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Preparation for war has in every case led to war

28 November, 2019

• RUTH Maxwell and Jean Donnington (Remembrance events matter, November 14) say some of my criticism of the orthodox remembrance ceremonies were offensive, (We need to reject warfare, November 7).

My intention was not to offend; however, people often say they are offended when encountering opinions they dislike, but I don’t think any of us has a right not to be offended (I certainly don’t claim that right), otherwise, disagreement, debate and argument becomes impossible, and social progress is at a standstill.

FB Johnson (Wearing a red poppy does not glorify war, November 14) says that a red poppy symbolises the loss of lives of those “sadly in the crossfire”. The civilians killed in war – who make up the majority of the victims – are not in the crossfire, but are mostly deliberate targets.

The thousands of Londoners burned to death in their homes by German airmen in the blitz, the thousands of residents of Hamburg crushed to death in their cellars by British airmen, the thousands more human beings in Hiroshima killed by radiation by US airmen … all of these unimaginably horrible deaths were deliberately and knowingly inflicted, by people in the armed forces whose donning of uniform had clearly led them to lose all sense of humanity.

Lester May (Letters, November 14) says that to ensure peace one should prepare for war. People have been taking that stance for many generations and it has never yet worked! Preparation for war has in every case led to war. It’s long overdue to try something different.

If we want peace, how about starting with ourselves? If I can renounce, unconditionally, and in all cases, any willing involvement in warfare (and indeed make a commitment to resist it); if my many pacifist comrades around the world can do the same; doesn’t that “preparation for peace” give more hope for a world free of war than continuing “preparation for war”? When will we ever learn?

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