Monday, 25 April 2011

SAS recruitment 'crisis' and BBC militarism

The BBC is reporting a deepening 'crisis' in SAS recruitment.

Various Ministry of Defence and political figures have been quoted by the BBC, offering explanations for the fall in applicant numbers, including the possibility that the SAS doesn't carry the same appeal of 'exclusivity' and 'danger' anymore:
"[Brigadier Richard] Dennis said the SAS was also losing its unique status among the services because "interesting operations are no longer seen as the preserve of special forces".  In the letter to the head of the Army, Gen Sir Peter Wall, he said he had deep concerns over the "challenge of fully manning the SAS" and urgent action was needed to improve the "depth and quality" of potential recruits."
 The article also offers this anti-war comment and counterview:
"Perhaps the decline in SAS recruitment is a good thing, indicating a receding inclination, even amongst the more 'daring' applicants, to join in useless, destructive wars. 

"Hopefully, potential recruits are coming to realise that the 'allure' and 'excitement' of such operations usually involves illegal and covert interventions in lands where Britain and its allies, under the guise of 'humanitarian assistance', are seeking to appropriate  natural resources and secure corporate interests.

"But even if the fall in SAS recruitment can be linked to more prudent factors such as increased fear of being killed or disillusion over the unit's 'elite' status, why is such reticence towards militarist activity portrayed by politicians and the media as a matter of 'national concern'? 

"Isn't the 'crisis' in military recruitment, more generally, a moderately encouraging sign that people are thinking twice about going off to kill foreign civilians in the service of western realpolitik and big business - however 'intoxicating' the experience?"
Of course, the article doesn't actually include these lines, because, despite its proclamations of 'balance', the BBC is only concerned with presenting one side, the militarist view.

As with current 'anxieties' over the availability of parts for Britain's Typhoon bomber planes, it's the same culture of militarism that pervades BBC news. 

Thus, MoD officials, parliamentary committees and BBC journalists speak in bland technicalities about the Typhoon's 'delivery deficits', expressing their collective worries over whether we can keep the bombs raining down on Libya:
"The committee said that the MoD relied on a "small group of key industrial suppliers who have the technical and design capability to build, upgrade and support" the jets.
"Problems with the availability of spare parts have meant that Typhoons are not flying as many hours as the department requires," it added.  "The Typhoon supply chain is complex and stretches across Europe. However, the department admitted that it had not been managed well enough or delivered all the required parts when needed."
 No mention of the appalling suffering of others at the receiving end of this 'awesome' technology.    

As with SAS recruitment, what's readily perceived as a 'problem' - failure to deliver the means of killing and violence - could, more reasonably, be regarded as positive, life-saving developments.  Fewer killers, fewer killed.  Less bombs, less bombed. 

Yet, pacifist perspectives or anti-war comment to that effect have no serious place in such output.  It's part of the special treatment reserved for 'our' armed forces and the wars they're engaged in.  The arms industry, the economy of death, is treated with due deference.  Like BBC coverage of the royals, militarism is 'just there', a 'benign' 'fact of life', something we should identify with as an unstated and assumed part of the 'national interest'.

Nor are we likely to see any BBC journalists deviate from the standard script.  It's all about keeping to the establishment consensus.  Say nothing that questions the integrity of 'our' wars and military culture - who dares, sins.

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