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The Feeble defense of Bush and Blair by the [Expletive deleted] Economist

by Jerome a Paris Sat May 13th, 2006 at 11:28:01 AM EST

The Economist has its front page story on the "end of the Bush-Blair era", which would be good news if only they were celebrating it. Instead, they are engaging in a nasty bit of revisionist history and lamenting the end of two "Churchill-like" leaders with the right ideas (if incompetent execution capacities). This attempt to secure a kind view of Bush and Blair's legacy must be fought.

So here's my deconstruction of their editorial.


A world-bestriding partnership is drawing to a close

THEY have been improbable soul-mates, the silver-tongued British barrister and the drawling Republican from Texas. But the partnership between Tony Blair and George Bush has shaped world events in the nearly five years since the attacks of September 11th. Over the past year, however, the debacle in Iraq and problems at home have turned both leaders from soaring hawks into the lamest of ducks.

"soul mates", "silver tongued barrister", "drawling Republican from Texas", "soaring hawks". That's a lot of opinion shaping for a first paragraph. Even though it supposedly introduces the (unavoidable, today) notion that they are lame-ducks, it is made clear that these are nice, great guys who have done grand things together. And indeed that will be the content of the rest of the article. Note also how the issues bringing them down seem oddly unconnected to them (the "debacle in Iraq" and "problems at home").

This week Mr Bush's popularity drooped to 31% in the polls; his party faces a beating and the possible loss of one or both houses of Congress in November's mid-term elections (see article). In Britain meanwhile, much of the Labour Party, which Mr Blair reinvented and led through three consecutive election victories, wants to bundle its saviour into retirement and replace him with Gordon Brown (see article and article).

Neither man is going right away. Mr Blair may hang on for another year. Unpopular lame duck though he may be, Mr Bush will stay in office until January 2009. And the path may not be all downhill: the dysfunctionality of the Democrats may yet let the Republicans limp home in the mid-terms. But an era is plainly drawing to an end.

Sure, they are staying on. so why are they lame ducks right now, despite their recent victories? That question will never even be asked. And note again how the 'dysfunctionality of the Democrats" is inserted in there to relativise the lameduckness.

No matter how long they remain in office, the self-confident and often self-righteous political partnership that shaped the West's military response to al-Qaeda and led the march into Afghanistan and Iraq is now faltering. What does this mean for the wider world?

An important parapgrah, which underlines the whole state of mind of Bush, Blair and those, like the Economist, who support them: there is only a military response to Al-Qaida, and the attack on Iraq is linked to Al-Qaida, again, despite the fact that this is blatantly false. It is still being repeated, and still kept in the minds of all, even today.

Remember first that this is no pairing of equals. Britain's contribution to the war on terror has been smaller in substance than in symbolism. After September 11th Mr Bush did not need Mr Blair in order to mobilise the domestic support and military power he required for his invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. But in Mr Blair the president found a supreme political salesman and a dependable ally with a respected voice inside both the UN Security Council and the European Union.

Again, the link between 9/11 and Iraq casually reaffirmed. And it is simply false that Bush did not need the support form Blair to attack Iraq. Blair's support was crucial to lend credibility to the idea that there was a link between 9/11 and Iraq and to convince Americans that it was necessary to attack Iraq.

I won't comment on whether he was a respected voice within the UN Security Council and the European Union.

Better still, Mr Blair was a true believer, exuding conviction. He attached himself to Mr Bush out of principle, not some British instinct to hold the coat-tails of the superpower.

Yeah, right. Unless you consider holding the coat-tails of the super-power a principle.

From the start, he believed in a forceful response to terrorism and the need to rid Iraq of Saddam Hussein. As a “progressive” politician from the centre-left, who had got on just as well with Bill Clinton, Mr Blair reached audiences in parts of the world, and of America, that Mr Bush could not reach.

Again, terrorism and Saddam Hussein in the same sentence. It is pathological. As to the audiences Blair could reach, they were purely inside the USA.

Because Britain is so much the junior partner, neither Mr Blair's new weakness nor his possible ejection from Downing Street will have an immediate impact on America's behaviour in the world. Mr Brown has so far given few clues about his beliefs in foreign policy beyond the fact that he is a Eurosceptic well-disposed to America. Under him Britain will continue to value its transatlantic alliance, not least because the European Union has been at sixes and sevens since the voters' rejection of its new constitution and no longer exerts much of a tug in the opposite direction. The timetable for extracting Britain's small force from southern Iraq, Britain's commitment to peacekeeping in Afghanistan and its opposition to Iran's nuclear programme will almost certainly not change.

Linking the EU Constitution and the attitude of European countries to US policies is highly misleading. Europe was divided on "valueing the transatlantic alliance" because Bush and Blair specifically worked to divide it on that topic (who coined the "New Europe"/"Old Europe" label, again? Who cavorted in small committee in the Azores?). If there is one thing that unites Europeans today, it is their thorough dislike for the Bush administration. Their governments may be less vocal in expressing this opinion, and more cowardly in standing up to Bush, but they are basically trying to "contain" the US, by pretending to go along in the hope of slowing it down (on Iran, for instance, where the UK is working with Germany and France on diplomatic solutions).

