Turkington, killed in Afghanistan is fixed on my retina. That face spoke volumes with its distinct jaw line. That could be my son or yours.

Dup Assembly man Stephen Moutray said:

“Lt Neal Turkington was an incredibly brave young man of enormous ability. He laid down his life in the cause of a better future for the people of Afghanistan and on behalf of a more secure future for us back home.”

Neal’s family needless to say must feel an immense sense of pride in their son because he followed his star and pursued his dream.

The first words of a latin saying taken from an ode by Horace may well rest easily with the Turkington family.

“Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori” (it is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country).

Having come through an educational system which familiarised me with the notion of ‘blood sacrifice’ on the back of listening and reading about the Rising and about the poet Padraig Pearse, I have a sense of the deep raw emotions nationhood can stir.

The former deputy first minister Seamus Mallon once remarked ‘the oppressed always cling to romance.’ It was a broad generalisation but Mallon got his point across.

When it comes to war my approach to the application of violence outside of absolute self defense or the protection of another human being’s well- being, no injustice real or perceived merits taking up a gun to kill.

I am in war poet Wilfred Owen’s camp.

He wrote before losing his own life in the First World War:

‘If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in;
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin.
If you could hear, at every jolt the blood,
Come gargling from the froth corrupted lungs.
Obscure as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues.
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for
Some desperate glory
The old lie; dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.

Dominic Behan’s
‘Patriot Game’ also resonates this when he sings of young Fergal O Hanlon;

‘Come all ye young rebels and list while I sing.
For the love of one’s country is a terrible thing.
It banishes fear with the speed of a flame.
And it makes us all part of the
patriot game.’

All this begs the question; is the patriot game worth a penny candle?

Tony Blair, George Bush, Barack Obama, Gordon Brown and David Cameron should all ask – is the war in Iraq, in Afghanistan world a penny candle?.

We cannot get the victims of IRA,UDA,UVF,Dissidents, or of the LVF back.

The same goes for Neal Turkington he is not coming back.
Eamonn Mallie

  • Alan Maskey

    Greenflag: Just as the meeting started the door burst open and a volunteer ran in out of breath and cried out ‘ I have wonderful news ! The murdered girl is catholic !

    Please name htis girl. Feel free to Google or whatever. I do remember Patrick Rooney’s death but as far as i am aware, no Protestant girl was killed in the early days of the Troubles in the way you describe. Which means….

    Munsterview made some good points about the fate of women in Afghanistan and Iraq. He could have mentioned, not that it matters, that the Karzai government, like the one

  • Andrew

    Munster,

    I think we are addressing two different questions: can Afganistan be considered a ‘defensive war’, and has Western involvement in Afganistan over the past 30 years been wise/beneficial.

    You make a persuasive case that the answer is ‘no’ to the last question. Had things been done differently, there might not be the problems today.

    That we created/grew the Taliban does not mean that we are absolved from dealing with it when it attacks UK or Irish citizens.

    We may be going in circles, so I’ll make this my last word!

  • Alan Maskey

    Munsterview made some good points about the fate of women in Afghanistan and Iraq. He could have mentioned, not that it matters, that the Karzai government, like the one, is a byword in corruption

  • Damian O’Loan

    Just a couple of notes. Firstly, there is no evidential link between Afghanistan or Pakistan and 9/11. There may be NATO cooperation in attacking both countries, but the invasion of Pakistan’s sovereignty through the use of drones and troops is completely outside the framework of international law. The Pakistani people,effectively under military dictatorship, have never sanctioned this foreign presence.

    Secondly, having listened to Seven Days today, I was extremely disappointed at Brid Rodgers’s unchallenging participation in an extremely jinoistic (the Irish are a warrior nation/they go for the excitement of war) propaganda piece for a British imperial adventure.

  • Damian O’Loan

    jingoistic

  • Damian O’Loan

    Completely agree about Pakistan.

    Why do some people deny the obvious? The people of these islands were warriors, they fought to establish themselves, their claim to the land and then to expand that claim.

    It is unrealistic to say the only reason the Irish joined army and navy was to avoid starvation. The only reason some Brits joined is because they were shanghaid.

    I remember Brid Rodgers of old and if she went along with it, it is because she agreed with it, and so do I.

  • Damian O’Loan

    The problem with an expression like ‘the Irish are a warrior nation’ as a justification for enlisting in the British Army is that it is a gross over-simplification, completely disregarding of the advances that have been made in international cooperation and the rule of law, ignorant of Ireland’s extremely fragile military neutrality policy, and one particularly distasteful when deployed to the ends of propaganda for illegal warfare.

    The lack of complexity to your argument needs no comment, but when such naîve simplicity is applied to something so grave and by nature complicated, more than a little distasteful.

    I’ve no doubt Brid Rodgers knew exactly what she was doing. It doesn’t make it right.

  • Damian O’Loan

    The truth is often simple and very straight forward. It has nothing to do with the advances of international cooperation What you think every would be soldier studies the international nuances before he enlists? Dont be silly.

    The ‘fragile’ neutrality of Ireland is not threatened because some young people want to join an army. Would the same be said if they joined the American, Canadian or French army?

    As for naive, you are confusing me with someone who cares for your opinion. Reread your own arrogant comment. You seek to rewrite history for reasons that are probably the exact opposite of neutral, and object when someone tells the oh, so simple truth.

  • Damian O’Loan

    You’re confusing the reason why people enlist with the reasons not to contribute to propaganda – particularly given Ms Rodgers’s position as one commanding respect across the community. Not that it would render your argument any less simplistic.

  • Damian O’Loan

    I am not confused. It is not propaganda to participate in a discussion. Our neutrality depends on us, not on some outside opinion. Ms Rodgers would know that…

    Respect is earned, you should try to earn some instead of jumping to conclusions you cannot legitimately back up.

  • Damian O’Loan

    I said you were “confusing”, not “confused.” The BBC, you might have noted, is among other things an instrument of British soft power. Please try not to resort to ad hominem attacks.

