A minute to reflect
This weekend we will pause to reflect on those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in defence of our great nation. The image often conjured to help us focus our minds is of a lone tommy, head bowed as he leans heavily on his Lee Enfield rifle. We consider the men–and women who made those sacrifices, losing life or limb so we may live our lives in peace. But as we pause, silent for the obligatory minute, let us consider these two questions:
Is our ‘great’ nation truly one to be proud of? And do we really live in peace?
A word of warning: you may prefer to use today to simply salute the many lone tommies and reflect on their dedication. If this is so, and if you’d rather not cloud the picture with thoughts of why we as a nation continue to expect them to pay the high price to support our government’s military agendas, quit now. You may not like what follows.
Clues to the two questions posed above, the answers to which become ever urgent with each passing day, may be obtained if we use the minute’s silence to examine our nation’s wars in a twenty-first century context. For example, when was the last time our troops lost their lives in defence of Britain and its values? Much is made of our defence budget, and its importance in protecting our shores, but the term is a misnomer–a fallacy.
Since 2001 our forces have been used in a series of illegal, offensive wars of conquest and regime change with the sole aim of furthering Anglo-American geo-political ambitions across the Middle East. These aims were amply demonstrated in the American neo-conservative document–Project for the New American Century–produced in 2000. The group’s overarching aim was to:
‘… shape a new century favourable to American principles and interests.’ [Together with challenging] ‘… regimes hostile to U.S. interest and values.’
These ‘hostile regimes’ were clearly reflected in a 2007 statement made by US General Wesley Clark:
Among the PNAC document’s unambiguous declarations were:
To preserve [global Pax Americana] — ‘American peace’ through the 21st century, the PNAC report concludes that the global order ‘must have a secure foundation on unquestioned U.S. military preeminence.’
It also stated:
The process of transformation is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event — like a new Pearl Harbor.
This ‘catastrophic and catalyzing’ event occurred only a year after the document’s publication — on September 11th, 2001. This was the green light America and her allies needed to enact their pre-emptive wars on nations that posed no threat to the West–wars that were therefore illegal.
It may interest you to know that one of the key authors of this document–Philip Zelikow–is also the man who gave us the official account of 9/11, the ultimate in bizarre conspiracy theories that is an affront to every human being with a modicum of intelligence.
But what of the consequences of the ensuing pre-emptive actions, and where do they fit in the context of our own Remembrance Sunday?
Pawns lost to the game
Between 2001 and 2015, 456 British military personnel lost their lives in Afghanistan. A further 179 died between 2003 and 2009 in Iraq.
This is a tragedy outweighed many times over by the 200,000+ innocent civilians who were victims of our nations’ actions. Innocent civilians who died in your name; my name. Civilians whose only crime was to live in an area of strategic importance to the West and its energy needs.
What of the tens of thousands of men, women and children who continue to suffer from our military’s illegal use of depleted uranium warheads? The many babies who continue to be born with horrific, painful deformities. And what of the crippling distress that has resulted from the West’s inhumane sanctions and the consequential devastating regional instability? If you have compassion you’ll spare a thought for these people, too.
So, on November 11 we consider the sacrifices made by our military personnel. But sacrifices are not restricted to life, limb and time lost with loved ones. Peace of mind is forfeit, too.
Why, since 2001, have more servicemen died as a result of suicide than the number lost in battle? Whilst many will no doubt have been traumatised by the loss of comrades on the front lines, how many have been sickened by the nature of their undertaking–to fight an illegal war against innocents in order to satisfy the greed of multi-billion dollar corporations? Corporations who’re the real drivers behind our so-called democracies and who prowl the battlefield’s edges, waiting to capitalise on the resulting destruction.
In sending our forces onto the field under such circumstances, we not only demand their loyalty and discipline, we ask them to put aside their compassion–their moral compass; to ignore the insistent voice of conscience in support of their corrupt, duplicitous governments.
Consider this: neither the US nor the UK imposes conscription to fill the ranks of their military. All combatants are willing volunteers.
With that thought in mind, allow me to close with lines from ‘Universal Soldier‘ by Buffy Sainte-Marie, a Canadian singer/songwriter of Native-American parentage.
No doubt her heritage gave her a unique perspective to write so eloquently of the futility of war and the suffering caused by military action.
He’s five feet two and he’s six feet four
He fights with missiles and with spears
He’s all of 31 and he’s only 17
He’s been a soldier for a thousand years
He’s a Catholic, a Hindu, an athiest, a Jain,
a Buddhist and a Baptist and a Jew
and he knows he shouldn’t kill
and he knows he always will
kill you for me my friend and me for you
And he’s fighting for Canada,
he’s fighting for France,
he’s fighting for the USA,
and he’s fighting for the Russians
and he’s fighting for Japan,
and he thinks we’ll put an end to war this way
And he’s fighting for Democracy
and fighting for the Reds
He says it’s for the peace of all
He’s the one who must decide
who’s to live and who’s to die
and he never sees the writing on the walls
But without him how would Hitler have
condemned him at Dachau
Without him Caesar would have stood alone
He’s the one who gives his body
as a weapon to a war
and without him all this killing can’t go on
He’s the universal soldier and he
really is to blame
His orders come from far away no more
They come from him, and you, and me
and brothers can’t you see
this is not the way we put an end to war