Even so, as Mr Blair loses authority at home—and even more when he eventually leaves office—Mr Bush is bound to feel the loss not just of a strong ally but also of a kindred spirit. Growing friendlessness at home will be compounded by increasing loneliness abroad. Lately the president has found a new European friend in Angela Merkel. Germany's chancellor is much closer to Mr Bush's way of thinking than was her predecessor, Gerhard Schröder. She is commendably outspoken, for example, on Iran's nuclear programme and its threats against Israel (though also somewhat feeble in her attitude towards Vladimir Putin's increasingly pushy Russia). But many of Mr Bush's other foreign allies, such as Spain's José María Aznar and Italy's Silvio Berlusconi, have lost their jobs. And none of these allies formed a bond as strong as the one with Mr Blair. When the time comes for Mr Bush to soldier on without his one foreign soul-mate and confidant, it may not be Britain's troops, intelligence advice or Security Council votes he will miss most but the psychological pattern of mutual encouragement: each man's reinforcement of the other's belief in the rightness of his gut convictions.

Berlusconi and Aznar were not kindred spirits? Why is Aznar still visiting Washington regularly while the Zapatero government is spurned? Why was Berlusconi given the opportunity to give a speech to Congress a few days before the last elections in Italy, in a blatant intrusion in Italy's politicla process by the USA? As to the stupefying arrogance in this evaluation of Merkel (more friendly, but needs to toe the line better on Russia) - and the mindset of conflict with everybody (Iran, Russia to start with) that drips from this paragraph, it shows how much the Economist has made its own, consciously or unconsciously, the "you are with us or against us" mindest of this White House.

The long shadow of the 1930s

The fact that the prime minister and president hail from opposite ends of politics has made this pattern all the stronger. What they shared was the same instinctive responses to the attack on the twin towers and all that followed. Both have a strong Christian morality. Both see jihadist terrorism and nuclear proliferation as dangers akin to those posed by Hitler in the 1930s. Both consider it their calling to rise Churchill-like to the challenge. Mr Blair may not have gone so far as Mr Bush in defining his as a wartime administration. But part of the Blairite worldview is that desperate times require desperate measures. Even before September 11th, Mr Blair was citing Rwanda and Kosovo as justifications for a doctrine of liberal interventionism under which great powers had a duty to use force for virtuous ends even without the say-so of the United Nations. On September 12th the prime minister sent the president a five-page memo promising to help with the invasion of Afghanistan. This prime minister is as close as any British Labour leader can come to being an American neo-conservative.

"dangers akin to those posed by Hitler in the 30s", "Churchill-like", "desperate times require desperate measures". Gah. Does Godwin's law also apply to Churchill and such pathos?

As to this : This prime minister is as close as any British Labour leader can come to being an American neo-conservative. Indeed-y-o, and it kind of contradicts the statement above that Blair hails from the "opposite end of politics" - which is a carefully desgined piece of fiction designed to give Blair's warring instincts more resonance "if even a lefty agrees, war MUST be necessary".

With Mr Blair weakened and his own political capital trickling away, Mr Bush will find it harder to trust his own instincts, let alone rise Churchill-like to the challenges in the remaining two and a half years of his presidency. Critics of the improbable partnership—those who think Mr Bush and Mr Blair overreacted to September 11th, lied their way into Iraq, trampled over law and liberties and inflamed the very clash of religions that Osama bin Laden was so keen to ignite—will rejoice. In a world of one superpower, some say, people are safer when its president is too weak for foreign adventures.

Again, Churchill. And the abrupt dismissal of the arguments of opponents, in half a sentence, by effectively branding them as enemies who "rejoice" at the failure of our grand, patriotic war leaders (and thus cause our defeat, of course).

They are wrong. That Mr Bush has made big mistakes in foreign policy is not in doubt. He oversold the pre-war intelligence on Iraq, bungled the aftermath, betrayed America's own principles in Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib, ignored Mr Blair's pleas to restart peace diplomacy in Palestine. But America cannot fix any of these mistakes by folding its tents and slinking home to a grumpy isolation. On the contrary. In his belief that America needed to respond resolutely to the dangers of terrorism, tyranny and proliferation, Mr Bush was mainly right. His chief failures stem from incompetent execution.

See, it's only incompetent execution, which means that it's all okay. Note also how the debate is misleadingly transformed from criticising lies and betrayals of principles into not wanting to fight terrorism. That logical step is so false, ugly and slanderous that, just for it, the Economist deserves all our scorn. Again, it's the "with us or aganst us" mindset. Criticise anything, however justified, and you criticise the president, and all the values he purports to stand for, and thus you betray these values, the pesident and the country. It's shameful, shameful, shameful.

The alternative is not necessarily to retreat into grumpy isolation (although that would be progress compared to what's done today), but to actually stand for these purported values, something the current administration is certainly not doing.

