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Jan. 14th, 2010 | 09:51 pm

Armed Forces Minister Bill Rammell - "you just can't get the right public these days".
"Bill Rammell warned that in an age of mounting public cynicism and rolling 24-hour news, British governments faced increasing resistance to any use of military power.

"We, sadly, face a series of threats, the nature of which will require the projection of power beyond our borders to protect our national security," he said. "My great fear is that we as a nation will become so risk-averse, cynical and introverted that we will find ourselves in inglorious and impotent isolation by default."
There's a lot more specific stuff there but basically the issue is: he assumes that the basic decisions made regarding which places to invade, which people to kill and so on can only be made or affected by the state. The only input "the public" (i.e. anyone not part of the establishment) should have - can reasonably have, in this worldview - is on the details, because they just don't and can't understand.

If members of the public disagree with the state on basic motivations for military action they are automatically wrong, because they don't know enough and aren't experienced enough. If they did and were, they'd agree with the state, wouldn't they?

The problem according to Mr Rammell - and it's not just him, of course, and it's not new at all - is that people aren't taking everything for granted like they should, and they think that just because they've got access to information and they've been deliberately and constantly misled in the past, that means it's reasonable for them to mistrust the state's motivations and make their own judgements. "Risk-averse" means "not wanting to see people killed for no good reason". "Cynical" means "being reluctant to trust people who've lied to your face repeatedly over the last X years", and "introverted" means "thinking maybe we shouldn't be invading other countries for the benefit of a tiny class of bastards".

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