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 The disgusting truth about the British military

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PostSubject: The disgusting truth about the British military   Thu Jul 10, 2008 12:46 pm

John Pilger tell it like it is about the vicious behaviour of the British military and how it is sanitised and romanticised for public consumption. His latest column for the New Statesman made me sick to the stomach but I think it should be obligatory reading for everyone. We are all materially benefitting from what the British are doing and ought to understand the price that other human beings are paying to subsidise our way of life:


How Britain wages war



John Pilger
Published 10 July 2008


The military has created a wall of silence around its frequent resort to barbaric practices, including torture, and goes out of its way to avoid legal scrutiny


Five photographs together break a silence. The first is of a former Gurkha regimental sergeant major, Tul Bahadur Pun, aged 87. He sits in a wheelchair outside 10 Downing Street. He holds a board full of medals, including the Victoria Cross, the highest award for bravery, which he won serving in the British army.
He has been refused entry to Britain and treatment for a serious heart ailment by the National Health Service: outrages rescinded only after a public campaign. On 25 June, he came to Down ing Street to hand his Victoria Cross back to the Prime Minister, but Gordon Brown refused to see him.
The second photograph is of a 12-year-old boy, one of three children. They are Kuchis, nomads of Afghanistan. They have been hit by Nato bombs, American or British, and nurses are trying to peel away their roasted skin with tweezers. On the night of 10 June, Nato planes struck again, killing at least 30 civilians in a single village: children, women, schoolteachers, students. On 4 July, another 22 civilians died like this. All, including the roasted children, are described as "militants" or "suspected Taliban". The Defence Secretary, Des Browne, says the invasion of Afghan istan is "the noble cause of the 21st century".
The third photograph is of a computer-generated aircraft carrier not yet built, one of two of the biggest ships ever ordered for the Royal Navy. The £4bn contract is shared by BAE Systems, whose sale of 72 fighter jets to the corrupt tyranny in Saudi Arabia has made Britain the biggest arms merchant on earth, selling mostly to oppressive regimes in poor countries. At a time of economic crisis, Browne describes the carriers as "an affordable expenditure".
The fourth photograph is of a young British soldier, Gavin Williams, who was "beasted" to death by three non-commissioned officers. This "informal summary punishment", which sent his body temperature to more than 41 degrees, was intended to "humiliate, push to the limit and hurt". The torture was described in court as a fact of army life.
The final photograph is of an Iraqi man, Baha Mousa, who was tortured to death by British soldiers. Taken during his post-mortem, it shows some of the 93 horrific injuries he suffered at the hands of men of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment who beat and abused him for 36 hours, including double-hooding him with hessian sacks in stifling heat. He was a hotel receptionist. Although his murder took place almost five years ago, it was only in May this year that the Ministry of Defence responded to the courts and agreed to an independent inquiry. A judge has described this as a "wall of silence".
A court martial convicted just one soldier of Mousa's "inhumane treatment", and he has since been quietly released. Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers, representing the families of Iraqis who have died in British custody, says the evidence is clear - abuse and torture by the British army is systemic.
Shiner and his colleagues have witness statements and corroborations of prima facie crimes of an especially atrocious kind usually associated with the Americans. "The more cases I am dealing with, the worse it gets," he says. These include an "incident" near the town of Majar al-Kabir in 2004, when British soldiers executed as many as 20 Iraqi prisoners after mutilating them. The latest is that of a 14-year-old boy who was forced to simulate anal and oral sex over a prolonged period.
"At the heart of the US and UK project," says Shiner, "is a desire to avoid accountability for what they want to do. Guantanamo Bay and extraordinary renditions are part of the same struggle to avoid accountability through jurisdiction." British soldiers, he says, use the same torture techniques as the Americans and deny that the European Convention on Human Rights, the Human Rights Act and the UN Convention on Torture apply to them. And British torture is "commonplace": so much so, that "the routine nature of this ill-treatment helps to explain why, despite the abuse of the soldiers and cries of the detainees being clearly audible, nobody, particularly in authority, took any notice".

