Razer's Class Warfare

Mar 20, 2018

Razer: 15 years since we declared war on Iraq, little has changed

Dissenters today are still treated exactly the same way by the mainstream press as they were 15 years ago at the beginning of the Iraq War.

Helen Razer — Writer and broadcaster

Helen Razer

Writer and broadcaster

Irrefutable. Fifteen years ago, not every respected US war correspondent made this assessment of the threat posed by Iraq. Nor did every respected US scholar of international relations. Fifteen years ago, though, respectability could be lost in an instant. To oppose a war that began March 20, 2003 was to oppose freedom, humanity and the low theatre performed by Secretary Colin Powell at the United Nations.

It was to embrace a despot, to collaborate with terrorists and/or to be a conspiracy theorist. Perhaps a person was unconvinced by a drawing of weapons facilities. Perhaps a person knew firsthand that a nation already invaded by the first Bush, one subject to Clinton administration sanctions so extreme they ended half a million Iraqi lives in childhood, simply did not have the means to build such evil. In just weeks, those Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) diagrams offered to the UN Security Council were no longer evidence, but “irrefutable” bullshit drawn from the imagination of some Pentagon doodler. Didn’t matter. Journalists and nations who had joined the Coalition of the Willing found themselves unable to leave.

Free Trial

Proudly annoying those in power since 2000.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions

63 comments

Leave a comment

63 thoughts on “Razer: 15 years since we declared war on Iraq, little has changed

  1. David Thompson

    Keep at it, H, some of us value independence of thought.
    Linking to the Kremlin, now? Excellent choice. That’s where I had to go to find the unedited transcript of Megyn Kelly’s latest 2 part interview with Vlad (the 1st part was immediately after the speech you refer to).
    By the time Kelly’s employer, NBC, were done with their editing (footage and transcript), about 15% of the original survived. The editor responsible should win an award of some sort (they probably studied the form guide from the last time Kelly went to Moscow, and got trounced).
    Note: The Kremlin didn’t initially put up then full transcript of this latest show. They waited until they saw what NBC had done. What’s Russian for ‘Oh, FFS! Again?!

    1. York City

      Oh yes. I watched that on rt/ruply. I could not believe what I watching. It was so so bad. Putin’s grace and manners taking the absolutely stupid, repetitive questions made it riveting to watch. That interviewer was so stupid.

  2. Desmond Graham

    The problem with Iraq is not the conquest of the nation –which was swift and precise . It is the mess made the management of the success by the appointment of the incompetent civilians who took over.
    The Romans never had the problem as their management of conquest became a smooth routine.

    1. David Thompson

      They were exceptionally ‘swift and precise’ in places like Fallujah.
      https://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-koehler/the-suffering-of-fallujah_b_663545.html
      Unfortunately, depleted uranium tends not to travel home with the triumphant victors, and is a long way shy of swift and precise in the aftermath.
      Also worth noting that Jim Molan, upon his ascendancy to the Senate, rated his co-command of coalition forces in Fallujah as one of his proudest military moments.
      http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-06/greens-attack-new-liberal-senator-jim-molan-over-iraq-record/9401416
      The other co-commander? Another “Jim”: “Mad Dog Matthis”.
      The ‘incompetent civilians who took over’ would have needed to be magicians.

    2. Helen Razer

      Yeah. I didn’t really see those hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths as efficient. Maybe I’m a stickler.

      1. David Thompson

        In a not dissimilar vein to your own, H, you may be interested in the effort of Julian Rose, reflecting on the goings on his native Britain:
        https://www.globalresearch.ca/freedom-of-expression-the-denial-of-the-right-to-an-opinion-britains-inexorable-slide-into-fascism/5632662
        Organic farmer, Julian. Began organic farming in 1975, when he converted the Hardwick Estate in South Oxfordshire to organic farming.
        He was able to do that because he’s the 5th baronet of the Rose of Hardwick. Actually, he’s a double baronet, having later succeeded to the baronetcy of the Rose of Montreal in Canada.
        Sir Julian Rose – innit funny how some people turn out?

      2. Itsarort

        Agreed. What did Rumsfeld nonchalantly call it from the safety of a naval battleship just over the horizon? “Collateral damage” I think was the term.

