Supporting the troops

I just had a frightening thought. Given that Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” theory of evolution must surely now lay in tatters with George W. Bush not only in the White House but now leading one of the most stupid wars ever conceived, could Dubya be proof of the existence of God?

More seriously, I deeply resent the assumption by people like Peter Hain and the Prime Minister himself in his TV address (as reported in “Blair addresses divided nation” in today’s Guardian) that even though the country is divided over the war, “the British people will now be united in sending our armed forces our thoughts and prayers”. The argument from these and other quarters that “the troops just have a job to do” and that we should “show unity for their sake” is naive, patronising and simplistic. This isn’t to say I don’t care about our soldiers’ lives and welfare; on the contrary, that is exactly what I do care about. What sickens me is that the people who put the soldiers on the front lines have done so less to disarm Saddam than to fight a political war against “old Europe” and shore up public opinion for this conflict in a far more horrifyingly vivid way than they have been able to achieve by debate and diplomacy alone. To recognise the country’s division, and then to say that we should support the military regardless, is both emotional blackmail and Orwellian doublespeak of the most repulsive kind.

Blair’s TV address incidentally was bizarre. Come ten o’clock, the Blair broadcast had been mysteriously replaced by a one-man performance of The Iceman Cometh. His haggard, exhausted appearance was as disingenuous as his words, coming across less as a reflection of how knackered and stressed he is than a conscious effort to drive home exactly how knackered and how stressed he is. This was borne out by the designer harsh lighting that did him no favours whatsoever – what a coincidence. And then there was the wobbly camera and dodgy slow close-up as he wound up his address, giving the suspicious impression the whole thing had been jumped on a surprised Blair at two in the morning by a couple of minor members of his clerical staff, who had filmed it themselves with a Woolworths camcorder. Who are these people trying to kid?