Over the past couple of weeks there have been ralliesacross the nation about the war in Afghanistan. In someinstances, people rallied in support of the troops andagainst the mission that has been forced upon them. Inother instances, people rallied in support of the troopsand in favour of the mission.
It always amazes me whenpeople claim to be supporting the troops yet at the sametime support sending them off to be killed. I guess thatit goes to show that serious thinking is not a traitshared by a significant portion of the population.
At one of the anti-war protests in Vancouver a snidecomment was made by someone that the protesters couldenjoy the right to protest because of the sacrifices thatwarriors had made to give them that right a common putdown that has been used for as long as I can remember todiminish those who oppose needless wars. Of course, forthe most part such a comment is no more than propagandaand pure BS in the context in which it is being made.
There have been very few wars in our history in whichvictory has expanded our rights or protected ourliberties. World War II and the wars repelling Americaninvasions may be the exceptions. Rights and libertiesare the fruits of revolutions and class warfare, ofstruggles for justice and equality.
Most wars, asidefrom repelling invaders, are struggles for land andresources and political control. Politics itself, ofcourse, is little more than a struggle over how to dividethe wealth in society.
In most cases those who go to war believing that they aredoing it for their country or their freedoms are deludedbelievers in a fantasy spread by the ruling classes todisguise the true nature of what they are about.
Thetruth about war is that it is a business, a centre ofprofit for the suppliers of war materials and for thosewho reap the benefits of resources acquired orcontrolled, the political clout to force other societiesto do one's will, and the political benefits at home of apopulation manipulated by patriotic fervour that will putaside common sense and tolerate a suppression of theirliberties and squandering of public resources under theguise of supporting the troops.
One of the U.S. Marine Corps' most highly decoratedofficers, Major General Smedley Butler, wrote in 1935: War is a racket. It always has been. It ispossibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surelythe most vicious. And in his 1961 farewell address asPresident of the United States Dwight Eisenhower warned... we must guard against the acquisition ofunwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by themilitary-industrial complex. The potential for thedisastrous rise of misplaced power exists and willpersist.
Both Butler and Eisenhower were high ranking professionalsoldiers who had not only seen war, but had knowledge ofwhat was behind the scenes and how it worked. Theycertainly have more credibility then the current crop ofworld leaders many of whom have never heard a shot fired inanger or seen up close the broken and mutilated bodies ofwar's victims and the warnings that they gave us arejust as valid today as they were when first given.
Those people foolishly demonstrating in support of thewar today ought to reflect on the vision of Butler and ofEisenhower. They would be well advised to consider thata large number of senior military officers in the U.S.opposed the war in Iraq and that in Canada Lt. GeneralJeffrey, former Chief of Defence Staff, advised againstthe Afghanistan mission, and Major General Ross,director-general of international security policy,resigned over it.
As a result of the decision by Canada's government tochoose the defence industry and the Americans over itssoldiers and the national welfare, we not only have troopsdying needlessly in Afghanistan, we have a military sodesperate for more bodies that it is looking at longerperiods of deployment, lowering recruiting standards,and considering raiding the Navy and non-combat sectionsof the Forces for more fodder for the war zone. Thisis not something that anyone should be supporting.
It is the time of year that we remember all of those whohave been sacrificed in the wars of the nation,regardless of the truth of the war, and honour them asheroes. Many were heroes, those who sacrificedthemselves for their comrades, and who endured thingsthat no person should ever have to endure.
But more thanheroes they were and are victims, and most of all that iswhat we should never forget.
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