    3. Linda Connolly

      “precise” eh. easy to say from your safe home. do you remember the bomb that hit the marketplace full of civilians on the 3rd day of “shock and awe”? precise enough for you? plus countless other examples of what amounted to a full on war crime. bombing a densely inhabited metropolis like that they knew it was never going to be “precise”. that is a callous and totally fucking imperialist thing to say. I’m disgusted by it.

      1. AR

        By bizarre coincidence I am currently rereading Adrian Mole & the Weapons of Mass Destruction which gives a wonderful day by day account of bLIAR’s Britain in the run-up to the Coalition of the Shilling.
        Seems as fresh as ever.

    4. MAC TEZ

      Des-picable does it again,delivering a diabolical diatribe that doubles-down on dubious and decidedly dreadful dross.

  3. zut alors

    Let’s not forget John Howard’s response to anti-Iraq War whistleblower, Andrew Wilkie. Wilkie had a significant role at ONA in reviewing the threat of Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction. He decided to risk his career rather than listen to the fairy tales being circulated by Bush/Blair/Howard.

    So Howard derided Wilkie as a minor employee of ONA who was unqualified to comment on intelligence – despite the latter being a senior analyst with Top Secret PV clearance. Howard continued to undermine Wilkie’s credibility & reputation aided & abetted by the odious Murdoch rags. Wilkie took a long time to recover his life having truly served his country using facts & honesty to save us from a deadly error of judgement. Howard, on the other hand, dropped us right in it.

    1. David Thompson

      Mike Kelly suffered a not dissimilar fate over the ‘Oil for Food’ scandal in Iraq, Zut. Kelly was ‘handled’ by Fishnets Downer at the Cole inquiry.
      Hasn’t Fishnets gone on? Now a drinkin’ buddy of dissolute Trumpista, Georgie Papadopolos.

      1. zut alors

        Indeed, what a jolly pair. Water finds its level.

        1. AR

          As does scum, always on top.

  4. James O'Neill

    Right on the button Helen. The Iraq war was not the first time we had followed the Americans into a disastrous misadventure. Vietnam was one earlier example, and currently it is Syria. Lies, obfuscations, half truths are all there, as are the millions dead and displaced as we play our role as the loyal acolyte. What is next? War with China over either the South China Sea or North Korea or both? Perhaps less likely as both have the means for massive retaliation, unlike Iraq.
    We are however, as Turnbull put it, joined at the hip, so it would be unwise to rule out any future madness. One of the saddest things is that the “Opposition “ is no less likely to get us embroiled in future wars.

  5. Gram Stoker

    In about 1900 the British needed to dominate the Middle East to secure oil for their battleships that were moving from coal to oil. After WW2 the US had similar strategic issues with securing oil supplies.
    Now however the US is the biggest oil/gas producer and that is not the reason for controlling the ME. Meanwhile the Soviets/Russians think it a good idea to control the ME and, like the US, they do not need oil/gas. The Soviet Union was concerned about religious conflict in their southern countries but that is not much of a concern for Russia.
    So what is going on? Why spend so many billions? What is the prize?

    1. James O'Neill

      Gram, an analysis to answer your question would take more space than Crikey comments allow. A good place to start however, is Robert Kennedy Junior’s article Another Pipeline War, published in the Ecologist about three years ago. Not definitive, but useful.

      1. Gram Stoker

        The pipeline is significant but not nearly enough to justify 70 years of very active interference.
        Personally I think the answer is connected to Hussein’s program to rebuild Babylon. Why did he think that was a good idea?
        https://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=5&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjpkaGPi_rZAhWFEpQKHaPyDskQFghYMAQ&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.washingtonpost.com%2Farchive%2Fopinions%2F1990%2F04%2F04%2Fsaddam-husseins-babylon%2Fdbc684ee-3d14-493c-b016-35a6f10e2bae%2F&usg=AOvVaw2dFnUFmalK-DPgOy69DbjZ

    2. Helen Razer

      GS. The motivations for Iraq are several. As linked in the piece, many Realist foreign policy scholars saw the invasion as dangerous. The general view is that it was an ideological (or liberal faith based) war. See the vile work by vile Samuel Huntington Clash of Civilizations to see how neocons justified their racist bloodlust. (Basically, it goes: they are different to us and we better smash em. No matter that Iraq was a secular state.)
      I don’t think we can discount the personal grievances of Baby Bush, here. And, the twit had to do something to get himself re-elected. Distracting the population with distant war is a classic.
      Honestly, I find the oil claims unconvincing. More instructive to consider the way in which the US built its post-WWII wealth, I reckon. Eisenhower’s “military industrial complex” is hardly a fabrication. War is the business. Extra oil is a bonus. Appeasing Israel is the cherry on top.