  • You might find me confusing, but I did not find the subject confusing.

    It will be my pleasure to refrain from ‘ad hominem’ attacks as
    long as you refrain from your use of ‘naive, confusing, lacking complexity and simplistic’. when referring to my comments.

  • Damian O’Loan

    “Confusing” is part of a conjugated verb and an adjective. i don’t find you confusing in the least. Thanks for this illuminating exchange.

  • Damian O’Loan

    I can think of a few adjectives of my own..

    Underwhelmed.

  • Greenflag

    ‘If you took the past away what would be left/’

    Eh possibly the or a future 😉

    It was’nt a prediction – it was a sort of tongue in cheek weather forecast .

  • Greenflag

    Alan Maskey ,

    I recommend you sign up for Munsterview’s basic course in irony but try and get through that introductory course in how to laugh at yourself while not finishing sentences first 😉

  • Greenflag

    Shhh, I know…:)

  • Alan Maskey

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-10910678

    Former RUC officer working as mercenary in Afghanistan/restoring the British way of life to the Pashtuns/earning a few bob died/executed/martyred in Afghanistan.

    The family is devastated. They should hardly be surprised. Not everyone can be a winner with deregulation.

    When you’re lying out there on Afghanistan’s plains
    And the women come out to cut up what remains
    Just lie on your side
    And blow out your brains
    And go to your God like a solider.

    Lest we forget. They don’t do the far off foreign field trip too much anymore. Will he get a big send off when he comes back to Trillick?

  • Greenflag

    ‘Our neutrality depends on us’

    Up to a point . It also depends on our location and the ‘tolerance’ of our neighbour .If Ireland were located between Germany and Russia or between Belgium and Holland we would not be neutral . Irish neutrality is not an unalterable principle -It’s a financial and economic convenience which we get to exercise simply because of our location and nothing else .

  • RepublicanStones

    Indeed Prionsa, Fisk is one of those journalists who are unfortunately few and far between. It’s no surprise it was standing room only at the Hubert Butler Annual Lecture down in Kilkenny on Sat night. His detractors, who do quote a lot of ‘Fisking’ themselves, are merely angered by the mans devotion to shining a light into places they would prefer to keep in the dark. Tis a pity men like Fisk and the great John Pilger are in their autumn years.

  • Prionsa Eoghann

    Ach there is always us ;¬)

    Ironic that I read yir reply whilst listening to this song;

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOYxLJVBkIM&feature=related

    With one of the verses thus;

    “The more you refuse to hear my voice
    The louder I will sing
    You hide behind walls of Jericho
    Your lies will come tumbling
    Deny my place in time
    You squander wealth that’s mine
    My light will shine so brightly
    It will blind you”

    Brilliant stuff!

    Cheeri!

  • RepublicanStones

    Great tune.

    I was at the Waterfront last to see another man in his autumn years, the great Kris Kristofferson. He doesn’t seem to have lost his liberal sympathies – and all the better for it. He was quite scathing about his last President and cracked one joke which left an image of Dubya and Dick Cheny sharing a shower which will remain with me for a long time to come. I hope theres a few more laps left in the old dog yet. He played this tune and he said afterward how when he was part of the Highwaymen, Johnny Cash always use to howl like a wolf during a part of it, and so sure enough at at about 02:38 in, you’ll hear the man in black…..

  • Alan Maskey

    Do the PSF supporters still sing the old favouties, Go on Home British soldiers, My Little Armalite etc when they are on the tear? Does a tear come to the cheek when Gerry puts the clenched fist in the air?

  • RepublicanStones
  • wee buns

    There is not much heed being paid in this discussion to personal responsibility. War, so normal and constant, the army just another career opportunity? Young and underprivilaged as the majority of candidates may be, as long as they pocess a brain, they are responsible for their choice. On value systems: speaking as the mother of five sons, I’ve made it clear as speaking as the matriarch in situ, army and police careers are under no circumstances viable ones. Of course young men have their own ‘minds’, testosterone riddled as they are. Violence is only an option after everything else has been exhausted.

    Otherwise, one only has to look towards the animal kingdom to see, the males spend their entire lives fucking and killing. Fact.

  • wee buns

    To be exact, the majority of male animals that is, rare exceptions exist such as the seahorse.
    Likewise there are exceptions in the male human, but the majority are all too ready to identify themselves as cannon fodder, at the drop of a hat.

  • wee buns

    Go To Sleep My Weary Provo?

  • Munsterview

    Wee Buns

    Nice to have your input and a bit of sanity back!

    This is a good background account of First British disaster in Afghanistan, one of the best that I have come across. It do illustrate the grim picture of wasted lives due to military command stupidity and incompetence. It also clearly set outs what the British strategic goals were back then. Not much has changed in ‘the great game’ in the meanwhile.

    Hope it is of interest to you and other readers.

    http://www.grin.com/e-book/105169/afghanistan-go-to-your-god-like-a-soldier

  • Prionsa Eoghann

    Re Johnny Cash he howls in all three choruses that I could hear, anyway;

    “in the over 17,000 pages the government has on him, there is a FBI memo that states “He is extremely eloquent…therefore extremely dangerous”

    Totalitarian state or land of the free?!?!

    Another keeper………..you are certainly keeping my bookmark tab well used RS!

  • Greenflag

    Irish neutrality is not unalterable, agreed but it is up to us. Switzerland was neutral, so were several other much smaller countries, and they stayed neutral throughout the 2nd WW which is not to say they did not have to ‘give’ in certain instances, but overall the neutrality was maintained, as our will be as long as we insist upon it.

  • wee buns

    Thankyou & reading the article with interest.

    Sanity: glad you think so. The rest of the world seems oblivious. My exact words, when the subect of a military/police career arises, are ‘over my dead body’. I guess you could call it blackmail. But seeing as I gave them Life…

  • What distinguises “patriotism” from “self-interest”?