[Expletive deleted]

What is required when Mr Bush's term ends is a president no less committed to the exercise of American power when it is necessary, and no less willing to rise to external threats. Perhaps that will be a John McCain or a Hillary Clinton. But in the meantime, the world won't wait. However weak he is at home, Mr Bush still has duties abroad. He must ensure that America is not bundled out of Iraq before its elected government has a chance to stand on its own feet. He must hold the line against a nuclear Iran. He needs to push harder for an independent Palestine, continue the fight against al-Qaeda, resist Russia's bullying of its neighbours and help America come to terms with a rising China. If he is wise, he will work harder than before to enlist allies for these aims, even if America must sometimes still act alone. But it will be harder and lonelier without a confident Tony Blair at his side.

Yes, America needs a Bush-light, because the role of the American president today is to wage war on the entire world, apparently. The left is legitimate only if it provides a similarly warring president, otherwise it's treasonous.

The Economist used to be a great newspaper. This is a terrifying sellout of its integrity and its values. [Expletive deleted]

Display:
Axis of the corrupt. The Neo-Con Fascist Axis. (Churchill-like???? What have they been drinking??)

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Sat May 13th, 2006 at 11:56:09 AM EST
Two quotes from the Wikipedia article on Churchill:

He was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1924 under Stanley Baldwin and oversaw the United Kingdom's disastrous return to the Gold Standard, which resulted in deflation, unemployment, and the miners' strike that led to the General Strike of 1926. This decision prompted the economist John Maynard Keynes to write The Economic Consequences of Mr. Churchill, correctly arguing that the return to the gold standard would lead to a world depression.

And:

During the General Strike of 1926, Churchill was reported to have suggested that machine guns be used on the striking miners. [...] Furthermore, he controversially claimed that the Fascism of Benito Mussolini had "rendered a service to the whole world," showing, as it had, "a way to combat subversive forces" -- that is, he considered the regime to be a bulwark against the perceived threat of Communist revolution. At one point, Churchill went as far as to call Mussolini the "Roman genius ... the greatest lawgiver among men."

Insofar as voodoo economics and authoritarianism are consistent with being "Churchill-like", I'm inclined to concede the economist this epithet.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sat May 13th, 2006 at 12:11:49 PM EST
Winston Churchill, as colonial secretary, was sensitive to the cost of policing the Empire; and was in consequence keen to exploit the potential of modern technology. This strategy had particular relevance to operations in Iraq. On 19 February, 1920, before the start of the Arab uprising, Churchill (then Secretary for War and Air) wrote to Sir Hugh Trenchard, the pioneer of air warfare. Would it be possible for Trenchard to take control of Iraq? This would entail "the provision of some kind of asphyxiating bombs calculated to cause disablement of some kind but not death...for use in preliminary operations against turbulent tribes."

    Churchill was in no doubt that gas could be profitably employed against the Kurds and Iraqis (as well as against other peoples in the Empire): "I do not understand this sqeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favour of using poison gas against uncivilised tribes." Henry Wilson shared Churchills enthusiasm for gas as an instrument of colonial control but the British cabinet was reluctant to sanction the use of a weapon that had caused such misery and revulsion in the First World War. Churchill himself was keen to argue that gas, fired from ground-based guns or dropped from aircraft, would cause "only discomfort or illness, but not death" to dissident tribespeople; but his optimistic view of the effects of gas were mistaken. It was likely that the suggested gas would permanently damage eyesight and "kill children and sickly persons, more especially as the people against whom we intend to use it have no medical knowledge with which to supply antidotes."

    Churchill remained  unimpressed by such considerations, arguing that the use of gas, a "scientific expedient," should not be prevented "by the prejudices of those who do not think clearly". In the event, gas was used against the Iraqi rebels "with excellent moral effect" though gas shells were not dropped from aircraft because of practical difficulties [.....]

    Today in 1993 there are still Iraqis and Kurds who remember being bombed and machine-gunned by the RAF in the 1920s. A Kurd from the Korak mountains commented, seventy years after the event: "They were bombing here in the Kaniya Khoran...Sometimes they raided three times a day." Wing Commander Lewis, then of 30 Squadron (RAF), Iraq, recalls how quite often "one would get a signal that a certain Kurdish village would have to be bombed...", the RAF pilots being ordered to bomb any Kurd who looked hostile. In the same vein, Squadron-Leader Kendal of 30 Squadron recalls that "if the tribespeople were doing something they ought not be doing then you shot them.

    Similarly, Wing-Commander Gale, also of 30 Squadron: "If the Kurds  hadn't learned by our example to behave themselves in a civilised way then we had to spank their bottoms." This was done by bombs and guns.

    Wing-Commander Sir Arthur Harris (later Bomber Harris, head of wartime  Bomber Command) was happy to emphasise that "The Arab and Kurd now know what real bombing means in casualties and damage. Within forty-five minutes a full-size village can be practically wiped out and a third of its inhabitants killed or injured."  It was an easy matter to bomb and machine-gun the tribespeople, because they had no means of defence or retalitation. Iraq and Kurdistan were also useful laboratories for new weapons; devices specifically developed by the Air Ministry for use against tribal villages. The ministry drew up a list of possible weapons, some of them the forerunners of napalm and air-to-ground missiles:

    Phosphorus bombs, war rockets, metal crowsfeet [to maim livestock] man-killing shrapnel, liquid fire, delay-action bombs. Many of these weapons were first used in Kurdistan.