      1. Gram Stoker

        Personally I think it dates back to Herman Oberth, the leading German rocket scientist. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermann_Oberth
        When asked how the Germans advanced so quickly scientifically he said “we have been helped by the people of other worlds”
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbfMsd43HZE
        If this is true, the question arises: did people from other worlds leave technology in the East where there are so many accounts of flying gods and weapons with the brightness of 10 000 suns?
        Are the Russian and Americans trying to recover abandoned technology in the Middle East?

        1. AR

          You might enjoy Oswald Spengler’s “fire & ice” theory which prompted his “Decline of the West”.

      2. old greybearded one

        I still think oil was a part, given the control of key companies by the odious VP Cheney. The result of course as any f wit could have predicted was the rise in power of Shia Islam when the Sunnis lost control and therefore a ride in the power of Iran. So obvious. So now we have two new scum on the block, the Saudis and Erdogan. Where is the support for our allies against ISIS and the only ones with skill and guts ie the Kurds?

        1. Helen Razer

          Well. There’s support for Kurds, depending on the day and how the US is feeling about Turkey. Sometimes, we find support for Al-Nusra. Sometimes, Al-Nusra, aka Al Qaeda sometimes, is okay (remember Zaky Mallah?) and sometimes it is very good (White Helmets) and sometimes we forget the difference between this group and IS, which has been “defeated”, which may also mean we’re not fighting them anymore because the real devil today is Assad, who was an ally not so long ago and…well. If you can keep up, OGO, good on ya.
          The motivations for invasion, oops I mean humanitarian intervention or a Moment of American Leadership or whatever we are calling it this week, are likely as various as the groups enlisted by larger powers to fight. Oops. I mean defend freedom.

          1. Helen Razer

            (I realise I am conflating two wars here. But, really. That’s not unreasonable.)

        2. Dog's Breakfast

          Erdogan worries me greatly OGO. He has all the hallmarks of a vicious dictator, and I suspect he will happily blow up the entire country, his or any other he is able to, if it means hanging on to power and ‘keeping the other guy out’.
          He worries me as much as Assad, and more than any country or leader in the region.

          1. Helen Razer

            I just like to keep it simple and worry about the hegemon.

    3. David Thompson

      At its most simplest, Gram, the US aspires to control of the ME because it is oil being traded in US$’s that keeps the US$ as the world’s reserve currency. They can’t finance their debt – efficiently – if that changes.
      It was US$ primacy that took them to Iraq, because Saddam was looking to trade oil in Euros.
      In the case of Russia, it’s proximity to chaos that led Putin to stick his oar in Syria. He actually decided to run again for President in 2012 because he’d ‘missed’ Libya, and the flow on effects.
      It was the CIA who sent Osama Bin Laden to Chechnya to sow discord in the ’90’s, as a follow on from his ‘work’ with the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan, aimed at the Soviets.
      Syria is less than a 100o clicks from the closest Russian border. People forget Russia has a very big Muslim population, both inside Russia and in adjacent countries. A highish number of ISIS recruits came from Russia, and adjacent nations.
      Putin knows that allowing US inspired chaos so thrive so close to Russia’s borders is a real threat.
      So, he’s dealing with it.
      P.S. The CIA also used Osama and co in Yugoslavia in the ’90’s. Refer to Douglas Valentine.

      1. Gram Stoker

        The reason that the US dollar is the “reserve” currency is that it has the only money market big and deep enough to cover the largest transactions.
        If it were a matter of Muslims, it would be much cheaper to fortify a border.

      2. Helen Razer

        I have read this hypothesis and it’s fun. Maybe even partially true. But, again. I’d say there is no single explanation for the war.

        1. AR

          Hubris?
          Plain old pig ignorant arrogance (OK, that’s 3)?

