Sunday 11th November 2018
Today of all days, exactly 100 years after the end of The Great War we will be remembering the fallen. That war, though fought because of stupidity from the politicians and kings of the time, changed so much – and yet so little. And the senseless loss of life, the mud and the blood and the rats and the lice of the trenches, the noise of the ceaseless heavy artillery, the stench of the rotting bodies, the cutting down of a generation of young men – was for so very very little.
And every year our very own politicians will lay wreathes and declare how sad it all was, and how we must never forget those who made the ultimate sacrifice, and then tomorrow go merrily on their way selling arms to the Saudis, cutting vital public services and rewarding the rich.
But as well as remembering, even if it just for a day, the dead of that and other conflicts – we must never forget how the end of The Great War solved nothing; how just a mere twenty years later we were plunged into another World War, where millions more, mostly civilians, were to die. We must never forget how the punishment levied by the ‘Victors’ led almost inevitably to Fascism. And we must never forget how Nationalism and the culture of scapegoating others (in that case the Jews) led to Dictators, Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin – strong men all, who killed millions in their crazed ideaologies. And how dangerous the blaming of others (in this case Muslims) will lead us down that same dangerous road. We must watch our very own strong men – Xi-Ping, Erdoghan, Netanyahu and Trump, as they erode our freedoms……..
And even after that Second World War, how quickly conflicts sprung up – Malaya, Korea, Vietnam – as new enemies were dreamt up by our leaders. We must never forget that despite all the grand words and the creation of the UN, it was deliberately emasculated from the start.
And we must never forget that despite the ‘lessons’ learnt from Wars, we keep starting them. Iraq, Syria and now the Yemen, not to mention the almost constant wars in Africa. Our leaders will profess how they abhor the horrors of War – as they sell their true weapons of mass destruction, as they sign for a new generation of Nuclear Weapons, as they design ever more devastating missiles, as they plan Cyber warfare, as they commission drones and robot weapons.
No, we must remember the fallen – but we must also work relentlessly to prevent the fallen of the future.