Army Chief Complains: Britons Losing ‘Instinct’ for Aggressive War

When the public starts demanding reasonable justifications for aggressive wars, those wars have a funny way of not happening.

That’s a big problem, according to British military chief Gen. Nicholas Houghton, who complained at length in a speech about the British public’s loss of appetite for aggressive warfare, saying Britons’ instinct for military interventionism is the one thing that keeps them “in a class-apart.”

“As a nation we have become a touch skeptical about the ability to use force in a beneficial way,” Houghton said, adding that he was envious of the French government’s recent belligerence in Africa.

France invaded Mali in January, declaring their intention to maintain a “permanent” military force in the nation, but as the war stagnated France ditched that conflict last month, insisting the remaining problems in the country are up to Malians to figure out. Still, that didn’t make them gun-shy about invading Central African Republic earlier this month.

Probing the lies that brought them into the calamitous Iraq war and hoping that after 12+ years they’ll soon finally get out of Afghanistan, Britain’s wars have been much longer and more costly than the recent French interventionism, and not everyone is as eager as Gen. Houghton to keep rolling the dice on the off-chance one of their future wars turns out better.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of