Peace & Goodwill?


This September, those who died in terrorist attacks on U.S. cities were commemorated, ten years on. Although the death toll in Iraq and Afghanistan combined is over 300 times the death toll of 9/11, few words were spared for the victims of those U.S.-led crusades for oil, unleashed under the pretext of fighting terror, with terror. Those who care at all will not care enough to withhold their votes from the politicians responsible and cast them in a more sensible direction. Although about 71% of Britons think the war in Afghanistan is unwinnable, according to a ComRes poll for ITV, most tolerate the lies, the lies about ‘our boys’, devoting themselves to ‘keeping us safe’, that we may ‘sleep at night’. Well, wake up!

In October, the conflict in Afghanistan involving western troops entered its second decade. It has cost the UK taxpayer £18 billion and rising. Deaths among the British armed forces have reached 392, among Afghan civilians over 8,800.

Today, we ought to reflect on how little it has all achieved.

Saddam Hussein was tried and executed, for unrelated crimes, while Osama Bin Laden was not tried at all but executed anyway. In contrast, our own conspirators are still very much at large. Some of those, like David Cameron, who voted for war in 2003 enjoy all the trappings of high office, courtesy of the British electorate. So should we now accept Tony Blair’s advice, to ‘draw a line and move on’? It’s true that such issues may seem a long way removed from devolution but they do demonstrate the pressing need for change in our constitutional arrangements. If ‘our leaders’ can be excused justice for reasons of state then there is NO justice, no equality under the law. And the longer they’re allowed to get away with it, the more they’ll feel capable of doing the same again.

Meanwhile, 3% of Wessex continues to be occupied as training grounds by those preparing for the next pre-emptive strike to keep the peace. A less cynical, less Orwellian world used to call them wars.

Almost nightly, our screens are filled with the uniformed portraits of the latest casualties in Afghanistan. Newsreaders don’t normally tell us the names of everyone who has died in a preventable accident at work. Or in collisions on our overcrowded roads. Is it because morale is so low that those ‘heroes’ foolish enough to take the Queen’s shilling are paraded before us? So that, surely, we ought to nod helplessly and approve of them wasting their lives in a pointless cause? British soldiers are NOT ‘heroes’. For two reasons. One is that heroes save lives, not take them. The other is that there is nothing heroic about this shabby little war.

What most appals those who lived through the Second World War is that rampant militarism now goes unchallenged. The priority of disarmament has given way to the priority of ‘intervention’, as if ‘our’ government had some right to act not just as world’s policeman but also as world’s political surgeon. As the dust settles in Libya and talk turns to the contracts for reconstruction, we can see the real agenda all too plainly. As ‘statesmen’ look around for something to restart the engine of ecocide, plenty of advice will suggest that trade follows the flag, that the markets demand greater and greater offerings of human hearts. There’s even a name for it: weaponised Keynesianism. Globalisation – aggressive trade liberalisation coupled with contempt for sovereignty, identity and democracy – is a crime against humanity, a desperate bid to win control of the world’s resources before they run out. Daft, but true.

‘Royal’ Wootton Bassett now has the same initials as Red, White & Blue. It began to enter the national consciousness by spontaneously honouring the war dead passing through. It ended up receiving an honour of its own, for which it never asked, an honour some find manipulative and tawdry. The Mayor told journalists that he expects locals will carry on calling the place simply ‘Bassett’. The establishment could not spare the Queen to present her Letters Patent in person this year but deputed the Princess Royal to convey to the townsfolk the thanks of “the whole country”. Thanks for what? Thanks for “responding with dignity and respect to the losses that this country’s operational responsibilities have forced upon us”. Forced? And when exactly did a war of choice become violence under duress? Perhaps the Queen, as ultimate commander-in-chief, would like to answer that question at The Hague?

We are all Cameron’s conscripts, despite the best efforts of the Peace Tax campaign. It has become unacceptable in most circles to voice any criticism of the remilitarisation of our society. Laws are being twisted to punish those who do, trampling on fundamental rights of free expression in a chilling evocation of the flag desecration laws found in totalitarian states. True patriotism cannot arise from coercion and it would be a despicable thing if it could. The burning of Remembrance Day poppies as a protest against the continuing fact of war does appear to be on the increase, an ugly sign of ugly times. Does it show less respect than allowing the warmongers to lay their wreaths of hypocrisy? Who then are the real criminals?

We are all instructed, even by the young Lefties of the BBC, what to think and feel about RWB and Carterton, and much else surrounding the British murder machine. It’s time the truth was able to be told and fingers to be pointed in accusation. Because regime change begins at home.

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