    This thread was predicated to a simple thesis: “dying for the patriot game”. Predictably it has gone chasing every individual hare or bee-escaped-from-bonnet. The latest is a bit of gross sexist stereotyping.

    Any chance of a re-boot?

    For example (my personal fetish), the sin of nationalism? This filters all objectivity. Let me pull a couple of examples at random.

    To the American patriot, it is the War of Independence — which begs the question why the French ancien régime were so supportive, unless it was a sideshow in the Anglo-French conflict.

    Similarly the Irish patriot (who, remember, is the topic of the thread) sees 1916-21 as, also, a “War of Independence”. A different point of view might result from noting the activities of Franz von Papen. Why was Papen so keen to see German weaponry in Ireland? Was he committed to an ideal of “a nation once again”? Or was it akin to his manipulation of the “Yellow Peril” (the Mexican-Japanese alliance), his expulsion from the neutral US because he was fomenting sabotage, his activities as ambassador in Turkey, his hand-holding of Schuschnigg in the run-up to the Anschluss? My, my: that really takes the love of “freedom” to new heights.

    Now convince me, in both those contexts, that the British government did not have grounds to feel it was all a heinous foreign plot.

    Patriotism is, indeed, not enough (thank you, Edith!). The trouble is my patriotism is always good: theirs always threatens. Hence patriotism and xenophobia always were and remain the two sides of the coin.

  • Alan Maskey

    Malcolm:

    1. This thread was predicated to a simple thesis: “dying for the patriot game”. Is the grammar correct here (predicated to)? Serious question.
    2. Wee buns makes an interesting point about nature, which I hope you are not disparaging. Nature is so varied that we cannot extrapolate from it; nor can we even extrapolate from one species to another as a matter of course.
    3. As regards your main points: You are correct to try to bring this discussion back along its intended path. However, as you rightly point out, nationalism is a varied, ever changing flower.
    German nationalism exemplifies. The things said about FRG in the run up to them winning the 1954 World Cup were not nice. Their 1954 victory was the first post 1945 occasion when they could take pride in being Germans. What about German super nationalism? They really believe they have a right to meddle in the world and they have fought with every other country in the world.
    Countries have myths: the USA, which was set up as a republic (re publica) and not as a democracy (demos) is a case in point. More Yanks fought with the ex British soldier Washington than fought against him.
    The people of Dublin thought, not without reason, that the 1916ers were nut cases. The people of Baldoyle in North Dublin, thought that the great Irish socialist leader and ex British soldier, Michael Mallin, cruelly murdered by occupation forces on 8th May 1916 (lest we forget) was a nut; he left a widow and four young kids (with another on the way) – one of them went on to be a long living Jesuit priest.

    Patriotism is a good thing as it binds us to the soil. The tragedy is that others – the self styled Royal families of Europe and the Pentagon’s running dogs – expoit it for their own nefarious reasons.

    Some years ago, an SS bunker was discovered in East Prussia. Two teenage SS soldiers, facing certain death at the hands of the the fast advancing Rusisan rapists, had drawn some “art” in their bunker. This consisted of Aryan Kitsch crap but it had to be sealed up lest it infect the rest of us. They too were victims.

    And so too are all those who die serving today’s imperialist forces. Morally, we have not advanced since Horace first spewed out his propaganda. I rememember learning it at school and that and the English Romantic poets were nectar to my sensitive soul. A heady brew, which like all intoxiocants is good if used properly and is not prostituted to self serving politicians.

  • Alan Maskey @ 12:32 pm:

    I think my frustration with wee buns (what a suggestive moniker!) rested on her assumption that the female of the species was the gentler. Didn’t we have the delightful Ms Jessie Pope vs Wilfred Owen recently? Who gave out the white feathers? Boudicca, Thatcher. Lizzie One. The Spartan mothers. Hmmm: a lot of exceptions to the rule?

    I wholly concur with you in:

    Patriotism is a good thing as it binds us to the soil.

    That means, surely, we should not confuse le terroir with la Patrie. “My own dear native land” is more likely to be the parish rather than the wider generality. Many of those young men who marched off to Flanders, and never heard bugles calling for them from sad shires may never previously have been out of their county.

    Then you add:

    The tragedy is that others – the self styled Royal families of Europe and the Pentagon’s running dogs – expoit it for their own nefarious reasons.

    . True enough. Except it isn’t royalty (who are generally content in their own skins), it’s the courtiers, the manipulators, the profiteers and the apparatchiks to watch out for.

    “The last refuge of the scoundrel”?

    For those who haven’t detected it, my current bedside book is Barbara Tuchman on The Zimmermann Telegram: £2.99 at Oxfam, and worth every penny. She has the anecdote of Arthur Zimmermann confronting US Ambassador James W Gerard::

    “In case of trouble,” he warned Gerard when an argument over American arms sales became heated, “there are half a million trained Germans in America who will join the Irish and start a revolution.” A humorist himself, the Ambassador thought Zimmermann was joking but, on discovering he was serious, made his famous retort, “In that case there are half a million lamp-posts to hang them on.”:

    Meanwhile a young Dwight Eisenhower (whose ancestors were from the Saarland) had just graduated from West Point. wee buns would appreciate that Eisenhower’s mother, a Mennonite by birth, was also profoundly anti-militarist. I, on the other hand, am grateful that Eisenhower developed the way he did, however. There’s a nexus of loyalties in that lot to make me further question the nature of “patriotism”.

  • Greenflag

    It was Dwight Eisenhower who introduced the term ‘military industrial complex ‘ into the language . He of course had first hand experience of how the latter operated and how it could conceivably further it’s own profitable economic interests by the maintenance of if not a continued state of war at least the acceptance that the country should always be prepared .

    In today’s world we have progressed as Mack has pointed out on another thread to the FIRE economy which doesn’t even require war to execute it’s destruct mission 🙁

    The USA could save a fortune on it’s wars if somehow it’s taxpayers could be persuaded to send their taxes directly to Haliburton or Blackrock or the other major private sector war contractors instead of via the IRS middlemen .