Excerpt from pages 179-181 of Simons, Geoff. Iraq: From Sumer to Saddam.

London: St. Martins Press, 1994.

see also John Glancey in the Guardian

Iraq is the product of a lying empire. The British carved it duplicitously from ancient history, thwarted Arab hopes, Ottoman loss, the dunes of Mesopotamia and the mountains of Kurdistan at the end of the first world war. Unsurprisingly, anarchy and insurrection were there from the start.

The British responded with gas attacks by the army in the south, bombing by the fledgling RAF in both north and south. When Iraqi tribes stood up for themselves, we unleashed the flying dogs of war to "police" them. Terror bombing, night bombing, heavy bombers, delayed action bombs (particularly lethal against children) were all developed during raids on mud, stone and reed villages during Britain's League of Nations' mandate. The mandate ended in 1932; the semi-colonial monarchy in 1958. But during the period of direct British rule, Iraq proved a useful testing ground for newly forged weapons of both limited and mass destruction, as well as new techniques for controlling imperial outposts and vassal states.

The RAF was first ordered to Iraq to quell Arab and Kurdish and Arab uprisings, to protect recently discovered oil reserves, to guard Jewish settlers in Palestine and to keep Turkey at bay. Some mission, yet it had already proved itself an effective imperial police force in both Afghanistan and Somaliland (today's Somalia) in 1919-20. British and US forces have been back regularly to bomb these hubs of recalcitrance ever since.

Winston Churchill, secretary of state for war and air, estimated that without the RAF, somewhere between 25,000 British and 80,000 Indian troops would be needed to control Iraq. Reliance on the airforce promised to cut these numbers to just 4,000 and 10,000. Churchill's confidence was soon repaid.
[...]
Churchill was particularly keen on chemical weapons, suggesting they be used "against recalcitrant Arabs as an experiment". He dismissed objections as "unreasonable". "I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes _ [to] spread a lively terror _" In today's terms, "the Arab" needed to be shocked and awed. A good gassing might well do the job.


Ah, that reliance on air power to contain costs and troop casualties.  Sounds familiar...

Winston Churchill. The man millions of Britons voted `The Greatest Briton of All Time' at the turn of the millennium, ahead of Newton, Shakespeare, Darwin and Brunel. The man who advocated gassing "recalcitrant Arabs as an experiment".

The man who described Mahatma Gandhi as "a half-naked fakir" who "ought to be laid, bound hand and foot, at the gates of Delhi and then trampled on by an enormous elephant with the new viceroy seated on its back" [Link].
[...]
He thought Gen. Charles de Gaulle was a barrier to a "trustworthy" relationship with France. When de Gaulle fled to Britain, he subsequently asked if he was free to leave in order to visit French troops (de Gaulle remained a popular figure amongst the Resistance) and Churchill said "arrest him if he tries to leave."

Whilst the British Army prided itself on treating black and Asian soldiers with respect (at least in comparison to the Americans), Churchill insisted, "the views of the US must be considered." Black soldiers were told to show respect for the American army's segregation policies.

Churchill went on, expressing a desire to wipe out German villages as revenge for the Ludice massacre.

Pickled Politics ... just think, if only they had had elephants at Abu Ghraib...

Churchill for Dummies:

Like his grand strategy, with its combination of unilateral American world domination with nearly indiscriminate support for Israel's Ariel Sharon, the cult of Churchill has been adopted by Bush from American neoconservatives. Churchill looms far larger in the mythology of neoconservatives than in the minds of mainstream Americans, who think of him as the brave and witty ally of President Franklin Roosevelt in the war against Hitler.

The Weekly Standard, the neoconservative magazine funded by Rupert Murdoch and edited by William Kristol, has become the centre of the neocon Churchill cult. A Nexus search of the Weekly Standard of the past five years alone reveals 122 articles that mention Churchill. Typical is an essay of 4 March 1999 entitled `How Winston Churchill Can Save Us -- Again' by one Larry Arn, a frequent contributor who is an academic adviser to something called the International Churchill Society.
[...]
 On 10 January 2000, the Weekly Standard declared that Winston Churchill was `Man of the Century'. This view is the consensus among the neocons. Charles Krauthammer, the Canadian émigré pundit, has written, `After having single-handedly saved Western civilisation from Nazi barbarism -- Churchill was, of course, not sufficient in bringing victory, but he was uniquely necessary -- he then immediately rose to warn prophetically against its sister barbarism, Soviet communism.' Krauthammer's fellow Canadian émigré, David Frum, denounced Bill Clinton for declaring that Franklin Roosevelt was the `Man of the Century'. According to Frum, who was still a subject of Her Majesty when he was hired as a speechwriter by George W. Bush's White House, `FDR has to be found wanting. Of the three great killers of this century, one (Mao) was aided by Communist sympathisers within the Roosevelt administration ...Another (Stalin) benefited from Roosevelt's almost wilful naiveté about the Soviet Union ...Roosevelt's record even on the third killer, Hitler, is spotty. Roosevelt recognised Hitler's danger early, but he hesitated to jeopardise his hopes for an unprecedented third term by riling isolationist opinion...'. Reading Krauthammer and Frum, you have to wonder whether Winston Churchill might not have `single-handedly' won the second world war and saved civilisation even sooner, if he had not been handicapped by his alliance with the United States.

