Remembrance and Afghanistan 17

We have seen a real propaganda blitz for the last week, furiously attempting to shore up support for the war on Afghanistan. It is notable how many senior ex-military and even serving military senior officers have been before the television cameras to put forward the incredible rationale for killing Afghans in Afghanistan who are defending their farms – that it keeps Britain safer.

This is very dangerous. The military are not supposed to make political arguments, and certainly not to argue for wars. I wear my red poppy and attend remembrance events; I do so on the basis that those who died were serving their country and doing their duty as they saw it. I especially remember those who died to save this country from fascist invasion. If we start to see the army as a political force actively canvassing for aggressive war, in time that near universality of remembrance will fail.

Sky News has been particularly blatant today, with Sky reporters stating in terms that the number who turned out at the cenotaph shows that there is public support for the war in Afghanistan, whatever the polls may say. That is untrue. It shows there is public sorrow at the loss or maiming of young lives. If I were in London, I would be in the crowds in Whitehall as I usually am. It is nothing to do with supporting war.

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17 thoughts on “Remembrance and Afghanistan

  • MJ

    I suppose all these high-ranking officers pushing the case for war in Afghanistan do understand the rather grotesque double-meaning of wearing a poppy today.

  • mike

    Interesting post, I do find myself in a quandary about whether to wear a poppy. I do feel like its meaning is changing from what I thought it was, which was, remembering the sacrifices made by people injured and killed in wars, including normal people drafted to serve in the second world war to defend their country and those caught up by circumstances fighting on the other side, to being some sort of support for the British armed forces.

    Also not convinced about giving money to the Royal British Legion, I’d rather support charities that help people based on need rather than whether they have a military background.

    It does strike me how noticeable it is that every news presenter seams to wear a poppy – it would be quite a big deal if one didn’t.

  • writerman

    it’s a subtle change that’s taken place in recent years, from remembering the war dead and thinking about the loss, waste and slaughter, to something that’s getting closer and closer to a strange and macbre ‘celebration’ of war itself and militarism.

    Brown, of course, is merely a pompous, clumsy, bag of wind. There is no unbroken chain of terror linking Afghanistan with the UK; if there was bombs would be going off in London every week as the Afghans gave us some of our own medicine in return. What the Afghans are doing is defending their territory from occupation by a foreign invasion, something they have excelled at for centuries. It’s what defines male, tribal, warrior culture. Obviously, in the end, the Afghans will ‘win’ and defeat our attempt to impose our will on them. Because, eventually, we will leave and go home, and they will still be there. They don’t have anywhere else to go, do they?

    What’s really terrible, almost unimaginable in its dire consequences, is the thought that we are seeing the disaster in Afghanistan spilling over into Pakistan and thereby, potentially, destabilizing the entire region, leading to what exactly? Is, something that looks like civil war, in Pakistan, in the West’s or Britain’s interests, even remotely?

  • Jemmy Hope

    It was a proud boast of the military when I was doing national service that the British armed forces keep out of politics. I find this change in attitude disturbing.

  • anticant

    The Americans might welcome civil war in Pakistan, because it would give them the excuse they need to get their hands on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. No doubt India would like that too.

  • sabretache

    The horror of war is quite clearly something we NEED to be reminded of. But in spite of it being especially appropriate to include the dead of our armed forces in such remembrance, the hijacking of what is in its essence a mourning process, to the glorification of the Anglo-American Imperial Project, quite simply makes me sick.

    In large measure, those who ‘made the ultimate sacrifice’ did so as as cannon fodder for purposes which 95% of humanity justifiably see as hubristic imperial arrogance long past it’s ‘sell-by’ date. Those who can bring themselves to look behind the incessant pseudo-patriotic clap-trap (a deeply unsettling ‘treasonous’ exercise and thus shunned as tooo scary by most) can clearly see that the purposes of our latter-day wars are really quite simple: to install and secure Governments in areas of the world deemed strategically important, that can be relied upon to ‘see things our way’ (ie the US/UK/NATO way).

    Purposes which therefore, as a matter of proven propaganda technique must systematically be turned into their Orwellian opposite by our Machiavellian Deep State power structures.

    Some things NEVER change, the need glorify ones motives in the waging of war being foremost among them

  • anon

    Every country has a Remembrance Day. Old soldiers know better than anybody that we live in a political world. There is a saying that ‘ politics has no father’ meaning that you don’t know which direction change may be coming from. The politicians who are huffing and puffing about safety on our streets, by killing in Pakistan and Afghanistan may find themselves falling down the chimney into the cooking pot quite soon.

