Comment would be superfluous

by Chris Bertram on July 12, 2005

From the (not at all anti-American) Daily Telegraph :

All 12,000 American airmen based in Britain have been banned from going near London because of the bombings.
The directive, issued on Friday, indefinitely bans USAF personnel, most of them based at the huge airfields at Lakenheath and Mildenhall in Suffolk, from going inside the M25.
Families of the servicemen and women are being “highly encouraged” to stay away, too.
While Ken Livingstone, the mayor of London, was boarding an Underground train yesterday and declaring that “we don’t let a small group of terrorists change the way we live”, a USAF spokesman said the ban was “a prudent measure”. Its aim was to ensure “the security and safety of our airmen, civilians, their families and our resources”.
Westminster city council accused the Americans of playing into the terrorists’ hands.

UPDATE: The ban has now been lifted .

{ 25 comments }

1

ogmb 07.12.05 at 12:51 am

Hmm, “These colors don’t run”? They prefer to seek shelter.

2

Abby 07.12.05 at 1:41 am

I heard this on Radio 4’s Today Programme. I was so embarassed. I don’t think the British are particularly stoic. It’s just that we Americans are such wimpy hysterics.

3

bi 07.12.05 at 2:14 am

… … … … … … … …

This piece of news is so weird that I don’t even know how to comment on it.

4

chris 07.12.05 at 3:29 am

Note that the Aussies had their highest profile sports team playing in a crowded stadium within 48 hours. The idea of bottling it not even raised. Meanwhile this shower aren’t even going shopping. Sad.

5

Jonathan 07.12.05 at 3:40 am

I don’t blame the Americans anymore. If you have a nation which switched between dark-orange and yellow alert for the last 5 years, you probably feel insecure and threatened most of the time.

6

reuben 07.12.05 at 4:04 am

I heard an American military spokewoman on Radio Five Live this morning. Basically, her strategy was to get perkier, and Perkier, and PERKIER each time she was asked why the American military was choosing to send this message. I’m pretty sure she didn’t actually say anything, though.

7

bad Jim 07.12.05 at 4:09 am

London is full of men in 3-button suits and pink ties. The women who staff the cafés are, as often as not, French. The city presents difficulties for tender American sensibilities.

8

abb1 07.12.05 at 4:25 am

Well, IIRC, in Slaughterhouse Five the British fellas had to build themselves a separate latrine, so maybe it ain’t bad after all.

9

Teddy 07.12.05 at 4:54 am

I have a question in response to Chris’s (not at all pro-American) post. If the U.S. authorities concluded that, under the current circumstances in London, the American personnel would be exposed to significantly higher risk if allowed to visit the city, would it be OK if they said “Guys, go to pubs and have fun, show them that we are not afraid”? And if some people get killed consequently, would this “defiance” be later regarded as laudable or rather as stupid and irresponsible? Morevoer, haven’t the British authorities often given similar warnings to their staff and their families during increeased terrorist alerts in Indonesia, Pakistan, Turkey, etc?

10

bi 07.12.05 at 5:14 am

Teddy: now _you’re_ asking me. It’s the US and British authorities who are sending out all these conflicting messages. Send your questions to them instead.

11

Harry 07.12.05 at 6:38 am

As no-one else has pointed this out – the restriction on travelling to London, imposed on the day of the attack, has been lifted.

12

engels 07.12.05 at 6:50 am

As the title says, nothing to add: you can’t make this kind of thing up.

13

P ONeill 07.12.05 at 8:42 am

the restriction on travelling to London, imposed on the day of the attack, has been lifted

No doubt out of embarrassment. Remember, the Commander-in-Chief of these service personnel briefly banned from inside the M25 is still saying “we’re fighting them abroad so that we don’t have fight them at home.” This strategy wasn’t supposed to convert inside the M25 into a danger zone.

14

A-ro 07.12.05 at 9:02 am

Perhaps the purpose of the ban was to protect American service members from attacks by British citizens. If there are Londoners dumb enough to smash up mosques in response to the 7/7 attacks, why not American soldiers? Viewed this way, the ban isn’t so much a case of “we’re scared of the scary terrorists” as it is “let’s not put ourselves in a situation where whe have to kick British civillian asses.”

The preceding message is provided completely free of evidence.

15

engels 07.12.05 at 9:15 am

Shorter Teddy: I can see nothing pitiful or ridiculous about US Commanders being unwilling to subject their professional soldiers to the same burden of risk that is currently being born by 7 million odd inhabitants of one of the world’s capitals. Anywhere outside of the State of Mississippi is a dangerous battlefield, to be compared with militarised areas of Indonesia, Pakistan or Turkey.

16

engels 07.12.05 at 9:17 am

The preceding message is provided completely free of evidence.

As is yours, “a-ro”, which is also stupid, quasi-racist and offensive.

17

Matt McGrattan 07.12.05 at 9:36 am

A-ro:

“Viewed this way, the ban isn’t so much a case of “we’re scared of the scary terrorists” as it is “let’s not put ourselves in a situation where whe have to kick British civillian asses.””