  6. unimpressed

    And now we have our next ‘weapons of mass destruction’ in a toxic agent that if used as suggested, would have wiped out a restaurant and the blocks around it. However, there is great doubt that a) the agent exists and b) that its country of origin is Russia as the OPCW announced a good 4 years ago or so that Russia had completely destroyed all its stocks of chemical warfare, a feat the Yanks are still yet to attain. None of the above is available from our MSM which faithfully echoes the propaganda of the CIA, NSA and their hidden controllers (see Ray McGovern, ex CIA head of the Soviet Desk for more confirmation). Therefore I agree with Helen, there is a ‘Military Industrial Complex’ and it is they who need war to keep the profits rolling in. And we, good little lickspittles we are will gladly gallop behind our ‘great and powerful ally’ against two powers in Russia and China that no one in their right mind would want to upset but with whom, in a saner world, would be great economic partners for our mutual benefit.

  7. AR

    Once again, I am relieved that the Drumpfster is in the Oval Office – imagine la Klingon were in situ.
    Both are equally bad news but we can relax, slightly, simply because the Orange Ogre is so chaotically incompetent.
    Not overly reassuring but hey, waddya gonna do?

    1. unimpressed

      The question with Trump is just how much in control is he, both politically in the swamp of US administration and emotionally within himself?

  8. kyle Hargraves

    Many fine contributions but a bit like Sir Humphrey assisting Bernard with a briefing for the Minister. Sir Humphry would intone to the request “Bernard, I hardly know were to start.” Well, to consider the topic that Helen has presented we need a somewhat greater depth (or appreciation) of history. It didn’t altogether begin with avenging of General Gordon (in the Sudan) but it is a reasonable place to begin. Contingents from Sydney departed with alacrity in 1885 and it was seldom less the case for the (2nd) Boer War; Witton’s account (viz., “Scapegoats for ..”) is worth reading. The books deals with recruitment etc. In some quarters (upper educated) the interest in Empire (per se) was declining but the concept (of Empire) remained a potent force. Primary school children marched to military music (where it could be provided) to class at the beginning of the day and after lunch(on). No one blinked an eye. The practice continued into the 50s and, in some regions, the early 60s.

    After “Singapore” Chifley (et al) threw our collective hats into the den of the Americans. We merely exchanged the poms with the yanks but the behaviour continued as if nothing had changed. Some of us had not long begun school when LBJ turned up; first US President ever! The visit was comparable to that of the Beatles.

    James O’Neil (20 Mar 14:28) makes some interesting points. It will be interesting to observe the reaction in Australia if Australia is asked for a division or two for and event more or less due north of WA. Ditto for a major action in the Middle East. Now, as briefly as possible, a note of response to some of the statements contained in the articel and to some of the contributions by readers.

    “The US is preparing for conflict with Russia. Mattis has made this plain. Trump’s public defence of Putin may have a curious, perhaps a filthy, origin. The administration remains committed nonetheless to a near-trillion-dollar nuclear program aimed at that nation, and potential allies Iran and China.”

    In the matter of politics, in its widest sense, there has only ever been one “top dog”. The ‘ruling elites – to give them a name – in the USA have NO intention of
    entertaining a change of hegemony. Ironically (or perhaps not) the profile of Trump may well “improve” under such conditions.

    “At its most simplest, Gram, the US aspires to control of the ME because it is oil being traded in US$’s that keeps the US$ as the world’s reserve currency.
    They can’t finance their debt – efficiently – if that changes. It was US$ primacy that took them to Iraq, because Saddam was looking to trade oil in Euros.”

    Valid point but (excusing the pun) on the other side of the coin the USA can out-produce a significant percentage of the entire world. It cannot do so competitively but, in the case of a war (for example) it could drown the place in goods and services. To this end the deficit of the USA is a non-issue because its bonds/notes/securities etc are able to be reflected in tangible goods and services. Of course the USA wishes oil to be traded in $US; the USA is OPEC’s largest customer. Not even Obama or Trump knew or knows what the print-runs of US currency are from the Federal Reserve. Its a well-guarded secret within that private bank.

    As an aside a few back-benchers did mention “the oil” when Blair was runniing off at the mouth (see the papers at the time) but were rapidly bought to heal and no mention was made of oil after a few days.

    The USA will no more tolerate a move to another currency, away from petro-dollars, than will OPEC permit one barrel of fracked oil to be sold on the market. The up-side is that the price of oil is now, more or less, capped at the costs of fracking (or slightly below costs of fracking).

    “P.S. The CIA also used Osama and co in Yugoslavia in the ’90’s. Refer to Douglas Valentine.” Bush also looked after the Bin Laden family when it all happened during that memorable September.