  • Greenflag

    ‘Switzerland was neutral, ‘

    Because it had no strategic value in territorial terms and it’s secretive banking system then as today provided a place for the looters (from all sides ) in WW2 to stash their ill gotten gains . The other small nations who preserved their neutrality Sweden , Portugal etc were not in the way . Countries like Holland, Belgium, Czechoslovakia , Hungary, Greece , Poland and many others could have proclaimed ‘neutrality’ till the cows come home but it would not have stopped either the Axis powers or Allies from marching through their capital cities as they did .

    The ‘neutrality’ of those small nations whose ‘neutrality’ was respected was due not to the desire of these small nations alone or their populations . It was mainly due to the fact that it suited both the Axis and Allied powers .

    The lamb can insist all it wants but if the lion wants it’s dinner it will have it !

  • RepublicanStones

    Mea culpa Prionsa, the man in black does indeed howl from the first chorus on. I must be gettin old 😉

  • Alan Maskey

    Eisenhower was not nice to German POWs at war’s end. Nixon was a Quaker. But such is life.

    Good point Malcolm about le terroir and la Patrie. Have you read Zola’s La Terre? It captures the parochial earthiness that gets milked. I love it where thye resolve to get their own priest because the neighbouring parish has one.

    And Sajer The Forgotten Soldier. Such a classic. The Germans were unusual that way in that they were literate.

    The Patriot Game wil continue. Behan’s song and melody are both simple, some might say simplistic. The muses and whatnot will continue and tragic death wil remain integral to life.

  • Munsterview

    In the First WW surplus British Barbed wire made with war effort by British wives and girlfriends of soldiers ended up in German hands via Switzerland. English entrails were left all along the Western front on English made Barbed wire.

    Like wise with German chemicals; these were manufactured in abundance there and were shipped to England by reverse route to be turned into gas and other munitions for use against German troops.

    In recent years I have had time to do extensive study in this area and the New World Order paw prints are everywhere all over the FWW.

    They are also to be found in all revolutions including our own from 1798 right through to 1922. Indeed for anyone that have taken the trouble to do a few days research it quickly becomes evident that the real struggle form 1875 to 1925 in Ireland was between these forces and the efforts of a certain section of the IRB to outwit them.

    Do that negate every death where those dying thought they were doing so for noble motives? Not so all it means is that ‘The Patriot Game’ was indeed to some people just that, just as the ‘Great Game’ as it was known has been played out in the plains and hills of Afghanistan for hundreds of years up to and including the present war.

  • wee buns

    Malcolm

    Taking issue with your analysis that my remarks on this subject have been ‘a bit of gross sexist stereotyping’, makes no impact on the facts, that war is mainly a male preoccupation, as indeed it is with all male primates, It’s rather stating an obvious, given our well established evolutionary connection to tree dwelling primates. Really it was more an aside remark to the main point about responsibility, yet here’s the elaboration. Higher levels of male aggression occur not only in humans but also in other primates, than actual aggression of female primates & the differences appear at an early age, as is true for humans. The aggression is directed against other males. It’s related to male-to-male competition, dominance, territory and access to mates, all of which are moulded by biological evolution. Males are generally more aggressive than females in many other mammals. (Exceptions exist, such as the Hyena. She has higher testosterone levels than the male) Many studies into links between testosterone & aggression exist but I suggest one only has to stroll through any given town centre on a Friday night at pub closing time to see which gender is the main protagonist. No assumption exists that females are the gentler sex. We have biological preoccupations, child bearing & rearing, that is not intrinsically contradictory to the activity of warfare.

    Really the above was simply to argue, that young men have responsibility, regardless of what culture they emerge from, to make a conscious choice before involving themselves, not just to act unthinkingly on their hormones.

    A recent radio interview with one Amerikan Vietnam Vet turned author, just published a novel based on his real time in Vietnam; gave all the usual spiel about how he was;’just a kid’ and had ‘grown up in a small town that embraced military service’ etc…. then incredulously, goes on to credit the US military with the earliest model of race integration, because they threw black & white kids together in warfare, which taught them to bond. I tell you I was fairly roaring at the radio: bhí mo fhuil ag goill. Utter right wing apologist bullshite.
    Then he whinged about having posttraumatic stress disorder. My sympathy levels are at zero here. As I have said to my sons: join the military/cops over my dead body. There are very/almost zero causes or circumstances that would justify in my eyes, even one drop of their blood. The majority of mothers feel the same. That they do not listen is most likely nature, over nurture.

    Seeing as I abhor amerikanisms….my nom de guerre does certainly not provocatively refer to small arse cheeks, but is norn-iron slang. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=wee%20buns
    Hope this clears tings up!

  • Munsterview

    Wee Buns

    “……… Something that is easy….”

    Well ,Well, Well : an easy woman, who would have thought it!

    The little gems one constantly finds in slugger, I need a mug of strong sweet tea after that!

  • Munsterview

    Slappy…./

    Lost a posting somewhere, I will give it time to come up!

    “……..And did I mention that our motor vehicle accidents kill more than 20K a year?……”

    I heard that simile used once in the Irish Superior Court by a lazy and not particularly bright barrister in relation to Irish road deaths and numbers and some parallels he was drawing in relation to the case before the courts.

    The judge scathingly then pointed out to him that over 99% of people died in bed and asked him did it then so follow that people should not go to bed?

    ” That Mr……….” he witheringly commented ” is the argument of the school yard……and it belongs there”

    I concur !

  • Munsterview

    Slappy…/

    Found this on a N American site tonight…… sure is a differnt viewpoint to yours!

    Will do nicely for now.

    I agree with Jason Ditz that we shouldn’t be spending billions of dollars on killing people on the other side of the world for any reason, as vile as our opponents may be.

    For one thing, the western elite who are behind this war couldn’t care less about the rights of women in Afghanistan; this article in /Time/ /Magazine/ is blatant propaganda designed to get the common people, who couldn’t care less about gas pipelines across Afghanistan, to support this war for emotional reasons.

