The independent London newspaper

At war England is in its element

28 November, 2019

• HOW did England (with its Welsh, Scottish and Irish allies/mercenaries) ever achieve the greatest empire ever known without wars that must have killed millions over centuries? That is the conundrum.

Is it not true that England is a martial nation and when at war it is in its element? Surely it was England who declared war on Germany on two occasions.

Germany was seen as a commercial competitor at the beginning of the 20th century, with its well-developed social system and educated workers. War against it was something that was in the planning since 1910.

Novels such as The Riddle Of The Sands and The Thirty-Nine Steps were psychological conditioning in readiness for war.

WWI was the result of the treatment of Germany in 1918 and the devastating famine into 1919 which killed thousands of German civilians through the blockade of British warships that stopped food imports. Britain could have avoided WWII.

But in an argument between Hitler and Poland Germany wanted a corridor to Danzig through Polish territory.

Britain advised Poland not to make an agreement with Hitler. And if he invaded Poland, Britain and France would come to Poland’s aid.

They didn’t because they were incapable of stopping Hitler; remember the sudden fall of France and the British retreat at Dunkirk. But Britain did manage to get Nazi Germany to the borders of the Soviet Union through Poland, which apparently was the main aim of WWII, the destruction of the Soviets.

The civilian victims of other countries are never remembered when the wreaths are being laid at the Cenotaph.

Who speaks for the victims of Bloody Sunday in Derry; The Ballymurphy Massacre in Belfast; those civilians killed in the attempt to hold on to Malaya; the Singapore village massacres, again of civilians; the horrifying war against the people of Kenya in the 1950s?

Very recently the BBC, to its credit, put out a programme that revealed the killing of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan by British military forces.

This programme showed military men with a conscience also condemning the torture and killings and asking for an investigation into the cover-up.

Justified war, to my way of thinking, is of oppressed countries and populations fighting the aggressor. You don’t fight for your country out in Afghanistan, for example.

And don’t forget the US role in war, especially its dropping of two atomic bombs on the civilians of Hiroshima and Nagasaki when Japan was already suing for peace.

Germany, the loser of two world wars, can’t have its cenotaph. Even now, with German democracy in being, its civilian victims in WWII apparently are not worth thinking about.

As for the poppy, well, where has it been this year 2019? I didn’t see one around the transport hub of Archway tube, then I didn’t see anyone selling it.

Was the poppy not something thought up by Earl Haig of WWI, better known to his troops as “Butcher” Haig.

Who dares rethink the two world wars any more? Who can write a Oh! What a Lovely War, as happened in the 1960s and get it produced? Have we not gone backwards.

Of course, the poppy will go on, as will the Cenotaph ceremonies, and all those sculptured tributes to the old empire will still be seen in Whitehall.

But is it not all a museum to all that has been horrible. So I say keep all these relics as a reminder of bad times.



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