    “The question with Trump is just how much in control is he, both politically in the swamp of US administration and emotionally within himself?”
    Good question but its not about his “emotional self” Presidents, PMs etc tend to fire the bullets but they seldom make or issue the bullets. That is
    done behind the scenes in the interests of the ruling-elites.

    Following on from our little historical jaunt we need to recall the Arab Revolt (T.E Lawrence wrote a book on the matter) and the Sykes-Picot Agreement in that order although it happened, arguably, the other way about. Then there was Churchill who in one of his more famous items of correspondence declared “I have just created Trans Jordan with my fountain pen as a respite from a hangover”. Lest we forget Theodor Herzl or should I just mention Zionism because Herzl died, quite young, in 1904. Its becoming complicated but we’re not finished.

    BOTH Iraq and Iran are fundamentally (I am really sorry about the puns!) Shia Muslim. Hussein favored the Sunnis (being one) but he also provided top-notch education and health care, among other benefits. One of the major problems that the conflict caused was that the Iraqis bought (purchased) up everything in neighboring anywhere and sent prices through the roof. The “refos” also displaced any number of local employees on account of superior skill levels etc. A good many obtained professional and skilled positions in Australia via Syria until cica 2012. For Iraq there isn’t a trace of its former affluence. What has changed is that there are now two countries of Shia when 40 years ago (give or take) the USA provided chemical factories to Iraq to zap the Iranians and the Kurds.

    It is also forgotten that in 1951 the then PM nationalised the country’s petroleum industry. The PM was deposed in 1953; coincidence anyone? By whom do you ask? Secondly Ruhollah Khomeini, although better known as the Ayatollah Khomeini, was Time’s Man of the Year in 1978.

    The region has always been of military significance. General Eppingstone ventured into and (more importantly) out of Afghanistan. At the time (1840s) England was paranoid that Russia might obtain an entry into India (or anywhere else). Some may recall the history of the inadvertent scrap with Russia about a decade hence.

    Back to the point by way of a summary :
    (1) After Sykes-Picot there isn’t a creditable border (especially Israel) which has any ethnic or geographical significance.

    (2) Oil is a major consideration until electric cars become the norm and even then oil is the only foreseeable option for large marine transport and aviation. The USA, any more than China or Russia, has no intention to consume its own reserves.

    (3) American hegemony is NOT going to be handed over willy-nilly

    (4) The deficit of the USA is a practical irrelevance but petro-dollars will prevail as sure as points (1) & (2)

    (5) Trump, Putin and Xi are hard-bastards; they understand one-another which is really good/fortunate for the rest of us.

    (6) It is unlikely that the merciful will obtain mercy

    (7) there is no way in Islam or Judaism that the meek will (ever) inherit the Earth.
    (nice biblical number)

    1. David Thompson

      It’s the Chinese that will bring the US$ as reserve currency undone, Kyle.
      Oil & gas is already being contracted in Yuan, bypassing the US$, between a number of countries. As for trading, futures and all…..
      http://foreignpolicy.com/2018/01/18/chinas-bid-upend-global-oil-market-petroyuan-shanghai/

      1. kyle Hargraves

        Some interesting observations David. What the article didn’t mention is the capacity for
        patience that the Chinese planners possess. Having written that there is this item
        http://emslink.scmp.com/u/gm.php?prm=ljb2hFOhqq_197778625_2185996_2335
        that makes it clear that “continual progress” is an obligation rather than an objective.

        Given the advent of electric trains, buses, cars etc. the issue of oil is going to be less profound but significant nonetheless. We’ll see which way it goes over the next few years but the issue of petro-dollars could become untidy.

        Putting the matter rather crudely, as a two-sentence appraisal of China, the “top” are rather (good/knowledgeable/effective) and the base (those who actually do the work) similarly. It is the “middle” that needs work in terms of managerial expertise. When the “middle” has been sufficiently tutored the world order will change out of all recognition.

        Regarding the topic that Ms Razer has addressed there are any number of inter-dependencies that, depending upon “events”, as (the late) Anthony Eden put it, will have profound effects.

        As to conflicts in Syria a rather good game has been played by the US in playing-off one side against the other. This approach has (obviously) been to the advantage of al-Assad but the same strategy has worked wonders for the Israelis (against the Palestinians). Now we have a NATO member doing the bidding for Russia in the region. As to the South China sea stuff : its real and isn’t going to disappear. If the yanks wish to argue it is going to cost them some skin.