    What Ditz didn’t mention in this article is how Afghanistan has backslid toward the Middle Ages since the late ’70s. Before the communist revolution that led to the insurgency and then the Soviet invasion, Afghanistan had been making progress toward modernity, with a lot of western influence being present in major cities such as Kabul.

    This has been all undone, and it will likely take a very long time for Afghanistan to come back from the devastation of the last thirty years or so. That’s if the war stops today; as long as the war goes on, no progress is possible, in my opinion. War only empowers extremists and fanatics such as the Taliban; if peace breaks out, there’s a chance for peaceful evolution away from the medieval to start once again.

  • Alan Maskey

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-11013405

    Anyone else find this paramilitary type display offensive? Men in uniform, flag draped coffin, shots over the grave, bringing these trappings into a church (albeit an Anglican one).
    I can partly undersand it if it comforts the family of the bereaved but this type of militarism is fed upon by leeches in power and in uniform to perpetuate war. Just look at Poppy Day, when Elizabeth Hanover Battenberg plays chief victim of a war her own family were at the very heart of.

  • wee buns

    A M
    the death of Adam Brown is offensive in it’s waste of life. His mother does not comment but if she had, it might follow the universal maternal code. Who cares which flag is drapped, which uniform, which church. They all suck blood from our children.

    To go further, Blair, the sleekid bane that he is, disguises himself as benefactor to a war he was central in creating. Note that éirígí is the only voice on this issue. Politically iscolated as they may be, at least they would seem to recognise wrong from right!

  • A.N.Other

    “Every wrong idea ends in bloodshed, but it’s always the blood of others.”

  • At its outset, Eamonn Mallie made a valid, if debatable point for this thread.

    Predictably it was diverted, subverted, inverted by the prejudices, presumptions and pre-conceptions of contributors. Fair enough. Such is the way of the chatroom.

    For a word of sense on the Blair donation, though, I’d go for the gist of the Economist‘s Tuesday blog comment. So to save the passing throng from seeking it out, here it is:

    The hostility to Mr Blair borne by many in Britain would surprise some foreigners, especially Americans. There are people on the left and (as in the Mail’s case) the right who share a view of him as mendacious and forever stained by the blood that flowed in Iraq.

    These people are smaller in number than they sometimes believe; someone was voting for Blair on those three occasions he cruised to victory at general elections, one of which was two years after the Iraq war started. But they are loud. Many of them have spent the past 24 hours denouncing Mr Blair’s gift to the Legion as an attempt to salve his conscience, and as some kind of “proof” that he “knows” the war was wrong.

    As Mr Blair’s former speechwriter, Philip Collins, points out in today’s Times, this is almost certainly nonsense. The former prime minister is unrepentant about a war he still feels was justified. At the same time, he reveres the armed forces—a conviction that, as Mr Collins points out, “all prime ministers arrive at”. These twin views are perfectly consistent with each other, and with Mr Blair’s donation.

    Mr Blair’s detractors are entitled to wish that he felt differently, that he would succumb to their demands for an apology. But simply pretending that he privately agrees with them, because no other view of the Iraq war can be held with any logic or honour, is just a little arrogant.

    The alternative criticism, that the donation is just a cynical PR stunt, seems less wilfully deluded. But it still strikes me as mistaken. Mr Blair is portrayed as both a shallow, image-conscious salesman and as a messianic ideologue driven by stupidly fixed convictions. He cannot be both. And at least in the realm of foreign affairs, he seems closer to the second of the caricatures.

    What did he have to gain, politically, by pushing for humanitarian interventions in Kosovo and Sierra Leone in his otherwise benign first term? Or by trying to change his country’s deep Euroscepticism? Or indeed by backing a toxically unpopular American president for so many years? He may have been wrong to do some or all of these things, but he probably did them because he believed in them.

    As for the donation itself, Mr Blair is now a very rich man, able to command huge fees for speeches, consultancies and the like. But the money he is giving up here is enormous. He is forgoing his entire £4.6m advance for the book, as well as all royalties from it. The total sum will be the biggest donation ever received by one of Britain’s most beloved charities. Whatever his motives, the Legion are delighted to receive the money. If anyone is to have the last word, perhaps it should be them.

  • Alan Maskey

    Interesting post. Three points:

    1. Yes, Tony Blair is/was popular. Even when Richard Nixon was sinking, he still had the support of over 25% of US voters.
    2. The US link is the key to Britain’s foreign policy. Usually, if the Yanks need an ally, they need look no further than the country they screwed in WW2.
    3. Royal British Legion. Undoubtedly a generous gift. Any comments of the governance structure or accountability of this orgnisation, which not even the Queen would be brave enough to cross. Not that she would but they are totally untouchable. How much, if anything, gets siphoned off and how much reaches the genuine ex squaddies who really need the dosh? Have any studies been done on them?

  • wee buns

    Really interesting. What jumps out as being key to Blair’s warp, as is mentioned in the Economist article but only in passing:
    Blair did alot of ‘wrong’ things because he ‘probably believed in them.’
    What a relief…. this settles the whole issue.

    The comment of ‘Rousillon’ tackles the repercussions of Blair’s BELIEFS…

    ‘The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was unnecessary, unjustified and most likely illegal within the limited definitions available on international conflict. The conflict that it triggered killed anywhere between 120,000 and 650,000 people, while maiming and displacing many more people on all sides.
    The rationale for the war as outlined by Tony Blair in his numerous arguments was that we had to invade to save the world from weapons of mass destruction (WMD), terrorism and evil dictatorship. Of course there were never any WMD and as poor Dr David Kelly tried to suggest, the evidence for them as being real or a real threat was nonsense. Like many other experts who tried to argue rationally against Blair and Bush that the WMD argument was ridiculous, they were ridiculed, hounded and decried.’

