War is not peace, lesson of World War I

This video from England says about itself:

On 22 May 2013, the No Glory in War campaign was launched at the London house of World War One poet Siegfried Sassoon, with contributions from musician Brian Eno, actor Janie Dee and writer Michael Morpurgo, the author of War Horse. No Glory in War is a response to the announcement by UK prime minister David Cameron that the government will promote a commemoration of the first world war on its 100th anniversary in 2014, which he wants to be “like the Diamond Jubilee celebrations”.

The No Glory in War open letter has been signed by many prominent artists, actors, writers, musicians and academics, including Jude Law, the poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, Simon Callow, Ken Loach, Vivienne Westwood, Alan Rickman, and A.L. Kennedy. It calls for the commemoration of the 1914-18 war to be used “to promote peace and international co-operation.” The text of the open letter is as follows:


2014 marks the hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the First World War. Far from being a “war to end all wars” or a “victory for democracy”, this was a military disaster and a human catastrophe.

We are disturbed, therefore, to hear that David Cameron plans to spend £55,000,000 on “truly national commemorations” to mark this anniversary. Mr. Cameron has quite inappropriately compared these to the “Diamond Jubilee celebrations” and stated that their aim will be to stress our “national spirit”.

That they will be run at least in part by former generals and ex-defence secretaries reveals just how misconceived these plans are.

Instead we believe it is important to remember that this was a war that was driven by big powers’ competition for influence around the globe, and caused a degree of suffering all too clear in the statistical record of 16 million people dead and 20 million wounded.

In 2014, we and others across the world will be organising cultural, political and educational activities to mark the courage of many involved in the war but also to remember the almost unimaginable devastation caused.

In a time of international tension we call on writers, actors, musicians, teachers and campaigners to join with us to ensure that this anniversary is used to promote peace and international co-operation.

By Jeremy Corbyn in Britain:

The answer must be peace

Friday 8th August 2014

A century after WWI started lessons must be learnt that war will only bring more war, says JEREMY CORBYN MP

This week started with a gathering of the “great and the good” at a memorial service for World War One in Glasgow, before they hightailed it to London for a reprieve in Westminster Abbey.

The idea that WWI was fought for peace and liberty borders on the absurd, when 20 million died and it ushered in a century of industrial warfare.

We’re still paying the price for the victors’ justice agreed at Versailles in today’s wars in the Middle East and north Africa.

While the focus has been on the WWI commemorations and Gaza, we should not forget the huge losses of life continuing in other long-running conflicts.

Drone bombs are still raining down on villages in Pakistan and Afghanistan causing random death, while the aftermath of the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 is seen in the break-up of the country and the growth of Isis — now called the Islamic State. In the north of Iraq sectarian violence is now forcing hundreds of thousands of Shia, Christians and Yazidis to flee their homes or face death as the forces of religious extremism take hold.

The terrible loss of life in this conflict is a consequence of western policies over many years. It is a bitter irony that since the US invasion the population of Christians in Iraq has fallen from 1.5 million to less than 400,000.

Meanwhile in Libya, only two years after we were told that Nato’s war was a necessary and short-lived intervention in order to bring about stability in the country, a civil war is raging.

Massive bombardment by Nato-led forces led to death and destruction, huge social divisions and now an all-out civil war, to the extent that every Western embassy has been closed and all foreign nationals have been requested to leave the country by their governments.

The consequences don’t stop at the borders of Libya, as the huge arms supplies obtained by various opposition forces spread over into Mali and other countries.

Less publicity is given to the ultimate victims of all the wars, as thousands of refugees attempt the perilous journey in dangerous boats from Libya to Lampedusa in order to escape and gain a place of relative safety.

There is a brief “ceasefire” in Gaza as the victims’ families try to bury the dead — 1,875 Palestinians died, 9,567 were injured and 67 Israelis (64 of them soldiers) died. Oxfam now reports that 500,000 people are unable to stay in their own homes because of the damage and danger.

It is beyond parody that the US expresses its regret over the deaths and yet provides another £300m to Israel to replenish its stocks of weapons in case it decides to restart the bombardment.

One would have thought that in a week in which we commemorate the 20m who died in WWI and the 300,000 who died as a direct result of the nuclear weapons dropped on Japan in 1945, and seeing the carnage in all the theatres of war at the present time, there would be a realisation that a policy of war does not bring peace.

The only people licking their lips at the news this week will be the arms and aircraft manufacturers.

The reality is one of increasing poverty amongst the young and poorest in Western countries and growing inequality in the less developed countries, as economic growth favours the better off and impoverishes the poor and landless.

Surely the summer months, of all times, should be a period of contemplating a different global strategy rather than eternal wars and threats of nuclear rearmament.

11 thoughts on “War is not peace, lesson of World War I

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