Only a Canadian like Frum could claim that FDR was an appeaser, compared with Churchill. It was Churchill who, in 1937, wrote in his book Great Contemporaries, `One may dislike Hitler's system and yet admire his patriotic achievement. If our country were defeated, I hope we should find a champion as indomitable to restore our courage and lead us back to our place among the nations.'
[...]
Churchill, unlike today's American neocons, was an enthusiastic supporter of eugenics, who told Asquith in 1910, `The unnatural and increasingly rapid growth of the feeble-minded and insane classes, coupled as it is with a steady restriction among the thrifty, energetic and superior stocks, constitutes a national and race danger which it is impossible to exaggerate ... I feel that the source from which the stream of madness is fed should be cut off and sealed up before another year has passed.' Hitler's ultimately genocidal programme of `racial hygiene' began with the kind of compulsory sterilisation of `the feeble-minded and insane classes' that Churchill urged on the British government (and which was carried out in many states in the US in the early 20th century).

Two other factors influencing neocon Churchill mania are `the Anglosphere' and Israel. As Jeet Heer pointed out in the National Post of Canada on 29 March 2003, `Today's advocates of empire share one surprising trait: very few of them were born in the United States. [Dinesh] D'Souza was born in India, and [Paul] Johnson in Britain -- where he still lives. [Mark] Steyn, [Charles] Krauthammer and [Michael] Ignatieff all hail from Canada ...' Heer quotes Max Boot, a Russian-born neocon: `I think there's more openness among children of the British Empire to the benefits of imperialism.'

To what extent the US (mis)adventures in Mesopotamia and Afghanistan are the result of a kind of nostalgie de l'Ancien Regime on the part of a pack of Miniver Cheevies born too late for the (alleged) glories of British Empire, future historians will have to decide.

In light of the above, I myself find the Blair/Bush/Churchill comparison to be at least partly justified -- though imho Churchill was a more literate and wily fellow than either of them.  Strangely enough, given the brutality of his racial and political sentiments, also a decent painter -- unlike his arch-opponent who was a flop all around.  [Any fellow Brit who wishes now to call me an "England-hater" is welcome to do so :-) -- I aim to be an equal-opportunity iconoclast.]

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Sat May 13th, 2006 at 03:23:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
nice debunking of Churchill and the ridiculous hagiography that he benefits from. But I think one can still admire certain parts of his career - i.e. his role in the immediate run up to WWII and the first years of the war - while condemning other aspects. I also think that to be fair, one should situate his uglier views within the context of his times. Plus the speeches from his time defending the quite radical (for its times) post 1906 Liberal govt. make for some really fun conservatism bashing reading. I tried to find some online but couldn't.
by MarekNYC on Sat May 13th, 2006 at 04:10:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I did forget one word:  Gallipoli.

Churchill and Kitchener's Rumsfeldian plan to open a 2nd front via the Gallipoli Peninsula.  First the Turks heavily shelled the naval force they sent, and mined the channel -- the force withdrew, sensibly enough.  Then they had the bright idea of a land assault.

In April, a landing on the Gallipoli Penninsula attempted to secure the shores and silence the Turkish guns. Trouble brewed from the beginning. Amphibious operations were a new and unperfected form of warfare leading to poor communications, troop deployment and supply. The Turks entrenched themselves on the high ground pouring artillery and machine gun fire down upon the hapless Australian, New Zealand, Irish, French and British troops below. The battleground soon resembled that of the Western Front - both sides peering at each other from fortified trenches, forced to spill their precious blood in futile frontal attacks on well defended positions. The stalemate continued through the fall of 1915 until British forces withdrew at the end of the year.

Casualties were high - approximately 252,000 or 52% for the British/French while the Ottoman Turks suffered about 300,000 casualties or a rate of 60%. The failed campaign gained little and badly tarnished both Churchill's and Kitchener's reputations.

Eyewitness  to History Site;  see also any halfway decent UK history site:

Gallipoli was one of the Allies great disasters in World War One. Gallipoli was the plan thought up by Winston Churchill to end the war early by creating a new war front that the Central Powers could not cope with.

On November 25th 1914, Winston Churchill suggested his plan for a new war front in the Dardanelles to the British government's War Council. On January 15th 1915, the War Council gave its agreement and British troops in Egypt were put on alert. The Central Powers were fighting primarily on two fronts - the Western and Eastern Fronts. [... This] put a great deal of strain on the German military. [...]