Arcane rituals



Unbelievably, says Shiner, the Ministry of Defence under Tony Blair decided that the 1972 Heath government's ban on certain torture techniques applied only in the UK and Northern Ireland. Consequently, "many Iraqis were killed and tortured in UK detention facilities". Shiner is working on 46 horrific cases.
A wall of silence has always surrounded the British military, its arcane rituals, rites and practices and, above all, its contempt for the law and natural justice in its various imperial pursuits. For 80 years, the Ministry of Defence and compliant ministers refused to countenance posthumous pardons for terrified boys shot at dawn during the slaughter of the First World War. British soldiers used as guinea pigs during the testing of nuclear weapons in the Indian Ocean were abandoned, as were many others who suffered the toxic effects of the 1991 Gulf War. The treatment of Gurkha Tul Bahadur Pun is typical. Having been sent back to Nepal, many of these "soldiers of the Queen" have no pension, are deeply impoverished and are refused residence or medical help in the country for which they fought and for which 43,000 of them have died or been injured. The Gurkhas have won no fewer than 26 Victoria Crosses, yet Browne's "affordable expenditure" excludes them.
An even more imposing wall of silence ensures that the British public remains largely unaware of the industrial killing of civilians in Britain's modern colonial wars. In his landmark work Unpeople: Britain's Secret Human Rights Abuses, the historian Mark Curtis uses three main categories: direct responsibility, indirect responsibility and active inaction.
"The overall figure [since 1945] is between 8.6 and 13.5 million," Curtis writes. "Of these, Britain bears direct responsibility for between four million and six million deaths. This figure is, if anything, likely to be an underestimate. Not all British interventions have been included, because of lack of data." Since his study was published, the Iraq death toll has reached, by reliable measure, a million men, women and children.
The spiralling rise of militarism within Britain is rarely acknowledged, even by those alerting the public to legislation attacking basic civil liberties, such as the recently drafted Data Com muni cations Bill, which will give the government powers to keep records of all electronic communication. Like the plans for identity cards, this is in keeping what the Americans call "the national security state", which seeks the control of domestic dissent while pursuing military aggression abroad. The £4bn aircraft carriers are to have a "global role". For global read colonial. The Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Office follow Washington's line almost to the letter, as in Browne's preposterous description of Afghanistan as a noble cause. In reality, the US-inspired Nato invasion has had two effects: the killing and dispossession of large numbers of Afghans, and the return of the opium trade, which the Taliban had banned. According to Hamid Karzai, the west's puppet leader, Britain's role in Helmand Province has led directly to the return of the Taliban.

Loans for arms



The militarising of how the British state perceives and treats other societies is vividly demonstrated in Africa, where ten out of 14 of the most impoverished and conflict-ridden countries are seduced into buying British arms and military equipment with "soft loans". Like the British royal family, the British Prime Minister simply follows the money. Having ritually condemned a despot in Zimbabwe for "human rights abuses" - in truth, for no longer serving as the west's business agent - and having obeyed the latest US dictum on Iran and Iraq, Brown set off recently for Saudi Arabia, exporter of Wahhabi fundamentalism and wheeler of fabulous arms deals.
To complement this, the Brown government is spending £11bn of taxpayers' money on a huge, pri vatised military academy in Wales, which will train foreign soldiers and mercenaries recruited to the bogus "war on terror". With arms companies such as Raytheon profiting, this will become Britain's "School of the Americas", a centre for counter-insurgency (terrorist) training and the design of future colonial adventures.
It has had almost no publicity.
Of course, the image of militarist Britain clashes with a benign national regard formed, wrote Tolstoy, "from infancy, by every possible means - class books, church services, sermons, speeches, books, papers, songs, poetry, monuments [leading to] people stupefied in the one direction". Much has changed since he wrote that. Or has it? The shabby, destructive colonial war in Afghanistan is now reported almost entirely through the British army, with squaddies always doing their Kipling best, and with the Afghan resistance routinely dismissed as "outsiders" and "invaders". Pictures of nomadic boys with Nato-roasted skin almost never appear in the press or on television, nor the after-effects of British thermobaric weapons, or "vacuum bombs", designed to suck the air out of human lungs. Instead, whole pages mourn a British military intelligence agent in Afghanis tan, because she happens to have been a 26-year-old woman, the first to die in active service since the 2001 invasion.
Baha Mousa, tortured to death by British soldiers, was also 26 years old. But he was different. His father, Daoud, says that the way the Ministry of Defence has behaved over his son's death convinces him that the British government regards the lives of others as "cheap". And he is right.
www.johnpilger.com
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PostSubject: Re: The disgusting truth about the British military   Thu Jul 10, 2008 12:56 pm

