A British View of the War


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priv8ter
April 1, 2003, 05:04 PM
This is from the London Mirror last week. Kind of a good piece.

HEROES LIKE IAN SEYMOUR MEAN ITS RIGHT TO FIGHT Mar 24 2003

NOW that the fighting and dying have begun, attitudes on the home front are changing.

A country that was overwhelmingly against war a week ago suddenly says that a majority of its citizens are in favour of military action.

What happened? Why did Britain change its mind?

A poll on Saturday found that 56 per cent of British people think we are right to take military action with the United States. As recently as a week ago, only 36 per cent said they would support action.

But you don't really need the polls and statistics to tell you that attitudes have changed. You can feel it in your bones.

It is not as though this war is a walk in the park. Already, it is far messier than Gulf War 1.

In the past 24 hours, we have seen plenty of images to convince us of the terrible tragedy of war. A British plane shot down by our allies. A Muslim GI lobbing grenades at his officers. Two Iraqi soldiers with a white flag - and their heads blown off. A screaming Iraqi baby with burns on his face.

Although it could all have been a lot worse. So far, the targeting has been impressive. The technology has been ferociously slick. But there is, ultimately, no such thing as a smart bomb.

They have yet to invent the bomb that differentiates between a secret policeman and a baby.

And yet, despite the hideous images, many still feel a support for this action that would have been unthinkable only days ago. The peace protesters marching in the capital have dwindled from one million to 100,000. How can this be?

Perhaps because if you have any love at all for your country, then the sight of British soldiers fighting and dying provokes the deepest respect, gratitude and national pride.

These men - and yes, Doris, I know that there are women out there but the vast majority of soldiers in the front line are still men - seem to understand things about sacrifice and selflessness that the rest of us, living in our risk-free, self-obsessed little worlds, can only guess at.

Who could fail to be moved by the family photograph of Royal Marine Ian Seymour with his wife Lianne and baby son Beck?

Ian, 28 years old, became one of the first British servicemen to die when his Sea King helicopter crashed in the early hours of Friday. Now his young wife is a widow and their baby must grow to manhood without his father.

I never met Ian Seymour but I recognise him. The green beret he wore was the same green beret worn by my father in World War Two.

Like the men and boys who never came home from that war, Ian Seymour gave his life for the freedom of people he will never meet. Ian Seymour fought for his comrades, his country and to free people who are living in slavery. He was a hero, one of the brightest and the best, and his loss diminishes us all.

Ian's son Beck can be proud of him. Even in her grief, Ian's wife Lianne will know that her husband was one in a million.

I saw a lot of smug, self-righteous articles in the week about how parents were "proud" of their children for joining peace protests. I wonder if it is the same sort of pride felt by Ian's family.

I wonder if giving up an afternoon at the pony club to wave a peace banner can ever compare with giving up your life for old-fashioned concepts such as honour and freedom? It is perfectly understandable that the country is changing its mind about this war. It is not hypocritical. It is human nature. The debate about whether the war should go ahead is dead in the water. The war has started and unless you are a member of a student debating society, then the question is academic.

Our fighting forces are in action. Already they are dying. There are young women who are suddenly widows, there are children who will never see their father again, there are elderly parents who have suffered every parent's nightmare - having to bury their child.

IT WAS an understandable and honourable position to be against this conflict. Millions of us couldn't see the link between Saddam and Osama bin Laden. Many worried that action would destabilise the Middle East.

But now it has begun and we see the faces of young British men who will not be coming home, we feel an instinctive support for this action. To feel any other way, you would need a heart of stone and blood like water.

Being against this war when British soldiers are fighting and dying seems cheap, grubby and inappropriate. The self-congratulatory banners of the peace marchers - "When will they ever learn?" was one - seem pitifully inadequate when contrasted with the realities of combat.

"War is never the answer," we are still being told. But, of course, sometimes war is the only answer. Especially when a war has begun. There were people cheering Tony Benn's speech on Saturday who would be against war if the Waffen-SS were gang-raping their granny.

It is no longer the dwindling peace marchers who seem to hold to the high moral ground. It is the British soldier and his American allies. We seem to be bending over backwards to make this a good and righteous war. Civilian casualties are being kept to a minimum. Our soldiers are not allowed to raise their country's flag in victory. They are told to treat the Iraqi people with dignity and respect.

The realisation is dawning that those who were against this war were, quite simply, wrong.

The Iraqi people seem bloody delighted to see British and American troops. They seem fantastically relieved to know that Saddam's days are numbered.

And who can blame them? Already the horror stories are starting to seep out. The dissidents boiled alive. Children raped and tortured in front of their parents. If pure evil exists in this world, then can anyone doubt that it has resided in Saddam Hussein's Iraq?

These are still early days. Tomorrow could see an Iraqi school or hospital obliterated by a bomb that wasn't quite so smart after all. Possibly many more British soldiers will die. The peace could be even bloodier than the war.

We simply don't know.

Yet it seems certain that the tide of opinion has turned. We feel instinctive support for our troops because it would be inhuman not to.

They are risking their lives and the future happiness of those who love them, for a people who have been condemned to live in terror and misery. Increasingly, the cause looks like a good and noble one.

This is not mere rhetoric - the British fighting man is the finest in the world. Ferocious in battle, generous in defeat, ever willing to give his life for somebody else's tomorrow.

And if that doesn't stir something deep inside you, then maybe you're living in the wrong country.

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The Plainsman
April 1, 2003, 05:20 PM
Good article. What's really weird is this is the same paper that hired that scumbag, Peter Arnett, after NBC fired him. :mad:

http://www.mirror.co.uk/columnists/tonyparsons/tonyparsons/page.cfm?objectid=12770642&method=full&siteid=50143

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