Churchill's idea was simple. Creating another front would force the Germans to split their army still further as they would need to support the badly rated Turkish army. When the Germans went to assist the Turks, that would leave their lines weakened in the west or east and lead to greater mobility there as the Allies would have a weakened army to fight against.

The Turks had joined the Central Powers in November 1914 and they were seen by Churchill as being the weak underbelly of those who fought against the Allies.

"The sick man of Europe," etc.  Anyway, like Rummy and Cheney expecting rice and flowers to be thrown by grateful Iraqis, Churchill's expectations were not realised in practise:

Churchill, as First Lord of the Admiralty, pushed Carden to produce a plan which he, Churchill, could submit to the War Office. Senior commanders in the navy were concerned at the speed with which Churchill seemed to be pushing an attack on the Dardanelles. They believed that long term planning was necessary and that Churchill's desire for a speedy plan, and therefore, execution was risky. However, such was Churchill's enthusiasm, the War Council approved his plan and targeted February as the month the campaign should start.

[...]With such apprehension and seeming confusion as to what the War Office did believe, Churchill's plan was pushed through. It would appear that there was a belief that the Turks would be an easy target and that minimal force would be needed for success. Carden was given the go ahead to prepare an assault.

[...] The army's input into the Gallipoli campaign was a disaster. It would appear that the senior commanders on the ground believed that their opposition simply was not up to the standards of the British and ANZAC troops.

The Secretary to the War Council, Sir Maurice Hankey, called the whole affair a "gamble" based on the belief that the Turks would be an inferior force.

[...] the overall campaign was a disaster of the first order. Over 200,000 Allied casualties occurred with many deaths coming from disease. The number of Turkish deaths is not clear but it is generally accepted that they were over 200,000.

Before the Gallipoli campaign even got started, Lloyd George had prophetically written: "Expeditions which are decided upon and organised with insufficient care generally end disastrously."

After the end of the campaign, opinions were divided. Sir Edward Grey and Lord Slim (who fought at Gallipoli) were scathing in their criticism. Slim called those who had been in command at the campaign the worst in the British Army since the Crimean War. Despite the losses, Churchill remained a defender of what had gone on - as was Hamilton.

I can think of some people in DC who should be made to write Lloyd George's words on the blackboard 100 times.  Anyway, the ANZACs (colonial forces of Australia and new Zealand under British command) suffered exceptionally heavy losses at Gallipoli and there has been for many years a feeling -- particularly in Oz -- that the ANZACs were betrayed by British leadership.

I do remember the parades of very old-looking men trooping down toward the cenotaph down at one end of Wellington. I remember the poppies, which in NZ (apparently unlike Australia) are most prominent on ANZAC day. However, I have to admit that I didn't fully appreciate the significance of the occasion. I had a vague idea of the sacrifice the ANZACs had been forced to endure, but practically none about how the British actions were tantamount to betrayal and the effect that might have had on perceptions between her and her former colonies. I certainly had no idea of the role Gallipoli played in Turkish history, as a signal victory in an otherwise disastrous war for them and as a critical stepping stone in the career of Mustafa Kemal. For some reason the NZ schools don't teach that bit.
(Fairly Typical Kiwi memories of Anzac Day) which is celebrated in NZ and Oz like Armistice Day or Veterans Day.

Americans probably know the story only from the film 'Gallipoli,' an affecting anti-war movie starring the young Mel Gibson.  It was not an atypical story of the insanity of war.  The invasion was ill planned, but the high command would not accept defeat and continued a futile conflict for 9 months;  the ANZACs by some accounts suffered more heavily than the UK troops.  Some have said that "the Germans controlled the Turks and the British controlled the ANZACs," with the implication that both forces were manipulated by the two Great Powers in a kind of proxy war.  Anyway, Gallipoli was one of Churchill's bright ideas and should have been carved on his tombstone and hung around his historical neck like the proverbial albatross, but no such luck.  He did a bit better in WWII, admittedly (and made those excellent radio speeches, which afaik he wrote himself -- something hardly any contemporary politician dares to do).

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Sun May 14th, 2006 at 02:12:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, he was the product of his time, race, class, gender... as are all of us.  That is what makes the hagiography so ridiculous.  I don't know when we will outgrow our need for oversized, apotheosised cartoon heroes.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...
by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Sun May 14th, 2006 at 02:13:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just to equal out the debunking.  I have to agree that W.  Churchill was in many ways a bastard, which he willingly admitted at some occasions, but we also have to remember that he was much less a bastard than the man he was opposing during the years from 1939-1945.  Neville Chamberlain might have been a better Human being, yes, but not the right man to fight a cunning psycho like Hitler.  That might be why Churchill himself was so good during those years, because he knew how a bastard thought and acted himself, on a lesser scale of course.  "It takes one to know one".    

I doubt Churchill would have risen to fame if it hadn't been for the World War II, he was much to conservative and stuck in the "old empire thinking" and he wasn't very good at anticipating great political changes.  Never-the-less the man was the right man for the job during the years of 1939-1945.  

