It may well be true that some equipment given to British soldiers fighting in Afghanistan is inadequate. It almost certainly is the case that the government has willed ends without willing means, and it deserves to be criticised for that. But it is a mistake to encourage bereaved parents to think that their sons’ deaths were essentially avoidable. All wars are difficult. No army is perfectly provided for. The fundamental reason that soldiers die in wars is because wars are dangerous. Soldiers know this when they join up, and though they complain (grumbling being the sacred right of the soldier throughout history), they accept it. Their poor parents would gain much greater psychological strength, as many do, by being proud of their children’s courage and service, rather than getting furious with our government. I feel that the press, by stirring up these grievances, is advancing our wretched blame and compensation culture under the guise of patriotism, and making the main aim of the Taleban — breaking our will — much easier.
In his Dimbleby Lecture last week, the Prince of Wales reminded his audience that, in Brazil in March, he had said that ‘we had 100 months left to take the necessary steps to avert irretrievable climate and ecosystem collapse’; so now, he pointed out, we have only 96 months left. By early July 2017, therefore, irretrievable climate and ecosystem collapse will be certain. If Prince Charles is right, his claim in the same lecture that, by 2050, there will be nine billion people on the planet, mostly consuming at western levels, must surely be wrong. How could nine billion people survive and flourish 33 years after the beginning of ‘irretrievable climate and ecosystem collapse’? So does he really believe what he says? Since his remedies — ‘a much more integrated way of thinking’, the use of Nature’s processes as ‘the basis of a new form of economics’ — are so vague and require such vast changes in the government of the entire world, he must know that the ‘necessary steps’ will not have been taken by 2017.