Militarist propaganda in Britain

This video says about itself:

Child soldiers in the British Army: one recruit’s story | Guardian Docs

28 October 2013

By Symon Hill in Britain:

Reserves Day is pure militarist propaganda

Thursday 8th September 2016

Reserves Day is part of the Establishment’s ongoing attempt to place its wars and military above scrutiny, writes SYMON HILL

SEEN any uniformed soldiers in the street today? It might be common in Israel or the US, but it’s unusual in Britain.

Today, however, you might find a uniformed solider selling you this newspaper in a shop or pulling you a pint in the local pub.

Today is Reserves Day, when members of the armed forces reserves are encouraged to “wear your uniform to work”.

Look up Reserves Day online and you can find a string of employers eager to say they are “supporting our reserves” by allowing them to wear uniforms to their day jobs today.

As a socialist and trade unionist, I certainly don’t want employers to prevent their workers dressing how they wish.

Unfortunately, I doubt these employers would be so keen on allowing left-wing workers to wear anti-war T-shirts or pacifist badges.

Celebrations for Reserves Day were launched by Michael Fallon, the euphemistically entitled “Defence” Secretary.

Rather than defending the British people, his government seems more interested in attacking them with cuts to public services and the welfare state.

Fallon — standing alongside Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, this year’s comedy cabinet appointment — declared that armed forces reserves are vital to our security.

He was less keen to point out how much difficulty he has in recruiting them.

In 2011, the government announced a reduction in full-time troops and an increase in reservists.

The Territorial Army was renamed the Army Reserve with the intention that it would include 35,000 soldiers by 2020.

Things went wrong, with a string of media stories about the slow speed of recruitment.

While recruitment appeared to increase in 2015, whistleblowers alleged that official figures were well above the number of functioning troops.

Reserves Day is a desperate and doomed recruitment exercise.

It presents life in the armed forces as glamorous and exciting, but public attitudes are changing and fewer people will now fall for this.

Social media, as well as more conventional forms of publicity, has drawn attention to revelations of bullying and sexual abuse in the forces, not least in the recent inquest into the death of teenage soldier Cheryl James at Deepcut barracks.

Recruitment of reservists is difficult.

Recruitment of full-time soldiers draws on fears of unemployment and poverty.

It is focused on the poorest and most disadvantaged teenagers.

This tactic is harder when it comes to the part-time soldiers, as the reserves do not offer such a route out of poverty.

It seems that young people are now less keen to train for warfare and give up their freedom to think for themselves.

Some respond by pointing out that the forces also help, for example, people affected by floods.

I would happily pay taxes to fund an organisation whose main purpose was to help people in this way, but this is incidental to the purpose of armed forces. They exist to engage in violence.

Somebody once responded to me by saying, “Members of the army would save your life if ordered to do so.”

This is true. Many of them would also shoot me if ordered to do so.

Reserves Day is part of an ongoing attempt to militarise British society and to place the armed forces beyond criticism and public scrutiny.

In the last decade, we have seen the introduction not only of Reserves Day in September but of Armed Forces Day in June.

We have seen the “Troops to Teachers” programme, an increase in military visits to schools, the development of cadet forces and an increasingly militarised tone to the British Legion’s messages for Remembrance day.

It is no coincidence that this all follows a sharp drop in public enthusiasm for war at the time of the invasion of Iraq.

The Establishment has responded by whipping up support for the armed forces.

They secure support for war by the back door.

For all their talk of supporting “our boys,” militarists rarely suggest that wounded soldiers and bereaved relatives should be able to rely on a decent welfare state.

Militarist charities such as Help for Heroes make it easier for ministers to cut social security, rattling tins to help the wounded while our taxes are used to fund the fifth highest military budget in the world.

On Reserves Day, let’s be active. We can politely question people we see in armed forces uniforms, offering a different perspective.

We can ensure that the #ReservesDay hashtag on Twitter is not dominated by talk of heroes and romanticised images of war.

We can check our use of militarised language, avoiding talk of “our” troops and “defence”.

Members of the reserves can of course do something even better.

Rather than putting on their uniforms today, the best way that reservists can celebrate Reserves Day is to throw off their uniforms, disobey orders and refuse to fight.

