...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

July 08, 2005

Where Is This Britain?

i wonder, where is the Britain celebrated in this poem by James Thomson and set to music in 1740 by Thomas Augustine Arne?

Rule Britannia!

When Britain first at Heav'n's command, Arose from out the azure main;
This was the charter of the land, And guardian angels sang this strain;

Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves; Britons never never never shall be slaves!

The nations not so blest as thee, Shall in their turns to tyrants fall;
While thou shalt flourish great and free, The dread and envy of them all.

Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves; Britons never never never shall be slaves!

Still more majestic shalt thou rise, More dreadful from each foreign stroke;
As the loud blast that tears the skies, Serves but to root thy native oak.

Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves; Britons never never never shall be slaves!

Thee haughty tyrants ne'er shall tame, All their attempts to bend thee down;
Will but arouse thy generous flame, But work their woe, and thy renown.

Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves; Britons never never never shall be slaves!

To thee belongs the rural reign, Thy cities shall with commerce shine;
All thine shall be the subject main, And every shore it circles thine.

Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves; Britons never never never shall be slaves!

The Muses, still with freedom found, Shall to thy happy coast repair;
Blest Isle! With matchless beauty crowned, And manly hearts to guide the fair.

Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves; Britons never never never shall be slaves!


i hate to rain on everybody's parade, but i don't see that kind of fighting spirit when i look at today's Britain. What i see is a bunch of effete multiculturalist apologists. And a "blame Bush and Blair before the terrorists" attitude that will only get more people killed.

This We're not Afraid! site, which everybody's linking to, is great but you know... so what? i think the problem with Europe in general is that they haven't developed a healthy enough fear of the enemy in their very midst. And courage without action is not courage at all. Britain, i fear, is paralyzed by their own liberalism. They don't get it.

Check this firsthand report of Londoners' opinions by Charmaine Yoest at Reasoned Audacity.

'It's Tony Blair's fault! They've killed 100,000 people [repeating the now discredited Lancet statistic] it's like a boomerang.' Later she repeated this, talking about 'killing innocent people' and 'invading other peoples' country . . .'

When we asked her the question about the calm, she shrugged too. 'We're used to it,' she replied. 'Americans get patriotic over anything silly.'

9/11 was silly? What can i say? i know that was one ignorant person's reaction, but it's so typical of what i hear all the time from people. Invading other people's countries is the cause of terrorism? That idea has been debunked so many times that it's almost useless to keep trying. People have a choice about where they get their information and whom they can choose to believe. It seems that in England, and in Europe in general, they consistently choose wrong.

So to my original question. What happened to that Britain that will never never never be enslaved? Maybe it's still there, below the BBC-ified surface. i knew a Brit in undergrad, a huge Celtic fan, who loved to sing the chorus of Rule Britannia at the top of his lungs when he got a few Guinesses in him. i don't know whatever happened to that guy, but i'd bet he be as pro-kicking ass as Christopher Hitchens was on tv today.

A poster at the We're not Afraid! site quoted a recent movie with its own anti-Bush/Blair undertones:

The irony is too obvious to pass up. As most of you remember, in The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda also said

"You will be..."

You will be afraid, Britain, if you don't stop working against this "War On Terror." If you don't stop blaming Bush and Blair for the actions of murdering criminals. If you don't demand truth from the BBC. If you decide to emulate the Spanish, who by the way, will be attacked again. (OBL himself has said that he wants Andalusia back. Don't think he's forgotten about Spain.)

And look, memo to the rest of Europe: You're all targets. If you don't like the way we're doing things, if you think we've been sidetracked by Iraq and we should be concentrating on Afghanistan, nobody is stopping you from going over there and taking care of the problem yourself. You all got armies don't you? Go get OBL. He's your problem too. Or is it all you can do to criticize Bush and Blair, who at least are trying to do something?

Posted by annika, Jul. 8, 2005 | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: History & annikapunditry


Sad but true. Terrorism wouldnt exist without frree societies and their freedom to hear both sides. Then there is ignorance in free societies......God help us all!!!!