Terrible terribe terrible - I say again "terrible terrible terrible"

That gurka should have joined the Irish Defense Forces - after ten years he could have sued them for deafness and retired home and bought up half of Nepal on the proceeds
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PostSubject: Re: The disgusting truth about the British military   Thu Jul 10, 2008 3:01 pm

I think we've all known that this must be the case, that the American activities at Guantanamo and other bases can only carry on because of the implicit support of complicit nations like Britain, and countless others.
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PostSubject: Re: The disgusting truth about the British military   Thu Jul 10, 2008 3:08 pm

Kate P wrote:
I think we've all known that this must be the case, that the American activities at Guantanamo and other bases can only carry on because of the implicit support of complicit nations like Britain, and countless others.

I'm failure sure they'd get along fairly well without their help.
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PostSubject: Re: The disgusting truth about the British military   Thu Jul 10, 2008 5:19 pm

Aragon wrote:
John Pilger tell it like it is about the vicious behaviour of the British military and how it is sanitised and romanticised for public consumption.

Nothing new there then.
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PostSubject: Re: The disgusting truth about the British military   Thu Jul 10, 2008 6:34 pm

Lestat wrote:
Aragon wrote:
John Pilger tell it like it is about the vicious behaviour of the British military and how it is sanitised and romanticised for public consumption.

Nothing new there then.

No nothing new except for the Afghani people of course who are very likely less jaded about what they are experiencing. Worth remembering the ongoing and brutal hypocrisy which the media ordinarily devotes much of its time and effort to disguising
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PostSubject: THE SAD FACT- PILGER IS A SHAM   Thu Jul 10, 2008 7:15 pm

The sad thing I learnt about John Pilger, and only learnt it because I was a correspondent based in Phnom Penh at the time and was in a position to see that the former hero of mine would never let the truth get in the way of a good story.
The High Noon dialectic makes for gripping copy. But a true journalist- as opposed to a propagandist and, in Pilger case, one highlighting good causes - is one who can make a gripping read out of 100 shades of grey.

Pol Pot bad ergo Hun Sen good is sloppy.

But re Pilger as a sham journalist, if there are those that care or, like me at the time, find it a bit hard to believe, I can provide empirical examples.

Then there's his madness- UNTAC -the UN mission in Cambodia- was going to "bring the Khmer Rouge back to power"
He had become a victim of his own celebrity cos had he left the comfort of the Phnom Penh hotels as he did in his hey day, he would have found out KR were starting to defect in droves. They cld still put up a fight as Anlong Veng and Pailin showed but the Yanks had jumped ship and the heat was on China and the essential Thais. OK Bangkok said one thing and the army on the border did the opposite ... but it was business and even the army were starting to see Hun Sen's boys were the safer bet in the long term.
But 20 yr relations take a while to wind down. Pilger, meanwhile, was barking mad, writing as if he was still in the 80s.
And lies too! Omission or comission - I don't know.
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PostSubject: Re: The disgusting truth about the British military   Thu Jul 10, 2008 8:23 pm

Kev Bar wrote:
The sad thing I learnt about John Pilger, and only learnt it because I was a correspondent based in Phnom Penh at the time and was in a position to see that the former hero of mine would never let the truth get in the way of a good story.
The High Noon dialectic makes for gripping copy. But a true journalist- as opposed to a propagandist and, in Pilger case, one highlighting good causes - is one who can make a gripping read out of 100 shades of grey.

