[FOUNTAIN]Ideology and coalitions

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[FOUNTAIN]Ideology and coalitions

In all countries, there is some traditional virtue linked to the people. In the case of Britain, one tends to think of their dry sense of humor and calmness that does not falter under any circumstances. There was an episode during World War II in 1942, which involved Winston Churchill and Bernard Law Montgomery.

At the time, the Eighth British Army had been defeated in combat by the German Afrika Corps, which was commanded by the German war hero Field Marshal Erwin von Rommel. The British retreated to Egypt. Facing a near disaster, Churchill called upon Field Marshal Montgomery to lead the Eighth Army. Montgomery looked out the window and said, "The flawless reputation is all history now." Churchill tried to comfort him but Montgomery replied with annoyance, "Not me sir. I am talking about the other guy."

As history records, Churchill brought home the victory and bragged, "Hitler is such a fool! He only thought that he was fighting the British, Americans and Soviets. He did not realize that he was fighting against the whole world."

He was referring to the British Army, which had in its ranks Indians, Kenyans and numerous other nationalities and races. This colonial army had its very own bold and distinctive tactics not evident in European armies, and it spread terror among the Germans. The famous Nepalese Gurkhas - or notorious, depending on which side one fought - were well known for cutting the throats of sentries at night with their curved blades. Germans who were captured alive by the Gurkhas were fearful that their throats would be cut during the night.

Scottish soldiers from the British homeland made a name for their distinctive dress as well as bravery. The Germans called the Scotsmen in their kilts the "ladies from hell."

The British and the Americans are fighting together in Afghanistan; the Americans prefer the umbrella of a coalition even though they are carrying most of the load. But the United States has been put in an awkward position after the discovery of a Taliban fighter who turns out to be a U.S. citizen named John Walker. Supposedly the whole world is on a crusade to punish terrorism, but here is an American in the terrorist ranks. It undercuts the American drive for a coalition.

The most important thing is not to have a justification - if there are any - and a nice looking facade for war, but to have a coalition to stop the madness of war.

The writer is a deputy international news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Chae In-taek

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