To keep soldiers safe we should confine them to barracks, let them march up and down the Mall, but send them to Belfast or Helmand and some of them are going to get their arses blown off, no doubt about it. Somehow, recently, this obvious outcome of warfare has been subtly transmuted into a question not of the fundamental nature of armed conflict but of logistics.
Whenever - rarely - an officer dies, the Filth-O-Graph goes into hyperdive, his death is so much more poignant, his wife and kids so much more beautiful and noble in grief, his loss the more unbearable, his life more filled with potential; in short, he was worth so much more than the members of his platoon, his company, his regiment. This is the British press, snobbery and stupidity in equal measure and nowhere more vividly illustrated than in the corpulent, putrid form of Simon Heffer at the Filth-O-Graph.
We had it - the It's Worse When An Officer Dies schtick - full-on with Colonel "H" Jones in the Falklands, awarded a VC for putting himself and his men in unnecessary danger and we have seen it recently with the death in Helmand of Colonel Rupert Thorneloe, killed by one of those pesky IEDs which Ahmed, in a frankly ungentlemany way, plants in the paths of our troops, the filthy wog.
Thorneloe had been a high-flyer in the MOD before taking command of the Welsh Guards in Afghanistan. One of those officers who led from the front, by example, put himself out for his men, Thorneloe had complained that there were insufficient helicopters to properly convey his men into their theatre of operations, the armoured cars which they were forced to use were insufficiently armoured and when, atop one such, manning the machine gun, pour encourager les autres, Thorneloe was blown in half by an IED explosion, the Tories, quite disgracefully, laid the blame at Gordon Snot's door; he had insufficiently resourced our brave lads and lassies. Well, maybe he had but, as we see, the Tories would have done the same, worse. But the point is that it is the going to war that gets people killed. Uncle Sam has the best equipped military machine in history, yet he lost thousands in Iraq, tens of thousands in Vietnam. In war, people run out of ammo, their vehicles fail, their planes crash, they mistakenly fire on one another, communications break down; war is not the parade ground and any number of unavoidable shortages, failures or errors might have killed Colonel Thorneloe; had he, in fact, been flown to his operation by helicopter as he wished to be, he still could have stepped on a mine, been shot by a sniper, napalmed by the US Army Air Corp and his loss would have been no easier for his familty - or, indeed, his men - to bear, he would still have been just as dead.
This blaming of the govament for resources shortfall, this bean counting, more than anything else, undermines the esprit de corps so necessary among comrades facing death together. War is shit and pain and chaos, not an exercise in managerialism - which is why we should not do it unless we are under threat of attack, in which case it is right to ask people to die for Queen and country. But Thorneloe and hundreds more have died in a futile conflict engineered by GlobaCorp, planned in the shadows by spooks, the notional enemy armed and paid bizarrely by us; in Kabul a puppet government of pimps and gangsters playing both ends against each other, rigs the elections which our troops die to facilitate.
In their weekly episodes of melodramatic mawkishness, the people of Wootton Bassett have done their level best to sanctify and legitimise this wicked slaughter. Puffed-up with morbid self-importance, these wretched burghers, instead of protesting the pointless deaths of teenagers, have acted like professional mourners in a comic opera, casting their single, hearse flowers as though hoping for a BAFTA, an Oscar. And now, by Jingo, they have one. No business like showbusiness.
The invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan have been costly bloody failures, supported by Labour and Tory alike; that they are crimes, also, against humanity, is the judgement of many, including your correspondent. To my knowledge no minister from any party has formally attended the so-called repatriations or the funerals of service personnel killed during these misadventures, indeed, there was a time, past now, when Bob the cunt Ainsworth or Geoff Hoon risked being torn limb from limb had they so ventured forth. But no matter, the celebrity ghouls of Wotton Bassett have relieved government of any such embarrrassing appearances, standing-in, voluntarily, for those who should have hung their heads in shame, their limbs intact, their kids safely at Oxbridge, their gold-plated pensions assured, Hoon, Reid, Brown, Ainsworth, Blair, Howard, Brown, Cameron and Fox; no need for them to face the Dead, fuck no, not when these coffin junkies'll do it, for free. No wonder the Establishment makes royalisms of such stooges; a pox on them would be my award.
Just a thought, but should Ahmed - as he now may - pay a visit to Royal Wootton Bassett, hefting his Magic Rucksack, we must all hope that the people of this benighted and wilfully misinformed hamlet do not receive a sharp illustration of what it is that they so enthusiastically celebrate. Colonel Thorneloe didn't fall sweetly to the floor, you see, a bullet through his chest but died gazing horrified and uncomprehending as blood spurted from where his legs used to be, as his corporal, assuring him that he would be alright, struggled vainly, for a few eternal seconds, with a tourniquet.
Who would wish this inglorious butchery on his fellows? Well, William Hague for one, scurrying from public miscarriage to rentboy to wordy cock-up, David Cameron, too and the dwarf pimp, Sarkozy, spoiling now, for their own wee war, in Libya but not in Bah-rain, against the workers at home, but not against the financial terrorists strutting the globe. Never mind doling-out royalisms to fuckwits, there's only one place for these people, Up against the Wootton Basset wall, motherfuckers.