Friday, March 23, 2007

Blair's Falklands fallacy

I found it interesting to read on The Telegraph site that Blair says he would have sent a task force to liberate the Falklands 25 years ago if he had been Prime Minister.

"I have got no doubt it was the right thing to do," Mr Blair said. "But for reasons not simply to do with British sovereignty but also because I think there was a principle at stake."

Forgive me for being cynical, but that's bollocks. Mr Blair thinks it was the right thing to do NOW because it was successful and because the British people generally approved of Maggie doing it. I have no doubt that if Blair had been PM - a Labour PM - he would not have sent a task force, but would have spent then next few years fruitlessly appealing to the UN to do something. I do not believe for a second that he would have had the nerve to begin the operation or the moral courage to make the difficult decisions that were needed.

At best he would have sent a small force to blockade the islands, but there is no way the man would have committed to an operation on that scale.

The truly criminal thing in my mind is that he makes this statement at a time when, due to continued cuts in our armed forces - and particularly the RN and RAF - there isn't a hope in hell that we could ever mount such an operation today.

Blair also offers this little gem.

Mr Blair pointed out that the casualty rate in the 11-week Falklands conflict was higher than the combined number of British deaths so far in the four-year Iraq war and six-year Afghanistan operation.

Yes it was. But then again, the Falklands Task Force didn't have the might of the USA beside it or the air cover provided by US airplanes from US carriers. The majority of deaths in the Falklands conflict were inflicted on servicemen aboard ships that were extremely vulnerable to air strikes. A couple of US aircraft carriers with F14s flying CAPs might have reduced that considerably. The Harriers, their pilots and crews performed heroically, but they were too few and too limited to have defended the fleet adequately. They were all we had, though. Today, of course, we don't even have them. We have nothing.

I've mentioned this before, but when it comes to our armed forces I always consider what I call the "Falklands Test" - which essentially asks, do our armed forces have the capability to retake the Falklands should they be invaded again? This, in my opinion, should be the benchmark test for our armed forces capability.

The answer is still - no.


Rop said...

Interestingly, Labour has a reasonably consistent record of supporting the use of force. Even during the Falklands war they voted in favour although I suspect that a media elite indulging in selective memory gives us a distorted image.

Stan said...

They do, but then again there is a sort of unwritten agreement between political parties - or at least there used to be - that they support troop deployments. It's why I don't personally make much fuss about the Tories support for the current operations.

I still doubt that Blair as PM at that time would have taken the action Thatcher did - remember he was campaigning against nuclear weapons and was very much part of the appeasement movement.