Pol Pot bad ergo Hun Sen good is sloppy.

But re Pilger as a sham journalist, if there are those that care or, like me at the time, find it a bit hard to believe, I can provide empirical examples.

Then there's his madness- UNTAC -the UN mission in Cambodia- was going to "bring the Khmer Rouge back to power"
He had become a victim of his own celebrity cos had he left the comfort of the Phnom Penh hotels as he did in his hey day, he would have found out KR were starting to defect in droves. They cld still put up a fight as Anlong Veng and Pailin showed but the Yanks had jumped ship and the heat was on China and the essential Thais. OK Bangkok said one thing and the army on the border did the opposite ... but it was business and even the army were starting to see Hun Sen's boys were the safer bet in the long term.
But 20 yr relations take a while to wind down. Pilger, meanwhile, was barking mad, writing as if he was still in the 80s.
And lies too! Omission or comission - I don't know.

Mr Myers, I presume? A dead ringer for him at any rate.

This is the bog standard shriek of protest from anti-Pilger journalists outclassed and outdistanced by Pilger's ability. It's almost certainly defamatory too - if he could be bothered to dignify it with a response. Firstly it has nothing to do with the article this thread is supposed to be about, because presumably you are unable to counter its factual nature and must resort instead to personal insult and unsubstantiated allegation.

I don't know what you can have been doing during your time in Vietnam but you certainly weren't paying attention to the facts on the ground. Apparently you were too busy feeding your own prejudices and anxious to prove yourself a match for Pilger.

Here's a good essay on Vietnam by Chomsky (probably another person whose intellectual ability grates on your inferiority complex). If you concentrate hard, though, you ought to find it instructive:

http://www.chomsky.info/articles/19720615.htm
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PostSubject: Re: The disgusting truth about the British military   Thu Jul 10, 2008 9:01 pm

Aragon wrote:
No nothing new except for the Afghani people of course who are very likely less jaded about what they are experiencing. Worth remembering the ongoing and brutal hypocrisy which the media ordinarily devotes much of its time and effort to disguising

The Afghan experience is not really new is it? The country has been constantly at war since 1979. And it's not as if the Russians or the Afghans themselves are less brutal than the British. Pilger is as guilty of "ongoing and brutal hypocrisy" as anyone else. For all his hand-wringing about Tul Bahadur Pun, if Pilger was writing 60 years ago, Tulbahadur would no doubt be getting the sharp end of his pen for brutally killing Japanese soldiers. Pilger's writing is basically just anti- British/US propaganda. Sort of a Lord Haw Haw for the 21st Century.

I was amused to read that his name has given a verb to the English language;

Pilgerise - to distort the real picture by a mixture of 50 per cent fact, 25 per cent omission of facts, and 25 per cent innuendo. Laughing
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PostSubject: Re: The disgusting truth about the British military   Thu Jul 10, 2008 9:18 pm

Soldiers in violent behaviour shocker! BBC reports and public courtcase constitute cover-up!
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PostSubject: Re: The disgusting truth about the British military   Thu Jul 10, 2008 10:30 pm

ibis wrote:
Soldiers in violent behaviour shocker! BBC reports and public courtcase constitute cover-up!

That's really funny Ibis. So let me understand this, it's ok for British soldiers to indulge in any sort of brutality regardless of circumstance? And did you read the report? Apparently not, or you would have been embarrassed by your glib summation of what has actually transpired. What disgusts me about these reactions is the total disregard for the suffering and loss of life of innocent people caught up in something they have no control over and whose lives are clearly of no significance to people like yourself, safely tucked up in countries where, for the time being anyway, you are not obliged to watch the daily horror of what is happening. Go on with your jokes, then.
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PostSubject: Re: The disgusting truth about the British military   Thu Jul 10, 2008 10:46 pm

I'd be interested in seeing the other four photographs.

