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In Britain – as seems currently to be the case elsewhere, the great majority of people understand what lies behind government policy over the COVID-19 issue and are, on the whole, obeying the instructions, requirements and requests that are proving immensely disruptive to daily life, the economy and society as a whole. Whether that will remain the case in several months – if the worst current prognostications come to pass – remains to be seen. To be honest, it seems doubtful.

However – some sections of society will not only continue to believe their glasses are half-empty – they will whine and moan that somebody else (normally the government, but more or less anybody will do) is to blame – and that anything said by that same somebody else is to be automatically disbelieved. And they will shout that from the rooftops to anybody listening – or, indeed, not listening.

We live at a time when the leader of the free world, among others, has popularised the concept of so-called ‘fake news,’ making it seemingly legitimate to characterise as false anything that does not fit neatly with the commentator’s view of the world. Rational, reasonable people tend to eschew such self-centred views and depend on information, observation and analysis before forming an actionable opinion.

Not so chez Conspiracy Theory Central. Confronted with images of British troops converting London’s ExCeL exhibition centre (venue to both IT2EC and DSEi this year) into a 4,000-bed overflow hospital, a number of short-sighted, ill-informed and clearly woefully insecure individuals have excitedly trumpeted across social media the ‘fact’ that the British government is clearly guilty of lying, since the troops are self-evidently Chinese.

Somewhat more than paranoid self-delusion, regrettably. The troops in question are Gurkhas, who have proudly served in the British Army since the end of the Indian Mutiny in 1858, as well as in the armed forces of Singapore, Brunei, India and their home nation of Nepal. Any question as to their ethnicity is normally – and legitimately – met with dismay, disgust and anger. Anyone doubting their individual prowess – and thus, perhaps, their ability to compensate for further slurs – should reflect on the fact that, in days gone by, a young Gurkha’s passage to manhood was marked by using the traditional curved kukri to behead a bullock with a single blow.

What does this have to do with Military Technology? Two things. First, to borrow from British 18th century statesman and writer Edmund Burke, “All that is necessary for stupidity to triumph is that good men do nothing.” It would be political correctness verging on culpable apathy to allow such rank idiocy to go unchallenged. Hence this attempt to ‘spread the word.’

Second, the issue highlights exactly why we at Mönch have embarked on a coherent long-term plan to develop more relevant, reader-friendly content, focusing more on the observation, analysis and commentary that was the hallmark of the magazine from its origins. Exposing myths for what they are is an integral part of that development – for in an uncertain world, knowing is half the battle.

Tim Mahon, in dismay, for MON

Gurkha troops busy converting the ExCeL exhibition centre into the Nightingale 4,000-bed temporary hospital. (Photo: 10 Downing Street/Andrew Parsons)

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