Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Frank Ledwidge, Losing Small Wars: British Military Failure in Iraq and Afghanistan

Frank Ledwidge, Losing Small Wars: British Military Failure in Iraq and Afghanistan, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2011, viii + pp.267, Notes, bibliography, Index, ISBN 978-0-300-16671-2

I consider it to be the duty of anyone who sees a flaw in the plan not to hesitate to say so

General Einsenhower immediately before General Montgomery’s briefing for Operation Overlord, 15th May 1944

© Frank Ellis 2012 All Rights Reserved

Anger and shame assailed me when I was reading Losing Small Wars: anger with a corrupt Prime Minister (Blair) for the lies used to justify the deployment of British forces to Iraq and Afghanistan and the professional collusion of senior officers and the security services in the dissemination of the lies; and shame for the untold misery inflicted on Iraqi and Afghan civilians, the deaths and maiming of our soldiers and the lies used to comfort their families and to mislead the public. As if this was not bad enough, we are confronted at every turn in these badly judged deployments with far too many examples of incompetent political and military leadership in theatre. With all these failings and the scale of the invasion and occupation in Iraq, and the NATO mission in Afghanistan, Ledwidge’s title hardly does justice to what is revealed. In any case these are hardly ‘small wars’: the lying alone was and remains even now on a mass industrial scale.

If, having read Losing Small Wars, I had to identify the single most important failing about the disastrous British interventions in Iraq and, currently Afghanistan, it would be the failure on the part of the British government and its military advisers to spell out quite clearly why the British armed forces were ever deployed to these two parts of the Middle East. Factor out the obvious lies disseminated by Blair and his political-military clique that Iraq was armed with weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and that these weapons posed a threat to Britain and there was no justified reason for Britain’s ever having had anything to do with the US-led invasion of Iraq. Bush’s ravings that Saddam Hussein was another Hitler reflect the appalling ignorance of American presidents about the world. Such claims were intended to provide some weak justification for Saddam Hussein’s removal from power. Nevertheless they are pitiful claims. By the standards of Arab leaders Saddam Hussein was averagely repressive. Oil is a factor on the Middle East but did it require that the US and others invade Iraq and inflict such dreadful misery and suffering? If we went there to impose democracy and other Western abstractions then that too has been a catastrophic failure and one that was bound to be in a part of the world where Islam rules. Why do Americans and their too willing British allies not realise that the liberal democracies that evolved in a small part of northern Europe among small groups of racially homogenous peoples cannot be just imposed on what are Third World tribal societies? Here we see a deadly serious failure of imagination, caused by what Pat Buchanan has correctly identified as democratic fundamentalism and which has been made to appear fallaciously plausible by the malevolent ideology of multiculturalism and neo-conservatism.

As for the British Army’s being in Afghanistan, no British politician has yet provided a convincing argument for the deployment. Brown’s claims that British troops in Afghanistan made the UK safer were obvious lies and so obviously clumsy one wonders why he thought he could get away with peddling such nonsense. Equally mendacious are the claims that UK forces are helping the Afghan population to build a better future. Do the Taliban – they are part of the Afghan population – want our help? How do we help people by laying their country waste and imposing utterly alien institutions such as elections and education and undermining the foundations of a tribal society? Other possible reasons for our being there may be related to Iran’s nuclear ambitions and fears about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons (and oil, of course). But even these are not that convincing when trying to find an explanation for why Britain has expended so much blood and treasure. Remove any geo-political considerations and one is left with the interests and rivalries of the three services. Ledwidge refers to remarks made by General Dannatt to a British diplomat that if the British army, with an exit date from Iraq established, did not redeploy its battle groups to Afghanistan, they would be removed in any Strategic Defence Review. Ledwidge also suggests that the British army wanted to go to Helmand to show what it could do and attempt to compensate for its less than glorious performance in southern Iraq. Another factor prompting the deployment was, as always, a desire on the part of senior British politicians and officers to ingratiate themselves with the Americans, to try to rebuild their damaged stock. 


alanorei said...

Thank you, Sarah and Dr Ellis.

3 brief points:

1. “America should never get engaged in a war on the Asiatic mainland” - US Army General Albert Wedemeyer, 1948.

According to Wikipedia and associated references:
General Wedemeyer, 1897-1989, served in WW2 as Chief of Staff to the Supreme Allied Commander of the South East Asia Command (SEAC), Lord Louis Mountbatten. In October 1944, with the dismissal of General Joseph Stilwell, Wedemeyer was selected as Chief of Staff to the Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, and commander of American forces in China.

The term ‘Asiatic mainland’ encompasses both Iraq and Afghanistan.

2. As indicated the war is in aid of American big business and in particular securing the TAPI pipeline and access to and from the Caspian oil basin.

