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A 'pause' In Centuries Of British Wars Is Not Enough

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The generals are beside themselves, Whitehall's in a panic. After generations of continuous warfare, the British public has had enough. They're war-weary, the mandarins fret, and believe the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan have been bloody failures.

Worse, multicultural Britain is increasingly hostile to troops marching into countries from which British citizens or their families came, defence ministry officials complain, especially as one war after another has been waged in the Muslim world.

Add to that the unprecedented vote in parliament last year to stop an attack on Syria and the governing elite is convinced its right to decide issues of war and peace without democratic interference is under threat. As the former Tory Middle East minister Alistair Burt insisted: "Politicians need space and time to take unpopular action."

Most humiliating for London's securocrats, Barack Obama's former defence secretary has warned that British military cuts – which by some measures have put the country behind Saudi Arabia as the world's fourth largest arms spender – threaten the country's defence "partnership" with the US.

It's all come to a head as British combat troops prepare to follow the US and Nato camp followers out of Afghanistan, potentially bringing to a halt over a century of continuous war-fighting by the country's armed forces.

As the Guardian's tally of relentless warmaking shows, British troops have been in action somewhere in the world every year since 1914. It is an extraordinary and chilling record, unmatched by any other country. Only France, Britain's historic rival colonial power, and the US, at the head of the first truly global empire, come close.

It's not as if other major powers have sent their soldiers to fight abroad with remotely such regularity, or at all. But when it comes to Britain, the line of uninterrupted armed action in any case stretches far further back than a century.

As Richard Gott's book Britain's Empire recounts, its forces were involved in violent suppression of anti-colonial rebellions every year from at least the 1760s for the next 200 years, quite apart from multiple other full-scale wars. You need to go back before Britain's foundation as a state and the English civil wars to find a time when government-backed privateers, slavers and settlers weren't involved in armed conflict somewhere in the world.

There are in fact only a handful of countries British troops haven't invaded at some point. What is so striking about the tally of the past 100 years is that only in 1940 were British troops actually defending their own country from the threat of invasion.

And there is a telling continuum between Britain's conflicts in the colonial period and the post-cold war world. The same names keep cropping up, a legacy of imperial divide-and-rule: from Ireland, Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine to Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Waziristan.

There's very little in this saga that the British – let alone those at the receiving end, from Kenya to Malaya – can seriously take pride in, even if they knew about it. (Who, for example, remembers the killing of 15,000 Indonesian civilians by British troops as they restored Dutch colonial rule in 1945?) Even the supposed successes of liberal interventionism, such as Kosovo and Libya, are scarred by escalated death tolls, ethnic cleansing and dysfunctional states.

What is it about Britain? Are its people really more warlike than others? In reality, England's early development of capitalism and technology gave its elite the edge over colonial rivals, while its plunder and economic power was enforced by a dominant navy. That shaped British society and delivered wealth and clout to its rulers. But for the majority there were few if any benefits – one reason there was always a strong strand of domestic opposition to Britain's warmongering, from Charles James Fox to Keir Hardie.

It's the same, only more so, today. For the political and commercial elite, British warmaking under the wing of Washington is about state prestige, corporate profits and the protection of a system of global economic privilege. That was the clear message this week from the former first sea lord Sir Jonathon Band, who now works for US defence contractor Lockheed Martin and insists that Britain's commitment to buy 48 F-35 fighter aircraft "will certainly not be enough".

The armed forces aren't defending the population against any military threat, but endangering them by feeding terror and racism. It's scarcely surprising that opposition to endless wars has grown in Britain, as it has in the US and other allied states. The historian Linda Colley speculates Britain might even revert to the kind of scepticism about the military that prevailed in the 17th century before the years of unbridled imperial conquest – which would be a relief all round.

The top brass meanwhile claim withdrawal from Afghanistan will be a "strategic pause". Instead of a full pullout, the plan is for greater use of drones, special forces and trainers – until they can "get on to the horse again" and the public can be corralled to acquiesce in another "humanitarian" intervention.

That's likely to prove harder than before. Each war attracts less support than the last. Britain has a chance to turn its back on centuries of warmaking, shake off the mentality of junior global policeman and start to build a different relationship with the rest of the world.


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It's not over just yet, Britain today would take close to a century to change.

With changing demographics who knows.

International politics plays a big part too. I'd say big factors that may influence the UK's international aggressiveness in future would include:

The state of Scotland (in both senses of the word 'state'); If the Scots manage to separate themselves from England, this may possibly have a further impact on England's forces, and its ability to stick its nose abroad. It is also likely to have deep, long standing (and as yet unforeseeable) negative effects on the ground level psyche of the wider English community. They are getting really desperate here in London and trying to bully the Scots over currency (keeping the pound) in order to thwart that attempt at self-rule.

Who is in charge of America: It's more than obvious now that right-wing white men in the states (read Republicans) have a vested interest in pursuing wars abroad because they have close ties to the weapon manufacturing industry and also buy into some 'cowboy' psychology that feels it is justifiable to take over people's lands and resources based on ones own needs and aspirations (in the tradition of what was done to natives).

The presence of Obama and his lukewarm reception of UK whiteys have dampened the usually Anglo-spheric warmongery but if we get another Bush type fudhu on the hot seat - whitey over here might crawl up his (or hers!) arse in their adventurism like Blair did. However, the memory of Blair and his 'legacy' might prey on the mind of British politicians and serve as a constraining force in this?

The general mindset of the British public: Many English people are Maha-fudhus. The Upper/ruling classes get been brainwashed into believing their own superiority in fancy universities and like to think of themselves as continuing the legacy of the 'Great' British imperialist legacy, which they see as some sort of Golden Era. Whilst the working classes lap up whatever bullshit the above put out via the media, and blindly idolise British foot-soldiers, who (very often) come from the most uneducated sections of Anglo society (council estate lads who struggle to pass the GCSE exams that are compulsory for 16 year olds here). When I go out and about and come home on the tube here in London, you can sense the fear, anger and confusion of many Brits at recent events. They've lost their swagger. And yes, all this mixing of blood here through interbreeding and the rapid growth of the Muslim demographic is likely to have profound consequences too.

If history is anything to go by, what John Bull is likely to do now is to try and find some easier, softer (and profitable?) military target to attack to try and raise national moral after the defeats of Iraq and Afghanistan. For the conscious amongst us, we could draw parallels with the situation just prior to the Anglo-Sikh wars, where the Brits were defeated in their attempts to subdue Afghanistanis and then decided to attack our ancestors and usurp the immensely wealthy khazanas of the Sikh kingdom.

PS - I should add this for the benefit of the British Sikh peasantry: Try not to play that loyal lapdog of the British card too hard, or risk looking like the pets/attack dogs of a bunch of losers (if you don't already). Here in the capital, English racism (especially in terms of employment opportunities for nonwhite males) is likely to cause serious friction in future. Make sure your dumb jat arses don't get caught in the middle of it through sucking up to white men. I know it might be hard for you by the way. lol

Edited by dalsingh101
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