19 October 2006

Cutting and running

Cutting and running: sound political and military strategy in the right circumstances.

Imagine how different the Gallipoli legend would been had Churchill left the Anzacs there to have been completely wiped out by about mid-1916 or so.

Picture the British Expeditionary Force in Europe, 1940, forced back to Dunkirk by overwhelming German force. Now imagine Chamberlain wittering about staying the course, not cutting and running, the British public witnessing a massacre of their army within sight of their homeland with their powerful Navy standing by. This would have delayed the defeat of Nazism indefinitely.

Had Gordon Bennett had arranged for all Australian troops to have been withdrawn from Singapore before the Japanese invaded in 1942, the man would be a national hero.

There was no "cut and run" crap at Kapyong, and rightly so.

The war on fake militant Islam is real, and has to be fought - but I am not trying to claim this conflict is like conflicts in the past. The point here is the correct application of military force. Not every front is worth engaging, particularly if it is favourable to the enemy. The allied occupation of Iraq is doing little to build a sustainably peaceful country there, and the militants grow stronger every day.

The idea that supporting withdrawal from Iraq means you underestimate the threat we face from fake miilitant Islam is rubbish. It's a false dichotomy. The political and military leaders who faced up to the reality of Dunkirk and did what had to be done could not be accused of 'giving in to the Nazis'. Those who oversaw Dunkirk were there at D-Day, and were still there when the mighty machine that blew them away from Europe in 1940 lay crushed and broken five years later.

At last the serious reviews of the effectiveness of this battle front are taking place. Let's hope we can be more effective in fighting fake militant Islam than we have been by providing target practice in Iraq, whether by applying military force elsewhere or by the sort of longterm jamming methods that the Brits used to wreck the IRA.

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