Biggles to America: Victory in Babylonia

Posted in Babylon, British army, Iran, Iraq by Deputy city editor on October 11, 2007

Babylonia today after successful British military occupation

An hilarious interview appears in today’s Washington Post in which the chief of the defence staff Sir Jock Stirrup claims that the British have succeeded in the south of Iraq and that those who believe otherwise have had false expectations.

I wonder where these came from?

Stirrup said that British leaders (we are not told which) may have created the impression that troops were going to leave Iraq “with a burgeoning economy, with prosperity spreading throughout the country, with everyone living quietly and tending their gardens and enjoying the cool of the evening after a good day’s work.”

Instead, obviously, the country is smashed to bits, controlled by various flavours of religious mafias some of them heavily influenced by Iran, the infrastrucure is as bad or worse than ever, women are oppressed, there are dozens of sectarian and criminal killings every day, most of those who can have left, and millions are being made through the theft and diversion of the nation’s natural resources.

Sir Jock of course is only following orders. He is not the one who decides the line to take. It is Gordon Brown who has decided that he has to have this Big Lie to conceal his actual policy of cut & run and perhaps we should not begrudge or question the Rosy Scenario which is necessary in the circumstances.

Stirrup as Pangloss serves a reasonable purpose if the aim is to get out of Iraq. Which it ought to be. Hence, we have a lie in the service of a greater good. Who can argue? Necessary hypocrisy is at the basis of British polity and always has been. This is why the Brits are, as seen from Washington, such “duplicitous bastards” (pace Alexander Haig, observing the eternal character of our Island Race).

“What’s important” is a “greater” truth which is that the British exit, with a lie as its bodyguard, does prove that the foreign soliders have for a long time been part of the problem and that withdrawing them has been on balance rather positive. This is a lesson Americans might care to note. If the consequence of cut & run is that we must do so while pretending victory, so be it. This is if you agree with me that cut & run is the preferred, indeed the only sensible, policy option.

So maybe rather than scoffing at Sir Jock we should celebrate him. Other British air force officers have undertaken heroic missions on behalf of their country, flying their Spitfires towards the oncoming Hun, etc. Sir Jock is out there fighting the 21st century information war with just as much courageous indifference to his personal safety.

Sir Jock does not heed that his story of a British success is ridiculous and that the Americans know it perfectly well. (Bush is supposed to be furious with Brown.) But he keeps on saying it. Shall we join in and pretend he is right? Can we make the same case for Afghanistan and leave there, too?


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