Saturday, 20 February 2010

Falklands II?

This poem by Borges (an Anglophile Argentinian) really captures a lot of my feelings about war. I find the myths that are behind war and politics really dreadful from a purely aesthetic viewpoint.


  1. A good poem.

    The Falkland War was such a tragic and farcical waste of life.

    Braindead right-wingers see it as a victory in which we gave the cheeky Argies a sore bottom.

    Braindead left-wingers still go on about Argentina's claim to sovereignty as if supporting a right-wing miltary junta's annexation of some remote islands somehow burnishes their anti-imperial credentials.

    In reality, of course, some people died for no good reason.

  2. @CK

    Thanks for your comment. The thing is, I'm not entirely certain what my actual position is re the Falklands. I don't think it was worth fighting for, especially as I like Argentine culture, but I suppose I can agree to disagree on this point.

    My own view about this is that whilst Argentina is quite poor it is one of the most educated nations in Latin America and we would do well to seek out some friends in that part of the world. But it seems all our main parties are led by the media to think that 'abroad' means the USA, the Middle East, Brussels and Russia.

    I'm hoping that with Mossad almost certainly forging Brit passports, even the most astoundingly dense Brit neo-con will accept that we aren't part of a happy gang that includes Israel and the USA: the Israelis and Americans treat us with contempt. And we frankly deserve it.

    Personally, I think we should be pursuing very close links with India, Brazil, Russia and Canada. But sadly, I think that our media would be horrified at actually having to research the history and geography of these countries when they can just crib a predigested A-Z from their cronies.

  3. Thought provoking.

    To quote the character of the 'Legionnaire' from the Sven Hassel books, C'est la Guerre! [Such is war!]

    If you live in Britain you have to try to get used to the idea that war is a traditional way of life in this country.

    No matter how immoral the circumstance, British people can put all concerns aside and get on with 'doing the job' (however insane or ridiculous the task).

    It would be a truly brave act if we were all to take responsibility for our own individual actions.

    The political parties in Britain will never cease warmongering as long as conflict is a profitable and useful tool in suppressing competition, maintaining the status quo and plundering physical commodities (such as oil).

    I wouldn't be surprised if Thatcher already knew there was oil around the Falklands.

  4. @Andrew
    Cheers for the comment. I'd make the point that Britain actually had a remarkably peaceful history between the Korean war (1950-3) and the Falklands (1982).

    This was when Blighty was up to its ballocks in debt to Uncle Sam courtesy of Winston Churchill. But Harold Wilson wouldn't even give a token contribution to the Viet Nam war ('I only want a few fifers Harold', LBJ was supposed to have implored). One nation Tory Edward Heath refused to help the Israelis during the Yom Kippur War. I reckon those who'd lived through WWII felt (to quote Red Dawn) that twice in one century was enough.

    Even in recent times, there was a nine year gap between the war in the Falklands and Kuwait.

    But recently things have been changing. Ironically enough, I think our soundbyte culture has made our comparatively distant history into a part of the ever-present modern age.

    So when it was obvious that Iraq was a disaster by 2008, we still had the same 'Hitler' 'Stalin' 'Churchill' 'Chamberlain bullshit when Medvedev launched a counter-attack on Saakashvilli (who'd bombed his own people).

    I think a lot of Brits don't know how close we came to conflict with Russia.

    Now Britain reminds me of the character 'Bob' in the first Batman film: a quiet sycophant that dutifully follows the mad Joker for no apparent reason and doesn't hesitate to kill or steal for him.

    But it can't continue indefinitely.

  5. Every war when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as a war but as an act of self-defence against a homicidal maniac.
    George Orwell


    In conventional terms I reckon that you are right with regard to there being no public war between the time of the Korean war and the Falkland war.

    However, there are always occasions for example when Britain has covertly taken part in private engagements, or has actively supported chosen regimes to further its ends.

    Even in times of peace Britain (like many other countries) sells ordnance around the world to encourage war.

    You mention that the war in Iraq 'was a disaster by 2008'... Perhaps from a humanitarian point of view but if you look from more ominous angle you could regard it as a success.

    It succeeded in the destruction of the infrastructure of Iraq and the installation of a government that is more agreeable to US/UK persuasions.

    Perhaps Britain has more influence on what direction the oil now flows?

    I'm sure Britain will be at 'war' again in the time it takes to construct and present the portrait of the next homicidal maniac...

  6. @Gregor: Borges was an Anglophile Argentine and i'm a bit of an Argentophile (?) Briton. That is another sad thing about the Falklands War-- that it has for so long been a bone of contention between the two countries.

    You make a very good point about the UK media. In Argentine, Spanish and Polish newspapers it is normal to find translations by British and American commentators, especially the ubiquitous Tim Garton-Ash (Clarin, El Pais and many more)

    OK, fair enough but the problem is that it never occurs to the Anglophone media to do their own translations and actually find out what people think in other countries.

    I used to read articles by Argentine journalist Oscar Cardoso and when I started doing translations on the blog I planned to translate his pieces regulary. Sadly, I only did one-- his last ever article as he suddenly died.

    I agree, we should be broadening our international friends. Southern Cone countries such as Chile are very Britophilic (?), as was Argentina pre-Falklands.

    As for the Falklands, leave them to the penguins, sheep and the handful of people who call the place home.

  7. @Andrew

    Indeed, ‘peace’ is a relative term. But we can’t knock them: better to have lots of idealism and a little war than lots of war and little idealism.

    (I’m hoping to write more in future about modern history).

    As for Iraq, I think that was just a disaster from any viewpoint. Even from a totally amoral viewpoint, it toppled one of the few secular nations in the Middle East, tied down the military, gave Mitteleuropean uncle toms a sense of entitlement in their on-going cold war against Russia (though it was funny seeing their right wing leaders spitting out their dummies over the missile bases) cost a fortune and infuriated the Islamic world. Britain gained nothing from Iraq’s oil.

    We Armando fans from his ‘big egg’ glory days may feel others are crashing the party now with the success of ‘In the Loop’, but I really do think that film reflects how intelligent and introspective most Brit politicians are.


    I find it curious that there seem to be a lot of Anglophiles abroad, and it is something that I have been thinking a bit about recently: the ambiguity of national myths. I’ve always seen their harmful side, though maybe we need to use these progressively as well. Maybe it is partially because I feel more ambivalent about my long term plans to leave Britain. I dislike the surveillance state and increasingly sinister concepts of security as well as the Celeb culture. But I also think that there are many good things about Britain. I’d be all for creating a Brito-Argentinian commonwealth if they wanted it ;-)

    Good point about translations in the Brit newspapers (though Rory Carroll and Luke Harding seem to directly translate right wing propoganda ;-). We seem to be getting increasingly insular as a country. Maybe it will result in implosion, as neo-liberalism in general seems to be. Or maybe neo-liberalism will survive despite getting increasingly stupid.