What we now call the First World War brought home the senseless horror of killing as a way of resolving conflicts.

Yet a solemn ceremony of remembrance for a generation that was mown down by the militarism of political leaders more concerned about power and influence than about people has now been turned into something which upholds the very same militarism that sent them to their deaths. A white poppy is one way of taking a stand against this.


Yes, it is right to remember the millions who have died and those who are still dying, but we also need to remember the millions who they have killed and are still killing. We are slow to learn. We must repudiate those who resort all too readily to armed force as a means of projecting power and influence around the globe. If war is ever justified, it can only be in defence.

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Welsh not British said...

Perhaps, we should be inviting ex-services people to our schools in order to tell every child the realities of war. Stories from the front line, friends they have lost etc

Or is that not how we should remember?

Anonymous said...

Fine - except most of the people I know who went to the Falklands would gladly do it again, even allowing for what they saw. A working class ex-squaddie is rarely a pacifist, in my experience. I had tremendous arguments with ex-school friends (Welsh speakers) who'd served in Northern Ireland, and who really hated the anti-army tendency in Plaid Cymu. The more they saw death in the ranks, the more they wanted to punish nationalism.

Anonymous said...

I don't see why anon above has used this to make a point against Plaid. Many ex servicemen have been in Plaid and many of the party's founders in fact served in the trenches in WW1.

As for squaddies that includes my uncle. In my experience you cannot ask squaddies anything on the merit of military involvement. Involvement in wars is a political decision, it's not down to the squaddies. They have to
tell themselves they are in a just war so often end up supporting every cause they are sent to fight in, understandably. The thing is there are also armed men (or women) on the other side, in northern Ireland or anywhere else, who have a different perspective. Let's remember there are two sides in every war and all sides losses should be commemorated, albeit not celebrated.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't a comment against PC - I've voted nothing but Plaid for 30 years. However, very few of the lads I knew who'd been in the armed forces had any liking for nationalism. In truth, though, most nationalists of my generation (born in 50s, student in 70s)have any liking for the British army either.

Anonymous said...

'Few' rather than 'most' , that is.

Welsh not British said...

By the sounds of it anon your mates were nationalists, they were British nationalists.

And as for getting them into the schools then fine, but don't stop there. Also get in those with limbs missing, those who are blind or maimed.

As another point I've noticed a distinct lack of poppies being worn this year. Could it be that the poppy nazis have turned people against the symbol?

MH said...

It's not the sort of thing I would ever watch, but Wings has a piece on last night's "festival" to militarism, and Cai's piece on Blog Menai is well worth reading.


I think the Falklands was a very rare example of a well-fought war, 14:10. Done with specific purpose, according to rules of war respected by both sides that resulted in only a tiny handful of non-combatant casualties.

But, of course, that was because the only civilians in harm's way were British. So the UK took special care. The casualty figures in other wars show that much less care is taken when those in harm's way are foreigners. That is the invariable difference between a war of aggression and a war of defence.

There's nothing "anti-army" (or navy or air force) in what I've written. It's all about the way the UK chooses to use its armed forces. I'm condemning the chronic inability of the UK's political leaders to distinguish between defence and the projection of power to attack and occupy other lands half way round the world.


As for "punishing nationalism", that is surely what the UK's armed forces have been primarily concerned with over the last century or so. The British Empire needed to be held together by brute force against all those countries that wanted to be independent and responsible for governing themselves. So a hatred of nationalism is all but hard-wired into the way the British military sees itself.

But the British establishment learned a lesson from being beaten by national movements across the Empire. It decided to redefine itself as a "nation" in an attempt to use nationalism—even though it would never call it nationalism—to stop it falling apart completely, But,as we know, the great majority of people reject that idea of Britain as a nation ... and that is why the UK cannot last.


As a final thought, a meaningful ceremony to remember those who died in war would involve remembering those who died on the other side, too. It would, of necessity, involve reconciliation. An event like that would be worthy of being called a "festival".

Anonymous said...

Surely it's not about whether or not squaddies would "gladly go again". Its about whether public opinion supports sending them. Months ago we almost bombed Syria for no clear strategic reason.

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