And I'm curious about what elements of the above article posters are querying in particular.
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PostSubject: Re: The disgusting truth about the British military   Thu Jul 10, 2008 11:01 pm

Aragon wrote:
ibis wrote:
Soldiers in violent behaviour shocker! BBC reports and public courtcase constitute cover-up!

That's really funny Ibis. So let me understand this, it's ok for British soldiers to indulge in any sort of brutality regardless of circumstance? And did you read the report? Apparently not, or you would have been embarrassed by your glib summation of what has actually transpired. What disgusts me about these reactions is the total disregard for the suffering and loss of life of innocent people caught up in something they have no control over and whose lives are clearly of no significance to people like yourself, safely tucked up in countries where, for the time being anyway, you are not obliged to watch the daily horror of what is happening. Go on with your jokes, then.

Thanks....British Government neglects old soldiers shocker! Pilger in possibly slanted over-dramatised report! Bad things happening in Afghanistan (by the British, not the Afghans)!
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PostSubject: Re: The disgusting truth about the British military   Thu Jul 10, 2008 11:23 pm

Aragon wrote:
.....What disgusts me about these reactions is the total disregard for the suffering and loss of life of innocent people caught up in something they have no control over and whose lives are clearly of no significance to people like yourself, safely tucked up in countries where, for the time being anyway, you are not obliged to watch the daily horror of what is happening......

That's a pretty fair summation.

So when are you off to Afghanistan to fight the damned Brits then?
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PostSubject: Re: The disgusting truth about the British military   Fri Jul 11, 2008 11:39 am

Here's the results of a civil action (just a couple of days old). It doesn't pay to torture people.

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PostSubject: Re: The disgusting truth about the British military   Fri Jul 11, 2008 12:19 pm

Whatever the noble cause of the 21st century is, it cannot be justified that those who claim to pursue of freedom and human rights deliberately and unnecessarily undermine both in that pursuit.
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PostSubject: Re: The disgusting truth about the British military   Fri Jul 11, 2008 12:34 pm

Kate P wrote:
Whatever the noble cause of the 21st century is, it cannot be justified that those who claim to pursue of freedom and human rights deliberately and unnecessarily undermine both in that pursuit.

"Democratisation" i.e. appropriation of another country's assets by means of war, requires mass destruction of infrastructure, mass murder and torture. It wouldn't work otherwise. The fact that John Pilger's ego is sometimes visible does not in my opinion invalidate what Hermes is saying, neither does the fact that some of us are not surprised by it. Ireland is part of the Aghanistan force, albeit with only a small number of soldiers involved. Why?

I would be interested in hearing more of Kevbar's first hand experience of reporting in South East Asia.
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PostSubject: Re: The disgusting truth about the British military   Fri Jul 11, 2008 2:05 pm

Kate P wrote:
Whatever the noble cause of the 21st century is, it cannot be justified that those who claim to pursue of freedom and human rights deliberately and unnecessarily undermine both in that pursuit.

That, at least, is undeniably true. My concern with most of these sorts of issues, though, is the criticism is far too often one-sided. I appreciate that we both have the ability to put pressure on, and bear some responsibility for, actions taken by other EU nations, but, despite that, I find denunciations like Aragon's simply too shrill and one-dimensional to be anything other than off-putting.

In turn, I appreciate that I have a moral responsibility not to be put off by that - but equally I feel Aragon has a moral responsibility not to put people off, and he clearly feels his moral duties in the matter more strongly than I.
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PostSubject: Re: The disgusting truth about the British military   Fri Jul 11, 2008 2:11 pm

My own two-pennies-worth on this is that none of the things Hermes describes are aberrations. They are the bread and butter of neocolonialism and of the neoliberal agenda: and indeed of all wars of conquest and occupations.
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PostSubject: Re: The disgusting truth about the British military   Fri Jul 11, 2008 2:33 pm

cactus flower wrote:
and indeed of all wars of conquest and occupations.