        1. Helen Razer

          KH. Yes. China. It might not be genuinely Marxist. But those dudes take historical materialism very seriously.
          For all that, “we borrow the Earth from our children” stuff we say in Western liberal democracies, we don’t believe it at all. It is understood as scientific (socialist) fact in China, I reckon.
          Obvi, for anyone reading and about to report me for being a dissenting Chinese student, I am not being all Cultural Revolution here. Just restating the usefulness of a material view of history.

          1. kyle Hargraves

            We are singing from the same page of the hymnal here Helen;

            “It might not be genuinely Marxist.”
            What is “genuine” Marxism Helen? We can refer to the Manifesto and
            Vols 1 & 3 of Capital and a pile of other stuff but, collating that in
            lot, only Israel’s experiments with Kubbitz and the Dutch in the Orange
            Free State and the Transvaal came close.

            “But those dudes take historical materialism very seriously.” Indeed they
            do! A Karl Marx Institute (to be the premier university) is planned for Beijing.

            “I am not being all Cultural Revolution here” Quite. The Cultural Revolution had nothing to do with Marxism. Neither, for that matter, did Mao. That the Chinese survived it is testament to their resilience and, as an aside, the West would do VERY well NOT to underestimate that
            resilience.

            As an aside Mao was tutored by numerous Marxists from the Netherlands (of all places). More than a few gave up on the guy in respect to Mao’s inability to comprehend the most basic concepts.

            As a side point, re the attention that education is receiving domestically in China, both Marx and Dickens (to name two) sent their sons to private Schools. Ditto for the former UK Minister for Ed Shirley Williams (in respect of her children). Williams, was intent on trashing the grammar-school system. Although it has changed, somewhat for the worse, thank god that she failed.

    2. AR

      Not a bad bit of background exposition though I’m sure that you meant Gen. Elphinstone in Afghanistan who first rolled/fumbled the dice in the Great Game.

      1. kyle Hargraves

        “I’m sure that you meant Gen. Elphinstone”
        Quite. I did check the spelling on Wikipedia but the word processor could have changed it; it was late last night. As an aside the books of MacDonald Fraser, pertaining to Flashman, do contain a fair amount of useful history and could be used in schools – if one can get above the incessant bonking on every third or fourth page. On the other hand they, despite the useful content, may not be (highly unlikely to be) sufficiently PC; observations upon the natives and such.

  9. Lady White Peace

    Am so over the USA & it’s crap news!
    It’s uo to the USA Russia and in a lesser part France to come together and bring about World Peace!! But that doesn’t suit Smeruca’s Military Industrial Complex does it! The $Trillions that USA has spent on armaments would feed the world for 50years or more!!

    1. Helen Razer

      You want to leave peace to the powerful? Let’s you and me arrange it, Lady. Possibly invite a few mates along.

    2. AR

      …coff..France!..coff?
      Never left a colony except under fire & wading through blood or won a war since Hastings.

      1. Howard

        Oh dear. Another person perpetuating this myth. Have you actually counted the number of wars France, The Franks, Gaul have been involved in since they first defeated the army of the Roman Republic in 387 BC? The Gauls were finally defeated by Julius Ceaser’s army in 52 BC before the Franks defeated the remains of the Western Roman Empire in 486 AD. Following Norman victory over England in 1066, there have been many losses to the English, as well as many victories. There have also been many victories as well as losses over the Spanish, Dutch, Austrians, Germans, Russians and Prussians, including many victories under Napoleon.

        1. kyle Hargraves

          I wonder if you are confusing battles with wars Howard. To some extent, one might argue, the French won the Hundred Years War if only to isolate England. The justification was all about succession. On the other hand the H.Y.War was,
          it is generally agreed, comprised three distinct wars; none of which France actually won.

          Having made that point Europe in 1330-ish was a completely different place (customs, laws, succession etc) by 1450-ish. Henry (the 5th) had the upper hand by the home-straight of the H.Y.W. By this period just how soldiers were handled was beginning to count for a good deal and the English, compared to the rest, were rather good. The
          (adoption and) introduction of cavalry improved matters no-end for the English. Then, the Duke of Marlborough turned up and the rest, for the moment, was history.

          Then there is The war of Austrian Succession; implemented, almost by accident, by Louis XV; France having prevented females to succeed as monarchs and wanted to put his orr into the Estate of Charles VI. A success (in a manner of speaking) – yes but was it actually a war (as opposed to a large battle) – given its effects? …mmm. The principal result amounted only to a name-change; Maria Theresa (ultimately) governed so, in that respect, it was a loss for Louis. In any event no one was happy and the eventual Seven Years War settled the matter – among others. In may respects the 7.Y.W was, de facto, the First World War.

