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September 21, 2005

I Have A Question

Just before the start of the Iraq war, a British Lieutenant Colonel named Tim Collins gave a speech in Kuwait to about 800 British soldiers:

We go to liberate, not to conquer. We will not fly our flags in their country. We are entering Iraq to free a people and the only flag which will be flown in that ancient land is their own. Show respect for them...

It is a big step to take another human life. It is not to be done lightly. I know of men who have taken life needlessly in other conflicts. I can assure you they live with the mark of Cain upon them...

If someone surrenders to you then remember they have that right in international law and ensure that one day they go home to their family. The ones who wish to fight, well, we aim to please...

As for ourselves, let's bring everyone home and leave Iraq a better place for us having been there.

Our business now is north.

The speech was beloved by war supporters, because it expressed so clearly their self-image: tough and manly—yet righteous. Apparently George Bush loved it so much he requested a copy to put on the wall of the Oval Office.

This week, however, Tim Collins—now retired from the British military—wrote this:

It is time for our leaders to explain what is going on. It was as a battalion commander trying to explain to his men why they would embark on a war that I came to public notice. The irony is that I made certain assumptions that my goodwill and altruistic motivations went to the top. Clearly I was naive.

So here's my question, which I would appreciate if some reporter would ask Scott McClellan:

Is George Bush going to put THAT on the wall of the Oval Office?

UPDATE: Your Right Hand Thief got here way before me.

Posted at September 21, 2005 06:13 AM | TrackBack

What military leaders say about war is always hypocritical (except for Sherman, I believe it was, who simply said, "War is hell"). They have to believe that they are doing something noble to justify to themselves sending the grunts off to die and commit slaughter. Then, when they retire, the scales suddenly fall off their eyes, and they see what their careers actually amounted to.

If Collins really thought, before the war, that his civilian higher-ups were that idealistic, he was either very badly informed or a fool.

Posted by: jonj at September 21, 2005 09:08 AM

I believe Collins was originally referring to commanders of the military in his statement "The irony is that I made certain assumptions that my goodwill and altruistic motivations went to the top. Isn't Bush [I'll try to ask this without smirking, it's more and more like an oximoron] Commander-in-Chief? However, seeing the senseless death and destruction of the invasion first hand, along with it's subsequent exposure of the BushCo/Cheneyburton deceptive excuse to the world about WMD's in Iraq, I believe Tim Collins' retirement has given him an objective view to see and question the validity of Commander Bush and his Administrative Cabal of Neo-Theocon Corporatists.

Posted by: neilemac at September 21, 2005 11:51 AM

Kind of snaps the breath out of one's lungs, doesn't it?

I think his eloquence belies a sincere fury.

I hope he gets some explanations soon. I hope we all do.

Posted by: patrick at September 21, 2005 01:07 PM

As long as I get to where you're going, Jonathan, I don't care if I'm ahead or behind.

Thanks for the mention!

Posted by: oyster at September 21, 2005 09:45 PM

I think there was a quote on M*A*S*H that mentioned that war was worse than hell, because only sinners are in hell.

Posted by: En Ming Hee at September 22, 2005 10:55 AM