...and indeed all wars, let us not pretend that any of the conflicts which have taken place in Ireland in the last 100 years, whether it be risings, civil wars or terrorist activity, were any way romantic in nature.

War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good.
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PostSubject: Re: The disgusting truth about the British military   Fri Jul 11, 2008 3:26 pm

Kate P wrote:
Whatever the noble cause of the 21st century is, it cannot be justified that those who claim to pursue of freedom and human rights deliberately and unnecessarily undermine both in that pursuit.

The problem is that people only criticise the US/UK for undermining freedom and human rights. Pilger's response to the 7/7 bombings in Londo was that it was Tony Blair's fault.

cactus flower wrote:
"Democratisation" i.e. appropriation of another country's assets by means of war, requires mass destruction of infrastructure, mass murder and torture.


Afghanistan doesn't have any assets and very little infrastructure. Mass murder and torture by the way are not the preserve of the British.

cactus flower wrote:
The fact that John Pilger's ego is sometimes visible does not in my opinion invalidate what Hermes is saying.


It does in my opinion. But then I wouldn't take Hermes too seriously on any of his pet subjects.

cactus flower wrote:
Ireland is part of the Aghanistan force, albeit with only a small number of soldiers involved. Why? .


Why Not.
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PostSubject: Re: The disgusting truth about the British military   Fri Jul 11, 2008 4:31 pm

cactus flower wrote:
Kate P wrote:
Whatever the noble cause of the 21st century is, it cannot be justified that those who claim to pursue of freedom and human rights deliberately and unnecessarily undermine both in that pursuit.

"Democratisation" i.e. appropriation of another country's assets by means of war, requires mass destruction of infrastructure, mass murder and torture. It wouldn't work otherwise. The fact that John Pilger's ego is sometimes visible does not in my opinion invalidate what Hermes is saying, neither does the fact that some of us are not surprised by it. Ireland is part of the Aghanistan force, albeit with only a small number of soldiers involved. Why?

We're there (all 7 of our soldiers) as part of the UN stabilisation force.

Quote :
...and indeed all wars, let us not pretend that any of the conflicts
which have taken place in Ireland in the last 100 years, whether it be
risings, civil wars or terrorist activity, were any way romantic in
nature.

War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good.

Much the same can be said about a lot of football matches, of course.
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PostSubject: Re: The disgusting truth about the British military   Fri Jul 11, 2008 4:38 pm

ibis wrote:
Kate P wrote:
Whatever the noble cause of the 21st century is, it cannot be justified that those who claim to pursue of freedom and human rights deliberately and unnecessarily undermine both in that pursuit.

That, at least, is undeniably true. My concern with most of these sorts of issues, though, is the criticism is far too often one-sided. I appreciate that we both have the ability to put pressure on, and bear some responsibility for, actions taken by other EU nations, but, despite that, I find denunciations like Aragon's simply too shrill and one-dimensional to be anything other than off-putting.

I think it's fair to say, ibis, that we are inclined to want to want to be on the side of right, especially when those nations who are in the right or doing the noble deed are ones that we naturally associate with such as the US or the Britain. We look alike, we speak the same language, we aspire to the same values.

When right goes wrong, there's a double whammy effect because we are wrong by association - and that's not pleasant. More seriously- and less personally - there's a concern that those who have happily taken a position on the moral or military high ground are no better than the bad guys they want to rescue the world from.

My perspective on this is that if a decision is made, for better or for worse, to intervene in third country disputes then that intervention has to be impeccable in so far as such a thing is possible in war. The end does not justify the means if civilians are killed or maimed, if people - even criminals, are tortured or if infrastructure is unnecessarily damaged.

