There is no honour in war. Dead soldiers are NOT heroes – they are just dead soldiers. The act of being blown up by a rocket is not an act of bravery – it is just bad luck.
War is a filthy, unglamorous and often pointless activity and it is about time that the endless procession of Union Jack-draped coffins stopped. The trouble is that there is not the political will to say “Enough!”
The 20 year-old cannon fodder being deployed to places such as Afghanistan to “fight terrorists” is usually from Socio-Economic classes C2-down. For those who do not understand Socio-Economic groupings – that means poor uneducated people, mostly males who did not pay attention at school. They are not brave – they are frightened. One of the big current cover-ups is the hundreds who come back to the UK on leave and then desert – and who can blame them.
“That’s the way he would have wanted to die.” is a stupid remark, usually repeated by very stupid people and often refers to a soldier who was either shot or blown up. If you think about it, the way you really want to die is quietly, in your own bed, preferably without pain. You do not CHOOSE to die thousands of miles away from your mum, in a hot metal box on wheels , blown up into a million Oxo cube-sized pieces by 500 lbs of explosive. Most of the coffins flown back are purely cosmetic because the remains of a blown-up 18 year-old “hero” would fit into a matchbox.
We still over-glamorise war and imagine that inside each coffin is a fully-uniformed young man, looking serene and heroic. The reality very often is that the contents of the coffin look no more glamorous that a couple of stone of stewing steak and offal in a bin-liner. That is the REAL glamour of war. A blown-up corpse is not a pretty thing.
Am I being “disrespectful”? No, I don’t think so. It is the politicians who are showing a lack of respect to our young soldiers. The phrase ” Lions led by donkeys “ was never more apt.
So why do we have troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan? Coincidence? If you are not a student of Geography, you may be surprised to learn that the the country which sits smack between Iraq and Afghanistan is Iran. The real motive for war may not be quite all it seems.
Gordon Brown’s latest uttering is to the effect that we are engaged in a battle against terrorism – a Crusade: “Our purpose is clear – to prevent terrorism coming to the streets of Britain.” That has to be THE most nonsensical argument ever. It was the provocation of us entering , or should I say having been conned into entering a war with Iraq that made terrorists sit up and take notice and then seek revenge. If Gordon Brown persists with his nonsense, here’s a question: “How many Afghans do we need to kill in order to ensure that we keep terrorism off our streets?”
While we are on the subject: Which are the Taliban? Oh, the ones who shoot back! The Taliban ruled Afghanistan betwen 1996 and 2001 and were then removed (ostensibly) by NATO and since then, they have been fighting back . When they did start fighting back, according to the Americans, they were terrorists. In fact, we have learned over the years that if the Americans bomb or shoot at someone who then has the temerity to shoot back – they are a terrorist who is endangering the American way of life.
The Taliban were formerly-known as the Mujahideen. They were funded by the CIA and were glamorised in the film Rambo lll. It was OK in those days – they were the REAL heroes because they were blowing up Russians.
OK, maybe the West did not appreciate the Taliban flavour of extreme Moslem fundamentalism and the way that they went about things but then again, perhaps they didn’t like the men-only nude beach in Brighton or the fact that British young people enjoy getting pissed and having unprotected pre-marital sex.
The fact is that their way of life had little impact on our way of life. Needless to say, that is no longer the case – thanks to OUR politicians.
The root cause of the proliferation of terrorism, especially anti-Christian terrorism can be found in the policies and actions of George W Bush and Tony Blair. You don’t see Belgium, Poland or Norway sending their youth to Helmand province to keep terrorism off their streets. If they do send troops, it is not under some lame pretext but because they HAVE to under the terms of their NATO membership.
The sad fact is that Britain is like a former world champion boxer who still thinks that he’s good for just one more fight – we revel in past glories because that is our way. We sublimate out delusions by sending ill-equipped young men to a bit of scrub-land the size of Wales, we watch them be blown up and then we bring them back in boxes.
We then interview the wife with baby/father/mother who tell us that they are devastated. You bet they’re devastated. Then we refer to their lost boyfriends/husbands/sons as “heroes” or a “Band of Brothers” who ” ate, slept and fought together and supported each other.” Propaganda. Frightened boys who huddled together in fear – not knowing who or what was going to take the next pot-shot. There is no shame in that – but it is not heroism.
Forty of fifty degree temperatures, bad food, poor equipment, an invisible enemy and the promise of death or maiming. For what?
Is it not about time the soldiers were told EXACTLY what it is that they are fighting for – and on whose behalf? We would prefer them to be back here in the UK, with their families and with a reasonable chance of growing old.