The USS Boise is an unusual visitor to Portsmouth Naval Base at the moment.
A US Navy Los Angeles Class Nuclear Attack Submarine, USS Boise has a displacement of 6,000 tons, and a crew of 129 men. She can fire Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles, Harpoon anti-ship missiles and conventional torpedoes. She was commissioned in 1992, and saw action in the second Gulf War in 2003.She is normally based in Norfolk, Virginia.
The security around US vessels is always tight when they visit foreign ports, and especially so with nuclear submarines. There is a 100 metre exclusion zone around the vessel, maintained by MOD police boats. When the boat I was on passed the Boise the US sailors on the deck tracked us through their binoculars!
The story surrounding today’s ‘Nothing British’ campaign rumbles on. Aside from General Sir Mike Jackson being called a ‘Tory lapdog’ – if anything, he’s a Labour lapdog – its been a very interesting day for ill-informed use of History.
Stung by the well reasoned criticism of so many respected and well regarded generals and veterans, the BNP leader decides to compare them to ‘Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg’. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were illegal, they argue. Wrong? possibly. Badly managed and poorly justified? definitely. But illegal? In this historians opinion, no. They’re showing a very selective view of History indeed.
Doing some reading, it turns out that the well known leader of the BNP has in the past called the RAF’s Bomber Command ‘war criminals’ for bombing Germany. Yet it would not surprise me in the slightest if they decided to use a Lancaster Bomber in their publicity if it suited them, such is their hypocrisy.
It has also come to my attention that the Spitfire that the BNP have used in the promotional material was in fact flown by a Squadron of Polish Pilots. Top marks for research on that one! In the past the BNP have been outspoken about Polish immigration, but probably dont want to admit that thousands of Poles fought alongside us in the war. In the past they have been outspoken about ethnic minorities, but jumped on the pro-Gurkha bandwagon when they realised they could capitalise on the issue.
You wouldnt expect anything different from a party whose leader has argued that the scale of the Holocaust has been blown out of all proportion, and that only ‘hundreds or thousands’ of Jews were murdered, and shot, not gassed. This flies in the face of all researched, balanced historical thought. The evidence is all there to see, former perpetrators have admitted to their roles, and what other explanation is there for the near-complete disappearance of Jewish communities all over Europe between 1939 and 1945?
We ignore History at our peril. When there are big social and economic problems, and people are apathetic, extremists will say and do anything to take advantage. History gives us a clue – its happened before, and we don’t want to go down that road again. Anyone with any sense can see right through them.