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11 November 2012
LEST WE FORGET
Traditional annual memorial services attended by the British royal family and the military and civilian establishments were held in Britain today Sunday 11 November 2012 in remembrance of troops slaughtered on the battlefield, not least those cut down in World War One, which ended with the armistice of 11 November 1918.
Similar Rembrance Sunday services took place in France, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Malta, the Falkland Islands (Las Malvinas) and elsewhere.
In London Queen Elizabeth II and her consort Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, attended the customary ceremony at the Cenotaph war memorial in Whitehall in remembrance of butchered British and Commonwealth soldiers.
Also in attendance were the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Princess Royal, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, the Duke of York and Prince Michael of Kent.
British Prime Minister David Cameron was there, accompanied by his Foreign Secretary William Hague, as well as two former British Prime Ministers Anthony Blair and John Major.
The military top brass was represented by Field Marshal Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank, a former chief of the British defence staff.
After wreath-laying at the Cenotaph, a monument specifically dedicated to “The Glorious Dead”, there was a march past by serving troops – Royal Marines, Gurkhas, Submariners and Gunners – as well as by thousands of veterans, including Chelsea Pensioners, their striking red uniforms resplendent with military medals and memorial poppies.
In a ceremony in Paris President François Hollande, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian reviewed French troops at the Arc de Triomphe in the Place de l’Étoile at the top of the Champs-Élysées.
There are no media reports of war memorial services today in Germany or Austria, the two Axis powers vanquished in the World War One.
The Glorious Dead?
The dead are simply dead. There is no glory in being dead. Nor in having one’s brains blown out in the prime of one’s days in a water-logged trench on a mud-caked battlefield in some corner of a foreign field.
Moreover, if it is one thing for a government to deploy troops to defend its population against imminent foreign aggression, it is quite another to send the flower of its youth to die abroad in the invasion and occupation of foreign lands in wars of aggression which have no relevance to the defence of one’s country.
This is why it is particularly repugnant to find the London ceremony attended by former UK Prime Minister Antony Blair, who in 2003, alongside US President Bush and without the imprimatur of the United Nations, launched a war of aggression against Iraq that dragged on for eight years and resulted in the massacre of an estimated 600 000 people, mostly Iraqis but including large numbers of British soldiers.
It is likewise repugnant to find the ceremony attended by the current UK Prime Minister David Cameron who continues to send British troops to their deaths in a pointless war in Afghanistan now into its twelfth year. This war has achieved nothing. The designated enemy, the Taliban, are stronger than ever. The puppet government of Afghanistan is chafing under the boot of a western occupation that it constantly bewails. Corruption is rife. Opium production is the country’s main industry. Suicide bombings and gunfights rock the capital daily. No road outside Kabul is safe from attack. Meanwhile, troops from the allied invading forces are being picked off, one by one, day after day, in a war that was lost from the start. To cap it all, the date for the final western retreat has already been announced – the end of 2014.
Why continue to send allied troops into battle to no avail in a losing war in a country – Afghanistan – which poses no threat whatsoever to western defences?
The answer is twofold.
In the interests of saving face, having occupied Afghanistan for so long to no avail, the Americans, the lead invader of the pack, need time to try to cobble together some semblance of success on the ground before they declare victory and then ignominiously pull out – as they did in Iraq last year and as they did in Vietnam in 1973. Their hapless allies, including Britain and France, whose foreign policies are immutably subservient to those of the United States, cannot pull out until the Americans give them permission to do so. That is why UK Prime Minister David Cameron is willing to continue sending British troops to die in Afghanistan. It is nothing to do with the defence of the United Kingdom.
It is for that reason that it is repugnant to find Cameron at the Cenotaph today weeping crocodile tears for fallen British troops, many of whom he himself sent into battle on behalf not of the United Kingdom but of a foreign power – the United States.
The following are extracts from a comment posted on the London Guardian’s website today 11 November 2012 by Peter Thompson:
“…despite having served in the army I can’t bring myself to support Remembrance Sunday because behind the facade of concern and mourning for the hundreds of thousands of dead, there is actually a militarisation and sanctification by church, state and monarchy which allows us to actually forget that war is a highly political act carried out for highly political aims not usually in the interests of those who suffer most from its consequences.
“Lest We Forget” [an inscription on the Cenotaph war memorial in London’s Whitehall] actually means precisely that we should forget about the causes of conflict – which are always apparently far too complex for mere mortals to fathom – and about the inter-imperialist rivalry which saw those lads taken from the countryside and towns across Europe and used as expendable cannon fodder against each other; about the fact that we still send those same working-class lads from unemployment black spots off to fight in unwinnable and even illegal wars in the interests of the rich and powerful. The parade of warmongering politicians in their Sunday best bowing their heads in prayer and wearing their poppies with pride this weekend should be enough to politicise anyone, I would have thought…..
If you are a Marxist atheist you will see the whole thing as a way of occluding the old adage from the First World War that a bayonet is simply a weapon with a worker at each end….”
You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts. For instance:
1. Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)
2. Partitocracy v. Democracy (20 July 2012)
3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)
4. Capitalism in practice (4 July 2012)
5.Ladder (21 June 2012)
6. A tale of two cities (1) (6 June 2012)
7. A tale of two cities (2) (7 June 2012)
8. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)
Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.