  • Tony Bliar lied about anything and everything for all of the years he was in power. He did do religion he just lacked the courage to deal with it. So instead of dealing with the ludicrous and outdated royal succession issue, he lied about being catholic. Some would say that was because its a protestant country, they would be as wrong as he was. Protestant churches are suffering more than catholic, or any other faith. He was just a liar and a coward.

    He is responsible for the deaths of many

    Alan Maskey

    I think you will find your questions have already been asked – by the Telegraph. The level of respect for Bliar can be judged from the suspicion his generous gesture has generated.

  • I have never understood how tired insults, used repetitively, add impact to an argument, particularly those borrowed at third hand, and a decade on, from the Trots. Perhaps Pippakin @ 11:50 pm can explain.

    Equally, wee buns rips out of its context in the penultimate quoted paragraph what The Economist writer says about Kosovo, Sierra Leone and Anglo-EU relations. Were the first two of those not worthy causes? Is the UK’s position in the EU improved by europhobia?

    Finally, the WMD issue, while significant, is not the only justification for allied involvement in Iraq. Even so, the Supergun Affair, bacteriological operations, use of chemical warfare, the nuclear experimentation, the missile technology, the braggadocio were not fictions. Despite wee buns‘ assertions, even the sainted Dr David Kelly, in his final public utterances, asserted Iraq possession of WMD. But, hey!, let’s rewrite history to suit our prejudices!

    Saddam managed, uniquely, to engage in aggressive wars against most of his neighbours, to commit genocide against his fellow Iraqis, used rape as a terror device, forced polygamous marriages on war widows, denied medical and nutritional help to children as a publicity vehicle against UN sanctions … and let’s not neglect his admiration for and deliberate imitation of the late, unlamented Adolf Hitler and Nazi practices. Would we liberal Europeans countenance the continued existence of such a bellicose and murderous tyrant on our own continent? But just outside our immediate sphere of influence is OK?

  • pippakin

    Malcolm Redfellow

    I ‘borrowed’ no arguments. I merely reiterated those already out there!

    I would hate anyone, particularly Tony Bliar to think they had gone away.

  • Alan Maskey

    Malcolm

    Saddam was not a pleasant fellow. Tough neighbourhood and all that. But he was Britain’s ally and America’s. And htye have had osme pretty unsavoury allies. To pretend that politics is not governed by rank hypocrisy is to deny reality.

    Pippakin: What questions did the Daily Telegraph answer for me? The DT is a major British Legion supporter. I very much doubt that they would rattle that cage.
    I am not objecting to BHritish or other people supporting the RBL; I think anyone would feel sorry for ex squaddies or their dependents in need. But, in Britain, the RBL is more untouchable than HM the Queen. And it is not run by a Michael O’Lesry type figure.

  • pippakin

    Alan Maskey

    The Daily Telegraph were asking the same questions you posed, they may be supporters of the RBL but they are no supporter of TB

    I don’t consider it a republican/unionist issue. TB caused his country to go to war on, to say the least, dodgy grounds, everyone is entitled to an opinion on that. If the RBL benefit in some way from what may be his guilty conscience, well done them.

  • Rory Carr

    The one aspect of this donation by Blair that seems to have been overlooked is that of the taxation effect upon his actual income after this donation is made, assuming that it has been made under Gift Aid which is a reasonable assumption given that it woiuld be foolish in the extreme were it not.

    A donation of, say, £5m ( calculating Blair’s advance +anticipated royalties) under Gift Aid would net the charity £6.25m (the donation representing an assumed 80% of Blair’s NET income after deuction of tax at standard rate Plus the tax on the calculated gross income at 20%), which is very nice for the charity.

    However, since Blair would have expected to pay tax of 40% Higher Rate on that £5m in 2010/11 his net return in that year from the sale of the book would have been (assuming a £5m income) 60% of £5 m = £3m. So the net loss of income to him as a result of this donation would appear to be £3m.

    However (again), that will not in fact be the net loss because, as the Revenue donates to the charity only that tax paid at the Standard Rate of 20% and the actual taxation would have been at the Higher Rate of 40% then the donor is able to reclaim the difference, which in this case would amount to 20% 0f £5m, which equals a nice tidy £1M.

    Which sum many of you may consider not to be a bad little whack at all for a load of ghost written self-serving tosh.

    Of course if the figures are calculated on the Additional Higher Rate of 50% which will apply from 2011/12, the net result for Blair will be even sweeter – i.e. 30% x £5m = £1.5m (although this will not affect the charity’s take).

  • Alan Maskey

    I don’t give a shit about Tony Blair/Bliar. I am asking about the RBL. And there is abosolutely no way the DT would challenge them. They would attack the Queen first.

    So who governs the RBL? Who do they answer to? How efficient re thye in collecting and dispersing funds? Are they transparent and accountable. Are they independently assessed or are their auditors etc ex armd forces personnel?

  • Well, last time I looked, the RBL Annual Reports and Accounts were available in .pdf form, free for all. Lists all the officials and trustees. Not surprisingly, many are military (can’t think why that should be …)

    Hint: there’s this marvellous thing called “Google”.

    And, by the way, Rory Carr (above) might care to note that a substantial part of that expected income would be coming from overseas, especially US, sales. Any decent literary agent can advise on how to minimise tax on those monies.

  • Rory Carr

    It would nevertheless be all the more advantage both to the RBL and to Blair that he pay UK income tax on these earnings and therefore I would imagine that any decent literary agent or tax advisor would also advise him of the benefit of so arranging matters accordingly.

  • greenflag

    As USA combat troops withdraw from Iraq leaving just 50,000 non combat personnel behind plus a much larger army of subcontractors maybe it’s a good time to look at the before and after even if it’s a little premature .

    Before the USA invaded Iraq in 2003 was ruled by Saddam. The country was in the control of the 20% Sunni minority with the 60% Shiite majority and the 20% Kurds getting it in the neck whenever they ‘objected’ to Sunni domination . The country was a basket case following years of sanctions and anything which could get into the country went to those who favoured the regime .