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.

by Gjermund E Jansen (gjans1@hotmail.com) on Sun May 14th, 2006 at 05:33:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sure that Bush is the right man for the job of destroying the US' international standing and reputation.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun May 14th, 2006 at 05:36:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
LOL, yes you got that right and in a twisted way he is doing a "fine" job too.  I am sure that when his Presidency ends he can reiterate those two words that he seems to be so found of; "mission accomplished".

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.
by Gjermund E Jansen (gjans1@hotmail.com) on Sun May 14th, 2006 at 06:02:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Excellent!!

I have long known that, at least here in USA, whenever someone starts quoting Churchill or speaking about him glowingly, the next thing out of their mouths will be feces-flinging, mouth-breathing, knuckle-draggingly stupid.


"Remember the I35W bridge--who needs terrorists when there are Republicans"

by techno (reply@elegant-technology.com) on Sat May 13th, 2006 at 06:49:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...make a similar but unsourced opinion on the comparison between Blair vs Churchill. Great (sourced!) job.

Actually, it was the kind of myth making around the greatness of Churchill, followed many years later on reading an alternative history that still stands out as one of the defining moments to adopt to a critical view and keep questioning the truths for me, personally.

by Nomad on Sun May 14th, 2006 at 03:41:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. (I think the "blockquote" tags need some tweeking.)

  2. Curious, are you open to the possibility that it may not be that the Economist has recently begun lowering its journalistic standards but that you have become increasingly more vigilant and critical (in the good way) of what you read?  I ask because I've always seen some agenda in the Economist, and also because I think many of us "netroots" types are reading the mainstream news and wondering how they can get away with such bias and bad reporting, while the majority of their reader/viewership seems to continue to support it.  What has changed more?  The quality of journalism or our (netroots, etc.) ability & motivation to "dissect" it?

  3. Keep up the good work!


Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Sat May 13th, 2006 at 12:19:14 PM EST
  1. Done!

  2. There's a bit of both. I've long been a critical reader of the Economist, and they used to be a lot more professional, in my view, in separating facts from opinion. Now, on some topics (US politics, France, Europe) they don't bother anymore. Under their last editor - which just left, so there's hope there - they moved to being nastly pro-Bush, anti-Europe, and even more nastily anti-France than ever. They don't even read facts on these topics in their own articles when commenting... But to get back to your point, there has also been a stronger enthusiasm to actually do the deconstruction in detail now that we have a medium to be heard.

  3. Will do!


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat May 13th, 2006 at 12:50:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 

Curious, are you open to the possibility that it may not be that the Economist has recently begun lowering its journalistic standards but that you have become increasingly more vigilant and critical (in the good way) of what you read? I ask because I've always seen some agenda in the Economist, and also because I think many of us "netroots" types are reading the mainstream news and wondering how they can get away with such bias and bad reporting, while the majority of their reader/viewership seems to continue to support it.  What has changed more?  The quality of journalism or our (netroots, etc.) ability & motivation to "dissect" it?

  the comment in bold above, gets my "vote".

 " Please do not feed The Economist.

 Please do not feed the Financial Times.

  Thank you; the Zoo management."

"In such an environment it is not surprising that the ills of technology should seem curable only through the application of more technology..." John W Aldridge

by proximity1 on Sat May 13th, 2006 at 03:45:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
[Bush will miss] the psychological pattern of mutual encouragement: each man's reinforcement of the other's belief in the rightness of his gut convictions.

I think this, anyway, is true.  As is this:

Both see jihadist terrorism and nuclear proliferation as dangers akin to those posed by Hitler in the 1930s. Both consider it their calling to rise Churchill-like to the challenge.

But I held out hope that the article would point out how dangerous this situation is, or at least refrain from endorsing it.  The Economist has always been incredibly open about its editorial slant, and has always been hard-headed and fact based (at least when it wasn't a question of free trade, which is their religion.)  This is why it's so strange:  they're the last people I'd expect to endorse decisions based on "gut convictions."

The Economist is currently making a big push to increase U.S. readership.  I can just imagine the editorial meetings:  "Okay, we need to keep up our reputation for objectivity and contrariness, so we'll point out everything bad about Bush.  But we've got to appeal to American readers, so then we'll turn around and say these are good things!"

by Jared (bjornhol@bc.edu) on Sat May 13th, 2006 at 02:54:51 PM EST
Great deconstruction..what a load of slanted crap masquerading as supposed objectivity.

"People never do evil so throughly and happily as when they do it from moral conviction."-Blaise Pascal
by chocolate ink on Sat May 13th, 2006 at 03:05:32 PM EST
 I did not read the whole posting so, my apologies if this was already mentioned:

  in the first Bush occupation of the White House, just after the Sept 11 incidents, I believe, Blair sent his pal Bush a bust of Winston Churchill--which Bush promptly installed in the oval office.

  To me, the news came as an ominous sign.