  • George Dutton

    There is a better way…

    “The White Poppy symbolises the belief that there are better ways to resolve conflicts than killing strangers. Our work, primarily educational, draws attention to many of our social values and habits which make continuing violence a likely outcome.

    From economic reliance on arms sales (Britain is the world’s second largest arms exporter) to maintaining manifestly useless nuclear weapons Britain contributes significantly to international instability. The outcome of the recent military adventures highlights their ineffectiveness in today’s complex world.

    Now 90 years after the end of the ‘war to end all wars’ we still have a long way to go to put an end to a social institution, which in the last decade alone killed over 10 million children.”…

  • Anonymous

    Jon Snow doesn’t wear a poppy.I read somewhere that he refuses to accept ‘poppy fascism’.

  • wendymann

    even more sinister is the linkage the bbc/media and government have been making primarily to take us into paksitan –

    “But when Hitler’s forces marched through Europe, everyone understood why Britain needed to fight the Nazi enemy.

    Today the threat is hard to see and more complex to understand. It is natural that people should question why we are asking our troops to put themselves in harm’s way.

    This war is every bit a war of necessity. Afghanistan was a haven for terrorists in the Nineties. The badlands of the Afghan-Pakistan border are the breeding ground for terrorist plots against Britain. ”

    “Pakistan’s population is six times greater than that of Afghanistan. It has nuclear weapons. Islamist victory in Afghanistan would spur Pakistani Taliban ambitions for overthrowing what they see as an ‘apostate regime’ in Islamabad.”

    milliband making the case for taking the war into Pakistan. Pakistan as well as strategically placed has considerable resources in balochistan and nwfp along with a major sea port of karachi and gwadar important to a landlocked afghanistan .

    a supine and compliant Pakistan is important for uk -american economic interests in india.(against china)

    dontask is offline Reply With Quote

  • George Dutton

    “During the first world war, the British prime minister David Lloyd George confided to the editor of the Manchester Guardian: “If people really knew [the truth], the war would be stopped tomorrow. But of course they don’t know and they can’t know.”…

  • Flander's Fields

    Jon Snow is correct about the poppy fascism that has developed over the past number of years.

    This is particularly prevalent at the BBC where it is now compulsory for BBC staff to wear a poppy and all those who are interviewed are pressganged into wearing one, provided for the purpose. Interesting too to see all those lefty comedians who a few years ago refused to wear one now doing so. A condition of their employment no doubt.

    It’s precisely this poppy fascism which undermines the true meaning of the poppy and will ensure people rebell in future at attempts to make it a chauvinistic symbol of militarism.

    As ever, the irony of unintended consequences comes to mind though there is something quite deserving in the BBCs case, having their authoritarian approach to everything rebound at some future time.

  • writerman

    Futhermore; are all the ‘lads’ fighting abroad in our new imperialist wars, really ‘heroes’, or actually, victims, literally, lambs to the slaughter?

    Haven’t we brought back the ultimate human, blood sacrifice, where the British ruling elite are willing and eager to send young soldiers to their deaths in order to show their fealty and loyalty to the New Rome? It would be more honest to simply carve open a few young men and women on a plinth in Trafalgar Square every Sunday, Aztec style; but then are degenerate culture hates honesty doesn’t it?

  • Dr Paul

    This non-stop promotion of the military will eventually backfire on the government. There is such a thing as ‘compassion fatigue’; people beyond those immediately affected will eventually stop taking much notice of military funerals, they’ll become commonplace as the Afghan war grinds on.

    At the same time, the increasing casualty count will bring more and more people to ask what this war is about, and the idiotic government explanation — to keep Britain safe — will look increasingly threadbare.

    To digress a little, on average in the First World War some 600 British servicemen were killed each day; in the Second World War it was around 150 each day. Were their names read out in Parliament; were their bodies brought home in coffins draped in the Union flag; were their funerals reported at length in the media of the day?

  • Owen Lee Hugh-Mann

    Wasn’t there an MI6 report stating that going to Afghanistan would increase the risk of terrorism in the UK? Somehow it’s got less attention from the government than the dodgy dossier did on WMDs.

  • thesheikhofalamut

    I’ve often been somewhat repulsed by the rhetoric of remembrance day but this year’s was particularly grotesque. In particular I object to the idea that soldiers in Afghanistan died for their country. They didn’t, they died for a bunch of politicians:

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