Lest We Forget


November 11 is remembrance day, remembering the war to end all wars, in which a third of all casualties were civilians. It was followed after 30 years by a war in which a half of all casualties were civilians. 20 years later Vietnam 75%+ of casualties are civilians. Vietnam is just one of many of the “cold war” era conflicts, that saw similar proportions of non-combatants dying and getting injured. In the 21st century we had more than 1 war in which 90%+ of casualties were civilian. November 11 is not the day we celebrate winning World War I. It is the day we contemplate its atrocities, and vow not to repeat them. If we celebrate anything it is the “civilizing” effect the war had on us, we celebrate the Vienna Convention which states that the forcible transfer of populations and the targeting of civilians during armed conflicts are crimes of war. What irony it is, that war had to be legislated and regulated, to in fact attain previously unimaginable ugliness. Is it irony? Or is legislation the modern equivalent of religious commandments; righteous words on justice that serve the victim as an anesthetic but doesn’t cure her wounds?

I’ve always had a problem with remembrance day for a few reasons, and it always seems to be the most consistent point in time where I start arguments.  So lets get this one out the way early, and I’m not saying this because I disagree with what johnnydib put but because I guess this is an opportunity to also start a discourse on the matter and establish the playing field early.

I think for anyone who follows my blog it won’t come as a surprise that I have a great distaste for imperialist wars, not least for the “rich man’s wars, poor man’s blood” dichotomy which is ever present.

I also sort of feel it’s a massive cop out.  At least in the UK there’s this attitude of wearing the poppy, and through the act of wearing the poppy for the week(s) surrounding November 11th, you’re suddenly actively showing respect.  You’ve given your bit of money to charity and now you can partake in displaying what a good, considerate, empathic citizen you are that cares about our troops/doesn’t like the brutality of violence.  You’ve taken this act for a day each your and your conscience is salved through this act!

Tony Blair wore the poppy at the appropriate times.

Tony Blair sent our troops to kill and be killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Tony Blair can, with all due respect, go fuck himself.

The greatest atrocity of Remembrance Day isn’t the “rich man’s war, poor man’s blood”, nor the blinding nationalism/patriotism that’s inherent in military parades as such.  The greatest atrocity of Remembrance Day is exactly that.  Remembrance Day.  Is it fuck, have Remembrance Year.  Every year.  Don’t remember the loss and the tragedy for one day of your year.  Remember it every day.  If people took Remembrance Day seriously we wouldn’t be stuck in neoimperialist wars in the middle east and north africa.  People who think that acting like an elitist shit about anyone who isn’t wearing a poppy, somehow not as good a citizen, is acceptable behaviour can go remove their fingernails with pliers.

Also in reference to the question: fuck the legislation as if that means anything.  Power politics shows the truth: the US, Britain, Israel, whoever else attack civilians (or take action they know will effect civilians but doesn’t care enough to prevent).  Without an organisation to enforce it adequately then the club that holds hegemonic military power (NATO, primarily) will do whatever they want and the legislation exists only so they can turn to it and say “but no, look how good we are we have rules about this shit.”  Global politics is interstate anarchy, and might is right.

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