"In such an environment it is not surprising that the ills of technology should seem curable only through the application of more technology..." John W Aldridge

by proximity1 on Sat May 13th, 2006 at 03:52:28 PM EST
Ominous in more than one way: it also demonstrates how Bliar will trample over tradition and law in giving something that was never his to give:

From a spokesperson from the offices of the Government Art Collection :

""The sculpture remains a part of the Government Art Collection, and its display in the Whitehouse (like any other work we have in any location) is not a permanent arrangement.   The works of art in the GAC are not disposable assets, and we do not use the Collection as presents or gifts... I suppose that the only sense in which the loan is "unprecedented" is that the works of art in the Government Art Collection are almost exclusively used for display in British Government buildings to promote Britain and reflect our history, culture and achievements in the visual arts.  So the loan of the work to the Whitehouse is unorthodox and outside our usual remit."

When further questions were asked about the asked about the standard protocol and exceptions the department failed to clarify its position. How Tony Blair acquired this national treasure for George Bush remains a mystery."

by Boudicca (badgerval at hotmail dot com) on Sun May 14th, 2006 at 09:05:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
After reading this leader, one wonders what on earth happened to bring these two Churchillians down. Life can be a bitch at times. Oh, Bush "oversold" Iraq intelligence, "betrayed America's own principles", and blatantly favorised Israel over the Palestinians, but all that boils down to is "incompetent execution". If you think "Mr Bush and Mr Blair overreacted to September 11th, lied their way into Iraq, trampled over law and liberties and inflamed the very clash of religions that Osama bin Laden was so keen to ignite" sounds like a pretty good summary of what happened, you're wrong. A bit of bungling, that's all.

And look at what we're losing : such "strong Christian morality", "calling", "instinctive responses", "rightness of (their) gut convictions"...

If you think Bush and Blair are plausible hypocrites who have neither morality nor gut convictions of any kind, you're of course wrong again.

So I still don't get it. Why are they at the end of the road, weak, unsupported by opinion, facing difficulties? Why, in fact, do they need The Economist to write this dishonest and obsequious puff for them?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat May 13th, 2006 at 05:01:54 PM EST
They don't. But The Economist needs to keep pretending to everyone that it's the kind of journalistic rag that trash like Bush and Blair will be reading and paying attention to.

From that point of view it's almost as delusional as they are.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat May 13th, 2006 at 09:25:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That sounds like a possible reason.

That way The Economist will be able to continue its move towards a readership of gullible fools and trash.

Or am I missing something?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun May 14th, 2006 at 03:34:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I read it some days ago.. I also wanted to throw up... somehow deep inside I knew you would make a deconstruction...

It is such a disgusting article that I can hardly describe it...

Well done.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sat May 13th, 2006 at 05:18:02 PM EST
Yeah, right. Unless you consider holding the coat-tails of the super-power a principle.

But in the light of Blair's statements on "only God can judge" and his own feverish christianity (of which I was not aware until the Iraq war was in full swing), I only fear that Blair is as much a "true believer" as Bush is. The Economist got it there at least right, I feel.

Not that your assessment is wrong - it seems the Economist conveniently developed some amnesia on that part (or see it as so foolishly logical it is not worth mentioning).

by Nomad on Sun May 14th, 2006 at 04:08:06 AM EST
There's been a lot said about how both France and the UK tried to influence the USA, the UK by staying close and trying to steer it gently, France via outspoken opposition - in both cases their traditional approach to the question, at least since the Suez crisis - and both failed, because they were not united on a joint position.

Whatever the merits of the EU-3 efforts on Iran, they cannot be easily discarded, because they represent a united Europe position/effort - and that alone has been enough to keep the saber rattling at bay to a large extent. But it represents for all 3 countries a break from traditional attitudes.

The UK's traditional attitude for the past 50 years has been to revert to, and to revel in the "special relationship".

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun May 14th, 2006 at 04:59:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Only God can judge", as I said at the time, was just a way of telling us mere mortals that we were not authorized to do so.

Personally, I think B&B's much-touted religious fervour is mostly hype.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun May 14th, 2006 at 08:02:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...pretty much the same reaction to that statement. What prick.

As to the religiousness, I'd agree that what we generally read is probably fairly enlarged - although I also feel a core of it is all too true. Where there is smoke, there is fire, as the saying goes. We'll have to see after these regimes have come to an end when we may get some openness on what really happened behind the walls in the White House or Downing street...

Secondly, and it was my mistake to conflate the two from the beginning, I also think that Bush and Blair are both strong adherents to the dogma "fighting the terrorists over there, so we won't have to fight them here" and are in that sense true believers (also).

by Nomad on Sun May 14th, 2006 at 09:08:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I read this article last week and I thought: Sounds like a job for Jerome :-)

After I cooled down, that is; what a pathetic exercise in brown-nosing. Just when you thought their standards couldn't get any lower...

One of the most delusional "statements": "America cannot fix any of these mistakes by folding its tents and slinking home to a grumpy isolation."

Given the staggering incompetence and abysmal failure of this administration (not to mention the criminal part), just folding the tent would actually be a big improvement. It's that bad.

by Bernard on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 04:07:54 PM EST


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