It is true that evil deeds prevail because good men stand idly by. Yet, good men lose all credibility when they behave as badly as the Americans have in Guantanamo, for example. We should never allow it to become acceptable that evil deeds prevail because those we like to think of (or who would like us to think of them) as good men have ulterior motives and become even more evil than those from whom the innocent are ostensibly being protected. When that happens, mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.

If the debate is one-sided, and I agree that it shouldn't be, we have to ask ourselves where the writers and journalists and politicians are who should be getting that information across that would allow us to redress that balance. There is probably also a cycle in events like Afghanistan in which Stage One sees us up in arms about events in that country that no one is doing anything about, and a stage further along the frustrating line which sees us up in arms about how the defenders are defending.

I started a thread - here I think (?) a long time ago about how we go about saying no, enough, stop. Protestors have a bad reputation and often aren't terribly effective. I've been doing a lot of research (and making a lot of mistakes and learning a lot along the way) into Hydrogen Cyanide and its proposed disposal at Manor Kilbride in Wicklow. It's a quiet thread, nobody really seems to give a damn. I'll keep bumping it, for what it's worth, though the temptation to stamp my foot and screech is getting stronger by the day.

The point is, that there are few mechanisms out there for those who want to speak out against something, without becoming shrill. I read a number of blogs last night regarding the cyanide issue and they were undoubtedly off-putting because there is a self-righteous sarcasm that characterises many of them. It's a bit like Lear howling against the storm, as you do when you feel that the message is important and nobody is listening. We as the general public are to blame for that because we want the controversial headlines and the emotive angle on what we consume in the media.

Saying No is much harder than saying Yes to anything, because the majority either don't want to hear it, or want to hear it in such a way that it tickles some otherwise inaccessible part of them. If there are other ways to more effectively rage against the machine, I'll be glad to know what they are.
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PostSubject: Re: The disgusting truth about the British military   Fri Jul 11, 2008 6:01 pm

The straw men are out if force today. Very Happy Very Happy I did not say that " Mass murder and torture by the way are (not) the preserve of the British", Lestat, and I did say the number of our soldiers in Afghanistan is small, Ibis - and all the easier to pull them out. Btw your comparison of what is happening in Afghanistan with a football match I find bizarre.

Kate P, the most interesting suggestion I saw in a long time was in the Anarchist thread - the suggestion is that politicians and governments should be subject to recall by the public between elections. Most wars wouldn't happen, or would be very short, if the politicians had to have a referendum on them. There was massive resistance to taking part in the Second World War and Iraq is now deeply unpopular in the US.

Ibis from time to time suggests that the numbers out in the streets demonstrating is indicative of whether people are seriously opposed to what their governments are doing. That leaves out the extent that people are unconvinced on the basis of experience that protests have any impact.

Passive resistance I think can have a big impact, whether it is in the form of strikes or boycotts of places and products. At the end of the day, you have to be prepared to replace the government if the government won't listen.

I haven't drunk Coca Cola since the day of the invasion of Iraq. I only need the other billion and a half users to join me ....
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PostSubject: Re: The disgusting truth about the British military   Fri Jul 11, 2008 6:25 pm

cactus flower wrote:

Passive resistance I think can have a big impact, whether it is in the form of strikes or boycotts of places and products. At the end of the day, you have to be prepared to replace the government if the government won't listen.

It certainly can do. However, I think the extent of its impact can be nigh on impossible to quantify in most situations. There was a huge violent independence movement in India, though you are probably more likely to hear about Gandhi in popular culture. The extent to which one would gain success independent of the other is unclear.

cactus flower wrote:
I haven't drunk Coca Cola since the day of the
invasion of Iraq. I only need the other billion and a half users to
join me ....

It is important to take personal stands on issues which you believe in, regardless of whether it is going to make an enormous difference on the macro level. Those who do are probably more likely to live with the same philosophy in their private life as well which might make a huge difference to others. My grandfather was a consciencious objector in England during the Second World War, a very unpopular position with both his family and most of his country. I would say that it added greatly to his character and the development of those who came after him in his family and amongst his acquaintances.
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