Tuesday 3 July 2018

Defining identity in military terms

There’s a lot of lobbying going on within the hopelessly divided UK Government at present, with various cabinet ministers engaged in fairly public dissent about a whole range of issues, not simply Brexit.  One of the issues concerns the amount of money being spent on the armed forces, with military chiefs demanding more money.  According to the Sunday Times (paywall), they are also trying to enlist the support of the royal family for their campaign to increase spending.
What particularly struck me was the argument of one unnamed ‘senior source’ who said that “The prime minister needs to recognise that our standing on the international stage is linked to our national identity, which is linked to our strong defence”.  This reinforces a point which I’ve made before on this blog – for Anglo-British nationalists, the armed forces and the glorious (as they seem to see them) victories of the past are a key – perhaps the single most important – element in their whole definition of their own identity.  They’re not the only nation in the world to take an excessive degree of pride in the armed forces and their exploits, but how many other nations actually define themselves in those terms?
It helps to explain why there is such a huge gulf in understanding between the UK and the rest of the EU about the purpose and objective of the EU.  Whilst most European countries regard the wars which have ravaged the continent in the past as unfortunate events which must never be repeated, and therefore want to lock themselves together to prevent any such repeat, the Anglo-British nationalists see those same wars as part of the UK’s past triumphs and want to retain an independent capacity to fight such wars again.
But what sort of national identity is it that depends so heavily on the ability to wage war against its neighbours, and prefers to dwell on the outcome of past wars and prepare for future ones than work with others for a peaceful future?  This is truly the sign of a national identity which has lost its way in the world.

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