Opinion: Veterans have fought and died for our freedom and security. The politicians who command them haven't had the same ideals.
It’s that time of year again when many of us think about the millions of people who lost their lives in the First World War and other conflicts. The symbol of this is of course wearing the poppy. This symbol ends up being awfully convenient for any politician trying to give the impression they care about the countless victims of warfare, without putting any meaningful effort in. Our rulers in Westminster dishonour the dead by using this time of year for political advantage, and learning none of the important lessons.
Honouring the victims of 'the war to end all wars’ isn’t all that compatible with allowing Britain to be the second biggest arms dealer in the world, nor with funnelling billions into maintaining nuclear weapons, an invention that has nearly seen apocalyptically accidental use many times, and can only be used purposefully for mass murder. Desperate refugees, fleeing from wars stemming in no small part from 200 years of British foreign policy (and fuelled in no small part by the aforementioned arms dealing), to rot in camps whilst giving a resounding middle finger to the rest of Europe doesn’t really seem in the spirit of things either.
Make no mistake: the likes of Theresa May and Boris Johnson wearing poppies is about on par with those ‘1 Like = 1 Prayer’ Facebook posts.
Harry Patch passed away in 2009. A British soldier, he was the last surviving combatant from any country in WW1. He had this to say: 'The politicians who took us to war should have been given the guns and told to settle their differences themselves, instead of organising nothing better than legalised mass murder'.
Millions of men and boys were sent to perish over the honour and childish war games of old rich men in suits. The economic ruin doubtless shortened the lives of many more. The resultant destruction spawned the spiteful rage necessary for Hitler to divide the world once more with his rise to power.
There are many lessons to be learnt from the mechanised slaughter of the 20th century. All of them point to the guilt of the estranged and psychopathic ruling classes that prey on the suggestiveness and trust of the citizens they claim to represent.
I dearly wish I could say lessons have been learnt, but this same carelessness for life, and contempt for regular people, has only persisted among our political class. When they send soldiers into conflicts they create, they do so aware that soldiers will come back irreparably scarred, if alive at all. When they decide to drop bombs, they do so aware that the overwhelming majority of the dead will be civilians, whether from the blast, resulting disease, famine, or exposure to the elements.
War is hell. You only need to listen to someone who has experienced it to know. Why then, does the ruling class sell weaponry to militaristic fascist states? Why does it ruin whole countries like Syria and Libya in proxy wars for global dominance and fossil fuels? Why, when veterans return home, are they so often left to rot in our streets, instead of being given the specialist care they need? Why must the poppy appeal and other socially conscious charities try to care for them instead of the state? Why are war refugees treated like criminals in detention centres when they flee suffering we can't begin to understand? The root causes may be structural, but this damage still relies on the callousness of those in power.
The global governance of this world is largely empty of the most meagre moral concerns. If that doesn't concern us, we will become part of the problem.