“We go to liberate, not to conquer” Col Tim Collins #bbctbq

My Sunday morning routine, as far as I have one, usually involves waking earlier than I would like (why does that happen, I rarely wake early during the week when I should), grabbing a cup of tea as I check twitter, and settling down on the sofa for a morning of Marr and #bbctbq. I’ve blogged about one of the discussions on The Big Questions before – there is something about the format of the programme that I love – probably how extreme some of the views are, which means I can sit on my sofa tutting to myself and enjoy some light relief really. The only thing I’d change is the hashtag – it just doesn’t work easily for me, too close to Question Time but there we are.

Anyhow, what has that got to do with the title of this blog post? Well today when scanning the TV guide I noticed that Colonel Tim Collins is on #bbctbq – I’m looking forward to watching Tim’s contribution. For those of you who missed it, Tim Collins addressed his men from the Royal Irish before they entered Iraq, just over eight years ago. You can watch Kenneth Branagh’s recreation of this speech on youtube here

I don’t want to discuss the politics of the war in Iraq, whether we should or shouldn’t have been there. I have one or two friends whose lives have been changed beyond all recognition as a  result of their time in theatre in Iraq, they were doing their jobs, to the best of their ability. What I like about Tim Collin’s speech is that it was not scripted in advance, it was not filmed or reported as so many addresses seem to be these days, it was his words for his troops.

You can read the full transcript here, for now a snippet:

If you harm the regiment or its history by over-enthusiasm in killing or in cowardice, know it is your family who will suffer. You will be shunned unless your conduct is of the highest — for your deeds will follow you down through history. We will bring shame on neither our uniform or our nation.

I suspect that a man who can speak with such intelligence, passion and consideration for others will bring something to #bbctbq – here’s hoping anyway.

2 thoughts on ““We go to liberate, not to conquer” Col Tim Collins #bbctbq

  1. The statements of his which stood out for me in BBC Big Questions this Sunday, was his uncritical defense of Saudi Arabia. He said in relation to selling the royal family advanced weaponry, that “they see themselves as a bulwark against Shia Islam.”

    To put it bluntly Saudi Arabia is a disease on the Arab nation. It has only existed since 1936, and would have disappeared long ago (along with the Gulf States) without US and British support. The royal family have largely wasted the revenue from oil, which could have been the development capital of the Arab world. The Wahhabi religious establishment that have a mutual support mechanism with the monarchy are corrupting Islam, by promoting Sunni fundamentalism and encouraging conflict with Shia Islam, so producing more fundamentalist ideologies on both sides.

    The fact that Saudi exists is a tragic symptom of the colonization in the region. I have no idea if Tim Collins knows this. If he does not then he should. He just came across as an ignorant solider, or possibly someone looking for a well paid retirement job as many top people in the British defense setup do.

  2. Re Tim Collins, I agree that he is of course impressive and I enjoyed being on BBC TBQ the day he was. It is perhaps worth noting that Doug Beattie (who was TC’s RSM or some such at the time) writes in his first brilliant book on soldiering that the Big Speech went down rather badly with the troops for whom it was intended. Indeed, DB writes that he personally had to make some speeches of his own to counteract the depressive pre-battle effect of the TC speech. In other words, this lovely speech which appealed to civilians so much may not have been a military success. (However, one must never discount the strong personal take of strong military figures such as DB.)

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