    In 2010 as the USA leaves Iraq does’nt have an agreed government . The Shiites control Baghdad and overall power and the Sunnis have been ‘ethnically cleansed’ from their former Baghdad neighbourhoods in one of the biggest population movements in the region since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 . The 20% Kurds have established virtual self autonomy in the north and have remained a cohesive group to provide some ‘balance’ to Shiite dominance . The Sunni’s are in disarray and despite a brief accomodation with the Shiite governing majority they are now in limboland with the USA ‘gone’.

    When the bodies are added up we know that some 5,000 Americans and several hundred British and others gave their lives for this ‘creation’ . The number of Iraqis who have been killed by the Allies and in sectarian conflict mainly between Shiites and Sunnis is not exactly known but it must run close to half a million .

    Iraq is now a basket case economy and state and probably even less capable of defending itself than in Saddam’s time.It will take decades for the country to get on it’s feet assuming it’s regions can still hold together. The Iranian Shiites will be naturally drawn to ‘support’ their ‘Shiite’ co religionists . This is a part of the world where ‘religion’ can be literally a matter of life and death either in the public market square or by frenzied sectarian mobs .

    Was it worth it ? What would have happened had there been no invasion ? The Sunni’s answer would be they would still have a country to live in . The Shiites would still be getting in the neck from Saddam or his successor and the Kurds would still be far enough away from Baghdad to eke out an existence.

    I suspect that if the western leaders could be transported back to 2002 and given a second chance to make a decision on an Iraqi ‘invasion’ or no they would choose the no . They might then have had a better chance of stabilising Afghanistan and providing that chaotic land with an alternative to the Taliban, instead of being forced to hand that country over to a regime that is as corrupt as Saddam’s was .

    Regional destabilisation continues apace with the Israelis now reputedly on the verge of ‘bombing ‘ Iran .

    Armageddon anyone ? Thanks George and thanks Tony 🙁

  • Alan Maskey

    Malcolm: I have RSL’s accounts and enjoy going through them. I am simply trowing it out here, hoping people would think about such matters. The RSL is a special case and even the Queen would not (hypothetically of course) take them on. They are untouchable.
    Financial figures of outfits like Greenpeace, Goal and Oxfam make spicy reading if one, like me, knows one’s way around a balance sheet.
    Though I wish Tony B had have given his dosh to a more deserving cause (ex Irish POWs, me), as a British “patriot”, he did the right thing.
    Ex squadides need all the help they can get. Certainly the chap next door does (I have not yet figured out the source of his income, but watch this space, I will)
    Personally, if I was an ex squaddie down on my luck, I would prefer to have a good firm of auditors/accountants in as the trustees, not the Col Blimp type figures who may have bug-ered me when I was their batsman.

    British charities seem to have some regulation on them. An old buddy in Kroll named several US “charities” based in the Dublin Financial Services sector which stank to high heaven.

  • wee buns

    Malcolm

    Au contraire, I ripped what the Economist writer says about Blair’s beliefs INTO context, you know, the one that you complained about this thread being subverted from: ‘Is the patriot game worth a penny candle’….?

    I say it is not, because in the majority of cases you have men like Blair, whose beliefs are his only justification for declaring war, leading the testosterone laden to be willing cannon fodder. Women simply get annihilated as a by-product to these decisions, and yet unfailingly, our welfare is constantly trumpeted as the justification for war, by the very whores of war. Without getting into each instance & it’s worthiness or lack of, I was not aware of proof of WMD prior & stand corrected if that is the case. However given Britain’s long & bloody involvement with Iraq, it’s previous invasion, not forgetting Thatcher’s support of Saddam in ‘90’s, effects of the west’s sanction etc, it is fair to suggest that the west to a significant degree has contributed to the suffering of the Iraq people even prior to it’s last invasion.

    Furthermore, and importantly, a substantial section of the public and civil society opposed the Iraq war, precisely because they understood the hidden agenda.

    This is the only possibility of the rules of ‘the patriot game’ being forced to change.

    For the above reasons, Blair’s appearance here for book signing: a party I would loath to miss.

    As for the untold & as yet unknown numbers of dead in Iraq, perhaps you would care to explain, for what?

  • wee buns

    Also, since the British soliders chose to ‘serve’ in Iraq, indeed were not compelled to fight in defence of their own kith & kin, but went of their own free will, because of their personal beliefs; the proceeds of Blair’s book should instead go to the large numbers of Iraqi children who still suffer carcenogenic & mutogenic effects as the result of the use of depleted uranium ammunition by western forces.

  • lamhdearg

    Blair will burn in hell, if only i believed that, wee buns some join their army because it the only good job going.

  • wee buns

    lamhdearg the arse might be hanging out of their trousers but that’s a poor, poor reason to go reap death on a people who are even worse off than us, for a stupid pittance.

  • Thatcher left Downing Street on 22 Nov 1990. The first Iraqi War was Jan-Feb 1991. Why, then, should we be not forgetting Thatcher’s support of Saddam in ‘90’s? Or is this another of your “improvements” of history?

    For what it’s worth, Thatcher explicitly endorsed the Bush II administration’s strategy on Iraq, and Britain’s support thereon:

    The most notorious rogue is, without doubt, Saddam Hussein — proof if ever we needed it that yesterday’s unfinished business becomes tomorrow’s headache. Saddam Hussein will never comply with the conditions we demand of him. His aim is, in fact, quite clear: to develop weapons of mass destruction so as to challenge us with impunity.

    How and when, not whether, to remove him are the only important questions. Again, solving this problem will demand the best available intelligence. It will require, as in Aghanistan, the mobilization of internal resistance. It will probably also involve a massive use of force. America’s allies, above all Britain, should extend strong support to President Bush in the decisions he makes on Iraq.

    [Source: New York Times, 11th February, 2002.

  • wee buns

    Can you source , the IF about WMD please.