Posted by: Jef on Jul. 8, 2005

I think part of the problem in perceiving where the Britain you're talking about has "gone" is the disconnect between London and most of the rest of the country: someone once said it's as if the political, economic, media and cultural capital of the US was in San Francisco.

Now, maybe I'm overly optimistic because most of the people I spent time with when I was there were pretty hard-core activist Tories (go figure, since I worked at Conservative Central Office), but the UK remains a fundamentally "small c" conservative country in most ways, even and perhaps to some extent even more so in those areas with tribal loyalty to the Labour Party. Worry about the British government? Probably fairly justified. Worry about the British people? I think far less so.

Posted by: Dave J on Jul. 9, 2005

I was stationed in England for two years or at least that is where we were based out of we actually went all over. One of the things we often did was train with the British Royal Marines. I found them to a man to be the best type of Marines to serve with and I always wondered where they came from? Because I didn't meet that type of person when we would go out and meet regular folks in London. It's like they took every person with a spine and put them in the military. It was the same with the Welsh units we trained with in Dartmoor. But rest assured if the guys I served with are still over there then they and their friends are not spineless whiners. They are able ass-kickers. Because I didn't get to meet a large segment of the population it will be very interesting to me to watch what the British do in coming weeks. Because it will once and for all answer the question are there more folks in Britian like I met in their military or are their more like the ones at met at pubs in London? However it pans out given the support their govt. gave ours in the Iraq war I feel we should basically hand them a blank check and say here use this to kill every last one of the guys who planted the bombs and if you need more just ask.

Posted by: Andy on Jul. 9, 2005

annika a few points:

1) England (and Russia) did more for freedom than america ever did, they fought world war two remember, Americans mainly sold them weapons and made a shitload of money. I don't have a problem with this, but you make it sound like america is the last bastion of freedom and true media when really americans are just serving their self interest, like they always have.

2)"but it's so typical of what i hear all the time from people. Invading other people's countries is the cause of terrorism? "
WTF? Invading other peoples countries may not be the priciple cause of terrorism but it surely doesn't help our cause. My god, do you still think we invaded iraq in the name of freedom?

3)Your Yoda quote is out of context and you have mangled the meaning beautifully. Please watch episodes III to VI again.

4) I agree that freedom and democracy would probably stop terror if installed in the middle east. However america has misidentified the problem.
Cosider the history of the middle east, first britian redistributes the land with little thought to prosperity. Then you have the US going in and installing dictators, supporting both sides and then we invade to remove dictators. Personally if someone did this to my native country I would want to blow up the fuckers.

America is trying to fast forward the middle east to a ideaology that took the western world hundreds of years to develop and wonder why it doesn't catch on. We should just leave them alone, however we don't because we need their oil. That my friend is the only reason why we care about the middle east, our economy will instantly collapse without oil. Freedom... bah what bullshit.

Posted by: Ivan on Jul. 10, 2005

Ivan, i and other bloggers much more articulate than me have been refuting those arguments for almost four years now. At this point, all i can say is i'm glad you guys are not in charge. i believe you are sincere, but thank God you're not in charge.

Posted by: annika on Jul. 10, 2005

Haha but I would be a benovolent dictator.

Isn't this the problem of the current administration, they don't listen to experts at all unless they find some that agree with them. Global Warming, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Renewable Energy and Third World Debt; they know the best. Our respective government stances coincide with the interests of firstly big money and then the majority of voters. Current conservatives consistently ignore the scientific method if it interferes with their quest for wealth and power.

I have never seen an argument that would suggest our economy is not completely dependent on oil. Our action in the middle east follows on from this, it is that simple. Arguments of freedom and democracy are even more tired.

I seriously used to think that the US was out to protect the free world but the more I read about our long history of conquest I realise that we are just on the winning side and are no better (morally) than the Romans or Mongols. We are only looking out for ourselves. Altruistic ideals and justifications are perpetrated soley to keep us believing we are good and true, you want to believe this too.