          There is something of an analogy between the War of A.S. and the War of Independence. France “assisted” and indeed caused some grief (to the British – by this time) but France was not a principal combatant. Napoleon – wars ? na; battles only.

          ok Algeria (1962) was a (technical) victory but it also resulted in the “loss” of Algeria. So, perhaps it wasn’t a victory. France did withdraw from Vietnam but the game was well and truly over for the French. It was a little “cleaner” for the Dutch (in Indo-China) but by no great margin.

          I think we may may have to conclude that AR is more right than wrong Howard. On the other hand, if I’ve missed something do let me know – or provide some detail as to what you consider a victory for the French.

          1. Howard

            Well I guess it depends on how you define war. A war can be one battle or a series of battles. For example, the ‘Napoleonic Wars’ are considered to be five separate conflicts, depending on which coalition was at war with France. Austria and Russia waged war against France in 1805 and their army was defeated at Austerlitz by Napoleon in December of that year. Prussian concerns about increasing French power then led to a resumption of war in October 1806 and Napoleon quickly defeated the Prussians and then defeated Russia in June 1807, bringing peace to the continent.

            Meanwhile, in between these events, the British inflicted a severe defeat in the ‘Battle of Trafalgar’ on the joint Franco/Spanish navy, preventing a French invasion of Britain. The peace didn’t last long and war broke out again in 1809 and this new coalition was also soon defeated by Napoleon.

            As everyone knows, after Napoleon’s disastrous Russian campaign in 1812, his grande armee was dissolved and withdrawn and Napoleon finally defeated in 1815.

            The French defeated the Spanish in 1927. They also defeated the Algerians in 1830 and left in 1962 after years of urban and rural warfare.

            Synonyms for war include, conflict, combat, battle crusade etcetera. So if AR considers the ‘Battle of Hastings’ to be a war (which it was), then I really think we have to conclude that he is more wrong than right, as it wasn’t the last war they won.

            That being said, as AR suggests, the French don’t have a very good record when their time is up, with Haiti, Algeria and Vietnam all being disasters for everyone concerned.

  10. Itsarort

    As once a soldier, it was The Highway of Death that really exemplifies the potential fate for the average soldier in my eyes. And yes, we can rebut the whole ‘soldier’ concept with ideas from Lennon’s Imagine or Donovan’s Universal Soldier, however, the average soldier is just a bloke (or a chick these days). Nazi Germany was supported/defended mostly by ‘just blokes’. Ironically it’s time to invoke Hegel’s most famous quote.

    1. kyle Hargraves

      “The Highway of Death that really exemplifies the potential fate for the average soldier in my eyes.”

      Take a look at the recruiting during the late 60s and early 70s. The advertisements made the point, (true statistically) that one was in greater danger driving to work than in Nam. As a comparison consider the casualties of Oz/NZ in WW1 & WW2 and the quantity of equally debilitating industrial accidents. Even during the Boer War more deaths were attributed to disease and illness (e.g. pneumonia) than to combat.

      “And yes, we can rebut the whole ‘soldier’ concept with ideas from Lennon’s Imagine or Donovan’s Universal Soldier,”

      This statement amounts to sentimental drivel. THE PROBLEM is that since about 1980-ish (say 1985) even senior military have done all they can to make the military an adjunct of the Public Service. Just look at the interference (with military compliance) with Duntroon. The “military” is an utterly different profession and needs to be conducted as such if it is to be effective in its intended role.

      > however, the average soldier is just a bloke
      Which, given the lib-service that the military receives is ANOTHER PROBLEM. The “bloke” requires upwards of 3-6 months of effective training if he isn’t going to fall apart. If the US Navy (taking one example) applied its own health standards (i.e expel diabetics) a fair percentage of its fleet would remain berthed.

      > Ironically it’s time to invoke Hegel’s most famous quote.”
      Certainly, given what you have written, it is ironic. The thesis-antithesis-synthesis dialectic was to be realised in war or at least conflict (if one prefers).

    2. AR

      Credit where it’s due – Buffy St Marie wrote Universal Soldier and sang it on her 1964 album.

Leave a comment

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details

Sending...