The war of invasion in Afghanistan is being sustained on two things: the imbecilic argument that it is preventing terrorism in the UK, and on a feast of cod patriotism. Real deaths on the battlefield are not noble; they involve the smells of blood, sweat, shit and piss, and a lot of fear and tears. But this nation cultivated its Spartan myth for generations, and we mentally convert each terrible waste of young life into a tableau of the death of Nelson.
Or this, one of the most popular paintings of the Victorian era; the Last Stand at Gandamak, showing the sad end of the first British army to foolishly invade Afghanistan.
The ritual of Gordon Brown reading out the names of the latest British soldiers to die, is a key part of the patriotic hokum that sustains this dreadful war. But after MPs came back from their incredibly long holiday, it backfired spectacularly on Brown today as he read the names of the 37 young men who died in the hills of Afghanistan while the MPs spent months swigging Pinot Grigio in the hills of Tuscany.
So now we are sending an extra 500 men. That will finally kill off the fierce historic resistance of the Afghans to foreign occupation, then. How many more body bags are we sending?