Doublethink: “to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them…”
Britain is simultaneously at war in Afghanistan (we’ve now been there longer than the Soviet Union) and in a state of peace. The previous government said so. The new government says so. The media? Yes, they say so too. Doublethink is alive and well in Britain. War is peace.
Recent example: Prime Minister David Cameron proudly told parliament on May 25: “For the first time since the Korean war, the Government has changed hands while our troops are at war.” Eleven minutes later, in the same prepared speech, he berated the previous Labour government: “They promised us prudence, but they left us with the largest UK budget deficit in peacetime history.”
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander went one better last week, contradicting himself in the very next sentence when he told parliament:
We have approved funding for […] crucial equipment for military operations in Afghanistan. The House will be aware, however, that as a country today we have the biggest peacetime budget deficit in our country.
What about the media? Well, we could start with Jon Snow presenting Channel 4 News this week:
Jon Snow on Monday: “So, another grim milestone in this long, long war is reached.”
Jon Snow on Tuesday: “Tonight we’ll have the full details of one of the most draconian budgets outside war.”
I don’t mean to pick on Jon Snow since he’s hardly alone. Everyone’s at it. How does this happen? How have so many people, who have almost certainly read 1984 and probably even quote from it in all seriousness and sincerity, come to believe that war is peace, while also knowing that this cannot be true?
“… to forget, whatever it was necessary to forget, then draw it back into memory again at the moment it was needed, and then promptly forget it again…”
Here are just a few of the vast number of British media contradictions on this theme with only two quotes from each of a variety of newspapers and magazines across the political spectrum:
We are burdened with the biggest deficit in our peacetime history…
The Stop The War Coalition and CND will protest in Parliament Square to highlight the escalating death rate and cost of the war.
Higher taxes, swingeing spending cuts and deep savings in welfare were announced by George Osborne today in a £40bn austerity package, designed to fast-track the elimination of Britain’s record peacetime budget deficit.
Earlier today, the father of the 300th soldier to be killed in Afghanistan said he wanted a personal explanation from the prime minister as to why Britain was fighting the war.
Never before in peacetime has the public sector seen budgets reduced every year for six years.
It’s hard to see how General McChrystal, however important his role at this critical juncture in the Afghan war, can escape similar punishment.
Mr Alexander, who is 38 and MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey, was well known to the Tories, because he was put in charge of building the first peacetime coalition since the 1930s.
Britain’s top commander in Afghanistan today urges the public to “hold its nerve” during a critical year for the war as the British death toll reached the milestone of 300.
The Liberal Democrat leader is weighing up a chance to put his party in peacetime power for the first time in 90 years…
Britain’s envoy to Afghanistan has left his post for a period of ‘extended leave’ just as the war enters its ‘vital’ stage.
Labour BRAGS that yesterday’s pathetic growth figures for the British economy are a “hugely optimistic moment”, not mentioning that on their watch Britain has its biggest peacetime deficit EVER.
Over coming weeks the city will witness one of the biggest military operations of the Afghan war as the US-led forces try to smash the Taliban for good.
Meanwhile, in the real world, we’re all being forced to tighten our belts. It’s about as dire as it can get in peacetime, yet, without any apparent forethought, the Queen’s advisors tell us she can no longer make ends meet.
Now we are told that terrorism in Britain is held back because of our war in Afghanistan. That’s a lie, too.
Millionaire Prime Minister David Cameron has launched one of the worst-ever peacetime assaults on the British people.
The total British cost of the bloody war in Afghanistan and Iraq has passed a massive £20 billion, official figures show.
The next government will be faced with some of the most difficult problems in peacetime history.
Tory support for the Afghan war is based on the assumption that it is stabilising the benighted region, forcing jihadism to become nomadic and improving global security.
The facts of this case are clear: the ex-banker tasked with cutting Britain’s biggest peacetime Budget deficit handed more than £40,000 of taxpayers’ money to his boyfriend…
We know that Afghanistan is unsafe and war-torn, because it is a war that we are fighting.
From the outset Britain’s new coalition government has said that its main task is to tackle the yawning fiscal deficit, which hit a peacetime record of 11.1% of GDP in 2009-10.
To British critics of the war, this is the time to start withdrawing British forces after the loss of 290 men and women, and the maiming of hundreds more, for little obvious gain.