3. Mohammedans are nevertheless at war with the West according to the principle of Dar-al-Harb, House of War i.e. any non-Mohammedan country. In that sense, invading Afghanistan is no different from the Allies invading enemy-held territories in WW2. Miitarily, though, and as a matter of priority, that is not good strategy as General Wedemeyer made clear. Britain's military should therefore be deployed in extirpating Mohammedanism from this country (for which sound written Constitutional grounds also exist). The proper authorities in this country should also be putting on trial all homegrown supporters of Mohammedanism in this country for treason and for their giving aid and comfort to the enemy in time of war. Various prominent names come to mind.

I realize it's not about to happen but that's what should happen.

Anonymous said...

As a white man buy birth and a southern boy buy the grace of god.I can tell you we don't mind a fight my kin hails from the hilands of Scotland and northern Ireland.and we were dam prode to fight along side the British shoot most of those boys looked like kin. That said I think its time we aplie the you first rule to these dam politicians.if they want us in a war send there youngens first front line. You reckon they'd be much war hell no not with there skin on the I wouldn't stop there if we need more samalis libirians and Arabs send them to there house first flood there naborhood there schools with like 50 or 60 long you reckon it would take once the old boys start craping on th. ere lawns busting into there homes and tearing up there kids before theyd scream uncle.

Anonymous said...

the MSM in the states now appear to me as chomping at the bit to get us involved in the SYRIAN debacle,is this just a ploy by Israel to get us to protect them and not risk one of their own?????

john said...

It wasn't /isn't about American presidential ignorance,or oil, it is solely about the jews running the Western governments. Including England. THATS why we're in the mideast. Period.

Anonymous said...

A little war?

Ole Johansen said...

From USA we know about the Israel lobby,thanks to Walt/Mearsheimers book.
What about the same lobby in GB?

Anonymous said...

There is always censorship of what they don't want people to start thinking.

Anonymous said...

To true! To true my friend and what is also amazing is that these Islamic leaders actually claim that they are fighting a religious war for their god of fantasy and their ignorant followers actually believe them. Its a pity that these cowardly Islamic leaders don't strap a harness of explosives upon their own bodies and gather together on an isolated mountain top for a big bang suicidal celebration. These cowardly leaders demand great fanatical faith and obedience from their followers but yet to date they have all shied away from carrying out such insane irresponsible deeds themselves. Just before the Amrecan civil war errupted George Washington had a consultation with a good number of prominent religious leaders. At the gathering when the decision to go to war was finalized one of the church leaders stood up and said before they all departed "May God be on our side" and to which Goerge Wasington replied "The truth of the matter is not whether God is on our side but rather are we on God's side?" So many of the ignorant and innocent poor people upon this earth today are being ignorantly brainwashed with fantasy by their mad leaders. They are being led to their own slaughter and destruction with false promises of fantasized rewards and glory in the unknown hereafter. When will these poor ignorant fools ever learn?

Anonymous said...

Don't neglect to mention the opium trade. Big pharma money.

Britsh soldiers used as hired muscle for (legal?) drug cartels.

Anonymous said...

War is not for the weak and neither is it for the weak minded and in every other related sense and meaning of the word. Blair did not need to tell lies and he can be blamed for that but when you think about it the muslims declared war on non muslims many centuries ago. We who do not believe in the muslim pie in the sky are regarded as filth by muslim leaders and their religion is used by them to openly kill off innocent people whenever and wherever they please. Fighting a terrorist war is not an easy war to fight especially in a foreign country where the terrorists take cover in and amongst the ignorant and sympathetic local inhabitants. They are definately in possession of weapons of mass destruction and to believe otherwise is the folly of a fool. There is also good reason to believe that their vigorous endeavour to obtain nuclear power is not for the sole purpose of generating electricity. Non muslims have no need to declare war or make excuses for going to war because the muslims declared war on non allah fella's a very, very long time ago. That war is still raging on and even escalating today

Anonymous said...

I agree but don't you think that it was better to keep the war off our shores/continents and confined to the country from which the problem and aggressive threats errupted? Furthermore the problems of enemy assistance and support at home are our own fault because we ignorantly and now regretfully allowed the enemy to obtain a foothold on our soil in the first place. Kindness and a soft heart is always seen by this enemy as a chink in our armour and they use it to their best advantage. Theoretically no one wins a war but somehow the human being continues to ignore this fact even after countless wars have been fought in the past. The muslims have set out to conquer the world and have gained a foothold in almost every country on earth. I actually think and believe that the are a greater threat to the free world than communism as they integrate their religion with politics and visa verse. The world needs oil and untill we find an alternative energy scource the muslims will be able to exploit their religion/polics to its full advantage.

Anonymous said...


S Africa: Woman's face slashed during attack said...

Correct link:

S Africa: Woman's face slashed during attack

Anonymous said...

Please spread the follwoing to as many people as possible

Dr. Stanton of Genocide Watch on farm murders in SA 2012.07.26