Posted by: Ivan on Jul. 10, 2005

"England (and Russia) did more for freedom than america ever did, they fought world war two remember,"

World War 2 started in 1939, and we entered the war in 1941 as did the Soviets. Before we entered the war, the Brits were primarily on the defensive. If we never entered the war, the Soviets would have been defeated by a Nazi-Japanese pincer invasion(or a sex sandwich). However, the Japanese never declared war on the USSR because they were more worried about the can of worms they opened with us. Fear of an American invasion also tied up a quarter of the German military on the Western front instead of allowing the Nazis to use them on the Eastern front.

America is just a footnote in the victory over the Axis? Me thinks not.

"Russia did more for freedom than america ever did,"

Bullshit. Did you forget about Stalin before, during, and after the war? Did you forget about the Iron Curtain? Did you forget the American Berlin Airlift during the Soviet blockade?

"Freedom... bah what bullshit."


I share the following conclusions from the above link:

["In their view, invasion of Iraq was not merely, or even primarily, about getting rid of Saddam Hussein. Nor was it really about weapons of mass destruction, though their elimination was an important benefit. Rather, the administration sees the invasion as only the first move in a wider effort to reorder the power structure of the entire Middle East. . . .

In short, the administration is trying to roll the table--to use U.S. military force, or the threat of it, to reform or topple virtually every regime in the region, from foes like Syria to friends like Egypt, on the theory that it is the undemocratic nature of these regimes that ultimately breeds terrorism."

"Unable to overthrow their own authoritarian rulers, the citizenry turns its fury against the foreign power that funds and supports these corrupt regimes to maintain stability and access to oil: the United States."

"Trying to 'manage' this dysfunctional Islamic world, as Clinton attempted and Colin Powell counsels us to do, is as foolish, unproductive, and dangerous as d├ętente was with the Soviets, the hawks believe."

"The hawks' grand plan differs depending on whom you speak to, but the basic outline runs like this: The United States establishes a reasonably democratic, pro-Western government in Iraq--assume it falls somewhere between Turkey and Jordan on the spectrum of democracy and the rule of law. Not perfect, representative democracy, certainly, but a system infinitely preferable to Saddam's. The example of a democratic Iraq will radically change the political dynamics of the Middle East. When Palestinians see average Iraqis beginning to enjoy real freedom and economic opportunity, they'll want the same themselves. With that happy prospect on one hand and implacable United States will on the other, they'll demand that the Palestinian Authority reform politically and negotiate with Israel. That in turn will lead to a real peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians. A democratic Iraq will also hasten the fall of the fundamentalist Shi'a mullahs in Iran, whose citizens are gradually adopting anti-fanatic, pro-Western sympathies. A democratized Iran would create a string of democratic, pro-Western governments (Turkey, Iraq, and Iran) stretching across the historical heartland of Islam. Without a hostile Iraq towering over it, Jordan's pro-Western Hashemite monarchy would likely come into full bloom. Syria would be no more than a pale reminder of the bad old days. (If they made trouble, a U.S. invasion would take care of them, too.) And to the tiny Gulf emirates making hesitant steps toward democratization, the corrupt regimes of Saudi Arabia and Egypt would no longer look like examples of stability and strength in a benighted region, but holdouts against the democratic tide. Once the dust settles, we could decide whether to ignore them as harmless throwbacks to the bad old days or deal with them, too. We'd be in a much stronger position to do so since we'd no longer require their friendship to help us manage ugly regimes in Iraq, Iran, and Syria.

The audacious nature of the neocons' plan makes it easy to criticize but strangely difficult to dismiss outright. Like a character in a bad made-for-TV thriller from the 1970s, you can hear yourself saying, 'That plan's just crazy enough to work.'"]

Posted by: reagan80 on Jul. 11, 2005

"Altruistic ideals and justifications are perpetrated soley to keep us believing we are good and true, you want to believe this too."



With such examples like the ones above, it is easy to believe that the US is altruistic.

Don't forget about Bosnia, Lebanon, Kosovo, South Korea, South Vietnam, and Taiwan. I don't believe any of those places have oil or furthered any other "selfish economic interests".

If China ever invades Taiwan, I'm sure we'd sacrifice our corporate interests on Chinese soil and American lives to defend the Taiwanese from the totalitarians across the straits.

