As the Pakistani army continued to be
bogged down in a ferocious battle against the Taliban inside its own borders
and yet another British soldier is killed in Afghanistan, to date the one
hundred and seventy-sixth since 2001, it is evident that the British military
is engaged in a war it cannot win. Defence Minister Bob Ainsworth has outlined
desperate measures which entail a wholesale reform of the Territorial Army.
Gone forever will be the image of a glorified Dad’s Army as the TA is to be
integrated with the rest of the army and better prepared for wars abroad.
The plans will see the TA trained more
quickly for deployment abroad, and will come alongside an attempt to bolster
the TA’s numbers which have halved to just 330,000 in recent years.
Unsurprisingly when presented with the prospect of having to risk their lives
in a deployment to either Iraq or
Afghanistan fewer people have signed up to the TA or the military as a whole
during the last few years. Under the conditions of the recession this is
starting to change. Faced with either the dole queue or the army many young
people, in particular male sixteen year old school leaver opt for the latter.
The military knows this and in recent months has upped its recruiters’ presence
in areas with a high rate of unemployment, disgustingly exploiting the
situation that the capitalist crisis has put many working class people in.
False Hopes For The Imperialists
However, even the increasing numbers of
economic conscripts that are signing up for the US and British militaries are not
enough. The US and its
junior partners thought they were on to a winner when they started their
predatory wars in Afghanistan
These imperialist adventures aimed to establish political hegemony and secure
control over natural resources, including oil and gas for the Americans and
their allies. Initially all seemed to be going well. Who could forget
Bush’s Iraq War victory speech delivered
on board an aircraft carrier, complete with his very own presidential action
man uniform? The period since has seen the American’s success turn into its
opposite. Iraq and Afghanistan
have become death traps for the military forces trying to contain the
insurgency and suck up billions upon billions of dollars that even the world’s
biggest military and economic power cannot sustain indefinitely. Next to no
resources, aside from Afghan opium which comes alongside a flight of skilled
labour, are being reaped from either country whilst this whole area of the
world has been destabilised. The departure from Iraq
seems to be well under way following Obama’s inauguration, and an undignified
retreat from Afghanistan
will have to follow at some point. Yet it is clear we have entered a new period
of global instability that will lead to more so called ‘small wars’ as the
recent episodes in Georgia
and the Gaza
strip have demonstrated.
TAs In Trouble
Ainsworth has said in words that the
proposed changes will leave intact the TA’s ability to come to the country’s
aid in the event of a national catastrophe, whilst the plans presented suggest
otherwise. Actions speak louder than words. Reservists already account for 9%
of British troops deployed in Afghanistan
and over 17000 TA troops have been deployed abroad since 2003. (BBC News
28/4/09) It is clear the government wishes to see these figures rise. It must
be noted that these measures have more than just an immediate military purpose.
The expansion of the TA and the increasing presence of the Officer Training
Corps and Cadets in universities and schools represent attempts to build an
auxiliary state military apparatus outside of the army itself. Perhaps the
layer of ‘economic conscripts’ to the regular army, recruited because they had
nowhere else to go, are unreliable? Could they be trusted to fire upon working
class people in this country? Better perhaps to rely on some gung-ho volunteers
who were not forced into the ranks of the military outside of economic
necessity alone. The Officer Training Corps and Cadets are invariably dominated
by middle-class youth who are much more likely to be sympathetic to the
reactionary role they will be asked to play. The same applies to the TA.
Armed Bodies Of Men
Engels famously explained that the
capitalist state could ultimately be reduced to armed bodies of men standing in
defence of private property. The actions of the police at the G20 protests in London brutally revealed
the true nature of the British state. The reservists being trained and sent to
oppress and kill workers and peasants in Iraq
and Afghanistan today could
well be deployed on the streets of Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow or London tomorrow if Britain were ever to face a
After spending so long telling us the money
was not available for even the most basic reforms, government found the money
to bail out the bankers at the drop of a hat and is continuing to fight and
fund their wars. The resources have been found for this whole sale rejuvenation
of the TA that will see infrastructure, training and structure renewed, whilst billions
are being poured into the Trident nuclear weapons programme. All this leaves
working people asking where their bail out is as they face unemployment and
repossessions. Clearly the only form of Keynesianism boost to the economy this
government is interested in is the same kind Ronny Reagan was: military Keynesianism!
That shows where their priorities really lie and who they serve.