Monday, July 01, 2002

I've just finished an excellent history of the War in North Africa which I picked up from the charity book table outside Tesco. It's called "The Desert Generals" by Corelli Barnett (1960), and as well as being a vivid telling of the story it's also an angry polemic against Monty, and an attempt to make the case for his hero Auchinleck. I wasn't completely convinced. I think Auchinleck deserved to carry the can for the defeats at Gazala and Tobruk, after all he appointed Ritchie and was too nice to give him the boot even though his incompetence was costing the lives of thousands of our soldiers in the disasters of 1942.

Here's a good quote on the state of the British Army at the start of the War:

It is generally true that an army is an extension of society; military disaster is often national decline exposed by the violence of battle. Examples are Imperial Russia and Austria-Hungary in the First World War, France in the Second. Any army thus reflects in sharp focus the social structure, the state of technological progress and the creative vigour of a society.

This is what worries me more than anything about the current crisis. Have we as a society got the stomach for a fight against our new Islamic-extremist enemies, or have we been so eroded from within by post-modernism and a refusal to make value judgements that we no longer have the will to defend ourselves?

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