Death by Friendly Fire: An Anti-American Meme

“Friendly fire is as American as Ronald McDonald’s apple pie, Mom’s diet coke and a Starbucks muffin.”

The Mirror, 27/5/02

Last week I caught a joke about American “friendly fire.” It was along the lines of this quip — “British soldiers in Iraq were being shot at on a daily basis…although obviously it’ll get much safer when the Americans leave” — but transplanted to Afghanistan.

This is a common source of gallows humour around here and reflects a genuine problem. The Times has cataloged recent American FF deaths until 2007. The first is one I remember vividly at the time: the nine British soldiers killed by the US in 1991 during the Gulf War. In a conflict in which little death was inflicted on the British by the enemy, this friendly fire incident was big news.

Cockpit film in 2003 of American A-10’s firing on British vehicles in Iraq sparked predictable outrage, but as far as I can tell, the basic question is not being asked:

Are the Americans more incompetent than most and should her allies wave white flags when Uncle Sam revs his engines? Or is it an inevitable and unfortunate side effect of being the biggest kid in class? Regarding the latter, this guy thinks that the Brits invented friendly fire back when we had the biggest guns.



  1. Sorry. That last comment was a bit sharp. I vote for “an unfortunate side effect of being the biggest kid in class”.


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