Posted by: reagan80 on Jul. 11, 2005

Like you said America entered the war after pearl harbour in 1941 the war started 2 years before, it is good at least that America was part of an embargo that probably caused the attack. Who knows what would have happened? Russia was using china to protect it's southern borders as well, I am not discounting the importance of the US entry into the war however the chinese had been fighting the japanese since 1937, partially funded by the soviets. The american entry into the war seems forced, the importance of that entry is undeniable.

I am fully aware of how weird it is to say Russia and freedom in the same sentence however they half defeated the nazis, europe would be fucked without the Russians who made a huge human sacrifice.

The point is that England does not need to be preached to by Americans as they have faced the worst possible scenario on their home soil.

Wow that Washington Monthly piece has so many unsubstatiated hopes in it that I don't know where to start. Don't you remember how the iraqi's themselves were going to remove saddam after the gulf war. Is democracy some kind of magic? Is it worth killing people for democracy, especially when there is absolutely no guarantee that it is going to work? The audacity of the plan is not proportional to the likelyhood of it working.

"The United States establishes a reasonably democratic, pro-Western government in Iraq"

Perhaps the plan is fucked right here but we can continue on.

"When Palestinians see average Iraqis beginning to enjoy real freedom and economic opportunity, they'll want the same themselves."

It sounds beautiful. I hate the PLA too, but I don't see why Iraq is going to make the difference. The problem is foobared leadership in palestine not the lack of democracy in iraq, there are better ways to approach this problem. This whole plan hinges on people looking over at iraq and deciding it is worth getting slaughtered by government troops in order to get a bit of democracy.

"Jordan's pro-Western Hashemite monarchy would likely come into full bloom."
oh so now monarchies are ok as long as they are pro-western. I think you have found the whole point of this plan, not middle east prosperity but pro-western goverments.

"Syria would be no more than a pale reminder of the bad old days. (If they made trouble, a U.S. invasion would take care of them, too.)"
Yep once again if they make pro-western troubles, we'll invade the bastards.

The really interesting part is that newly established governments are going to be pro-Western, this would only happen if we managed to install a puppet government, a truely democratic government would not be pro western and certainly not pro US. Man it's such bullshit to say we planned this chaos we're doing it for the good of the region, it's not for the good of the region, the article text doesn't even pretend that, it's for the good of the US. It's also such bullshit to say that neocon policies were a driving factor in the collapse of the soviet union, it happened to turn out nicely becuse the soviet union screwed themselves.

How about this for a plan, we didn't invade iraq, we actually provide support to the non-extremist politicians in Iran rather than declaring them the axis of evil. We don't fight any wars and reduce our dependence on oil. The amount of money spent on Iraq could be spent within america. The problem with this plan? America would lose their influence in the middle east and the massive miltitary and military industries would go unused, we can't let that happen. America must maintain our position as the only world superpower and most of all America must work alone.

Bosnia, Lebanon, Kosovo - sorry I don't know enough about these conflicts or the US governments in power when they happened.

South Korea and South Vietnam - Cold War, certainly not altruistic, maybe good maybe bad.

Taiwan - Taiwan is of strategic importance against the commie bastards, it is most certainly not altruistic. Corporate interest in china? I think you will find China is making a shitload more money out of America rather than vice versa. American companies in China have been largely unsucessful in the corruption ridden environment.

I think the final paragraph from the article really sums it up better:

"Ending Saddam Hussein's regime and replacing it with something stable and democratic was always going to be a difficult task, even with the most able leadership and the broadest coalition. But doing it as the Bush administration now intends is something like going outside and giving a few good whacks to a hornets' nest because you want to get them out in the open and have it out with them once and for all. Ridding the world of Islamic terrorism by rooting out its ultimate sources-- Muslim fundamentalism and the Arab world's endemic despotism, corruption, and poverty--might work. But the costs will be immense. Whether the danger is sufficient and the costs worth incurring would make for an interesting public debate. The problem is that once it's just us and the hornets, we really won't have any choice."

Choice quotes-- "it might work"
and -- "the costs will be immense"

I guess the debate is the one we are having now.

Fuck it's crazy I tell you, but I love this blog and ones like it for the chance to talk to the crazies that believe it, thanks for the reply.

Posted by: Ivan on Jul. 12, 2005