Injustice is possible only when people do what they are told.

Symon Hill is co-ordinator of the Peace Pledge Union (PPU).

Disastrous drugs for British, Irish soldiers

This video from Ireland says about itself:

Action Lariam for Irish Soldiers

20 November 2014

Please share this important podcast as we hear from ex-Irish Defence Force members highlight the grave circumstances around the use of Lariam. Lariam is an extremely dangerous drug with damaging and long lasting side effects. This show must be heard and spread across Ireland.

Members of the Irish Defence Forces are not legally or constitutionally protected in this matter. They need the people to raise a voice and stand for them and with them in putting an end to this and protecting our fellow country men and women.

Join Action Lariam for Irish Soldiers here.

From daily News Line in Britain:

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Dannatt would not use Lariam, but permitted it to be used on thousands of troops!

FORMER Army chief of staff Lord Dannatt has apologised on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme for allowing British troops to take an anti-malaria drug despite knowing it can have ‘catastrophic’ mental health effects, and deciding not to use it himself.

The MoD’s doctors prescribed Lariam to more than 17,000 troops between April 2007 and March 2015.

Dannatt told the BBC that his own son had taken the drug and had become ‘extremely depressed’ suffering mental health problems after taking two doses of Lariam. He was not in the armed forces at the time, but had been prescribed the drug by his father’s Army doctor.

Dannatt, who was head of the Army from 2006 to 2009, said the drug’s side-effects – which can include depression and suicidal thoughts – could be ‘pretty catastrophic’. Dannatt said that the MoD was now afraid of opening ‘the floodgates’ to ‘very expensive’ claims.

An ex-soldier Andy told the programme that he was issued with Lariam on the Army’s tour of Sierra Leone in 2000. ‘The effects were almost immediate … I can be a nasty, violent person and I attribute it to this drug. Anything could be misconstrued – a look, a phrase, a word, something completely innocent in someone else’s eyes – but it would be enough to trigger a reaction. A reaction you knew you were doing but you couldn’t stop it.

‘It was as if the wiring in your brain had completely gone. Had I known what the side effects were, I would have taken my chances with malaria. It turned me into an ogre.’

Perhaps this was the quality that the MoD wanted the troops to display to the local population!

In fact, British troops were being treated with contempt as highly expendable cannon fodder. Another fact is that the British ruling class has always treated its soldiery in the same brutal callous fashion and not just in the 19the and early 20th centuries. The development of nuclear weapons saw them tested out not just on Japanese civilians but on British troops and sailors.

Servicemen were stationed to observe the British H Bomb explosions on Christmas Island in the late 1950s, while naval launches were ordered to sail through the blast area. Troops exposed to the blast said that they had no protective gear, but were ordered to turn their backs and cover their faces with their hands. Some reported the flash was so bright they could see their bones through closed eyes, like an X-ray. Others were knocked down by the blast and burned by the heat.

Combat engineer Ken McGinley (founder of the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association) has said that afterwards he was ordered to clean up piles of dead birds and bomb debris. Men went swimming in the lagoon, ate fish they caught in the blast zone, and drank rainwater collected in tarpaulins – oblivious to any risk from radioactive fallout. It was the perfect test on unsuspecting soldiers!

Some servicemen got sick while still on Christmas Island; others became ill after returning home. Some seemed fine for decades before developing cancers and other rare diseases. Nuclear test veterans reported that their wives had high rates of miscarriages and stillbirths, and their children also suffered from birth defects and unusual diseases.

Then in Iraq in 2003, the UK used depleted uranium weapons. ‘UK forces used about 1.9 metric tons of depleted uranium ammunition in the Iraq war in 2003,’ UK Defence Secretary Liam Fox said in a written reply to the House of Commons.

A joint inquiry by Iraq’s environment, health and science ministries uncovered more than 40 sites across the war-torn country contaminated with high levels of radiation. ‘The study that we have conducted does actually prove that there are massive increases in cancer, a 38-fold increase in leukemia, 10-fold increase in breast cancer and infant mortalities are also staggering,’ one of the authors of the report, British-Iraqi scientist Malak Hamdan, said.

The issue is clear. The British army is made up of expendable cannon fodder, as far as the ruling class is concerned.