The Allied victory in World War II is very important to remember and indeed to celebrate. It is arguably the single most important victory in history. But have we learned the lessons, when we hear of over 200 wars since that global conflict? Do we see what it means when modern conflicts kill 90% civilians and only 10% military?
It’s one thing to celebrate an important victory from a generation ago. It’s another to reflect on how we see wars in recent years and the challenges to come.
The Green position is radically different. Remember, the Greens are not a bunch of Tories – or even Labourites – who clearly have little or no problem with war, or how or why it’s launched. From recent history you would think their members, and their MPs, knew nothing (or cared less) about the rules governing war, or what makes a Just War, or what the International Law on war actually is. The launching of war on Iraq was an utter disgrace. The level of lying and manipulation was astounding, and occasioned the biggest peace marches in history in the UK and around the world. Yes Blair, Straw and others will argue it was a legal war; they have no other choice. But scholars around the world were and still are decrying it.
What was it in the end? It was Blair committed to following Bush into a war Bush and his cronies had planned years before. And why? Because of the supreme advantage major bases would give in the centre of the oil-rich Middle East. Forget “liberating” people, that’s just smoke, unless you mean liberating people from their lives. It was a war for oil.
Our Armed Forces follow orders, that’s their job. But it is also their leaders’ job to question orders which may be immoral or illegal. And they did that to some extent and their backs were covered by the politicians. But let’s remember why we hanged the Germans – because they launched a war of aggression. And we joined Bush when he launched his on Iraq. And we helped kill the reliably estimated, on the ground, 1.3 million Iraqis, to add to the horrendous death toll from sanctions.
And killing works both ways. How many people know that by 2002 the death toll of Falklands veterans taking their own lives outstripped the deaths in the actual war?
And how many people know that immediately after 9/11 Bush was blaming Iraq and looking for ways to wage war on them? It didn’t matter that there was no evidence. Even for Osama, and the invasion of Afghanistan, it didn’t matter that there was no evidence (despite promising lots of it). This is what a superpower does.
We’ve left Iraq but let’s not think that we’ve brought peace. Look at the place. We have 10,000 in Afghanistan. The Americans have 20,000. Russia had 300,000 and could not control it. For all sorts of reasons we will not win there. And now we are approaching our 300th death there, let alone the tens of thousands of deaths of people who actually live there.
On the other hand, the major challenges ahead require a real need for global cooperation and not competition, or deadly grabs for resources. The challenges for Britain today aren’t that it’s going to be invaded by France or Russia or China! Rather it’s things like the decline of oil which will cause major disruption globally and we’re not ready for it. The growing scarcity of freshwater, the decline of topsoil, the overfishing of the seas, the threat of GMOs all mean we have to change our way of thinking, from one of taking what we want by force to one of live and let live, living within our means, living within the bounds of nature that we are now hitting up against.
So what about a World Development Day or World Progress Day? What about the challenge for Beverley to think in ways fitted to the demands of the 21st century rather than 20th century thinking – a century where humanity killed more of its own kind than ever before.
These are the things we are thinking about. They are of major importance for the next generation. Waving at Spitfires doesn’t cut it for us anymore.
Here’s an alternative from Gabriel Carlyle –