Warrior Nation: Images of War in British Popular Culture, 1850-2000

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The s were a time of fear and national mobilisation, as a centralised security apparatus imposed a form of totalitarian control on a newly cowed society. But they needed help, and in a turning-point moment the United States and Britain allowed Baghdad to regroup.

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By December , a year after the inspectors had been expelled, American and British warplanes were being dispatched to conduct raids of doubtful value, which prompted the other three members of the Security Council to call for an easing of the sanctions on Iraq including the crucial oil embargo. Plans were laid inside the George W. A year of inflationary rhetoric, diplomatic manoeuvring, bureaucratic infighting, exile politicking, military preparation and intense worldwide protest culminated in the air assault and land invasion of March Britain was foremost among the forty-nine states that committed themselves to a role in military operations or the vast majority post-war security and governance.

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Its initial deployment, tasked with occupying Basra and the region, reached a maximum of 18, troops in May The US figure at this point was , So this British invasion of Iraq sent the infantry and naval forces of to the very place from which their predominantly Indian antecedents had trudged north in the ill-fated venture of As ever, most performed with valour and a few were responsible for gross abuses and violations of discipline some of which are still going through the courts.

By the end of operations in April , had been killed , in action. Troop numbers had fallen gradually over these six years, to at the point of withdrawal. In military terms, the verdict on the overall strategy and performance is as bleak as in All this was coupled with a hubris which attracted its inevitable riposte — nemesis. The Chilcot report will provide the official version of the military and political aspects of the Iraq campaign.

Decoding Canadian First World War Posters

All the more reason, many would say, to do just that. BUT Afghanistan and Iraq are not just a retread of old wars. They also belong to the geopolitical era that arrived with — or perhaps was bookended by — the collapse of communism in —91 and the collapse of the Twin Towers on 11 September But these certainties, too, were put under pressure by the changed strategic circumstances of the early s. But the Dayton diplomatic agreement that ended the war also left the Albanian-majority province of Kosovo in the line of fire.

When the Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic prosecuted his latest ethnic-cleansing campaign there, the inglorious NATO air campaign of March—June — of which the government of Tony Blair prime minister since May was the most vigorous advocate — eventually precipitated his withdrawal. As a result of these destructive policies both have brought calamity on their own peoples. This saw an strong military force charged in May with ensuring safe evacuation of foreign citizens from a vicious civil war supporting, by default, a weak government and a fragile UN military mission against the threatening Revolutionary United Front militia.

This force and its replacements altered the dynamic of the war, which ended in January Perhaps because it can be judged — again like Kosovo albeit more qualified in that case — a success, not least in the eyes of those in whose interests it was fought, it tends in Britain to be consigned to the memory hole. A rare and neglected study is Andrew M.

The timing was fateful. The George W. Whatever else happened in coming years, here at least Bush and Blair were bound to converge, even if in other respects they were slaves of different histories. After all, it was indeed the beginning of something else, although Tony Blair was not about to concede it. As the poisonous fallout of Iraq seeped across the public culture, the Conservative opposition leader David Cameron qualified his admiration for Tony Blair with notable scepticism about any foreign adventures.

It was a stance he carried into government in and shared with most of his senior colleagues, including foreign minister William Hague though the clever Michael Gove, now education minister, and the ambitious hawk Liam Fox, briefly defence minister, had always been more gung-ho.


Ideological Context: War, Martial Values, and Military Prestige

The eruptions of forced a rethink, in practice if not in doctrine. Britain, after all, seems to prefer leaders who cut a dash — within limits that they must periodically renegotiate — on the world stage. But the domestic circumstances in which this new phase of intervention is evolving are also very different from even a decade ago. Any international security policy has to be calibrated in terms of what a state can afford, and Britain, with its multiplying spending obligations and its shrinking capacities, is able to afford ever less. The routine commitments are to maintain its core services and upgrade their capability, defend overseas territories such as the Falkland Islands, and play a full part in NATO.

The low-profile commitments are to protect domestic security and core infrastructure including from terrorist threats and sustain a strong intelligence network with up-to-date risk-assessment. And the emerging commitments involve adapting to new challenges such as cyberattack and biosecurity. Even more so since, under the strategic and defence review published in October — A Strong Britain in an Age of Uncertainty — spending in these areas is being reduced by 8 per cent over a decade.

Yet any major rethink seems remote. Britain, it seems, both needs and can have it all. THE broad public opposition to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and scepticism over any further large-scale interventions, might be expected to pose a challenge to this elite consensus. For example, the military experience of the past decade and more has worked its way into the media, popular culture, and the orchestrated routines of national memory.

The deeper point, though, is that the military history of the post years is being assimilated into what went before, and this works — in a coded but also powerful way — to legitimate the experience of Afghanistan and Iraq if not the wars themselves. A striking illustration hit me when visiting my local branch of Waterstones — the only national bookstore chain to survive the Amazon hurricane. The delivery timescales do not include any customs clearing times beyond Fruugo's control. Any customs or import duties charged on delivery are solely the responsibility of the customer.

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Select bibliography in: From Jack Tar to Union Jack

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