2007-11-03

myths of war, grapes of wrath

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by Neil Godfrey

Why is my grief mingled with anger and not pride? And why am I continually haunted every Anzac day by the recollection of a very different Anzac day service tone so many years ago?

When I see a memorial commemorating the Gallipoli dead why do I feel seething anger over politicians’ attempts to drape the names with glory?

When I hear outrage expressed over the insulting treatment of those who returned from combat in Vietnam why do I feel outrage over those who never returned?

When I was a boy who loved to play and fantasize about the romance of battles, I could understand the glory of war and heroic sacrifice.

Our political leaders appeal to this lingering trait in most of us so none dare question once our troops are committed to the war zones. There is only one way to “support our troops”, and that is to declare our support for the fact that they are there where we cannot go, to a place where they are sure to face death and injury.

The reason I feel anger is because it is clear to anyone who thinks beyond the spin that is insultingly tossed at us as “news”, that is filtered to us by lazy journalists who do not bother or perhaps don’t even know how to ask the obvious questions that come to mind to anyone who thinks rationally about a politician’s spiel and compares it against non-government sources, . . . . The reason I feel anger is because it is clear to anyone who thinks beyond this insultingly puerile spin it is clear as day that the powers that be are using the myths of glory and the lives of their citizens to play ignorant and arrogant games of self-interest.

Terrorists and would-be terrorists have been captured by police work. Participating in operations that include the bombing of civilians in order to also hopefully kill a terrorist or two would have been unthinkable against whites in Ireland during “The Troubles”, or in Oklahama.

Playing the same old lazy games of pitting one groups of tribes against others was going to inevitably lead to endless war in Afghanistan and it has. We called it “not deserting Afghanistan — ‘this time’!”

How on earth can I feel anything but anger and outrage at the criminal murderous policies of our governments who sacrifice the lives of their own citizens for foolish and ignorant and back-stabbing policies in the Middle East and then claim the audacity to have the wherewithal to bestow the dead with “glory”!

That Anzac service I heard years ago was not about glory at all. It was a funeral. Old men were weeping and with quivering voices admonishing all us children never to let war happen again!

“Lest we forget” was meant to keep us mindful that war could only bring shame and horror, and must never be repeated except as an extreme last resort in the case of a clear and immediate threat to our survival.

And how that has now been turned around to mean the opposite of what it originally meant. Now we repeat the mantra of the Nazis in the 1930’s — our nation’s survival is at stake. We must invade the Czechs to protect our peoples from the terrorist attacks from across their borders; we must invade Poland to respond to the humiliating provocation of their attack on our border guards. We must bomb or invade the Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Syria, before they drive us into the sea or wipe out New York or London. We have borrowed the same rationales expressed by Hitler to justify our “preemptive” wars.

We should and do honour those who join the armed forces since they are volunteering to give up their lives to serve the elected government of their nation. We should and do grieve at their losses.

But I don’t think I could handle visiting Gallipoli as so many do, as some sort of pilgrimage. I know I would feel unspeakable outrage, such white anger, that we live in a world that could do that to so many. And that nothing has changed, nothing learned. And the politicians even use Gallipoli as a rallying cry for stirring up uncritical blind nationalism. We are even told, how insulting! that we owe our way of life and freedoms to them! What rot! If they did not die the Ataturk (the founder of the democratic and secular Turkish state) would have come over here and set up an Ottoman police state?? We got nothing out of it except a long term myth to shut down critical thought and justify more carnage.

The old men who led the Anzac service years ago are dead and their message forgotten.

We were angry in February 2003 when we called on our governments not to go to war. We predicted the worst if they did and worse than even our imagined worst has happened. Some of us even predicted that invading Afghanistan would be a repeat of the years long drainage of blood faced by the Russians and British when they had invaded, and that is now settling in to be a fact too.

Anger helped end the bloodshed in Vietnam. And we know the role of TV in that.

Yet when I ask news media to publish the photos of the carnage I am told that those pictures are not appropriate. Good god! They might wake people up to the difference between glory and gore. Myths might actually be shattered. Criminal politicians might even face justice.

Supporting our troops might even mean relocating them to universally agreed just causes only, causes of which we can all feel nothing but pride.


For anyone not familiar with any news beyond the standard media and government spin, the easiest single access point to news items from a host of sources of international media and alternative media sites that I know can be found at the Information Clearing House site.I’ve posted links to the other side of the Iraq war here before, but I would draw attention to a new article and online video, They Met the Resistance, to that end now, too.


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