I’m almost afraid to dignify this with a response. I’m stunned you choose to interpret the ban as:
a) a rational response to the possibility of irrational stupidity on the part of the British public, b) a sign of incredible altruism on the part of the US military and c) further compounded it by adding some absurdly boastful macho assumptions about the abilities of the US service personnel and their families to i) actually kick British civilian ass and ii) be allowed to do so by law enforcement.

Leaving aside the remote possibility of either i) or ii), you’ve managed to push so many offensive buttons _and_ exhibit an irrational, almost to the point of insanity, tendency to aggrandize your own country. In one comment that’s almost a record.

18

Matt McGrattan 07.12.05 at 9:37 am

A-ro:

“Viewed this way, the ban isn’t so much a case of “we’re scared of the scary terrorists” as it is “let’s not put ourselves in a situation where whe have to kick British civillian asses.””

I’m almost afraid to dignify this with a response. I’m stunned you choose to interpret the ban as:
a) a rational response to the possibility of irrational stupidity on the part of the British public, b) a sign of incredible altruism on the part of the US military and c) further compounded it by adding some absurdly boastful macho assumptions about the abilities of the US service personnel and their families to i) actually kick British civilian ass and ii) be allowed to do so by law enforcement.

Leaving aside the remote possibility of either i) or ii), you’ve managed to push so many offensive buttons and exhibit an irrational, almost to the point of insanity, tendency to aggrandize your own country. In one comment that’s almost a record.

19

Matt McGrattan 07.12.05 at 9:37 am

sorry for the double post!

20

Harry 07.12.05 at 9:48 am

The questions is this: why did they allow the porhibition to be known? Surely, all it did was call attention to the concentration of US military personnel in East Anglia, thus endangering them more, and East Anglians with them. Or was it all a cunning plan? Perhaps they suspect that, like most English people, terrorists can’t figure out how to get to Mildenhall, or, if they can, will get stuck on the M25 anyway.

21

engels 07.12.05 at 10:00 am

This short statement in particular

let’s not put ourselves in a situation where whe have to kick British civillian asses (“a-ro”)

has to win some kind of prize for being one of the most breathtakingly idiotic and offensive things I have seen from any of the trolls on this blog in the few days since a large scale terrorist attack on the United States’ foremost ally in the “War on Terror”.

22

A-ro 07.12.05 at 10:36 am

engels and McGrattan,

Please calm down. Let me try to address your objections:

1)I did not assume “of irrational stupidity on the part of the British public.” Rather, I assume that there exist in London, as in any society, a handful of yahoos who would succumb to the passions surrounding the 7/7 attacks and attack US service members for starting the Iraq war, or whatever reason might motivate them. What evidence do I have that such yahoos may exist? As I alluded to in my post, there are some people stupid enough to vandalise mosques in response to the attacks. These same people could exhibit the “irrational stupidity” I’m talking about.

2)I did not assume that staying out of fights was “a sign of incredible altruism on the part of the US military.” Rather, I think that staying out of likely fights is a pragmatic way of behaving in a host country.

3)I do not assume that U.S. service members could kick the asses of any civilian stupid enough to start a fight over the 7/7 attacks out of some “absurdly boastful macho assumptions about the abilities of the US service personnel” or out of “quasi-racist” feelings. Rather, I was assuming that the average person with military training is probably a better fighter than the average civilian. I admit this is not true in cases where the civilians outnumber the servicemembers, such as when U.S. service members have started fights in Japanese bars and gotten beat down by the men in the bar. In any case, I would make the same assumption about British soldiers fighting with American civilans: my money would be on the soldiers. Is this assumption of mine “brethtakingly idiotic and offensive?” I don’t see why it should be.

4)I would like to clarify that when I wrote “The preceding message is provided completely free of evidence,” I was referring to my own post, by way of acknowledging that I was engaging in unsupported speculation. I won’t go so far as to say that engels’ response, calling me “stupid, quasi-racist and offensive” is “brethtakingly idiotic,” but I would point out that he or she seems to have misunderstood me. Next time I’ll say “this post is provided…” to avoid confusion.

23

Matt McGrattan 07.12.05 at 11:13 am

A-ro:

The tone of your original comment was exactly ‘boastful macho assumptions’.

If it hadn’t been you wouldn’t have written ‘kick British civilian asses’ you’d have written something like ’cause unnecessary conflict at a time of stress’ or something equally neutral.

You can provide all the rationalization you like after the fact but you came across like an arse.

24

engels 07.12.05 at 11:53 am

“a-ro” Yesterday I walked home past a still deserted area of London where 50 British civilians were killed just five days ago. I think you might have an idea why I still characterise your original comment, and in particular the suggestion:

let’s not put ourselves in a situation where whe have to kick British civillian asses

as quite unbelievably idiotic and offensive, not to mention juvenile and naive, despite your lengthy after the fact blathering.

25

A-ro 07.12.05 at 12:11 pm

Matt McGratten,

your point is well taken. (honest). I regret the misunderstanding.

[The following sentence is snarky and probably counterproductive (alas, I can’t help myself), and should not detract from the sincerity of the previous sentence.]

The next time I get caught up in the moment and use overblown language (which I admit I did!) I’ll make sure it is toward something acceptable, like implying that American soldiers are constitutionally wimpy compared to the average British citizen (like, for example, posts 1, 2, and 5 of this thread), when they should instead be described as, at worst, unnecessarily cautious.

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