  • McCarthy Óg

    In all honesty, lamhdearg is right. Many young English boys grow up, don’t do well at school and have very few employment prospects. They see an advert on tv offering a “career” in the army and it seems like a good way out. They offer fitness, a wage, a family… but don’t advertise so well what they’ll be expecting you to do. Once they’ve got them trained up, kitted out and rifle in hand, they’ll push them out to “do their duty” without any background of the situation they’re being put into. Sure, some will be clued up and fully knowing what they’re doing, but alot of them will have signed up and then found themselves told what to think and do. I don’t pity them, but they really are conned into it. The British government does a very good job at filling its ranks at whatever cost.

  • wee buns @ 3:30 am:

    Can you be more specific? As I read it, you are asking for a complete dossier on Saddam’s armament policy.

  • wee buns

    Mc C Óg

    CONNED into it…..meaning they were not rspomsible for….what?
    Everybody is being manipulated btw. No such thing as free will, responsibility.

  • wee buns

    Proof as you claimed that NMD was in existance prior to latest war.

  • McCarthy Óg

    They are ultimately responsible for what they sign up for, but you can see the appeal the army might have to an unemployed 20 something whose life is going nowhere. Economic conscription. Not many will join for political reasons.

    It doesn’t help when England is constantly drenched with emotional pro army propaganda such as Help for Heroes, and saying a bad word against “our boys” is considered extremely offensive. Amidst that sort of atmosphere, it’s unlikely that many would consider joining the army controversial in the slightest with regards to the way the government uses them.

  • Alan Maskey

    Lofty sentiments mcCarthy. But let us remember the last time there was unease about serving was during the terrorist attack on Vitnam. That was because rich kids and, commendably, M Ali, did not fancy getting their nuts shot off with no one but Rambo to save their asses.
    Though “Our Boys” may be criticised a very little, the RBL is beyond criticism. Also, I see blokes in Para headgear and wheelchairs rattling boxes for Save our Heroes or some such shit. Is the RBL not giving them the price of a few pints?

  • wee buns

    Malcolm

    No improvements on history, just brain fag in the wee hours. Of course I meant the 80’s, when Raygun & Thatcher supported Saddam as the only secularist in the middle east & selling him anything he wanted & encouraged him to attack Iran (satelite information on troop movements, weapons including chemical weapons, and reflagging Iraqi oil tankers as Amerikan so as any attack on them would be deemed an attack on the US)

    To get back to proof for WMD, when Bush & Blair used that phrase, it was always to infer that Soddom had atomic weapons, which they claimed could be launched in 45 minutes, the important phrase which Kelly objected to in the sexed up dossier.
    Kelly said it was deliberately misleading. As is your tendentious mendacity on the subject of WMD.
    There is only one true weapon of mass destruction, that is nuclear weapons, of which Israel has over 200 deliverable warheads. Kelly in his statement to the BBC was referring to chemical & biological weapons (of mass death), and the west kmew this, because they kept the receipts…….remember that charming photo of Rumsfeld shaking hands with Soddom after a particularly large sale of ‘fertilizer’ manufacturing equipment. aka toxic chemicals?

  • wee buns

    ‘So that’s where Tony Blair’s famous ‘journey’ was heading. Days after he announced that he was donating the proceeds of his autobiography to charity, the Sunday Times has learned that Tony Blair has set up his own “finance boutique” for the super-rich.’

    Read more: http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/67525,people,news,tony-blair-laughing-all-the-way-to-his-own-bank?DCMP=NLC-daily#ixzz0xQgWEXnF

  • Alan Maskey

    Wee Buns

    The Times is a right wing Murdoch rag. Blair is free to do anything he likes though the British working class (sic) is not high up on his to do list.
    Criticising him for sonating a huge amount to the RBL is silly in the extreme even if one is not an ardent RBL groupie.

    Now here is a job for my Loyal friends. Go buy a door mat on ebay. http://www.ebay.co.uk

    You wil see a large proportion of th doormats on sale are Union Jacks. Wiping one’s feet on a flag is a gross insult. Who buys these things? Is that why we fought at the Som,me and at McGurk’s Bar? So that :@)(*&^% could wipe their feet on the Union Jack?

  • As I understand that implication:

    The service sector is about the only part of the UK economy to have burgeoned over recent decades. Indeed, it is still the best hope of an “export”-led economic revival.

    Meanwhile, several members of Team Blair (notably Jonathan Powell, Jo Gibbons and Catherine Rimmer) found themselves unemployed after the Boss stood down from Downing Street in 2007. They are marketing their services through a nexus of companies, at least one of which operates as TBA, but others were bought off-the-shelf as permutations on “Firerush” and “Windrush”.

    Meanwhile, celery stalks at dawn. Margaret Cole is Director of Enforcement at the Financial Services Authority. Even before the General Election Ms Cole was getting a reputation for aggressively prosecuting City misconduct. And quite right, too.

    Since some of the TBA, Firerush and Windrush activities come under FSA scrutiny, several names in those companies have registered with the FSA. And quite properly so.

    This provoked a story, by-lined to Jon Ungoed-Thomas, in yesterday’s Sunday Times. Ungoed-Thomas has been known simply to “make it up”. And, of course, we are dealing with the Sunday Times here, and in the “silly season”. The deafening silence which which most reliable news-sources have welcomed this not-quite-block-buster of a story is quite telling.

    The First Post does not immediately spring to mind as the most “reliable news-source”. The author of the piece to which wee buns directs us is one Eliot Sefton, “a London-based freelance journalist who has also worked in marketing. His interests include archaeology and opera.” Obviously, then, a prime authority on things financial and political.

    Tsk! SImples! We have a toxic admixture of two words: “Blair” and “money”. So it must be proof positive that the Rt Hon A.C.L. Blair is a chancer, an opportunist, a bloated capitalist, a blood-thirsty grinder of the downtrodden poor, an arch-imperialist, and personally went out and topped the sainted Dr David Kelly.

    Who could not be convinced by such a chain of logic?